First of all you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in almost a year. For more on that and where this blog is heading in the future you can read about it here.
Lent is upon us. For those who may not know, Lent is a 40 day long season of the Church during which many Christians traditionally “fast” from things like meat, sweets or other things that are pleasurable. In recent years some have chosen to fast from Facebook or from destructive habits or even to a positive discipline. Please note that those 40 days do not include Sundays.
Normally I observe Lent by giving up something like deep fried food. It’s a bummer because I love fries and tortilla chips but if I’m honest, it’s not all that challenging. This year I am stepping up the game and giving up alcohol. I’ve done this twice before in the past 7 years but for a while now I’ve been feeling like I need to take a step back from drinking. While I’m not an alcoholic, it has become a habit and something I use as a coping mechanize when dealing with stress and anxiety. Therefore, I want to take the opportunity to examine the role it plays in my life, gain insight into myself and hopefully develop other, healthier ways of coping.
Now those of you who know their Bible might be wondering if I am acting like those religious leaders that Jesus condemned in Matthew 6:1 when he said, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them.” It’s a legitimate question but please believe me when I say that I’m not doing this for praise.
Sharing this with you is part of my own commitment to maintain the discipline. If I am publicly accountable then it helps me to keep pushing forward. It also forces me to be conscious and reflecting on what the experience is like and how it affects me both emotionally and spiritually.
My prayer is that this may also be of help to you. If you are questioning the role that alcohol plays in your life or if you are affected negatively by someone else’s drinking, then I hope this may lead to seek for answers or get help if you need it.
Finally, I am sharing this so that Christians will keep talking about the role alcohol plays in our lives and in our church. This is especially important for the clergy. Our vocation is not easy. As I know from personal experience, all too often we wind up choosing unhealthy ways of coping with the stress. Yet because we feel pressure to live up to the impossible standards set for us (or that set for ourselves), we often try to hide our inevitable failures and shortcomings. The result is that many clergy don’t get to experience the freedom in Jesus that we proclaim to others but instead live as prisoners of addiction and denial. This is incredibly destructive not only for our own lives and families but for our parishes and for the Church as a whole.
I don’t know how many people will read this. But if it encourages even one more person to be honest about the ways in which alcohol affects them personally and the ways in which it impacts our churches, then it is a step in the right direction.
More so than ever I welcome your questions, experiences, prayers and support.