As you may have heard, I gave up alcohol for Lent. Sunday, I celebrated by having cocktails … and feeling sick the rest of the night. So yeah, my advice: if you stop drinking for six weeks and then randomly start again, go slow. Surely, though, that is not the most important thing I learned over the course of Lent.
Item One: I suffer from social anxiety disorder. Drinking is a comfort thing. If I’m in an awkward situation with a) crowds, b) people I don’t know, or c) people with too much freakin’ energy, I tend to nurse a beer to make myself relax. I learned through my six weeks of sobriety that alcohol doesn’t really make a difference at all. I can suffer through just about any awkward social scenario, sans booze, by just breathing and being myself.
Item Two: Speaking of being myself, people claim alcohol lowers your inhibitions and makes you “more fun.” Well, as many of my gal pals had the pleasure of figuring out during Lent, I’m just as weird, outspoken, and inappropriate sober as I am drunk.
Item Three: Alcohol, although a health food in France, is not really good for me. Over the course of my six week dry spell, I slept better, felt better, and got a heck of a lot more work done. My head felt clearer; my writing grew by leaps and bounds. I became a (prepare yourself) morning person. Talk about an Easter miracle!
Item Four: I like non-alcoholic beer. Seriously. See, there was a family crisis over the course of Lent—the kind of crisis that makes you say, “Holy hell, I need a DRINK!” While I considered a cheat, I reached for O’Doul’s instead. I didn’t need the actual buzz; I needed the taste of beer, and the mere taste of beer took the edge off. St. Pauli Girl’s NA is the best, in case you’re in the market.
Item Five (and probably most important): I have too many idols, and alcohol is only one of them. With the subtraction of alcohol, my new novel became my idol. One idol replaced another, when God should be my first and foremost. I do think this is what Lent is about. We give up something we usually worship in replacement of God in order to focus on Him. I did focus on Him over the course of the six weeks. I spent more time talking to Him and reading about Him. However, I need to be careful, because even when I give up one thing—alcohol, for instance—there will always be something else threatening to take its place … and that something is rarely God, when it damn well should be.
Now, Lent is over. Easter came and went; Christ died for us and is risen. In celebration, like I said, I had a couple drinks Sunday and felt awful after the fact. I might start slow this month—some social drinking here or there. I’m going to stick to non-alcoholic beer when available (weird, I know). I’m going to be myself in all circumstances, plus or minus bourbon or whiskey. And I’m going to be aware of my idol worship, because I owe it all to Him and Lent was a nice reminder of all He has to offer and all I have to be truly thankful for.