Saturday, May 22, 2010

God's Wings

Twelve days ago, I had what I pray will be my last drink of alcohol. Nine days ago, as I was getting dressed for church, I looked at myself in the mirror, realized that I had been sober for more than two days for the first time in a long while, and finally admitted to myself that I am an alcoholic. The admission was both devastating and liberating. Devastating in that I had to acknowledge how thoroughly I had failed at managing my own life, how I had failed my wife and daughter, and how I had manipulated friends and family to create both the excuse and the space to feed my thirst for alcohol. Liberating in that I know alcoholism is a disease, and that admitting my addiction to myself and those close to me makes treatment possible.

As I went to church that Sunday morning, my focus was on my failures and hypocrisy. How could I, who had failed myself and those around me so completely, teach the children in my Sunday school class? For the entire time I have been a member of our church, I have been living a lie, using religion as a poultice to meliorate my guilt while continuing to feed my cravings for alcohol. I'd convince myself that my participation in church activities demonstrated my desire to help others; instead, it was just another form of manipulation I used to justify continuing to feed my selfish, destructive addiction.

Before the sermon, those of us who helped with the Education Ministry received a mustard seed pin to acknowledge our role helping to plant the "seed" of faith in the hearts of the church's children and youth. I accepted my pin with my head bowed in shame, my hypocrisy clearly branded on my burning face. The only thought running through my head was, "I don't deserve to be acknowledged or acclaimed, I deserve to be ridiculed and rebuked."

After we returned home, I held the pin in my hand, trying to decide between throwing it away and hiding it at the back of my "junk" drawer. After all, I couldn't possibly wear what I viewed as a badge of my hypocrisy. As I looked at the seed, however, I realized that even though I had failed my responsibility in "sowing the seeds of faith", I had in fact been sowing other seeds through my irresponsible behavior, seeds that once sown grew outside of my awareness and control. Seeds that had caused my neighbors to avoid me and talk about me behind my back. Seeds that were slowly destroying my marriage, and teaching my daughter that Dad was unreliable. Who knows what other seeds of self-destruction I have planted?

I decided then to wear the pin, to remind me of my faith when I felt the urge to drink, to remind me of my responsibility as a Christian, a husband, and a father, and to remind me that everything I do, good or bad, sows a seed that will grow whether I nurture it or not.

As I started my recovery, my counselor suggested another way to view the seed, which is the symbolism I have adopted as the most significant. Right now, I feel shattered. All that I have accomplished and built during my life is overshadowed by the potential destructiveness of alcohol. Who I have been no longer matters. While no one forced me to take my first drink, I did not set out to become a drunk, and my problems with alcohol do not define me unless I allow them to. Alcoholism is an insidious disease that masks itself by distorting your perspective and filling your mind with deceit. I cannot change the past, but I can build a future.

I am the seed, and I place myself in God's hands.


  1. In reading your blog, my heart goes out to you and your family. My favorite scripture of all times is EXODUS: 14:14 FOR THE LORD WILL FIGHT FOR YOU AND YE SHALL HOLD YOUR PEACE.