I am 21! Woohoo!
The past few days have been really fun. My friends threw me a Frozen-themed surprise party on Thursday, order I went out for Japanese food Friday night, viagra and then on my birthday I had cake with my host family (for breakfast) and then went out on a Chiva (an open-air party bus) that night.
Turning 21 in Ecuador is kind of anticlimactic because 21 doesn’t mean anything here (as the drinking age is 18). But, sickness let’s be real, it would be pretty anticlimactic in the States, too, since I don’t drink. Throughout the past two semesters of study abroad, I have gotten the chance to share with some people why I don’t drink, and I thought this was a good opportunity to share with all of you! I made the decision that I was not going to ever drink alcohol when I was 18, before I left for college. But I haven’t actually shared why with a lot of the people in my life. So here we go!
I’ve shared quite a bit on this blog about my long-term struggle with disordered eating and an eating disorder, as well as my journey with depression. The past several years of my life have been a difficult, beautiful, miraculous, painful, and blessed fight to live in freedom and be filled with the joy of the Lord. In many ways I am so thankful for this battle because it’s taught me who I am and shown me the strength and love of God. I am living a freedom-filled, redeemed life and it still amazes me every day.
However, because of my life experiences, my genetics, and by virtue of living in a fallen world, I know that I have a propensity towards depression and anxiety and using unhealthy coping methods to deal with these really hard disorders. Do you know what disorders are most commonly co-morbid (happen alongside of) alcohol and substance abuse? Depression, anxiety, and eating disorders (binge eating and binge drinking are really two sides of the same coin). I am so thankful for my recovery story and everything the Lord revealed to me during that time, but I am not at all interested in having to battle with and recover from another disorder. I think there’s a reasonable chance that if I drank alcohol, I would eventually struggle with alcoholism.
I love what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians:
“Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything.
Here’s the thing: I believe alcohol is permissible for me (and all followers of Jesus). In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to find out that Jesus is a bit of a wine aficionado, since the water he turned into wine seemed to be pretty rockin’. But that doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial for me. And I do not want to be mastered by anything.
Galatians 5:1 says:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yolk of slavery.
I don’t want to be burdened by a yolk of slavery. God and I decided together that I would not drink alcohol, even after turning 21. This is not a decision I’ve made out of fear, rather it’s a decision I’ve made out of my love for the life God has given me and out of respect for my own body.
There’s always some difficulty when we make decisions that are different from the norm. I honestly have no interest in drinking alcohol–it just does not appeal to me and I truly believe that’s a result of the Holy Spirit working in me to make life easier for me. What is hard, and I’m sure this will get harder as I move back to the States as a 21 year old, is feeling like I’m missing out when I’m with my friends who are drinking. Or encountering people who feel judged by me because they are drinking. Or people who think that I’m a really boring person because I don’t drink. However, living the freedom-filled life God calls me to is worth it, especially because I know at my core that His opinion of me is the only one the truly matters.
Often when we speak of freedom, we mean that we can do anything we want. However, I submit to you that many of the things we do in our freedom actually make us slaves. Just because you have the freedom to drink does not mean that drinking keeps you in freedom. This is true for both Christians and non Christians.
Nothing is impossible with God. I love this from Francis Chan: Something is wrong when our lives make sense to nonbelievers. I think that’s largely true. There’s a lot of things in my life, and not just with alcohol, that don’t make sense to those who don’t know Jesus. And it makes complete sense that it doesn’t make sense! God calls us to live our lives in ways that don’t necessarily seem practical or in line with the norm. And the more confident you are with your identity in Christ, the easier it will be to follow him and be obedient to what he’s called you to.
~I have made the decision to not drink alcohol at all, ever. Sooo close friends and family you should probably just accept that now ;)
~I am not judging you if you drink. I do not feel uncomfortable if you drink around me. Last semester I would go out to clubs quite a bit with my friends. Yesterday I spent my birthday night on a Chiva with lots of alcohol. It doesn’t bother me, as long as you’re respectful of me!
~I believe that Christians are completely permitted to drink alcohol, although I challenge you to make sure you’re doing it in a way that honors God.
~It is completely possible to not drink alcohol if that’s what the Lord is speaking to you.
I’m really excited to see what 21 brings! I’ve received some promises from the Lord that I’m so excited about! And thank you so much for everyone who made my birthday special. It’s hard to have a birthday abroad, but it was a good one :)