Today I finally shared my testimony at church. It went SO well. I’m grateful for the process to get to the stage, all of the people who gave me advice and listened to me practice. I only cried at one part (more so in the first service!) which surprised me….but it was always the part I cried when I did cry.
It will be a few days/weeks until the video is online, but I figured there are some who have been waiting to hear the full story. Here is the text of what I shared.
“I am a recovered alcoholic. Not a typical term that you hear, I know. But I didn’t really like “recovering alcoholic” as if I will forever be a sober person struggling to stay sober, not changed completely by God’s work in my life.
I felt God prompting me to share this, even though this isn’t the “easy” testimony. I’ve thought about sharing this in some form or another since about a month or two after I quit drinking.
So why am I sharing it now? I think that what I have to say may help someone realize that if God is telling you to do something, He will give you the strength to walk through it. To fully understand how I got to this point, I have to take you back about 9 years.
I was working a retail job in 2006 and nearly every Friday night, I was out with my co-workers, getting drunk. I didn’t really drink a whole lot before this job, so for me to be going out every Friday night was not like me. But it happened so gradually, I didn’t notice.
In the fall of 2006 I was driving home from another late night at the bar. As I was driving home, I was texting someone saying “man, I should not be driving right now.” I say that and just shake my head at myself. Texting and driving AND drinking and driving. Well, thankfully, I was pulled over before anyone was hurt. I was arrested for a DUI. Having to call my mom to get me out of jail was probably one of the most humbling things I’ve had to do.
I had a few drinks in the weeks that followed, but my lawyer advised me to stop drinking. So I did. I was sober for a year after that. I went to court mandated group meetings and classes. Even sitting in the group, I didn’t think I had a problem. It was just a dumb mistake I made.
When my year of probation was over, I went out and celebrated with some friends….how? By drinking. Again, I look back and shake my head.
In the years that have followed, I haven’t been arrested again, but I have done some really stupid things.
I was so hungover at my best friend’s wedding, that she held MY flowers right before walking down the aisle so I could go throw up.
I’ve thrown up in my friend’s bushes during a party.
I’ve locked myself in the bathroom, at another friend’s house sobbing for nearly an hour because of a movie.
I’ve gotten drunk with clients two days before their wedding.
I’ve gone to church severely hungover.
I’ve snuck hard liquor and not told Bret how much I had to drink.
I’ve drunk cooking wine.
Up until I stopped drinking, on all but one of my getaways with Bret, I would drink myself silly, which cut the trip short and ruined the time.
I’ve missed several opportunities to witness about Christ because I had too much to drink to think clearly.
On the last night I drank, Bret and I were supposed to do evening devotions, but we didn’t because I was so intoxicated.
After many of these humiliating moments, I would swear off alcohol. I would be ashamed of myself. How could a Christian act like this? I’d tell myself I won’t drink again. I would journal and ask God’s forgiveness. Many times, if not every time, this verse came up:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8
Every time I read it, I’d mentally agree and think “this is it. I can do this.”
But then a few months would go by and I would think, “Oh it’s our anniversary,” “Oh, it’s so and so’s birthday,” “Oh! It’s Tuesday!” And there I was again, right back where I was before. It would start slow and then would be a full blown problem again. It was an endless cycle.
My breaking point was not that big of a deal, comparatively. I was watching TV with my mom, and because of the alcohol content, I drank essentially 7 and a half beers….in two hours.
The next morning, like many mornings before, I felt terrible about drinking that much. I again journaled my regrets. Again, “be sober-minded” came up in my devotions. But this time, I really started thinking seriously about it. Previously, I would swear off alcohol right away, but it wasn’t a serious commitment because I really didn’t think it through. This time, I weighed both sides and thought through things for several days.
I finally took my sin seriously.
I reasoned that what I lost by not drinking ever again was not even worth comparing to what I would gain. I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem. I finally admitted I couldn’t do this on my own. I finally surrendered myself to God’s way. I have been sober for about a year and a half.
Here’s what I’ve learned – God very patiently told me to quit drinking, but I didn’t listen for a long time. A VERY long time! When I did though, He very richly blessed me. I haven’t had a craving for alcohol. I haven’t been tempted to drink. I can be around people who drink. I haven’t second guessed my decision. I have found strength I didn’t know I had, His strength in me. It has become an easy thing. I listened to God’s command and I was blessed.
It breaks my heart to think that I have lost out on chances to share my faith with others because of drinking. It stinks that I showed a terrible witness of a Christian to those who didn’t know my Savior. But here’s what I know. Christianity is not about a bunch of perfect people who live perfect lives. It’s not about people who stop sinning when they’re saved. It’s about totally messed up, imperfect, screwed up people coming with absolutely nothing that makes them worthy, throwing up their hands and admitting that they don’t have it all together. It’s believing that Christ was a real person who was fully God and fully man, who came and lived a perfect life that we could not, and died a death to pay for the punishment of our sins, and rose again to defeat death.
The number one response people give when they hear I struggled with this is – I had no idea you dealt with this! It’s easy to hide sin, especially sin you’re ashamed of. I am not ashamed of my sin anymore. I’ve been excited to share because I know what it’s like to be ashamed of sin. I know how it feels to walk into church with downcast eyes. I know how it feels to think you’re the only one who struggles with something. Trust me when I say, you are not the only one who struggles. But I can now more fully say I understand forgiveness. I can more fully express that God is waiting with open arms to take us back. Even after we’ve fallen for the second time…the fiftieth time…the thousandth time.
Now that alcohol is not in my life, there’s room for God to be the most important thing. I now love to be near God, I have such a desire for him and his word. Because I’m not hungover, I can listen to sermons nearly every day and have clarity as I listen. Do you remember how I missed out on evening devotions with Bret? Well, now he’s listening to most of those sermons with me. Our faith is the number one thing we talk about now.
I am now able to be more alert, all the time, for opportunities to serve others. I am aware of the spirit speaking to me – now that he’s not muted by alcohol.
So while I had a terrible witness for 9 years because of drinking, because Christ paid for those sins I am now worthy to stand before a holy God.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 says, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
The God that made a way to forgive my sin is the same God that gave me the strength to finally give up a sin I’ve struggled with for over 9 years. He is more than able to give you the strength to finally give up the sin you’ve been struggling with.”
Thank you Daryl for taking this photo!
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