Wednesday, August 14, 2013

God is Not in a Bottle.

So here's the thing.  Tomorrow is my 30th birthday and I have decided that I am going to do something a bit unconventional to celebrate.

Tomorrow begins 30 days of sobriety.

Now before anyone goes rushing to any crazy conclusions or judgments about how I must have an alcohol problem (I did have three beers at the Brewers game after all, and boy did I get murdered in the comments for that one), allow me to explain.


I used to have maybe a handful of drinks per month.  If Evan and I were going out on a date or another special occasion came up, I might even have two cocktails or glasses of wine with dinner if I was feeling particularly rowdy.  One time, my sister-in-law came down for a visit and we went to a bar in Milwaukee to see a band she liked and I think I had five beers that night.  That was a big night.

Do I have wine in my fridge right now?  Yes I do.  Do I pout a little bit when I find out a restaurant doesn't have Spotted Cow on tap?  You betcha.  Do I find a balmy summer afternoon that much more enjoyable with a margarita on the rocks in my hand?  Ummmm...yes.

Here's where I got into trouble.

I've noticed that over the last couple months, I have been choosing to drink more often and for the wrong reasons.  Instead of enjoying a glass of wine as I snuggled with my husband over a bowl of popcorn and a good movie, I was staying late after my shift at work to have two glasses of wine while I complain about the table that was rude to me or how ridiculous it is that the woman at Table 11 ordered the gluten free mostaccioli, but then demanded a second basket of bread.  After a rough day full of tantrums, time outs, bloody lips, and laundry, I would seek comfort in my favorite beer.

Did I overindulge and drink more than I should?  Rarely.  Usually it was only one drink in these situations, but the motivation behind it was all wrong.  And on the occasions that I did go the next step and have more than one?  Oh, the things that were coming out of my mouth.  I got more gossipy than usual, less kind, more judgmental, less forgiving, more vulgar.  I'm ashamed to think of a couple of the things I said on a night recently when several coworkers and I had a couple cocktails after work.  I never said anything mean, but I certainly was not behaving in a way that my King would delight in.  

I'm not proud of this, everyone. 

A few days ago, God put it on my heart that I had been replacing him.  When I was worried, I was popping the cork on a bottle of Prairie Fume when I should have been reading Philippians.  When I was upset or angry, I was mixing Malibu Mango & Diet Sprite instead of diving into Proverbs or Psalms.  It's no wonder it became a habit - it was getting me nowhere and I kept coming up empty. 

So, here we are.  Convicted and determined to break this destructive habit, I'm celebrating being given the incredible gift of 30 years on this earth by responding and obeying to the instruction God has put on my heart.  I guess it's a fast of sorts, but I know that with God's help, it will be just the thing I need to break this unhealthy pattern and get my focus back where it belongs.  Again, it's not that I think there is anything wrong with having a legal drink from time to time, but my personal issue is that my motivations for drinking were way off base and I was using it as a way to cope with the stresses of life, inadvertently replacing my need for the Lord.

Can I ask a favor of you?  Please don't put any words in my mouth and assume that I am passing judgment on those of you who are reading this who choose to indulge in alcohol.  That's not at all what my point is.  This is a personal decision to deal with a very personal heart issue.  Instead, can I humbly request that if you are reading this, to pray for me?  Pray that I would be steadfast when my peers question why I'm not having a drink.  Pray that I would be faithful in my commitment
to rely on God's strength to carry me through this time and to help me refocus my priorities on Him.

Thanks all. 


18 comments:

  1. Happy early birthday! Came for the "The Mystery Man at Miller Park" and stayed for the amazing person that you are. I really enjoy reading your blog, thank you for that.

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  2. Thank you so much for posting this! I have been struggling so hard with emotional eating....My heart was just opened that I need to fill my heart with the word of God. Not my stomach with food.

    I will pray for you.

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    1. Oh my word. Emotional eating is something I fight all the time too! I eat when I'm happy, when I'm bored, when I'm stressed, when I'm sad, when the day ends in -y. Aw heck. Now I want a cookie. :)

      Thank you for your kind words and especially for your prayers.

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  3. I ditto "Anonymous @ 10:58 am Aug 14".

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    1. And I ditto my thanks. Your comments mean so much to me!

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  4. Happy Birthday Sarah! Praying God fills your heart with peace, and will find you as you seek him. I am so glad he crossed our paths all of those years ago, and am thankful for the smile you give me with every blog post - you are special my friend!

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    1. Oh Jenn! I'm so grateful to have met you as well. You've truly been a blessing to our family. :)

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  5. Hi Sarah, Happy Birthday!!! You go girl! I will pray for you. I was thinking as I read your post about where you live and where I live. A few months ago, my husband was considering a job in Milwaukee. We've both lived in Arkansas our entire lives, so it would have been a huge move. I started researching the area, and something that surprised me was the prevalence of alcohol. It makes sense... Old Milwaukee... The Milwaukee Brewers... I mean, it IS beer country. I read forum posts that talked about it being the norm for people to serve alcohol at their preschoolers' birthday parties (not to the preschoolers, of course!), and I was honestly shocked. I am not trying to say that those people are wrong, it's just so completely different than the norm where I live. My husband and I, and almost all of our friends, don't drink. Like... not at all. There are certainly lots of people in our area who do, but there's also a very large population of people who don't, so it's easy for me to not drink. There is zero peer pressure (which sounds so after-school-special-ish, but you know what I mean. It's not expected). I don't say all this to condemn Wisconsin. I say it because I know that where you live and the culture of your friends and family probably makes it really hard to NOT drink. So, I will pray for you to remain steadfast in your conviction, and to be ready to gently and respectfully give an explanation for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). ❤

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    1. Yup, here in Wisconsin we do love our beer. It's just part of the charm of living here, to be honest. There are some great small breweries that make some incredible beers and part of enjoying our state is exploring those products.

      However....

      Yes, it can lead to a larger presence of alcohol than other areas of the country. Really, the peer pressure isn't so much the issue as the fact that's just part of how it is! It's not that anyone holds it against you in any way if you choose not to drink, but it is definitely more the exception than the rule. :)

      Thanks for your support!!

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  6. Although I never had a problem with alcohol myself, I watched alcohol contribute to the destruction of my marriage and my husband. I have not has even a sip of alcohol for 2 year this November. I don't miss it. No one really says anything to me about it. We go out to eat and everyone orders a drink and I get a Dr. Pepper. Occasionally people ask, and I just briefly say I don't drink because I see what it does to people. I have had many opportunities to talk to people about drinking for the wrong reasons and God simply because I ordered a Dr. Pepper instead of a beer. I think you will find a lot of peace and joy with this challenge!

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    1. Oh my goodness, Lindsey! I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Isn't it amazing how we can let something like that just get such a grip on us that we allow it to destroy what we have worked so hard to build? That must have been such a tough season for you.

      I do love me some Diet Dr. Pepper though. Have you heard about Dirty Dr. Pepper? Apparently you throw in some coconut syrup and a lime and it is nothing short of life changing! I've been wanting to try it, but I haven't been willing to spring the money for the syrup.

      Thanks for your encouragement! I'm actually really looking forward to it!

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  7. As I told you on Sunday - I think this is a great thing to do.

    It will help turn your thoughts to Jesus.

    After a hard day my thoughts often go to "I need a drink after that!" when they should go directly to prayer.

    No matter how far we come in life - there is just always so much growing we have yet to do!

    Love you

    -Ashley

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    1. Love you too and I definitely appreciate your support on this one. And you know how much I enjoy my wine and beer, so you know I'm mean it when I do something like this. ;) We can totally till hang out at the Union in September, but mine will be Diet Pepsi.

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  8. Hey - good luck and best wishes for your upcoming learning experience! :) I think you are doing this for all the right reasons and that you are a very smart person for recognizing something wasn't working for you the right way and DOING something about it. Doing is 75% of the battle!

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    1. Laura,

      Thanks! Really, it is just about trying to take control of a little problem before it grows into something bigger than I can handle, you know? Thanks for the encouragement!

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  9. Happy Birthday and I am proud of you. I am 57 days sober today. I too started turning to alcohol for the wrong reasons, and I had no willpower over alcohol. Every night I would come home and it would be two drinks. I've discovered a lot about myself in the last 57 days. My wish for you is that this is a positive experience, that you find what you are seeking out of this journey. You will be in my prayers.

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  10. I got here from the Brew Crew post and didn't leave! I am a recovered alcoholic and I was sober for over 6 years before I had a glass of wine. I chose to end my sober streak because I was celebrating a monumental (to me) birthday (you can read about it here, if you choose: http://loveisyhwh.blogspot.com/2012/12/now-what.html).

    I want to applaud you for recognizing the issue before it truly became an issue. It takes a strong person to recognize that they are doing something for the wrong reasons and an even stronger person to try to correct the problem. Kudos to you!!

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