Over the holidays I attended a meeting where a guy showed up smelling like a brewery. He kept getting up and going outside to refill his “water bottle”. Things like this happen from time-to-time, and it’s really not shocking, although certainly not recommended. We have ways of dealing with it that don’t involve shaming, but do attempt to keep our community safe.
Although alcoholism is his primary problem, it’s not his only issue.
This gentleman has been well-schooled in his faith. He talks often about his commitment to live only in “the truth”. He won’t accept a sponsor if said sponsor has been divorced because that’s a sin. If someone in a meeting quotes Ghandi, he storms out in righteous indignation. I worry that his interpretation of what it means to be a faithful man is standing between him and holiness. If he continues along the path he’s on, I fear that he may never experience sobriety. In his certitude, he’s missing key information about himself and maybe God too. I don’t know any of this, but I wonder about it all. Here’s one reason I wonder…
Christ has set us free for freedom. Therefore, stand firm and don’t submit to the bondage of slavery again. Galatians 5:1 CEB
My friend has a compulsive behavior – drinking – that has him in bondage. He admits this, but he is not ready just yet to acknowledge how absolutely powerless he is in the face of it. Right now, he is using compulsive thoughts about what he thinks and believes about his faith to ignore the simple fact at hand – God also said drink in moderation. And he cannot do that.
Can you relate? I certainly can. Drinking alcohol doesn’t happen to be my thing – but I have things. One practice that helps me live with more freedom and less bondage is a daily practice of remembering that it is dangerous to be too certain about what I know. I do believe that Christ has set us free AND I believe that because I have this hope, then there are things I must do – like stand firm and not submit to bondage. HOW that works out? That’s a daily adventure. I no longer have the luxury of certainty that there are people who I cannot learn from, or groups of misdeeds that I can judge harshly.
It’s a full time job trying to stay alert to my own shaky standing and unwillingness to surrender to a power greater than my own compulsion. Today, maybe we can find a way to be kind and encouraging to the guy or gal who shows up in our daily life with behaviors we are tempted to judge.