As I reflect on my sobriety and the struggles I have had in the past with self-medicating through alcohol, I invariably come back to the idea of grace. I am here by grace, and it is through grace that I find the courage to stay sober. I don't know when or if I will slip up. It could be today or tomorrow. It could be years from now. But what I do know is that grace will be there to pick me back up.
I have many reasons to stay sober. From the love of my mom to the smiling faces of my nieces, or the responsibility I have to my younger brothers to provide a good example of what a good man does, or the hope of fulfilling the dreams I have implanted on my heart, there are real, incarnate reasons that remind me each day that I have a good life and I need to entrust my failings and my doubts to the higher power of the Grace of God. If I can surrender my need to try and control everything, I can see that grace alive and vibrant in every moment. And, I can realize that alcohol cannot make anything better than it already is!
Alcohol, for me, is a "stumbling block," to use the words from Jesus in Mark, Chapter 9. It is an impediment that keeps me from being my best self, from whom God created me to be. It soothes the pain, or so I think. Really, it simply numbs the pain, making me think things are ok. But the pain is still there; I am simply ignoring it. And when I recognize that the alcohol has not really made my problems go away, I get mad or depressed and I take all of the anger and sadness out on those around me, on those I love. And God was one of my favorite targets. What I have come to realize is that not only does alcohol keep me from being my best self, but it becomes a barrier to a full, deep, enriching relationship with God.
And while I know God is big enough to take my railing and wailing and anger, my love for God keeps me from drinking. My desire to be who God wants me to be stops me from picking up a bottle. My desire to love God as God loves me strengthens me to not drink. And when I fail, if I fall, God's grace will pick me up and cover the gap that I cannot fill.