My name is Martha, and I am a Missionary Baptist deacon’s kid (DK). And I’m an alcoholic. I just reported the latter to my security officer so it can’t be used against me now. My co-workers know too. My mother does not, and I intend to keep it that way because that might be the one thing she doesn’t forget. And I got sober before I got the nose ring. haha!
I was told not too long ago that I have been pretty open about blogging about my “junk.” Well, now that I have dragged all of my skellingtons out of the closet to my sponsor (and lived through it), I feel much more comfortable sharing my junk publicly. Because I kept a lot of crap bottled up for so long that I nearly imploded. It’s been a year now since my emotional breakdown which could in a sense be considered my rock bottom even though it took me a while after that to admit that my drinking was a problem that was perpetuating my other problems.
I read a couple of articles this morning that hit home and prompted me to be willing to put some more of my junk out there.
5 Reasons Pastors Kids are Leaving the Church – Guest Post by Emily Wierenga
Do Prodigals Feel Welcome At Our Churches?
I learned as a DK very early how to keep up appearances. I knew the right way to speak around the right people. I learned how to smile and pretend everything was okay. I might have missed my calling as an actress because I kept up quite an act. Things were not okay, and I was not okay. My dad was verbally and emotionally abuse to my mom and I, and it couldn’t be shared. So we suffered in silence. I can’t speak for her, but I can speak for how it affected me. It nearly destroyed me. I learned not to trust anyone, and not to respect authority, but to go through the motions as if I did. Of course that can’t be maintained, and so I would act out. I felt different from everybody like I didn’t fit in.
Then I got drunk, and that changed everything.
It was my 3rd time drinking when I hit that sweet spot of drunk where I felt good. I was confident and relaxed for the first time. I could be myself without analyzing everything that I or anyone else said or did. I enjoyed life, at least until I sobered up. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I never did drink like I “normal” person. I drank to get drunk – trying to get back that feeling of that first good drunk. Sometimes I did it, but more often than not I went way beyond that sweet spot. It became a means to escape. It didn’t matter how many hangovers where I swore I’d never drink again, I was going to end up doing it again. And when I did, I was going to drink until there was no more alcohol or I passed out or I was throwing up. I would feel guilty the next day, but still kept drinking.
I was extremely fortunate that drinking never got me into any trouble with work or the law. I never missed work because of my drinking, didn’t go to work drunk, and rarely went in with a hangover. I never got into any trouble with the law. But for the grace of God, it never progressed farther than having Petra tell me I needed to stop for a while. Which, of course, I couldn’t.
What really stood out to me in the first article I linked above is: “PKs aren’t given a chance to experience God’s grace and mercy; they’re just forced to memorize the concepts.” The same was true for this DK. Grace and mercy took a back seat to following rules to maintain your own reputation among other people. Or rather my dad’s reputation which he destroyed himself.
In the second article, there was this: “And when prodigals bottom out, they often return home and to the church.” I returned to the church before I actually bottomed out, but I nearly left again. I did leave the Baptist way behind because I could still see and feel that pressure to maintain an outward appearance of righteousness. I couldn’t live up to that standard as a child and I can’t live up to it as an adult.
What I can do, though, is learn how to rest in the finished work of Jesus. It took over 30 years for it to finally sink in, but I am not accepted and loved by God because of anything I have done, am doing, or will do. It is through Jesus and Jesus alone that I am made righteous. He paid my debt. I have nothing to earn. The best work I can do on my own is like a used tampon before God. Oh yeah, that’s the literal translation of “filthy rags” in the Bible. But if Christ’s death on the cross is not enough to pay for my sin, it’s not enough to cover anyone’s and none of us have any hope. The justification of salvation is an instant event, but sanctification is a process rather than an event. That is why I can put my junk out without wallowing in the pit of self-pity from guilt and shame due to not being perfect. That’s why I no longer look at trials as punishment but as instruments of growth because they are chipping away at my self-centeredness and my guilt and shame of not being perfect. Only Jesus was perfect.
I have 5 1/2 months of sobriety by the grace of God, one day at a time. I am making peace with my past and letting go by the grace of God, one day at a time. I am learning to open up and call people when I am feeling the insanity of the committee in my head and need someone to talk to and to talk me down, by the grace of God, one day at a time. I am learning to live in the present and not reliving the past or trying to control the future, by the grace of God, one day at a time.