I always worry that I have an addictive personality. Alcoholism runs in my biological and adoptive families, so I have a legit reason to worry. Not to mention, I went through a serious drinking streak in college.
Anyway, the other day I was doing Evening Prayer, which is said around the time of sunset (getting earlier and earlier!), and I started craving brandy. I mean, really craving it. I have a big bottle of brandy with plenty left in it, and I suddenly stopped saying my prayers and was mentally going through my refrigerator and cabinets looking for something to which to add the brandy. (Man, just talking about it now is making my mouth water.)
(This is not a picture of MY brandy bottle, needless to say. My brandy is cheap and run of the mill. This picture is merely to make you wish you had some brandy right now, so you can understand where I’m coming from.)
I said to myself: “Maybe I could add it to some tea and lemon, make a hot toddy.” “Do we have any eggnog left?” “What other holiday drinks are made with brandy? Time to pull out the Bittman!” (“The Bittman” is how my friends reference the cookbook “How To Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman. They are academicians and complete nerds.)
But then I kind of backtracked and began to wonder if my whole quest for brandy drinks was good and proper. I mean, it was only 4:30 pm. after all. Plus, what if I do have an addictive personality and this leads me down a path to a binge? Moreover, here I am doing Evening Prayer, and I’m thinking about brandy instead of thinking about God??
You see, I was raised Protestant, but converted to Catholicism in 2008. And growing up in the South, I was surrounded by Baptists, even though I happened to be Methodist. The Baptist prohibition against drinking sunk in kind of deep. So even though I do drink alcohol, I feel guilty and conflicted when I do.
Not knowing what to do, I turned to God for an answer. I sent out a silent plea for a response and waited.
Silence in my soul. No response.
I sighed and decided that I should just finish Evening Prayer and decide later about the whole brandy thing. So I found the last sentence I had read, and moved on. The very next sentence said this:
The Very. Next. Sentence.
It is from I Peter 5:8, and the whole thing goes like this: “Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
It was so striking that it put a bit of fear in me. So I’ve purposed to stay sober and keep alert. Not that I was a really big drinker before. Sure I had that little incident when the Royals were winning, but now I’m on the straight and narrow!
I probably won’t be a teetotaler in the future; I don’t think that alcohol is evil. But I do think my days of drinking to excess are officially over.