Abusing Alcohol… and Grace
MARCH 29, 2016
The 12-hour work day was over. I walked into the house with a cheap bottle of wine and a Foster’s oil can… again. I fully intended to finish them both off that night. It would be enough. $10 is a small price to pay to calm my nerves and shut off my busy mind, but I always pay more than ten bucks. I could feel my wife’s disappointment before she said a word.
“Is this going to happen every night?” she asked.
That’s how I’m greeted? I thought. Not, “How was your day?” Or, “Thanks for busting your butt working two jobs to take care of me and the kids.” The wisdom of my purchase was confirmed. I was going to have to thank myself for my hard work. I deserved to check out.
“It’s going to happen tonight,” I replied. I’m such a jerk. She didn’t deserve that. I hate myself.
“I only ask because I love you. I know you don’t really want to live like this,” she said.
I walked away in silence. The alcohol would love me the way I wanted to be loved. She’s easy. Yeah, I brought my mistress home again.
Then another thought interrupted my self-loathing, Don’t be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit. Now God was starting in on me. I wanted him to leave me alone too.
I will never leave you or forsake you.
His love wasn’t cutting it either. I wanted immediate relief, not the slow, healing pain of sanctification. I unscrewed the cap on what had become a very expensive bottle of wine and poured half of it into my glass. It’s only two glasses of wine and a beer, I thought.
Seeing all that in print just sucks. Le sigh. But I still don’t think I’m an alcoholic. Like I wrote in my post, Drunk Believers:
“Yes, as a husband and father, I have been concerned about my excessive drinking, but after a lot of counseling, I don’t believe I’m an alcoholic; a self-medicating manic-depressive, but not an alcoholic. I just can’t admit that I’m impotent to control the way I drink or don’t drink.”
When I turned in that post, I asked Robin Demurga here at Key Life what she thought. She said, “I think you’re rationalizing your drinking.” I reread what I wrote, and at times I sounded like Richard Pryor when he said, “I’m not addicted to cocaine. I just like the way it smells.”
Robin’s words rattled around in my brain as I wrote three more pieces on the topic of addiction. Was I trying to justify my bad behavior? No. I believe getting drunk is not only wrong, it’s destructive. The thing is, I choose to do it anyway. I’m fully in control of how much I drink, but over and over again I decide to drink too much. And that reveals a fatal flaw that’s worse than being an addict. I’m a sinner.
I say with Saint Paul in Romans 7, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing … For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Of course, I know the answer to that question, his name is Jesus. He revealed that God loves me unconditionally and even forgives my willful disobedience. Not only that, he promises that one day I’ll have my deepest desire and be just like him: a whole and holy son of God. What’s even worse than being a sinner is being a sinner in the face of such longsuffering selflessness. But I know me, and I know I’ll keep on doing it anyway… at least until 1 John 4:19 is fully realized in my life and I wholeheartedly love him because he first loved me.
That’s where Robin is right. I abuse God’s grace to get what I want. Every time I do, I reveal that I’m selfish, twisted, and weak. I’m a sucker for the cheap alternative to the peace that surpasses all understanding, and my wife and my God suffer my rejection of their love. I’m ashamed of that, but it’s the truth.
Here’s some more truth. Now I’m gonna sell you a book. This post was supposed to help promote my new minibook, The Gift of Addiction: How God Redeems our Pain. After reading all this, you might not want to buy it… but I hope you will. It’s based on that series of blog posts that expose me as a grace abuser.
Who knows, if you’re desperate enough to join me in being honest about how screwed up we are (even if you really are an addict), the minibook might help. Not because I’m living the victorious Christian life or anything like that, but because the only thing that really helps is our helplessness.
When we come to realize our great need for a savior, only then do we see how great a savior we have. We can rest in the security of his salvation (and pray that real change will happen when the pain of not changing outweighs the pain of making some changes).
Here’s a link to that book I’m trying to sell you -> The Gift of Addiction: How God Redeems our Pain. Would it help if I told you Key Life gets all the money? ALL of it.
What if you could get The Gift of Addiction plus three minibooks by Steve Brown? Would you buy it then? Oh yeah. Click the promo below. (Steve don’t get any money either.)