the stress of sobriety*

The problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes.

Dave Barry

i’ve been writing about religion and the protestant western church for years now. if i had to take a guess, i’d say at least 10 years.  i was raised to not see the Church just as it is, but also as it is intended to be.  this is the very thing that breeds inner conflict, but this is also the very thing that saved my life.

as i looked back, i realized that i’ve spent many of my years in leadership trying to get people to stay in their church.  i wasn’t the only one.  as leaders, many of us grit our teeth in public and shout in the privacy of our cars.  we are conflicted with the institutionalization of the Church.  very few speak up, since our salaries, positions, titles, and reputations are possibly at stake.  we speak our convictions in dark corners and convince ourselves that God will change the hearts of men, the men in charge.  we keep peace for the good of the whole and we sip on the wine of “one day we will see breakthrough.”

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.

George Bernard Shaw

there are many different “wines” that we sip to stay happy & motivated.  the wine of “human ambition and the exhilaration of ladder climbing”, the wine of “there is a reward waiting for me at the end of this”, the wine of “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”, the wine of “i am blessed as long as i stay faithful”… there are many different flavors, being grown in different vineyards with different elements and influences, but they all come from the same fruit source.

“They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt; they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing. When I’m sober enough to manage it, bring me another drink!”

Proverbs 23:35 Msg

i was a drunkard for nearly two decades.  i was wasted on misplaced hope.  i was intoxicated on insecurity and ignorance.  but i stepped away.  it took more than 28 days.  i took on sober living in solitude.  eventually, i found others that were doing the same.  we held each other accountable and we encouraged each other in the Truth.  i was aware of the present condition of both myself and the Church… i was sober.

there is stress in being sober.  there is a pain in being awake and aware.  there is a responsibility that comes with clear vision and self-control.  it’s not easy being a designated driver.  it’s not so simple to show up sober and leave sober when you shake hands and hug others that reek of wine.  i maintain sobriety for the journey… one day at a time.

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:13 KJV

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