Y’all know I’ve written about alcohol in past articles, but this time we’re stepping deeper...
College graduation has come and passed, and real life has thus begun. So now we must ask the question we have all been dreading for years: what is the role of alcohol in my life — really?
Alcohol is one of those things that, when spoken about seriously, you are viewed as the kill joy of the group - the “religious” person, the legalist, the freakin’ fascist.
On the other hand, the moment you don’t take the conversation seriously, instead of consuming alcohol regularly like you so hoped, it can turn around and regularly consume you: your relationships, your well being, and your life decisions.
While no one wants to talk about it, we can’t deny that the moment it does come to the light in discussion, we begin to see its cracks.
Like many of my articles, I am not advocating for nor against anything. In all of my writing, I simply seek to begin a conversation that is long overdue. I want to start a commotion around things that have gone stagnant. I believe alcohol consumption is one of those things.
What We Know.
In college, having alcohol at every social gathering is more or less expected. A tailgate with no Coors Light? A frat party with no Beat Box? A Saturday with no champagne showers? Are you freakin’ kidding me? Nevvvvver heard of her.
In college, we knew that drinking multiple times a week was basically in the university bylaws.
In college, for many “it’s not a drinking problem until you graduate.”
In college, alcohol is cheaper than your Fiji sourced, ph balanced, electrolyte water.
Well, it’s D-Day my fiends.
So What Now?
College is over. Alas, like every good thing, we have come to an end.
(Side note, I can’t believe BoldnBeloved is over two years old! This was a personal project I launched my junior year after a hard season of health and questioning faith. Now, here we are. Who knew writing could offer so much healing. Love you guys).
Back to dat drank.
Stepping into alcohol consumption post grad has, candidly speaking, left me extremely confused. I knew that following Jesus in college would mean pressing against all of those "norms" I just mentioned above.
I would've never thought I'd have to do it still, perhaps even more, after university.
In post grad, it’s not abnormal to have client happy hour on a Tuesday. Thursday comes around, and it's happy hour with coworkers. Next comes the long awaited weekend: a Pinot filled game night with friends on Friday, a boozy BBQ on a Saturday afternoon, and to top off the week, a glass of red on Sunday evening (a God honoring, full body cab from Francis Coppola, of course)...
Okay, yeah, so these things aren’t exactly shotgunning Coors in the tailgate parking lot of a football game or sippin’ on a Gold FourLoko at good ole' Lambda Chi. And yet, that’s still at least 5 drinks a week (assuming you only have one drink at each event). If you have two at every event, which is still (for many people, at least) considered minimal — you’re now at 10 drinks a week.
3? You’re at 15 a week.
4? You do the math.
Even if you only had two per event, that’s more drinks than days of the week.
Does that bother you? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Regardless, I think this at least paves the way for a discussion, no?
What did alcohol look like for you growing up? Was it healthy? Only for celebrations? Frowned upon? Never allowed? Were one or both of your parents alcoholics? Are one or both of your parents alcoholics? Recovering alcoholics?
Second important question: what do you want alcohol to look like in your life? In your home one day? In your marriage? To your children growing up?
Do these answers align? They very well might or they might not, but the important part is to ask why to every single one.
A Painted Picture.
For the sake of argument, the next few paragraphs entail strong gender normative narrative. Please know, I have never nor will ever believe that a woman’s only role is in the home, nor a man’s only role to provide. Please keep that in mind and try to read with an unoffendable heart.
Let’s play a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game, real life edition.
Brothers, picture this;
You watched your father drink like a fish for years. You saw first hand how he missed soccer games, or just seemed generally absent your entire life. You watched how your mother exhaled deeply every time she opened the trash bin to see it filled with beer bottles once again. It didn’t matter if it was a Tuesday or a Friday - it was always the same. You watched her lead more than he did. He wasn’t there. You vowed you’d never be that for your son or daughter, but deep down you fear you may not have as much willpower as you’d hope. The trash bins are starting to fill, and you find yourself justifying it by your growing “high tolerance” and as a “stress release” from a long week at work.
Sisters, picture this;
Every year, you start January 1st with an inventory of the year prior. Some frustrations come out as you realize that there had been one too many blurry nights. You start to notice a scary pattern, much like your mom before you... Every one of them are filled with vague memories of another sexual partner. You block out the half empty memories, and begin writing your resolutions. This year would be different. It would be! You’ll make it so. But the voice in the back of your head whispers, “Yeah, you said that last year...”
Did those not resonate? Perhaps not.
Brothers, picture this;
You’re home from a long Monday at work. Your wife has been caring tirelessly all day with the kids. She’s relieved to see you walk through the door. She throws her arms around you and greets you with a sweet smile. You’re both fatigued beyond your current self could ever possibly imagine. You’re seeking comfort and rest, an escape from the stress of work. Even though you know she still needs help with dinner, flipping on the TV and turning on a football game and a few beers is just "what you need" right now.
What do you do?
Sisters, picture this;
You and your husband have been experiencing some miscommunication and conflict res’ing all week. Your coworkers offer to host you over for a game night to get some space from the house and your husband graciously offers to watch the kids for you. Your coworkers insist on watching a movie you have heard has scenes you know will distract your heart from your husband. Candidly speaking, your mental space is already vulnerable and tired. You know what you should say and do here, but wine is being poured freely right in front of you and things start to look more and more tempting.
What do you do?
Here’s the thing.
You may think these situations are overkill and exaggerations, but truly they are not. These are versions of real life moments that very well may have happened already or will happen before you know it. These are the little moments - the moments that add up in a marriage, in a lifetime, where you have an opportunity to make important decisions, moment by moment.
This isn’t always about “a right or a wrong”, as my roommate says, this is about “a right or a left.” You see, yes having a glass of whiskey after a long day at work is by no means bad. Likewise, having wine with your girlfriends after a lot of frustrating conversations is not a sin. But to say that they are “no big deal” and others avenues of stress release ought not to be considered would be a complete discredit toward what Christ did on the cross.
Want me to put it simply? Sure. Consuming alcohol isn’t bad. But allowing alcohol to consume you and your decisions is.
The question you have to ask, and by ask — I mean wrack the depths of your inner being, perhaps daily — is this: how much do you ACTUALLY trust yourself with alcohol?
I would argue that answer for each and every one of us is likely very little. Which, might I add, makes sense. Half the time, we can't even trust sober feelings and emotions. Throw a little too much Patron in the mix and yeah, don’t put me down for making the most trustworthy decisions.
The scriptures ain’t dumb about this either.
Proverbs 20. Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
Romans 14. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
1 Peter. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Isaiah 5. Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them.
And here’s the realest of the real part: many, including myself, are under the impression that marriage will save many of your problems or temptations. Ask ANY married person and if this is true and they will laugh (not at you, but at the fact that they once believed that to be true as well).
The fact is marriage does not improve your problems, but rather, enhances them. And if you’re anything like me, I believe your partnership with your spouse will set the groundwork for so many things of extremely high importance throughout your lifetime: your ministry, your communication, raising children, your health, and your habits.
So again I’ll ask, what do you want alcohol to look like in your life, your marriage and your home?
In an effort to push against this article sounding like a preachy condemnation rather than a sister in Christ sharing her convictions — I’ll leave you with some questions to ponder that have helped me along my journey of casting vision for the role of alcohol in my life.
Consider your testimony.
Is partying a part of my story? What did I learn from that? What could’ve been done differently? Which memories do I look back at during that time and smile? Which memories do I look back at and feel shame? Why? Who am I today in light of this, and who do I want to be?
What did alcohol look like in my home growing up? How did my parents drink alcohol? Do the answers to those questions bother me? Why? What do I feel was lacking, or excessive? Why?
Consider your genetics.
Am I predisposed to anything that alcohol enhances, like cancer, diabetes, depression, or addiction? What does the rest of my lifestyle look like? Is it cohesive with what could be healthy drinking habits? Are there things in my mental health or spiritual well being that may be causing the root of my drinking habits that I need to address?
Consider your vision.
What do I want alcohol to look like in the home? In my marriage? To my future children? Would I be comfortable with my spouse one day having the same drinking habits that I do? What are warning signs in my partner, a future partner, and myself that alcohol may be something to discuss? What do red flags look like to me?
Recap - the Good Stuff.
Hopefully you don't feel like a million grenades just went off. And if you do, I'm sorry. Take a deep breath and pray on this - come back when you're ready. These are all questions to get you stirrin' - not shakin' (HA - get it?). I hope you find this article to be challenging, yet encouraging. And here's the best part: we GET to choose what our vision for alcohol looks like.
You are not defined by your past, your parents' pasts, or what the world says.
You are a child of God, who has been graciously gifted the choice to honor God in everything you do and walk as a new creation every single day. That looks different for everyone, yes - but what a joy it is to ponder these questions together!
As always, here to talk.