One of my most vivid childhood memories is of my mother and my father standing at our kitchen sink in Winnipeg surrounded by the last empty bottles, big smiles on their faces as my mother poured each one out. The bottles made that glug-glug noise when the pouring is too fast for the opening. We made an occasion out of that moment as a family. It was a celebration, a milestone, one that my sister and I didn’t quite understand but we felt the relief in our home.

My parents had a complicated relationship with alcohol; not exactly personally although there was some of that but within their larger story of family and friends. When they converted to Christianity in their thirties, they were under no illusions and they were desperate to make everything new. They poured out all of the alcohol in the house in a grand renunciation of the old ways, the old bondages, the old addictions, the old possibilities. They wanted something new and different and better.  They were new people, a new creation, a new story was going to be written about their family.

In the old hard drinking days of business, my father never veered from his Diet Coke once. Their relationships with some family members became tense because no one remembered how to hang out without a beer. They tried not to judge others but they knew what they knew. To them, this wasn’t even a choice to stop drinking, it was simply who they were now. They untethered drinking from their identity and never looked back. It’s been about thirty years since that decision now. A lot of their friends and family have joined them in their temperance now.

So I never saw an adult drunk in my childhood to my memory. I never witnessed an excess of alcohol. I grew up in a sober home where adults having fun was never linked to clinking ice cubes or lipstick stains on a wine glass. My parents were young, they were filled with life and joy and hope. Who needed alcohol now?


The first time I drank alcohol, I was about fourteen years old. I lied to my parents and went to a party at a friend’s house where we drank cheap red wine and those sickly sweet wine coolers with all of the cool kids. I didn’t like it much but I kept at it: after all, it was worth the effort, look at how I was fitting in now. I was already smoking a pack day, what was a bit of booze? And a year later, I had more regrets than any fifteen year old should have.

At seventeen, I decided to follow God for my own self. I quit drinking as part of the deal and didn’t touch the stuff for ten years.


I decided I wanted to have wine with dinner like civilized grown-ups. I wanted the lovely glass of red beside me as I read my books. I wanted to know about the world of wine: tastes, bouquets, tannins, regions, all of it. Brian began to enjoy craft beer. He would buy a six-pack of beer and it would last for six months. I would buy a bottle of red and it would last for a week. We sipped wine occasionally and turned the radio to NPR.

For ten years, we drank alcohol in this way: occasionally, barely, and with interest. We liked to learn about it. We liked the world of craft beer and wine.

But slowly I began to drink more than my husband. His rare growler of beer still lasts but my bottle of wine on the sideboard began to disappear a bit sooner and then the bottle became a bigger bottle of cheaper variety and then the big bottles became a box of wine. I kept it in the kitchen cupboard.


My parents grew accustomed to my drinking, even accepting. I never drank in front of them out of respect for their journey. They listened to my reasonings about social drinking and moderation and our freedom in Christ.

I grew to love the imagery of wine in Scripture, to see it as an emblem of the New City and of heavenly banquets. I liked the sophistication of wine, the theology of wine, the metaphor of wine, the community around wine at the table. I liked the celebration of champagne, the warmth of a cabernet, the summer light of chardonnay.

Without noticing, I was drinking almost every night now. It didn’t bother me in the least.


I have learned that when you are walking with Jesus, the Holy Spirit is always up to something. And when it comes to conviction, I have found the Spirit to be gentle but relentless. 

Change and transformation is an ongoing process. I am always grateful how the Spirit isn’t harsh or overwhelming but rather how at the right time and in the right moment, we know it’s time to change.

We begin to sense that this Thing that used to be okay is no longer okay. The Thing that used to mean freedom has become bondage. The Thing that used to signal joy has become a possibility of sorrow. The Thing that used to mean nothing has become something, perhaps everything.

Or at least that’s what happened to me. It was fine, everything was fine. And then I knew it wasn’t going to be fine for much longer.


Because a year ago, I knew God wanted me to stop drinking.

And I fought it with my reason. Oh, I had all of the excuses for why I could keep enjoying my wine in the evenings – I work hard, I give so much, I’m not an alcoholic, I’m never hung-over, it doesn’t affect my life, it’s social, it’s fun, it’s in the Bible for pity’s sake! 

But still I sensed the Spirit, infinite patience and rueful love, waiting for me to trust the invitation as I defiantly poured another glass of wine.


I began to be haunted by the writer of Hebrews who said, “let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

I began to wonder why I was resisting throwing off the “weight” of alcohol, why I was so determined to keep running my race with this habit that had begun to feel so heavy.

In my soul, I could see the Holy Spirit practically jogging alongside of me to say every now and again: “Aren’t you ready to put that heavy weight down yet? I think it’s time you stopped this one. It’s your time to put it down. It looks to me like it’s getting heavier the longer you hold on.”   

No, no, I’m fine. I’ll just keep going like this. Everyone else does. It’s fine. We’re all fine. I’m fine. Look at how fine we are.

*pant pant*

Maybe I’ll just sit down at the side of the road for a while to catch my breath.


In my life, when it comes to the dawning of change, it can feel as if God presses a thumb down on something in my life. As if to say, “here, this spot, this one, let’s stay here for a while. I want to lean on this.”

It has happened about other habits or dependencies or sins or stumbles in my life as I’ve followed Jesus. I’m always glad for it. This has been the source of a lot of transformation in my life: something that was okay suddenly becomes not-okay and inside of that, there is an invitation to more shalom, more peace, more hope, more love, more trust, more wholeness. It’s never about deprivation, it’s about becoming who we were meant to be all along.

In the old days, they used to call this “holiness” or “sanctification” – both words we don’t hear much because they lost some meaning by their misuse perhaps. I do know this sort of transformation whatever we want to call it hardly ever happens all at once, it’s a slow burn and it refines and clarifies and distills. We grow into our new choices.

I remember when I felt that thumb press down on my cynicism, for instance. I had become so dependent on my cynicism, on my know-it-all tendencies, on my “yeah-but…” when it came to everything that I was missing so much of life and goodness and hope and possibility. I felt that challenge from the Holy Spirit for a year before I began in earnest to lean into the healing, into the renewal of hope again in my life. And that was one of the hardest and best things God has ever done in me.

The pressing of God’s thumb has felt like the hand of a massage therapist to someone with knots in their back: here is the knot, the pressure point, the source of the pain, and the pressing perhaps feels like more pain until suddenly it feels like release and exhale and movement. 

Yes, God’s thumb had come down on my drinking and I was wriggling under the weight, resisting and bargaining and excusing.


Conviction often begins with noticing.

I began to see how alcohol-centric our culture has become. To see how much of our version of fun revolves around wine or beer or some form of alcohol. To see how unhealthy our dependence is. To see the industry around it, capitalizing and marketing and selling and manipulating and exploiting.

I began to see what those no-fun tee-totalers a hundred years ago had seen – how the victims of alcohol were almost always the ones who were most vulnerable, how it impoverished families and lives, how it threw a lit match into powder kegs of longings.

I began to see how unhealthy it made me feel in mind and body. I began to read news stories I had somehow missed about how alcohol was linked to so much physical toll in our bodies.

I began to see women of my generation becoming increasingly dependent, as wine was marketed to women as the rest or as the treat they deserved for their exhaustion and their diligence and their selflessness.

I began to see news stories everywhere about the rise of women drinking. I began to read memoirs and stories and articles from women who had become caught in drinking too much and about how they felt addicted and dependent and entangled almost before they knew it.

I also began to notice how the church had begun to embrace drinking as well. Others of my generation who had also grown up in legalism regarding or abstention from alcohol perhaps, and so were exploring their emancipation with micro-brews and homemade wine over thick theology books and bible studies and hymn-sings. Then I began to wonder about stumbling blocks and I couldn’t seem to shake off early church admonitions to consider one another, to give preference to one another’s weaknesses. Were we setting someone else up? Were we judging the ones who abstain as legalists?

I remembered Brennan Manning – the man who has translated the love of God in a way that I could receive it more than probably any other writer – was addicted to alcohol and I re-read up one of his last books before he died: “All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir” where he vulnerably writes about what this battle has cost him, even as he experienced the unending and unconditional love of God in the midst of it, how he experienced regret and pain and loss alongside of the love and tenderness of God in this dependency. And I thought about the Ragamuffin for many, many days. 

I began to notice my friends who were in recovery. I began to notice how hard it is to be in recovery, to be an abstainer, in a world of drinking. And how it was somehow just as hard to be an abstainer in the Church as outside of the Church. I stopped posting pictures of wine on my Instagram. I began to wonder if I was thinking of myself and my own freedom more than I was considering others.

I began to notice how one glass of wine almost always means two or three.

I began to realize I was not a special snowflake somehow immune to addiction and dependence.

I began to see what my parents had always seen because I began to see it in myself.


And still the Holy Spirit sat with me, waiting for me to trust this invitation. Not to moderation, not to legalism, not to “counting drinks” or “accountability” or reasonableness. No, I was under no illusions, this would be a full scale surrender, a laying down my preferences and rights to embrace what just might something better.

I thought it would be hard.

I thought it would be awful.

I thought I would have no more fun.

I thought it would be boring.

I thought I would miss the way alcohol softened and blurred the hard edges of life.

I thought I was giving up so much.

I thought I’d be an outsider now.

I thought I’d be the odd-person-out in get-togethers.

I thought I wouldn’t fit in anymore.

I thought I’d be perceived as a legalist.

I thought I’d be judged for my own convictions.

I thought I would miss it too much.


So I quit drinking.

Quietly. Without a lot of fanfare. It’s been a while now. I simply stopped one day and I haven’t had anything to drink since that day.

The surprising thing to me is this: it’s been good. I haven’t missed it, I haven’t felt like an outsider, I haven’t felt longings to drink. In fact, I have noticed that my not-drinking has given other people permission to stop, too.

I wonder if my experience here is a grace that was given to me: once I stepped out in trust, once I said yes to the invitation from God, I was met with goodness.

I was prepared for struggle to quit: I wasn’t prepared for how good I would feel in my body, in my soul, and in my mind. It felt exactly like setting down a weight.

I was surprised at how wide and spacious I began to feel in my soul. I would think, “Do I want wine tonight?” and always I would respond to myself, “No, I’m a non-drinker. Drinking isn’t who I am anymore.” I stopped asking myself if I wanted a drink. I always didn’t. I don’t know where that thought came from – I have my suspicions that was prompted by the Holy Spirit.


“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

I began to move freely.

Then I felt like I was flying.


My older children asked me about it eventually. They said, “Mum, you don’t buy wine anymore, do you?

I said, no, I don’t.

They both smiled and one of them said, “Good, I’m glad. I don’t think it’s good for you. I’m glad you’re like Granny and Papa now.”

I said, “Me, too.”


I didn’t know that my children were paying much attention to me pour that glass of wine every night.

But they were watching. Aren’t they always?

So much of what we teach our children is caught rather than taught.


I still don’t think drinking is “sin” across the board. Nope. It’s a deeply personal choice. Not all sin is clear-cut: it’s often deeply tied to our motives and our hidden choices. I have zero judgement on anyone else’s choices. Conviction isn’t one size fits all.

After all, I was fine with drinking for a really long time until all of a sudden, I wasn’t anymore.

For some people, a drink is just a drink and that’s okay. But there are a lot of people who know that a drink can be dependence and distrust and damage and danger.

I don’t presume to make decisions for anyone else. I am wary of taking on the role of Holy Spirit in someone else’s life.

But if it feels like a weight, imagine how free you’ll be when you lay it down. If you’re sensing the invitation, it’s not an invitation to deprivation, but an invitation to abundance.


I think that conviction has gotten a bit of a bad rap in the Church over the past little while. It’s understandable. We have an overcorrection to a lot of the legalism and boundary-marker Christianity that damaged so many, the behaviour modification and rule-making and imposition of other people’s convictions onto our own souls.

But in our steering away from legalism, I wonder if we left the road to holiness or began to forget that God also cares about what we do and how we do it and why.

Conviction is less about condemnation than it is about invitation. It’s an invitation into freedom. It’s an invitation into wholeness.

Perhaps our choices towards those invitations from God are really an intersection for our agency or free will and the Holy Spirit’s activity – maybe that’s where transformation begins.

I quit drinking because I felt like God asked me to quit drinking. I’ve never regretted saying yes to God.


On a Saturday morning, I poured the last of the wine in my house down the sink. I was alone, no audience for me.

I thought of my mother and my father in their brand-new believer zeal, how all of those years earlier I had witnessed this same moment in their lives. Perhaps I was always headed towards this same emancipation. I am a bit older than they were on that day in Winnipeg when they poured out the booze. Then I put our fancy wine glasses away and I liked how open and clean everything looked now. I put the kettle on for a cup of tea.


A Prayer for International Women's Day
Why you need to watch the new Anne series - yes, I'm talking to you, fellow purists
thank you for sharing...
  • Pin this page395
  • 59614
  • Bethadilly

    This made me tear up. I don’t struggle with drinking but I do with sugar and processed foods. It is my weight I’m being called to lay down but I’m scared to do it, even though I need to.

    • Hannah O’Neill

      I was just thinking the exact same thing.

    • Bonita Hudson

      So this is a journey all of us must take – to recognize our addictions to things that we medicate the pain of our lives with and face them with God’s help. When we are honest with ourselves these medications can be anything including card games on the computer, Facebook, reading, work, hobbies – we ALL have something that we use to put off dealing with problems we cannot face right now. None of these are wrong used in the right place and time however all can be abused when we use them automatically without asking if there are better, more healthy things I should be doing. We learn compassion for ourselves and by extension we should extend that to others when we internalize what consciously dealing with the pain means. Sometimes it means a surgical removal like the journey above. For many people it means accountability so that we don’t slip into the old way of doing things and a determination to not just stop something but to put something better in its place.So many of our illnesses and troubles boil down to not paying attention to what God is really telling us in our hearts and minds and then trusting that making hard choices will get better as time goes on.

    • Andrea S.

      I’m right with you, Bethadilly! I’ve known about my addictive personality since high school (20 odd years ago), known about the alcoholism that runs in my extended family (on both sides), and, by the grace of God, knew myself well enough to not touch alcohol. Sugar, however, is a different story, but today I mark 58 days clean. No sugar, no flour for the last 57 days. Because I am a food addict, I’ve also cut snacks and second helpings out of my lifestyle. I personally have to treat myself like the addict in recovery that I am, I cannot touch that to which I am addicted. It was so scary, but God’s grace is so much bigger!

    • Tami

      So with you sister. The Holy Spirit has been pressing down His thumb in this area in a very dramatic way the last few weeks. This morning, I started a new journey to health and no longer self-medicating with food.

  • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

    Oh darn it, and I’ve recently sworn off tea 😉
    (It’s not the tea, it’s the milk. I don’t like tea without milk, and I think the milk is aggravating my chronic pain.)
    But I’ve noticed how attached I am to always having something to swig. It is usually tea, or my homemade lemonade, with honey instead of sugar. Nothing wrong with comfort, but sometimes the comfort things start to take you over, and then they aren’t really doing their job anymore.

  • Ro Elliott

    I love this… written beautifully… no condemnation… I grew up in an addicted family … and like your parents I gave it all up about 40 yrs ago when I found Jesus. I was surprised at the push back I would get from believers who were now walking in “freedom” that I didn’t drink… they just assume I was walking in bondage … but it was truly freedom for me. Over all these years I have seen more and more drinking being part of every social gatherings…I don’t want to judge… it just makes me wonder… why?

    • Alex bee

      I love your comments, being a teenager in the 70s when alcohol was cool, if you got it for everyone you were cool, then I seen the change after the 70s, 80s and 90s blew by , i was still stuck with alcohol, not on a daily basis but extreme on the weekends, saturday and sunday was devoted to getting over my hangover, till i said no more one day, so at the same time I quit drinking and smoking, and I felt like a tennis player without a tennis raquet, some friends wrote of the new me,we had nothing to say to each other sober, the aftermath of my decision took 6 months to settle down, but as you wrote I feel free now of the weight of alcohol, I can get up in the morning with my head clear, and I never looked back because it feels good, so thank you for sharing the great story of your personal freeing from alcohol,everybody can do it when its their time and with no pressure. Thanks

  • As someone who grew up in a “no sports on Sundays” and “no alcohol” family, whose rules were entirely motivated by hearts in line with God’s love, I chose to see many of the restrictions as legalism.
    Now, as a thirty-something mom, I wonder what my actions are teaching my kids and slowly, I have felt God speaking into these same areas. Sabbath rest, giving Him first place and snares that hinder me and mine. Thank you for vocalizing the difference in saying “yes to God” and walking into freedom. This post resonates with me today.

    • It’s funny, isn’t it, how we corkscrew back around on things we think we left far behind to see their wisdom with fresh eyes? I hear you, girl.

  • Claudia Dahinden

    I loved your post! I struggled with drinking alcohol for twenty years. After I’ve become a Christian with 33, I’ve made several attempts to quit until I finally broke through more than five years ago, the year I became 40. One year later, I had the idea for my book and CD and found my vocation that (so I feel) had patiently waited for me until I could really handle it. I feel free and happy like never before. Congrats again, and all the best for your journey!

  • Growing up my father was an alcoholic. I drank plenty as a teen, so much that it got me in trouble I dare not talk about here. When I gave my life to Christ at 20, I stopped drinking. Some days, I think I’d like a glass of wine or a beer, but I don’t. My children (adults now) drink socially and it doesn’t bother me. I loved the way this post is written.

  • Brenda P

    I never saw my parents drink growing up. Alcohol was bad, drinking was bad, and there was a lot of legalism surrounding not drinking. I remember telling my dad once that I didn’t think I would ever drink because I have an addictive personality and didn’t think it would be smart. He said how proud of me he was, and I wish I had listened to myself, because I was right. When I did start to drink in college, it was a mess from the get-go. No moderation, nothing good about it. I made a bunch of really poor choices that had a profound impact on my life. I stopped drinking for awhile because I was tired of the mess, but I longed for the ease other people had. I wanted a glass of wine while I painted, or a cocktail while out with friends. So I started drinking again. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could admit to myself that I wasn’t like other people. I couldn’t enjoy one drink now and then. If I drank at all, I drank too much, and I needed to stop. I’m over three years sober now, and it has not always been easy, but it’s been the right thing for me. Alcohol can be so complicated, and it’s a really personal thing. I’m relieved when friends take my not drinking in stride, and I’m more relieved when I’m not the only one drinking water. Thank you for sharing, Sarah.

  • Jenivere Peters

    I stopped drinking a while ago as well… kind of for health reasons, mostly as a result of a similar prompting from the Spirit, though I had a hard time articulating it at the time. You explained it beautifully.

    “I think that conviction has gotten a bit of a bad rap in the Church over the past little while.” I agree, even as I am guilty of this attitude/perception in certain areas. I found it so interesting that while it was so easy to stop drinking (it was as you described, an unburdening) it was most difficult to explain to fellow Christians. There is an unspoken feeling in the air that to not drink was to be less ‘free’. As I was reading this I thought: why, if it is ‘freedom’ to drink… isn’t it also ‘freedom’ not to? I find it SO freeing not to!

    Great post, Sarah.

  • Sarah

    Oh. My. Goodness.

    Have you been in my head?

    I had much the opposite childhood experience–a family with several generations of alcoholics. My mom made me my first margarita shortly after I turned 18. I have one cousin in recovery, a brother who’s currently off the wagon, and many more relatives actively addicted.

    But I thought I could handle myself. I was going to be the patron saint of Handling Your Liquor. I lived in a place that called itself Beer City USA and I only drank a single beer or a glass of wine occasionally. It was fine. I was even given wine as an ordination gift, for goodness’ sake!

    …and then I moved to start a new job, and turned my whole life inside out. It was stressful and hard. It IS stressful and hard and lonely. And I started realizing that I was using the wine or the cider or the craft beer to cope–to take the edge off, to numb myself against all of that even the slightest bit. And I remembered what my Counseling professor once said: all addictions begin as a coping mechanism.

    So I quit. I finished the bottle of wine that I got as a gift, and I haven’t had a drink in about a month. My mind is clear. I suddenly see all of the societal and cultural things you’ve named, and I lament them. Do I miss going out for the occasional drink? Sure.

    But I took the money I would’ve spent on alcohol and adopted a dog instead. Rather than dull myself to the harshness of the world and my own soul, I’ve decided to pour life into another little creature. Worth it.

    Thanks for writing this. I’m so glad I’m not the only one.

    • Jordan Taylor

      “all addictions begin as a coping mechanism.” I’m writing that one down. I come from a line of alcoholics as well. Thank you for sharing. <3

    • Good for you! I love the idea of getting a dog to love for spending your time and your energy and your money. A good example of being “for” something instead of just “against” something.

  • “I began to see women of my generation becoming increasingly dependent, as wine was marketed to women as the rest or as the treat they deserved for their exhaustion and their diligence and their selflessness.” This. I have been noticing this as of late and have felt a tug on my own heart about how easily and off handidly I can join in on this kind of discussion. As always, thank you for being obedient to the Spirit and gently reminding us of the freedom that can come in surrender.

    • Guest

      Great statement in the article – and great to have it quoted again here.
      Our American society pushes alcohol – and sometimes we don’t even notice it.
      (While we outlaw other drugs and ban advertising about drugs like tobacco,
      alcohol is given a complete pass.) Who wants to feel like a puppet – or a parrot?
      But I think it’s possible that a lot of us are exactly that when it comes to alcohol –
      unknowingly falling for advertising, other people’s convictions, and inaccurate thinking.

  • pastordt

    Ah, sweetheart. You just may have saved a life or two with this beautifully crafted, honest post. Thank you, thank you.

  • gapaul

    Such a good read. I’ve been having similar thoughts — why do I have to signal myself with a glass of wine that I am off duty, having fun, an adult who at the end of the day can finally lay down my responsibilities. And why, even among adults who aren’t fundamentalists, alcohol still has the whiff of transgression, which is part of what makes it “fun.” I joke about the mommy-wine, and can’t wait for the outing at the Christian conference that makes me and my friends freer-than, smarter-than, those uptight Christians of yesteryear who would never partake.

  • lindalouise

    I just love you, sweet Sarah – your true, honest heart. You give me (old enough yo be your mama) such hope.

  • Sneadle

    This was very good, pitch perfect, reminds me of how CS Lewis talks about related issues. I’ve been noticing it too, the almost pride in how much we drink and how free we are. And if starts to feel adolescent – like high school excesses all over again. Glad you brought it up – the way you did.

  • MelodieD

    Way to go. Thanks for telling it.

  • Mmm… Yes, it is good to say yes to God, isn’t it? To lay down our burdens. Thank you for this testimony today. The Spirit is calling me in a different area of life, and I’m in the “research” stage. Feeling so raw and ready, but afraid. Your words give me courage. I have a feeling I won’t ever regret accepting God’s invitation either.

  • Emilie Bishop

    Thank you for this. It was beautiful, thoughtful, and thorough. I drink the way you describe your early marriage, my husband doesn’t drink at all mostly because, as I say, he has the palate of a five-year-old and prefers soda and juice. But I have noticed the frequency with which other women around my age with young kids will joke about needing a glass of wine after a day of being Mom, employee, housekeeper, wife, etc, and I find myself joining in just to make conversation, even though my wine intake is better measured by the month than the day. I think I assumed other women were similarly exaggerating. Then one day a friend with whom I’d joked like that many, many times confessed to me that she was an alcoholic starting recovery. She’d quit and started up again many times since her late teens, but around the time she weaned her last baby her father died and it got the better of her. I promised her that she would never feel like the “odd girl out” in a larger group of women with wine glasses in hand because I wouldn’t drink when we got together anymore. I told her I knew she wasn’t asking me to do this, but I was doing it for her. It seemed like the thing to do, and all the passages about “stumbling blocks” came to mind as I said it. Since that conversation a year ago, I’ve mostly stopped with the wine jokes (entirely with her), because I don’t know for whom it’s a joke and for whom it’s more serious. I still drink some for now, but there are other weights I’ve felt convicted of just reading your post. I pray I can find my own courage to act on them.

    • You’re a good friend – this blessed me to read.

      • Maxine Edmisten

        I can so relate to Bethadilly. Food is an addiction.

  • Christy

    Thank you for your openness and honesty here. I decided a little over three years ago to stop. I think stopping has been key in my growing relationship with God. There is nothing to dull my awareness of God. My understanding of the necessity of vulnerability in relationship has grown because now there is nothing to take the edge off. I cannot have a relationship with God if I’m not willing to open up and be vulnerable and honest about me. That’s difficult to do when one has dulled the edges of everything. Thank you for this post.

    • A great way to put it, Christy – thank you! and you’re right. You don’t realise how much more clear you are without that blurring there.

  • Robin Lee

    This is beautiful.

  • Beccy Cree

    Oh Sarah, this spoke into my heart in deep ways.
    I’ve just quit social media because it became an addiction, used to distract myself from processing emotions and hard things in life. Used to numb pain and seek acceptance. Instead it aggravated my anxiety.
    Thanks for being honest with us. Thanks for letting go of the things that don’t make you better or more like Jesus, and giving us permission to do the same.

    • Tiffany Norris

      Yes–I think this is where God has His thumb on my life right now too. Still trying to sort through what He is asking, but yes–all the things you said.

    • A great insight, Beccy – thank you for sharing that!

    • I’m about to do this too, Beccy. Thanks for sharing, so I can know that I’m not the only one who feels this way!

  • This touches me. It’s hard in France to be a non-drinker. There was even the threat of division in the church over the Lord’s Supper bc some wanted wine instead of grape juice and I protested that it was a stumbling block to the weak. We compromised with alcohol-free wine. This was my husband’s and my proposal and we were invited to share the communion message to explain the change. My goodness. It was incredibly vulnerable to share my weakness in front of an uncomprehending audience. I cried and could barely speak. But afterwards some came forward expressing struggles of their own so we could see God was at work.

    • <3 Another thing to love about you.

    • So brave of you and I’m glad your community met you in that place.

  • Julie Grace Owens

    Loved loved loved this!! So beautifully written and expressed! Thank you for these words!

  • I love this Sarah. I did the same thing quietly about a year and a half ago… I still haven’t said I have ‘quit’ (forever) (maybe this is the nudge I need?)… But I have noticed all the same things you outline above and I can’t unnotice them now. I also often think of the Brene Brown line about being a ‘take-the-edge-off-aholic’… Speaks to my 9ness and my tendency toward numbing. Thanks for this xo

    • That’s a great phrase from Brene Brown – “a take-the-edge-off-aholic.” Right to the heart of it! And congrats on your year of temperance – I think that’s wonderful.

  • Tiffany Norris

    This is beautiful. I was just reading 1 Corinthians this morning–“Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” It matters what we do with our bodies. But the idea that conviction is more about invitation than condemnation? YES YES YES! Thank you for sharing.

  • Sarah, your words of legalism are not harsh, or judging. I thank you for speaking on drinking in the way you have. Loving and serving Jesus should be like this: uncomplicated and slow. This is a great piece.

  • Cara Snider Jones

    Thank you for this post. Thank you for affirming Christians who choose not to drink and who have felt judged for that personal choice. I have seen alcohol cause so much hurt and so much pain in the lives of people that I love and also contribute to so many societal problems. I consider myself to be quite liberal on many social issues, but have struggled with how much we glamorize and celebrate something that contributes to so much pain for so many of God’s children. With this being said, I understand the legalism aspect and in no way want to pass judgment on the many Christians (and non-Christians) whom I love and respect who simply enjoy a social drink. It just feels good to not be judged for something that’s just not for me. Our personal experiences shape us as we all make up the beautiful body of Christ. Above all else – let us love.

  • Erich Soiles

    I quit drinking almost 3 years ago to the day. The first year was very challenging but the last 2 have been great. Some of my family has quit drinking also. My mind is no longer in a fog and my priorities are not longer what party to go this weekend. It has changed my personal relationship with God and has eliminated so much guilt. Thank you for sharing it will spark change in so many other lives.

    • A wonderful testimony, Erich – thank you for sharing that! And congrats on your three years! A milestone to celebrate.

  • Stacey Todd

    This was perfect timing. Thank you for your honesty. ❤

  • Christine

    I love this post. I was raised in a deeply Christian, non-drinking household. My parents seemed snobbish in their faith that drinking was a failing of the soul. And so, though I actually didn’t drink growing up, I notice everything alcohol-related in that childish way. I notice when people cannot interact socially without a drink. I see the creep of social drinking into the fabric of our social abilities, how it is the reason to meet and it is the focus of relaxation, and I wonder if we can do without it as a group. I began to drink after I had children, because that’s what the other moms were doing when we met for dinner, and I’d begun to lose my center a bit. Isn’t having a glass of wine with dinner so grown up? Well, that’s how it felt for me. Yes, it was lovely to learn about wines and fancy beers, to try the mixed drinks I’d only heard of. For a while, it was the one thing I did that wasn’t about the baby, that was only about me. And now, having had two years to regain my sense of self, I see how much, how frequently drinking lies at the center of my social network. It’s confusing that, as a culture, we’ve come to need alcohol for every gathering. Mostly, I abstain. I don’t need it, never needed it. But it feels strange to feel strange, standing at a party without a glass, to be the only one, to feel eyes on you and wonder if they think you’re judging, to smile happily and hope they know you aren’t.

  • Don’t we all have things in our lives to say “Yes, God!” to? May God bless your honest sharing and your inspirational journey.

  • Denise Ohm

    Beautiful! Thank you for such a rich presentation. The Holy Spirit touching you makes perfect sense. Looking at my own behaviors that do not serve me.

  • Laura Jean Truman

    What a lovely reflection on how the Spirit prompts and grows us. Thanks for giving words to the “letting go” and “giving up” that stand without legalism but are firm and steady. That is a type of grace. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Laura Jean – it’s a tough tension to hold but learning to do it has been important, I agree.

  • Hellen Krahn

    Yup, as others have said, this feels like you’re in my head. Similar process. I’ve been thinking about it but I’ve not yet come to quit. I like what you say about conviction being more an invitation than a condemnation. Last night, after skimming this blog just before bed, I prayed that God would continually convict me, invite me, until I make that conscious choice to do what He has been wooing me to do for awhile now.

    This morning I walked into a local United Church…and guess what the sermon was about? The last of a series on the Fruits of the Spirit, today’s fruit: Self Control versus using ‘medicators’ such as food/alcohol/busyness, etc.

    Coincidence that I ended up in this church for this sermon? I think not! I chuckled to myself and I felt a tender vulnerability inside…knowing that the Holy Spirit is faithful and is immediately answering my prayer…

    And thank YOU so much for your vulnerability in this post!

    • I love how the Spirit is always up to something. 🙂

  • Ashley

    Love this. As the daughter of an alcoholic who decided drinking could be okay when I was 21 I just connected with so many of these struggles. So just thank you, I know I needed to read this though I’m not fully sure of the implications yet… maybe still in the avoidant, afraid I will be no fun kind of way.

  • Ellen C Green

    Hey friend! Thanks for writing this piece. I really agree with you that any invitation from Jesus is an invitation into abundance. I run to the place of “No. I Can’t.” I run there all the time without remembering that Jesus promises me abundant life. No matter what I might think it is before I taste and see, it always ends up being good. Thank you for your kindness in reminding me!

  • Sarah Nielsen

    Thank you for being honest and sharing your experience with others. I gave up drinking when our 21 year-old son got into recovery for addiction to alcohol and other drugs. I greatly appreciate your sensitivity to the recovery community. And yes, there may be liberty, but is it a good idea? A question worth asking oneself — and God.

    • What a loving thing to do in solidarity with your son, Sarah – that blessed me.

  • Wow, you write exquisitely. I totally relate to what you wrote. I stopped drinking over a year ago, and I had many of the same excuses, reasons and justifications. But you are right, it was bondage as I depended on it. Thank you for writing this piece. It will help many. Blessings.

  • Debbie Prater

    Beautifuly written. Wonderful, powerful message. Thank you.

  • tt

    I grew up in a tea-totalling Protestant family. I worked in a Christian school for six years where a teacher found to have had one sip of alcohol could be fired (Sarah’s husband’s alma mater, btw). Alcohol was a REALLY BIG DEAL. Even the Christian people I knew who did choose to occasionally drink alcohol made it a REALLY BIG DEAL. It was a spiritual decision with all sorts of biblical and spiritual rationalizations around it (as is this entire post). But I’ve learned something very interesting since marrying into a Catholic family: alcohol doesn’t have to be a big deal. My husband’s Polish Catholic family drinks. Or they don’t drink. And no one cares either way. No one who doesn’t drink feels the need to explain themselves. No one who does drink feels the need to explain themselves, either. Most of them never have more than one drink on any occasion. Maybe two if it is a holiday. But if you choose zero, no one cares, either. Because alcohol is just another beverage, albeit one only for the legal adults. This is not to say that alcoholism doesn’t exist (there is an alcoholic on the fringes of my own extended family). But it is to say that we may sometimes err on making drinking or not drinking alcohol a bigger issue than it is. And when something becomes a REALLY BIG SPIRITUAL ISSUE, it can be blown out of proportion into something it probably isn’t. Then it is easier to see a dependency or even create one. It is also easier to judge the motives of others.

    • Karen

      I hope you read Sarah’s story all the way to the end. She makes it very, very (as in crystal) clear that this is simply her story…her conviction…and that she makes zero judgments about other people’s decisions. Here’s a portion I copied for you: “I still don’t think drinking is “sin” across the board. Nope. It’s a deeply personal choice. Not all sin is clear-cut: it’s often deeply tied to our motives and our hidden choices. I have zero judgement on anyone else’s choices. Conviction isn’t one size fits all.”
      As I read this, I heard Sarah encouraging people to listen to the Holy Spirit for their personal calling (whatever that might be) and, even if that calling is to stop doing something that isn’t “across the board sin”, to listen and obey in order to experience a wholeness and fulfillment in Christ.

      • tt

        Why do you think I didn’t? What I read was the standard Protestant routine of alcohol being a big spiritual issue. If I don’t drink soda or caffeine, is it a spiritual thing? I barely drink soda and don’t drink anything with caffeine for health reasons. I quit caffeine two years ago without a spiritual crisis. And I do not have to explain myself to anyone. Protestant Christians have turned alcohol (among other things) into a big spiritual issue whether they drink it or not. If we stopped that, then we wouldn’t have all the issues that Sarah cites here where she feels like she couldn’t quit as she would be left out or worried about what others thought or felt that there is pressure to drink alcohol. No one does this with coffee, for example. Because we have never made coffee a big huge spiritual issue. And in circles where drinking alcohol is not a big huge spiritual issue, such as among most Catholics, it is the same as coffee. Some people like it and grab a cup. Some people don’t. And no one gets troubled about it. Same goes for a glass of wine or a beer in my husband’s Catholic family and among the staff of the Catholic school I worked at–have some or don’t. No one cares. No one has to explain themselves. No one needs to make it a “deeply personal choice”. Because at the end of the day, we are talking about a beverage.

        • Karen

          I wondered because you and I obviously got two very different ideas about what the author is intending to say. While you are stuck on the object of the lesson, I am trying to absorb the lesson itself.

          I didn’t read that the author turned *alcohol into a “big spiritual issue”, but rather what God was calling her personally to do, and it happened to be with her drink of choice. If someone feels God calling them to give up anything that might be a habit (coffee or pop included), Sarah is simply encouraging them to obey. Maybe someone has a time management issue, or has placed a certain physical item in a place of too much importance in his or her life. Habits can be positive or negative in our lives. That doesn’t make (whatever it is) wrong to take part or indulge in for everyone. It’s a personal conviction.

        • Actually, caffeine and soda can be spiritual issues. Playing Candy Crush can be a spiritual issue. There is nothing innocuous, though Satan would like us to believe otherwise. As said in the essay “But in our steering away from legalism, I wonder if we left the road to holiness or began to forget that God also cares about what we do and how we do it and why.” Personally, I’m struggling with downing waayyy too much Diet Soda. It’s a “nervous habit”, a place I seek comfort instead of from God-sin.

        • rob

          Then why do you seem to have this great need to defend your position?

        • Bdgrrll

          I was raised in a Lutheran family in the 1960s in a community where most people were Lutheran or Roman Catholic. Responsible use of alcohol once you were of legal age was never seen as sinful. I saw my father drink a couple of beers every evening. Finding out that Baptists and many other Protestants from non-liturgical traditional thought taking a drink was sinful seemed weird to me at the time, along with social dancing, going to movies that were not G rated (well, maybe PG).

          • Heidi LaRou

            Its sinful when it ruins lives.we arent talking about a mere beverage.
            So if god or your conscience or your wife tells u to put it down you best prepare. Cognitive dissonance if u dont. deeply personal now. And deeply legal
            and tragic later. Quitting caffeine hardly requires conviction of any kind. Quitting alcohol is a moral, social, financial, legal and spiritual imperative. Not to be
            Minimized or excused. The beauty is her own values coincided with gods and she was fortunate to solve it in a personal spiritual way.not because it is a sin. But because it was the right thing to do her. Most us are fighting a much harder battle however.
            As the author kindly conveyed.
            Dont assume people didnt care. Or viewed coffee and alcohol the same way. They just didnt talk bout it. The church protected it.
            Now. We are talking bout it.
            We also have the web. And free thinking. In 2017.

  • Melissa Gross

    I think this is well written, deeply personal essay, and I’m so happy all of this has worked out for you. It would great to add a “p.s” at the bottom addressing recovery as a whole and acknowledging that most people *DO* need help to quit and that doesn’t make their journey any less than. Addiction is a monster and most people can’t just will it to be over and it work. Again, I’m super glad it has worked for you that way, but you’re definitely in the minority.

  • Cara Fairchild

    Wow. There are no coincidences in life. God pointed me to your website today. I follow Jen Hatmaker on Facebook and as I was browsing through, I saw the link to your article that she posted. It caught my attention because I have been struggling with this for the past 8 years plus. My story is very similar. For years I never had an issue with drinking until one day I did. It is an insidious and quiet killer of joy and peace. I am ashamed of the way I behaved when I was under the influence of alcohol. I lost so much. However, I recently quit drinking. I too feel the freedom and peace that comes with casting off such a heavy burden. I pray for strength to maintain my commitment daily. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It helps to not feel alone.

    • Woman of valour – so glad you have found that peace and freedom.

  • Melissa Gross

    I think this is well written, deeply personal essay, and I’m so happy all of this has worked out for you. It would great to add a “p.s” at the bottom addressing recovery as a whole and acknowledging that most people *DO* need help to quit and that doesn’t make their journey any less than. Addiction is a monster and most people can’t just will it to be over and it work. Again, I’m super glad it has worked for you that way, but you’re definitely in the minority.

    • Great point, Melissa – thank you for bringing that up. Do you have any helpful links or resources to share in particular? There’s AA of course.

      • Rachel

        Thank you, thank you, thank you! In April of this year, I will celebrate 5 years of an alcohol free life. I wish I could agree that I don’t miss it, but that would not be a true statement, as some days I miss it deeply. What I do know is even though I do miss the social aspect of drinking, my abstinence has led me down a road of freedom in ways I doubt I would have encountered otherwise. One of the many tools on my road of recovery has been through a Christ-Centered, 12 Step program called Celebrate Recovery. It is not a recovery group specific to substance abuse, though there are plenty of us in there that find healing for that through this program. It is an invitation for all who struggle with hurts, habits, and/or hang ups, to learn how Biblical the 12 steps are, and to point people to Jesus as they address their hurts, habits and/or hangups. Though Celebrate Recovery may not be the best fit for everyone, ( as no program ever is), I will forever be grateful for the way the Lord used it in my journey, and as leader now, is my joy to watch others be transformed.

  • Isabella Rey

    How sweetly written this is. I don’t drink and I’ve often thought if I do I would be addicted. I have another addiction – food. As I was reading this, I started feeling God’s thumb, and I know he’s asking me to have faith in him, not food, to deal with pain and feelings. To use His love, not food. I cannot imagine how many people you have touched, but you surely touched me. Thank you, I will be praying for you and I beg you and any praying friends to please help me pray for more faith and be willing to lay this 150 pound burden down.

    • You have my prayers, Isabella – and my thanks for yours!

  • Julia Farmer

    Your honesty is liberating! Thank-you for being that brave. xxx

  • Susan Pitts Santoli

    What wonderful thoughts you have shared. Alcohol is not my burden, but I certainly have them and God has been talking to me about laying them down. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself!

  • That thumb. I know it too well I stupidly ignored it. Ignoring grew to defiance which grew to bitterness which left me in a wilderness that nearly killed me. That thumb felt like punishment, but I know now it was evidence of His ever present care for me.

    You raised so many wonderful points in this. Too many for me to comment well. So I’ll just say “well said” and “thank you”.

  • Chris Phillips

    Sarah – we don’t know each other but our stories couldn’t be more similar. That beautiful moment of clarity when our free all intersects with the Holy Spirit was my experience in stopping drinking and using over 16 years ago. A quiet beautiful moment that opened me up to an abundant life. So grateful to hear your story. – Chris

  • This is so wonderful. I feel like I am sitting at the table and you are just telling me your story over a cup of coffee.

    I especially loved this “If you’re sensing the invitation, it’s not an invitation to deprivation, but an invitation to abundance.”

    I often feel like there are so many invitations we don’t respond to because of fear, but every time it’s for our growth in Christ and soooo refreshing.

    I really appreciated this post.

  • Sharon McCuistian

    This is so honest and true. I was raised in a home where my parents didn’t drink. When my kids were little, we didn’t drink alcohol. But, as time went on, we started trying different wines. It was fun. It seemed harmless, but I wonder the influence that it has had on my now grown children. I have alcoholism in my family. I hope they also understand how dangerous alcohol can be.

  • Kconiston

    At this moment, there is a 40 year old mother of two young boys (6 & 7), lying in a hospital. She developed liver damage from excessive drinking. After initial diagnosis and treatment in December , she failed to follow orders to eliminate the alcohol. She contracted flu, and then pneumonia. Tuesday she was rushed to the emergency room, having fallen. She was admitted to the ICU. Within hours she was on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma. Her kidneys lost function. She remains alive on life support, but she probably will not survive. If she dies, she will leave behind, in addition to the children, an 80 year old father and a mother with Alzheimer’s who she had committed to care for until their passing, and a husband who has an impairment of mind or character that prevents him being a provider for his family.

    “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ Luke 7:33 & 34. These verses settle the question of whether alcohol consumption is always wrong. If it is, Jesus was a sinner. But the freedom to use it does not annul the law of sowing and reaping.

    If you know someone who is abusing alcohol and you have any power to intervene, please have the courage and love to act. Watching the tragedy of this young woman, learning how the alcohol attacked her body, contemplating the disastrous results for her and the circle of those depending on her all make me want to shout warnings.

    • Guest

      Luke 7:33-34 doesn’t settle the question and indicate that Jesus drank alcohol. It actually does just the opposite. It quotes what people of His time said about Him and about John the Baptist. They said that John was demon-possessed and that Jesus was a drunkard – both of which are clearly and entirely false statements.

  • Sally French Wessely

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Tess

    Okay, this spoke to my heart. I recently quit drinking (1 month ago), I felt that thumb for years. I tried to compromise: just a few glasses (never happened), just beer and not wine (worked a few times), and so on. At the end I was just drinking once in a while but it always ended in drinking to much. I thought I would feel sorry but as you wrote I feel the freedom. I feel closer to God and life in general. I had an stressful time and instead of turning to alcohol, I turned to other people. I am exercising more, trying to do more meaningful activities. I am a runner – so the bible quote spoke to me, its a great picture, but I never read it in that way. The holy spirit made this post show up in my feed. Thank you for sharing. This encouraged me on my journey – from a swedish girl

  • wanda

    Dang! This is good! Not just sorta good but killer good!

    I grew up in that “legalism” kind of Southern Baptist rule following life and drinking WAS NOT COOL, I will assure you. After my hubby and I left Seminary and traveled north to serve churches…we could not believe the commonness of drinking among Christians. It was laughed at to abstain. We chose NOT to drink not because of the rules but for the fact that we didn’t want to influence our kids towards alcohol.

    They are now young adults and make their own choices (which, thankfully none of them are big drinkers). I can’t judge or force anyone to put down alcohol however…like you, I believe the Holy Spirit will jog alongside and gently prod whatever needs to go in our lives.

    One of the saddest things in our current culture (for me) is the big woohoo bragging done by popular/speaker/writer Christians on social media about their booze intake. It bums me out and I can only imagine how it weakens their influence among the lost.

  • Cara Snider Jones

    Absolutely love this post – beautifully written!

  • Swanee

    I was raised in a Christian home. Parent didn’t drink. I didn’t give it much thought until my senior year of high school . . .I was a “social drinker” starting at around 18 years old . . .it gave me confidence in social situations. It also lowered my defenses and I started doing really, really stupid things. But I was “just partying” on the weekends. . everyone does it. we all laughed off our regrets from a “crazy night of partying” Then, years later, it started to take a turn and become a crutch, something I thought about ALL the time. I couldn’t wait to get home and have that drink then the 2nd, then 3rd. A nasty divorce threw me into overdrive and if I could have gotten drunk every single night I would have but I couldn’t tolerate it. So, it was pretty much every OTHER night. I rationalized it all away . . I held a steady job, usually preferred to drink alone so no one knew and just kept on pretending all was well. Somewhere along this broken road I found Jesus again . . . . the prodigal daughter returning home with such relief . . but I still held onto my little secret. I wasn’t ready to let THIS go . .. . It was my way to not have to deal with issues, pain, grief. I did think about quitting. A lot. But I also thought about drinking a lot. Good day, bad day . .I’ll just have one more drink . . . Then, interestingly, the alcohol started to not work . .I could drink a whole pint and just feel gross but not drunk . . .then one night it was as if God himself spoke audibly and asked me why I continued to drink so heavily (or even at all) when I had Him to rely on? I told Him I didn’t think I COULD quit. I had these uncontrollable urges to drink and had tried before to quit but that it never worked. But I wanted to be obedient. I wanted to stop. And I am NOT kidding you. That was it. I didn’t drink anymore AND quit smoking. The intense desire to drink was gone. The temptation was gone. If I had a bad day I looked for a Bible verse, prayed, whatever. This is nothing short of miraculous. I am SO thankful God cares so much he didn’t give up and finally reached out and got me to stop. So so thankful. So any of you out there in despair, it can be done. God WILL help you.

    • Carol F

      I know what you mean about the alcohol starting not to work. I can have some wine and it just doesn’t make me feel the same way it used to. And its like we forget that the reason we keep knowing in our hearts… deep down knowing that we want to quit… is because that IS God. God is in us. Right here… not out there somewhere the way people tend to think of it. God is our better selves. God is the part of us that is kind and loving and that loves us too. And God is our connection to one another. I liked your post. Thank you.

  • We have a lot of liberty as Christians, but we are bound to the Holy Spirit, and He prompts our change. I haven’t quite come to the same place as this you have but close.

    When our liberty challenges another’s recovery or causes another to stumble, it was not freedom but a weight.
    I too grew up in a dry house and as an adult embraced the freedom to drink and be culturally, socially acceptable. Last year I gave up drinking for Lent. And I’ve never gone back to enjoying it the way I did. Because I gave it to God and realized I didn’t need to give anything else a hold on my life. And there is freedom in obedience untold.

  • Josh

    Literally had the conversation with God today about how for a year or so now He’s asked me to give up drinking, and then I stumbled across this. Thanks!

  • Heather Gove

    My one year anniversary of saying Yes to God is March 27th! I thought every single one of the thoughts you had….BUT GOD is so much bigger than my doubts. I have never looked back. He has held my hand and walked me towards Him. Happy Anniversary!! I toast you with an iced coffee!

  • Allison Williams

    When I have even a sip of alcohol, I get a reaction and not in a good way. If people had this experience they wouldn’t struggle so to turn away.

  • JennaDeWitt

    Hm. I don’t really drink often, maybe a handful of times a year, but a lot of people I know regardless of faith have suggested that I would have more friends if I went to more places that served alcohol. They say it just gets people to open up more in ways they don’t otherwise and that their drinking friends are far deeper friendships than their shallow church friendships. I don’t really feel safe going alone to places with a lot of drinking, so I haven’t, yet I still wonder if they have a point and I would have more friends if I drank more. :/

  • What a beautiful and gentle reminder that wholeness is found in pursuing holiness. I agree that an overcorrection to legalism is underway and I really admire the way you lovingly point out that God does care about our actions – because he wants us to be free. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Good stuff. Besides a birthday weekend last month, I’ve been on this journey a while, mostly influenced by Daniel. It comes back to me every time when I’m seeking God to Hear Him more clearly, to grow in wisdom and as a bonus, health and strength: he and his friends were found ten times wiser, ten times stronger, and ten times more discerning. It’s my parallel to that “cast off parasitic sin” scripture. And for me, I knew I could like it too much, so decided not to…thank you for sharing. My prayer is it will encourage others who are longing to hear this and be free.

  • Brittni Vaughn

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Laura

    Sweet Sarah, Your post could have been my post. Ditto to the love of this delicious drink, the fun with friends, and sharing new discoveries of deliciousness like blackberry wine. But… I know exactly this conviction, this weight, this ignoring of His voice inside of me that you wrote about. I was wrestling with this decision. I tried and tried but a beach trip or a party or a wedding, and then, I would be drawn back in. Then one morning, on our houseboat, about 5:00 in the morning, a dream woke me, and I was listening to God. In my dream I was physically running from the enemy of my soul when I turned and covered him with an urn full of the ashes of the Lord and He was gone, then boom…I was starring at a gigantic stimmed glass with sparkling red wine in it. A very strong voice spoke saying,”It is not the liquid in the glass that condemns you, it is your hand holding the glass.” That did it for me! I was done!!! Almost giddy, I walked away from this desire, full of joy, with no desire since that early morning, for any alcohol! I too am fine with others who choose to drink alcohol, but for me, I choose not to. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling as you listen to the Holy Spirit. For me, I LOVE my choice and I love following this conviction I had. Thank you for these perfectly beautiful words❤ Love Laura

  • Nancy Nowlin

    Thankful for this more than words can say! You have put into words almost precisely what I have been trying for 6 years to say. I thank our great God for your writing this and for my “happening across it”. Thank you again! I feel like a kindred spirit! :)) I too have used the term “God put his thumb on it…” for the drinking and other things. I hope to meet you in Heaven and you’ll know that your testimony meant so much to God because He loves you and because He loves me and. Oh tkess tigers who needed to read this blog that is so beaotodylky written! Blessings my new friend!

  • Teresa Benedetta

    Sarah Bessey, thank you for sharing this. I love the way you pointed out that we can sometimes become slaves to our “freedoms”. I quit drinking years ago because I grew up in a home where drinking was the rule, not the exception. Alcohol was a fixture in my darker days, before I truly saw the light. And like your parents, I decided to turn my back on that old “friend” and raise my kids in a booze free home. Never miss it! I never want to be a stumbling block to anyone. And nowadays so many people do have problems with drinking and drugs. I want no part of it. I don’t judge anyone who drinks moderately as their conscience allows. But like you, I feel frustrated when fellow Christians feel sorry for me as if my faith is week because I’m legalistic. It’s quite the opposite. I know that God made wine and it’s fine for some. But I’ve chosen the higher road out of love for those who are addicts or youthful. We are called to be holy and set apart. Thanks for so eloquently giving voice to this issue.

  • Dave O’Brien

    All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable

  • This is so good on so many levels, thanks for your honesty and thank you for putting yourself out there.

  • There are so many reasons I love this. Most importantly with what pastordt said before that you may have saved a life or two. As someone whose ministry is focused on men with addictions I’m sure of it. There’s no judgement in drinking but there’s no immunity to addiction either. Your words are gentle and true. Thank you.

  • disqus1994

    So, I drink about 15 drinks a week (beer, whiskey, and occasional wine). Sometimes 20. I’m able to stop when I feel like it (when I have a cold, for ex.). I have a phd from a big 10 university, have always been employed, and have been married 20 years with two great kids. I’m not saying my family is perfect (none are), but our relationships are genuine and healthy. I can bike 100 miles in under 6 hours and bench press well over 200 pounds. I read at least 2 books a week, and still spend a lot of time with my kids. Drinking may not work for everyone. But it’s never stopped me. Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that we know God’s plan (although if one had to guess they would clearly conclude that God’s plan is for me to drink based on the positive results). It does not always have to be about not drinking, although if you don’t want to that’s fine. If you enjoy wine and can handle it, then for goodness sakes drink it without feeling guilt. I’m doing just fine drinking 15-20 various beers and whiskeys a week, always have, and very likely always will.

    • I don’t think Bessey was saying everyone should stop drinking. She was responding to the Spirit’s prompting. And one does not have to be an alcoholic or problem drinker for the Spirit to encourage one to stopping using alcohol. In addition, I think what she’s saying is we need to be conscious of the “weaker neighbor” a la Romans 15. This isn’t limited to drinking, either. It could include eating, smoking, swearing… We have grace and freedom (AMEN), but we’re also suppposed to value others more highly than ourselves (Phil 2:3).

      • disqus1994

        That’s a good point. Just to clarify: There’s certainly nothing wrong with not drinking, but the spirit clearly prompts some people to drink and to enjoy it, in my case 15-20 drinks a week (most weeks) with no negative consequences and a high level of physical and mental well-being (much higher, in fact, than a vast majority of people who abstain from alcohol for whatever reason). I guess the idea is to find the point where you enjoy life and it doesn’t negatively affect your wellness or those around you.

  • Anne Horne

    Dear Sarah Thank you so very much for sharing this. I know where you are coming from. I had 2 alcoholic parents. My mother was pregnant with me and she would be drunk every day, but one day when she was drunk she fell down the stairs. She ended up paralyzed and she also had brain damage. As a result I was born with a bad cleft palate and cleft lip. dad came home drunk one night and he fell and hit his head on the side of the house and died. I was 7 yrs. old then. Yes I have forgiven them. God has a plan for this. This is also the reason that I will NEVER drink. Even if I was not a Christian.
    So thank you again
    Anne Horne

  • Thank you so much for this. Both of my parents were alcoholics as were both of my grandfathers. I knew that I never wanted my children to grow up around that, so when I became a Christian in my early twenties, I made the decision to not drink–ever. Most people and I assumed my decision had to do with my new-found faith, but now I think it had more to do with my absolute fear of going down that road myself. I believe that accepting the Lord gave me a legitimate reason to not do so. Now that drinking has gotten so “acceptable” and “normal” in the church–which definitely was not the case 40 years ago–there are times when I feel like I don’t fit in or I avoid certain social events because I will be the odd man out with a glass of water. 😉

    My family has buried two young people in the last two years from drug overdoses and another is in rehab now–and all three of those young people’s paths to destruction started with drinking. That is what I remind myself when I am tempted to join the ranks of social drinkers. Nobody really knows just how far the decision of drinking may take them.

    You were brave to write this, and I pray that God will use it to minister and convict and challenge many. <3 "I never regret saying yes to God." I love that.

  • Chuck Carson

    My dad did all of his drinking during the two years that he served in the U S Army in Europe during WWII and once he returned home he gave it up. Don’t know all the details. It was then in 1966 after my mom and dad became Christians when I was eight years old that my dad made the decision to quit smoking. He knew that the cigarettes were destroying his lungs and damaging his heart. But he also knew that one day his children would ask about wanting to smoke and what would he say to us? Would he say “Your too young!” and we would then ask “How old do we have to be?” Or would he say too us “It’s bad for your health!” And then we would say “Then why do you smoke?”

    I remember that day he quit smoking as if it were yesterday! He had just arrived home from a hard days work at the tannery. He sat down in his chair and began reading that days newspaper he then lit up a cigarette. I could tell that something was going on as he took longer than usual to smoke it. Once he finished it he then took the rest of the pack of cigarettes and threw them into the trash can in the kitchen. He had decided that afternoon that this cigarette would be his last one! He then went on to live to the ripe old age of 84 years! He eventually passed away about two months before he and my mom’s 57th wedding anniversary.

    I often wonder why smoking is treated differently within the “Church” than drinking? You are still destroying your body and more importantly you are destroying God’s Temple! I was twelve years old when I was asked by the bigger kids on the school bus “Do you want a drag?” I then said “No Thank You!” When asked why I then very proudly proclaimed “Because my dad quit smoking when I was eight!” Of course in being raised in a Christian home where alcohol did not even exist My experience with drinking was very short lived. It was in my late twenties to early thirties that I joined a couple bowling leagues and so to fit in I would have a beer or two. Once I quit the bowling leagues my days of drinking came to an end!

  • In recovery we hold no judgement. We listen with hope and grace, and tell each person who shares, “thank you for sharing.” It’s a brave thing to share our most vulnerable pieces. It’s not easy. Sarah, thank you for sharing your story. I feel God’s thumbprint sometimes too, moving me and compelling to to be more of what He meant for me to be. He is patient and long suffering with me, and I’m glad for that. Grace and heart and soul peace be with you.

  • Bethany

    I don’t drink alcohol because of my husband’s addiction history. What once started as a way to support him, has become a way I feel protected from myself. I praise God for the protection He providentially gave me in the form of my husband, before I ever knew that it was ultimately for ME.

  • Sandy Palmer Perry

    I’m an adult child of an alcoholic. I’ve dabbled in drinking a couple of times in my youth, but I honestly just can’t let myself go there. I’m afraid that my addictive, compulsive personality would take me down the same road my father walked. I can’t sacrifice my family and my life on the altar of a beverage.

    I don’t have a problem with other people enjoying wine or a cocktail, but it’s just not right for me. I think we all need to be attentive to that still small voice, trusting that He knows what’s best for US.

  • Kevin Ross

    Thank you for this. No question that this will help many of those who read it !

  • Mike Rommel

    Thank you for this, so well written…..rare to see such balance and conviction at the same time.

  • Christy

    Thank you for sharing– I haven’t read any of your other items– but this one was shared on facebook and it hit me like a brick to the face. Your words have been my inner dialogue for quite some time now. Your excuses have been mine. That gentle yet relentless nudging has been there now for some time. I guess I just want to say ‘thank you’ because these words meant a lot to me.

  • Rebecca Sewell

    Thank you, Sarah, for sharing how God touched you and lifted your burden in a moment. He did it for me, too, although alcohol wasn’t my burden. Mine was crushing depression.

    Something happened in my youth that I never suspected would affect me the way it did as a young adult, but after my Navy enlistment was up and my new husband (also a Navy veteran) and I moved to his family home, nearly 2,000 miles from my childhood home, I became pregnant, then suddenly fell into a deep pit of depression. Everyone who knew of it blamed the hormones of pregnancy, and when it continued and worsened after the birth, they said it was simply post-partum depression. Well, it spiraled further and further downward as the years went by – about fifteen of them.

    I was a Christian through all this, having been baptized while in the Navy (age 21), and one day at church a woman invited me to go with her that afternoon to check out a new support-group ministry nearby. Neither of us knew what we would find there. My intent was to join a group so I could help my husband end his addiction to alcohol. Instead, the Lord put his arm around my shoulders and gently pushed me in the direction of another group, where I was shocked to find the actual cause of my depression and took the first steps that led to my being freed from it.

    I tried reading a book about it, but the pain then was real, and I couldn’t finish it. I kept getting depressed, until one morning my husband growled something at me (he later said I misunderstood what he’d said) and I felt as if I was falling headlong into a deep, black well of despair. After he left for work, and taking my children to school, I went, of all places, to the bathroom to sit and let the tears fall as my heart cried out WHY?????

    Suddenly, I heard a voice, not loud, but audible to my mind, saying, “You are sinning against me.”

    “What? HOW??”
    “By giving your husband so much power over you, that one word from him can hurt you that deeply. Only I should have that power over you, but I will never use it to hurt you.”
    “I know, Father, I trust you, but I’ve tried to overcome this – for years! I’ve prayed and prayed for help, but I can’t help myself!”
    “YOU can’t help yourself, daughter, but I CAN. Give it to me.”
    “I’ve tried to, Father, time after time!”
    “No, you haven’t, not really. GIVE. IT. TO. ME.”
    “All right, Father. [sigh] I GIVE IT ALL TO YOU. I KNOW I CANNOT STOP IT MYSELF.” I held it up in my hands and I FELT HIM LIFT IT AWAY, THAT VERY MOMENT.

    I felt the hurt and the depression leave my heart and my mind, and like you, Sarah, I felt FREE. The crushing weight was gone, and thank God, it’s never come back.

    I joined the support group for a while, hoping to share the wonderful freedom I had found, but the members only seemed to want to wallow in their pain, not to be freed from it. I quit the group and gloried in my newfound weightlessness without that awful burden. God then gave me the courage to speak to others about it, to share what he had done for me, and I helped some that way.

    Praise the Lord, I have been free for some twenty years. I tell people now, my attitude is the same as my blood type: B positive. With God all things are possible. He loves us more than anything, enough to sacrifice his only begotten Son for our sin, and truly, the root of our pain is our sin. Give it ALL TO HIM.

  • Deb Rouse

    Good read. No, VERY good read.

  • Joy Clark

    What a great article! Thank you for sharing! I am a non-drinker for 3 years now and my life and walk with God has never been more lovely, exciting and fulfilling!

  • Lisa Bonnema

    Thank you for writing this. I, too, have been feeling the same prompting, and I have been fighting it and at best, I’ve reduced it to short-term fasts in a half-hearted attempt at obedience. But I know He wants more… more from me and more for me.

  • Pingback: When Alcohol Isn’t Your Best Friend Anymore – Tina Osterhouse()

  • SallyO

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I have not had a problem with drinking but my husband did. My middle daughter does. I HAVE had other areas of my life that The Holy Spirit has spoken to me about. You described it so eloquently. He never makes us feel guilty, just that gentle niggling until we know that we must do what He is asking . . . and He is asking because He knows what is best for us. Thank you for sharing so beautifully.

  • PDave

    Beautiful. I hope this testimony leads to more freedom and abundance for other people.

  • Melissa

    I just want to say thank you for sharing. You have worded so many things I have thought or felt so beautifully. Thank you for your honesty and the ability to be counter cultural in a way. We so often forget that obedience to God means freedom.

  • Anne

    Yes, this is exactly how Alcoholics Anonymous works. Sharing in the way you have, person to person, face to face, is what has kept me sober for over 27 years. To be most effective, recovery cannot be an individual pursuit, or a cooperative effort with God, but also needs to involve other recovering humans.

  • Susan

    Sarah. I like this in so many ways. One of which is very personal. I had a similar “run in” with the Spirit the beginning of January – He asked me to lay it down for a month. I did. Then we went on vacay and I had three cocktails over the course of eleven days. I didn’t like the way it made me feel anymore. I felt lighter, free-er, when I wasn’t celebrating “it’s five o’clock somewhere.” I’m not saying I will never have another cocktail but it will no longer be an every day thing. For all the reasons you write above.

  • ssimmons

    Beautiful. Post.
    I love the sincere rawness… Thank you for being brave enough to quit. Thank you for being brave enough to share. Your obedience is helping us to obey also.

  • Pingback: Day 748: Snickers, Uber, and the Holy Spirit. | My 1335 Journey()

  • Craig Piefer

    Hey Sarah, my wife just sent me this article. Well done! Love some advice. Most of our closest friends are non-believers. We are anxiously anticipating all of them falling in love with Jesus. We often feel like outsiders when we get together with multiple couples because we don’t drink. We don’t make a big deal about it, but there is still weirdness. We pass invites to evenings at the bar and we often feel like we are not invited to dinner parties because we don’t drink. (We feel that way because we are the ones who are always inviting the group to our house.) I don’t want to let this be a wedge, I do want our relationship to grow, so that the love of God will spill into their lives. Any advice?

  • Jenn

    So good, Sarah. Incredibly thoughtful, heartfelt, and truly honest. I’m sending this essay to my fellow therapists to pass it on for our folks dealing with this issue. It’s hard to not go on with more compliments but I feel such peace whenever I read your work. Glad to have found your writing!

  • Susanelizabeth

    “I began to see how alcohol-centric our culture has become. To see how much of our version of fun revolves around wine or beer or some form of alcohol….”

    As I read your beautiful share, I was thinking about my own addictions: food/pills. I almost died from diabulimia and food addiction(binge eating disorder, ce) and It’s a miracle I’m still alive. In 1987 I was a young pastor’s wife, with 2 young daughters and my husband had just started yet another church. And, I was also a young woman who was living a lie. Finally, I became so suicidal, I entered treatment for 2 months.

    To this day I have a list of foods that are my alcoholic foods…one taste and I’m staring at the bottom of a bag, a box or a carton and moving on to the next “hit”. I’ve stolen food, eaten out of garbage cans, whatever to get my “fix”. AND, sadly, concerning food addiction, churches, even many recovery places don’t understand how serious addictions to food are(esp sugar…which more and more reports show can be more addictive to some of us, than cocaine). I’ve attended Christian recovery mtgs that also include Food Addict groups and yet after the mtg they serve desserts, etc , which most of us abstain from, just as an alcoholic abstains from alcohol. Food addiction abounds and so little is said about it as it’s become acceptable, which breaks my heart for many still struggling. So many mtgs at church, etc use food as a “centerpiece”.

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful and yet painfully honest story. It blessed me so much and I am grateful for your openness!

  • Really great writing, so glad a friend posted this on Facebook. This is a gem worthy of multiple reads. Consider expanding on this, it’s already so applicable and accesible. Thanks!

  • Pingback: Solitude and Silence and Facebook – The Kirsten Tree()

  • Angela Jensen

    Sarah, Thank you for sharing your story and especially your inner struggles. For a long time, I have felt that God has wanted me to give up certain things that from an outside view are not problems or sinful. I’m glad you shared your thoughts that you originally had…funny…they’re very similar to mine. But, I very glad that you shared that none of those things actually came true. Thank you.

  • Nicki North

    Sarah, thank you for your words. God knew exactly what I needed to hear today….and it was your essay. Thank you.

  • Chad Bruegman

    I’m a 43 year old pastor and your story (both the alcohol and cynism) is almost identical to mine. I quit almost two years ago, after about a year of the Holy Spirit gently, but persistently inviting me to stop. I read this article and literally felt like I was reading my own story and thoughts about this. Thanks for putting yourself out there and thanks for a beautifully written article! God bless you and your family!

  • Hey, hi there. So……that essay about quitting drinking seemed to hit a nerve with a lot of folks, eh? I’m grateful for that – this is a conversation that we need to have, it seems. But here’s the thing: now I want to circle back up on something with you all. It is deeply important so I implore that if you shared that “So I Quit Drinking” essay to please share this status update, too.

    That essay was about my personal experience of journeying with God and about how things that are not “sinful” per se can become a weight to us. It was about drinking but it was also about discipleship. It was NOT an essay about dealing with alcoholism. I’m not an alcoholic and I never was an alcoholic: that is why I could quit drinking with such little fanfare or suffering or process or support. For me, it was simply a matter of a quality decision.

    But for people who are addicts or are in the grips of the disease of alcoholism or people who have become dependent, you need to know that my story here is not prescriptive nor is it normative. Most people who are struggling with drinking NEED HELP. And that is a good thing. And I am a big big big fan of you getting the help you need.

    In one of my books, I wrote this: “Miracles sometimes look like a kapow! lightning-strike revelation; and sometimes miracles look like showing up for your counseling appointments. Sometimes miracles look like medication and patience and discipline.”

    Your story of quitting drinking may look like getting yourself to Alcoholics Anonymous every single time the doors are open. It will look like showing up. It may look like counselling. It may look like a long road of reconciliation and forgiveness. It may look like creating a plan for success. It may look like a support network and accountability.

    And that is GOOD AND HOLY.

    It would deeply grieve me for anyone to read my essay and think, “Well, she quit drinking in one decision so why can’t I?” It is not the same thing. You are taking on a burden that isn’t yours to bear.

    There is a big difference between sin and addiction – but you don’t need to take on any shame or condemnation for either one. If it’s sin, sure, like me, you can – in cooperation with the Holy Spirit – pull the root out. And if it’s addiction, you might be set free instantly and I pray for that! But it is JUST AS AMAZING and just as miraculous for you to put your hand up for help and to surrender to the daily work of sobriety. In my mind, people who ask for help are heroes.

    So I implore you – if you are feeling that alcohol has a hold on you, if you feel dependent, if you know you are addicted, if you are losing yourself, if you are paying the price already, if you are tired and hung-over and miserable and longing for freedom: please get help. Put your hand up. Tell someone. We need you, I promise. Your life is worth saving. And we will all be cheering you on.

    • I am liking you more and more. Glad you wrote this follow-up. So gracious. You won the heart of another new reader, who aspires to write as beautifully as you. God bless you

  • Oh, Sarah this may be better than the initial post! With this, you are thinking not only of your original message but also the impact that message had on your readers and beyond. You are taking full responsibility for your work. You’re being your readers’ “keeper”. This is very rare in these days of mean memes and forwarding fake news. I’m especially touched by your pointing out and acknowledging that showing up for counseling appointments and AA or NA or FA meetings is “good and holy” because it’s not the outward appearances that matter. Drinking, etc is not the sin but a symptom (one of many) of sin. Our God sees hearts-hearts striving for faith and the gospel-and He blesses. He sees YOUR heart, as well. He sees your heart desiring and striving for holiness. And I think He’s pretty darned impressed (if God can be impressed) with your essay-the first one and this follow up! And He will bless you with a greater sense his holiness. Pay attention! He’s hugging you, His daughter a little closer now!

  • Stephanie Rice

    This was incredibly convicting for me. Not about drinking, but about another “weight” in my life. I have been viewing this conviction as deprivation, not as an invitation. Thank you, Sarah, for this.

  • I think that this is possibly the best article that I have read on the internet about what it means to live a holy life. I understand that others will see this article as all about “to drink or not to drink” …but I see it entirely differently. I hear your heart saying it’s not about the alcohol, but it’s all about listening to the voice of the Spirit in the rhythm of life. Thank you for this beautifully crafted testimony of His power and gentle nudging in a life submitted to His leading. I have seen family members who are believers and strong in their faith give their hearts, money and affections to alcohol (“I need my glass of wine or bourbon in the afternoon to relax me”), while my husband and I quietly abstained. He and I have had alcoholism on both sides of our family. To us, it is not worth the risk where our children are concerned. We have talked openly with them about it from early on, as they picked up on the fact that there was alcohol at the other houses but not at ours. We never wanted to be legalistic about it. I am thankful that they have not seen a need to experiment because I know for some all it takes is one drink. Yes, our social media culture, even in the church (or these days I feel like almost especially in the church), has become one of posting about wine and how wonderful it is. I know that as believers we have the freedom to take a little wine for the stomach as long as we do not become drunk. But, I just wonder how many young people are influenced to drink alcohol because their parents are “not being legalistic,” who then might end up being the “one” who can’t handle it. Thank you again for this gentle, loving, honest testimony.

  • Corie Carlsen

    Sarah, thank you so much for writing this essay. I too stopped drinking. There was no ultimatum, accident or incident. I simply knew that God wanted me to stop, but my willful disobedience won every time. I was like a five year old stomping my feet “I don’t want to stop!”
    I too realized that I was drinking wine almost every night and it didn’t bother me. I too went from a couple of glasses of really good wine to a bottle. Then to cheaper wine and even to the six pack because there was a 30% discount. Duh!!!
    Now, I can’t say that I don’t miss it. I am eight months sober and proud of my decision. However, I do have my “a really good cab would be so awesome with this steak” moments. That said, God is pouring new pleasures into my life every day (pun intended)!
    Thanks again for keeping it real.

  • Just another reader

    I have previously enjoyed your writing and appreciate your voice Sarah. And it’s great that we can all learn from and be encouraged through each other’s faith journeys. But to be honest with you, I can’t help but feel like this was written behind the guise of spiritual obedience, and the real vulnerability of why it was given up, was covered with scripture. Sure, we can say we do things in our relationship with God, with the context of obeying him and living a disciplined, surrendered life. But calling anything ‘a weight’ and ‘I gave it up because God asked me too’, seems so one sided. It saddens me that Christianity and Christians seem like robots that want to please a loving, living God, through personal sacrifices that garner praise when revealed on a public stage or forum. Please don’t say you did it for God – you did it for yourself, because maybe you needed to and God knew that ahead of time. You’re human, and your vulnerability is much more appealing and relatable, than the “I did it because God asked me to.”

  • Kelli Comolli

    I love the way you wrote your testimony. Showing your struggle with sin instead of telling others what to do… very powerful. This is just how I want to write.

  • Ruby Pearl

    I might add that with all the Bible verses about remaining alert and sober-minded, how can a follower of Jesus feel right about imbibing? When an emergency occurs, when one is fuzzy and warm due to alcohol, how can one rise to the challenge responsibly? When a righteous man such as David Wilkerson writes a book entitled Sipping Saints, one must surely pay heed!

  • eyeson152

    So, GOD told you you needed to stop drinking? Wow, I’m impressed. God talks to you.

  • Pingback: Maybe Church Isn't Supposed to Make Us Comfortable()

  • Carolyn McKnight Langdon

    Great writing. Wouldn’t be surprised if a few lives end up being spared from calamity simply because of the influential thoughts you’ve shared and the courage you’ve modeled.

  • Bobbie

    This is giving me something to think about. Thanks!

  • Pingback: Check Out | HeadHeartHand Blog()

  • Pingback: Read This! 03.17.17 - Borrowed Light()

  • Hailey

    I’m so glad I came across this. I grew up around drinkers, but saw how it could easily lead to harm so have always abstained even before I started following Christ. In college, however, I ran into a lot of Christians who grew up in non-drinking or minimal drinking Christian homes and saw it as their free right and were always rude to me when I would express my distaste for it and lack of a desire to drink. I was much more willing to discuss the issue with non-Christians because they were always more respectful of my decision not to drink. I have only ever met one Christian who liked drinking who actually complimented me on abstaining and said it was a great thing. All the others, they act like my non-drinking lifestyle is equal to my condemning them or they try to convince me to try some. I hate alcohol because of so many past negative experiences, yet few Christians openly respect that. In some occasions I don’t mind being around someone who has a drink, but I am always more appreciative of them asking or choosing, at least for the moment and more my sake, not to have a drink. Reading this essay let me know I’m not the only one who is thinking this, and that I’m not alone in choosing to abstain nothing more than I feel God has something better in mind that doesn’t include alcohol.

  • Two of your comments — the “I started drinking more than my husband,” and “I had it every night” specifically hit home. I’ve been thinking about this for about a year. Thank you for being brave enough to write this. Much, much food for thought.

  • Hesed S.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! So well said. I hope your story spreads far and wide.

  • Claire Powers Baxter

    Very well done! This issue is definitely something Christians struggle with. We are not Mormons who don’t drink. Jesus’s first miracle he turned water into wine. The banquets in heaven, the last supper on and on. But the struggle is real. The bible says in proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise”. The enemy is trying to get a foothold in our lives in any way possible. I feel alcohol is one such way. It’s socially acceptable yet is a vise and can take hold by not necessarily making you into an alcoholic but making this a habit as you describe. This habit just like any other habit can become an idol. It is hard to walk the line between legalism and grace for sure but seeking God’s will and His good pleasure can reveal what is best for our lives. I commend you on writing this.

  • This is a beautiful essay, with a beautiful update. I enjoy wine, and beer, and mixed drinks. I also have no problem with anyone who abstains. I also try to stock my fridge with fun nonalcoholic drinks whenever my husband and I have company so that anyone not drinking can still enjoy a selection of beverages.

    You make an important distinction in your essay, and another one in your update. 1) What is a sin for one is not a sin for all. 2) There is more than one holy way to free ourselves from sin.

  • Shelby Spear

    Beautiful story, Sarah. Your words touched me deeply because your decision to quit, based on a nudge from the Holy Spirit, describes my journey the past year. I’ve “pretty much” quit now after being on a downward slope of frequency the past several years. I never like how I behave or feel afterwards. Vodka cranberry was my drink of choice and the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “why do you need it?” I didn’t have an answer. Alcohol doesn’t make me a better person, doesn’t help me grow closer to Jesus, doesn’t optimize my health in any way. I still share a drink now and again with family or friends on special occasions, but your post inspires me to push forward with giving up completely. I too feel amazing since refraining, I’m still having fun, and have lost all “need” or “desire” – a blessing I don’t take for granted by any stretch. Thank you for sharing. I hope you start a revolution with your honesty.

  • Becky

    Hi, I just wanted to thank you for this post. I am 27 who in the last 12 years didn’t always make the best decisions. I’m not blaming the alcohol but I did make these bad decisions after I was very drunk. After I knew Jesus was the way for me I started to feel many convictions which I have been able to feel freedom from and it has been a blessing. On the drinking subject I did quit drinking all together and I truly felt the lord telling me that’s not you anymore and I want you to set this example. All what you said is what I felt. I’m so grateful to hear this you have absolutely no idea. There have been women look at me and I can feel their thoughts almost. But I do not do this for show I just want to follow the one who saved me and forgave me. And of the drinking stops well for me, it stops

  • jabm

    Thank you! A couple of side comments – 1) I would suggest keeping the ‘fancy’ glasses out for non-alcoholic drinks — its fun and silly to drink milk or soda or sparkling cider or whatnot in a fancy glass once in a while 2) I can’t drink due to medical issues and haven’t missed it, my husband will occasionally have a drink (like 3x/month or so). We do have some alcohol in the house that hasn’t been touched in months – and our 17 year old daughter has no desire to drink so that is a blessing

  • Leslie Wiseman

    Sarah, I love everything you are sharing here and how you say it. I appreciate how you can make a point without judgement and full of grace.
    I think about this often as one who doesn’t drink either. I was brought up that way and now have taken a ‘vow’ if you will, to abstain. This vow and way of life creeps up to challenge me frequently. I do not believe drinking is a sin, and I do not believe I am any better than anyone else because I choose not to.
    But at the end of the day, it’s not really about alcohol is it? We all have our vices that we lean on when we feel weak, tired, frustrated, or happy even. It shows up in alcohol, food, sugar, Netflix binging and flaking out on social media. Anything that was made for our enjoyment can very easily become what we depend on to try and satisfy our longing and bring us the joy we crave.
    I personally have to check myself often, being fully aware of those things that I’m using to fill the voids that only God can fill. There is desire in me to rest, to escape, to numb, to relax, and celebrate. I’ll be the first one to admit that calling on, leaning into and relying on Jesus is not my first go-to even though I know he is the only source of true satisfaction.
    My journey of holiness is learning the same lessons over and over and over again and God is so patient with me.

  • Pingback: Only the Good Stuff: Multivitamins for Your Weekend [03.18.17] - Gospel X()

  • Pingback: Be cool, brain. – Kerry Searle Grannis()

  • mary

    This is by far one of the best and most beautifully articulated posts about the prompting of the Holy Spirit to let go of alcohol and experience the freedom to be all that God truly intends! I related to so much of what you said and was delivered from a dependence on alcohol 8 years ago! My personal relationship with Jesus grew exponentially after I gave up alcohol! Your post is so full of love and grace and acceptance and that is exactly what Jesus is all about! Thank you for sharing!

  • Tiffany Fricke

    Very good. Very relate-able. Last month, I received a similar “invitation”. It was not alcohol, but an entertainment that had always been “ok”, and was suddenly “not ok”. I too was surprised at the experience of giving it up. It wasn’t awful at all. It was WONDERFUL. Indeed, an invitation to spend that new freed up time on greater, sweeter things. I can hardly believe I don’t miss my old “must-see” show!

  • KayT

    Thank you so much for giving us a non-judgmental essay on a personal experience of God’s hand leading where we should go. I, too, do not believe drinking is in itself a sin but God walks with each one of us personally and He knows what can become strongholds of the enemy in our lives. I always struggled with the young man in the Bible who wanted to be saved and Jesus told him to give away everything and follow Him. Does that mean we should all sale all of our earthly goods or else we are not saved?? No..Jesus knew that possessions were a stronghold and a stumbling block in this particular young man’s life and would always come between him and a relationship with Jesus. God’s journey with each one of us is individual-and our walk is a journey. We are not suddenly perfect and without sin or shortcomings when we are saved-the Holy Spirit leads us and guides us toward becoming like Jesus along the way. The church’s failure is that it has tried to make itself the Holy Spirit and the judge and jury in the lives of it’s members – judging and convicting instead of discipling, leading by example, and loving others towards Jesus.

  • Dana Bowman Momsieblog

    Oh my… as one who is in recovery, and a Christian, and a mom… I am always amazed by how I hear these stories and the universality of it all (I made that word up, i think, but it’s the only one that fits.) Your post is so helpful, thank you. Even for those of us who are alcoholics – still so helpful b/c we need to know that Christianity has a place for this conversation. I so often thought it didn’t and when I got sober and started to write and speak about it – well, let’s just say this is a NEEDED convo to be having in our churches! Thank you, sister!

  • Pingback: 5 Reads. | bird's nest()

  • Pingback: So I Quit Drinking - The Aquila Report()

  • Pingback: (Podcast) Finding Freedom At The Bottom Of The Glass - MyLifetree()

  • Pingback: Weekly Grace and Links – Abounding Grace()

  • Pingback: Week #10 – Filled()

  • Pingback: The Internet Monk Saturday Brunch: 3/25/17 |

  • Pingback: Things I Liked In March – Searching For Grace()

  • Pingback: Feathers Season 6 Episode 4 with Leighton Serlo: Giving Up Alcohol and Giving Away Her Voice()

  • What a great post! I’m a Christian who chooses not to drink for various reasons. I know that i can’t do it in clear conscience. I don’t believe others who drink are in sin either. Thanks for sharing your perspective!
    ~Sherry Stahll

  • Stacy

    My friend sent me your link and I’m so glad she did. I’m struggling and some days I can’t even remember why I stopped drinking. My husband said to me yesterday “All you do is talk about how you have stopped drinking and AA. Like you deserve a medal or something”. I grew up with alcoholics, my mother is still drinking 2 bottles of wine a day. So in my world, I do deserve a medal. I find it interesting when people who do not have a problem with alcohol are quick to make judgement of the ones who do…..even our spouses.

  • Peggy

    That essay could have been written about me. I read it when a friend posted it. It was personally convicting for me and prompted me to make some changes. Thank you!

  • Kahla Yzerman

    I think that this personal story turned up the volume on an almost unperceivable voice in my own heart. I feel the invitation. Thank you for your wisdom, honesty, and clarity on this slippery conversation. God bless.

  • Ali

    I poured my remaining wine down the sink after reading this post, and haven’t had a drink for one full month now. Thank you for passing along the nudge from the Holy Spirit. Time has flown and it has felt shockingly easy.

  • Pingback: Thinking about Drinking | Norville Rogers()

  • Reta M

    Yes, where you were, is where I am now. Wondering whether I have gone from enjoying it simply for enjoyment to wondering if I am having one to help deal with a hard day. I think it will be easy to do, I have quit lots of things in my life. I will have to retrain myself on a better way to soften the hard days. I like that you did it quietly, too much pressure if someone else knew…I think like you my children will notice as well, they are paying attention. Like you I will never judge anyone else, this is a personal decision. I literally only discovered your blog because of the recent Hashtag #thingsonlychristianwomenhear, then found out you are coming to our city’s prayer breakfast. which led to the decision that I will attend just to hear you, which led me to looking into your blog further so I would know more about you, which led to me reading this and realizing God was speaking directly to me on this as well. Yep, that is just how much He loves me….

  • queue09

    Alcohol, though nice on occasion, and not necessarily a bad thing, is essentially a toxin that invades the blood stream which the kidneys and liver need to filter out. The fact that it needs to be filtered out, is somewhat evident that it isn’t actually being beneficial to the body. It that sense, I agree it is sort of a weight that drains the body of health and energy. Also the promise of alcohol “to have a good time” doesn’t really live up to the expectation usually. The negative consequences of alcohol are many, the stress reliever and helpful components less so. I do think that it is hard to be social and sober because craft brews and wineries are where people meet and socialize. It’s really hard to order a water or a soda from a bar and not feel like A Christmas Story standing there awkwardly in a giant bunny costume. But it seems like bartenders don’t care, and possibly understand that you might be the ‘designated driver’ or not drinking for some other reason. They may not get the same value in tip, but it doesn’t seem to be the worst thing on earth for them. The difficult part of alcohol is how habit forming it is, and the alcohol’s ability to inhibit judgement which makes “Well if one is good, one more must be better!” in a recursive line of reasoning seem valid under its influence. Instead of a glass of wine at night to help me sleep I drink water, and it’s fine, I don’t always sleep right away like I used to from wine (occasional insomnia) but when I wake up the next day, even tired, I really prefer not feeling the after effects of the toxin in my body. It just makes the day that much better. Temperance isn’t really the virtue it used to be, but I realize temperance is good for the body and mind. Maybe if it were understood that temperance wasn’t a forced legalism but a choice of positivism its benefits would counteract the happy beer commercials much easier. I don’t think drinking is even the problem inherently, it’s a symptom of something that is covering for something else. It’s like saying “I like myself better when I feel less in control of my thinking and self.” And the more we drink the more inward and isolated we become. Starting with drinking with friends to gradually drinking alone and feeling lonely in ourselves. It can become a vehicle by which we feed a void, a punishment, and penance. A sort of socially accepted self mortification. It certainly can become that any way. Stopping drinking is just part of the process of choosing, “My sober, tempered self is fine and doesn’t need to be empowered by some other vehicle to be likable or to have fun.” Which is a healthy choice because it’s a way of seeing reality and dealing with stress and difficulty in a responsible and clear way. The body feels better when not being poisoned and the mind is stronger because it’s accepting itself as important, resilient, and a valuable person. As long as a person can maintain that temperance, I think alcohol is fine. It’s just a constant reining and re-centering that perhaps isn’t the best choice for some, in which case quitting entirely is perfectly fine. Anything that makes your life easier is good and positive, no matter what anyone else thinks. It’s definitely a difficult subject and a very individual matter, everyone’s line of balance is probably in a different place.

  • Pingback: Here & There – Kristy Renee Creative()

  • Erika Peloke

    This is quite amazing and I feel your story has saved my marriage and possibly my life! I read this first when Jen Hatmaker shared it on facebook. It really made me think and think and think. I still made the excuses even though I cut back considerably. Then cutting back actually made it harder to drink in social situations because my tolerance was lower. I found myself having more problems and feeling more out of control. I never meant to get drunk….never wanted to feel terrible….never wanted to hurt myself…..never wanted to hurt my family…..but it did. Now I’m done….there is not a good in between for me and I’m actually excited to be done- excited to share why- excited to be a better example for my kids- excited to be present. Thank you so much. You are a gifted writer and changing lives with it.

  • Gaylene Dempsey

    Guuurrrrrlll…so good. I quit drinking 32 years ago without the Holy Spirit (long before I accepted Christ) but you’ve beautifully captured the struggle no matter where you’re at. And I didn’t know you were from Winnipeg and with (former) alcoholic parents. We have so much in common. 😉 Bless you

  • Daniel Magnuson

    Sarah, thanks for sharing this. I really loved it. So much wisdom here. I love how you describe the invitation of God to lay down a weight, and the process of trusting God by responding to that invitation. We’ve had the whole alcohol debate in our wider family, and are trying to balance the freedom thing, and the wisdom thing, and the non-judgmental thing. What you shared here really resonated with me. God bless!

  • Melody Wachsmuth

    Hello Sarah, I just read your honest and compelling piece—thank you for your poignant honesty. I wanted to ask about the part where you felt challenged in regards to your cynicism and ‘pressed in’ to find healing and hope. Would you be willing to mine this a little deeper in another blog post? I’m asking because I identify with this and I suspect others would as well.

    • Carol F

      I like that part about cynicism too… it struck a nerve. I am often in my ego, being a know it all and acting judgy while pretending not to be. I am going to ask God to help me with that too.

  • Lisa Johnson Hilliard

    This is an incredible testimony…my weight, was the cell phone which lead me deep into goodness this is so is His Grace and that is so evident in this..thank you, thank you for sharing..I have posted to my page for my friends.

  • When I first started dating my husband, he nonchalantly mentioned he didn’t drink anymore (once he became a Christian as an adult). When I asked why, his answer surprised me. He said it was because he didn’t want to drown out the Holy Spirit in any capacity – or give Satan any potential foothold.

    That was enough for me. I’ve never had a drink of wine or anything else since. It’s been over 20 years.

    One particular thing I’ve noticed is that when we’re at a restaurant that serves alcohol (and makes a lot of money doing so), they oftentimes begin with explaining the drink “specials.” Our standard answer is not just to say, “no thanks,” but to be sure and clarify – “We don’t drink alcohol.” Responses are sometimes odd, but I’ve never been sorry to stand our ground for what we feel is the best way for us to honor God.
    Thanks for a great article – sister in Christ.

  • ole

    It will be 6 years this October 18th. Six years ago on that date I woke up in the hallway in a dried puddle of vomit. I asked God to remove this way of life from me. I haven’t had a drink since then. I haven’t even had the urge to. It took 4 years to go to my first AA Meeting here in this Small town, and have been attending regularly since.

  • Wayne Walker


  • Shelley O’Hara Plunkett

    I also come from a long line of alcoholics on my dad’s side. Fortunately, it didn’t run in my mom’s family. We never drank while our kids were home and now they all drink….some more than others. We do drink on occasion now. I may have a couple of beers with a steak and then not give it another thought for weeks. My husband is the same. He never drank anything stronger than a Dr. Pepper till he was 60 and now, if he drinks at all, it’s a cooler of some kind. I’ve read other articles that were judgmental and fear motivated (why risk having one?) and they just didn’t speak to me as this one does. If HG asks me to quit, of course I will but that hasn’t happened yet. So glad to read an article on this subject that isn’t playing Holy Ghost for the rest of us. God has blessed you with your writing talent and your way of writing without condemning. I am grateful for that.

  • Pingback: Kissing Alcohol Goodbye, For Good? – Awake and Alive()

  • Deadhead MamaUT

    I love this! You and I have a similar story with the drinking (not the parents, but with ourselves). I also stopped drinking on February 19th this year (the day before my 40th bday). Funny, but I feel more ostracized for being a vegan than for not drinking. I have even gone to several concerts (reggae shows and also Dead & Co.) and not even had an urge (and also no peer pressure). I felt great, and I actually enjoyed the music even more! Our kids have also noticed that I don’t drink anymore, and have had similar sentiments to your kids! I will say that ONE time about 2 weeks ago I ordered a beer while out on date night with my husband…. I wanted to see if I still *wanted* it, and also how it made me feel. I only had 1/3 of it because it tasted like …ugh… and believe it or not, just with that little bit, I was bloated after dinner! I was gassy when I usually am not! I guess I’m now officially a T Totaler. LOL! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your journey in this! I love that you have hit a nerve!!!! Definitely a good topic to encourage introspect! –Sara

  • Pingback: Here & There – Kristy by Season()

  • TruthHurts

    I mean are you me?! Thank you. God spoke to me in a similar fashion roughly five weeks ago. I just one day, quit. I didnt shout it from the mountains or post it online. Just, stopped. Friends and family have obviously started figuring it out at this point, and questions get asked, but I just say “I just dont want to anymore”. Simple as that – I asked for God to change my heart for years, and when He knew I was ready, He did it. His timing. Ha! Hear it all your life and it clicks one day, His timing, His grace.

  • Pingback: So I quit drinking. | Sarah Bessey – Simone Samuels()

  • Pingback: Alcohol and the Church-pt 3 {What does the bible say?} - Debby Hudson()

  • Carol F

    I relate to the part where you talk about the Spirit being relentless and God wanting you to stop drinking for a long time. I feel the same way! God keeps trying to reach me.

    One day, I opened my laptop, and I hadn’t had it on and nobody was here who could have touched it, and there was You Tube on the screen and the song that was on it was Jesus Take the Wheel… no kidding! But I’ve had a few spiritual epiphanies in my life when God showed Himself to me, so I wasn’t skeptical or disbelieving… I thought, Okay God, I know you want me to be with You and be better to myself.

    I drink anywhere from 1 to several drinks a day. I quit sometimes for a week or a month just to do it. I’m not alcoholic as in craving it or not being able to have just one, but usually I like to have 2 or 3, or 4. I have essential tremor, and alcohol is the one thing that makes me finally feel calm.

    But in my heart I know its too much and that I just want to quit already and God wants me to quit.
    So I am. Yes, I can just do it without any problem. I’m a little OCD and I’m either doing something everyday, routinely, or not doing it at all.

    Thank you so much for this post because it really encourages me to go with God and make a new path for myself. I’m just so sick of drinking. I’m done. Thank you.

  • Deanna Smith

    WOW! I feel like you literally wrote my story! I couldn’t get through the entire essay without texting my children a few times… “WOW! WOW! YOU’VE GOT TO READ THIS!” So, THANK YOU! Thanking God for allowing me to “stumble” upon your blog. This has confirmed what I knew He was leading me to all along.

  • Pingback: Un-wined | mamasandwich()

  • Tricia Jarrett

    Thank you for this. Thank you for being transparent and sharing your story. I stumbled across this at the most perfect time. Funny how God works. I actually told my husband today that I felt like God was asking me to quit drinking. I don’t drink much, but I do drink and honestly lately I have been drinking to see if I had any joy from it anymore. I don’t and I have strong convictions that for me I need to stop. I love how you said that certain things that felt right now no longer do. That is exactly how I feel. The closer I get to Jesus the more he asks of me. I have no judgements on people who drink and like you said for some it is okay. But, God has asked me to stop and reading this helped give me the courage to obey. Thank you!

  • peggy

    So. Good. This beautifully reflects what has been stirring in my spirit for some time. In business, in church, in homes, alcohol use has become such a change from what I once knew. Beautiful indeed.

  • Cindy

    Hi Sarah – I found this when I googled quit drinking, it was within the first two or three results that came up. I am not an alcoholic either, but Have fought God on giving up this this habit. I’ve bought into the whole wine marketing scheme aimed at women. I have felt the Holy Spirit inviting me to quit for the last few months. I have had a hard time getting past the perceived social affects it will have on my life. I know that I’m missing out on all God has for me by not giving it up. When I typed that into google, earlier, I was hoping to read a couple of articles about celebs that had quit -not bc of an addiction- but bc its not a great habit. My parents drank quite a bit but were saved the year I was born and the drinking stopped cold turkey at that point. Our experience is so similar that when I started to read your post, I thanked God that he guided me to a believers post that is in my same situation vs some celeb that quit for reasons not at all related to a relationship with our Heavenly Father. Anyway – I know I’m all over the place and typing this on my iPad, but just wanted to say thank you for sharing and my gentle friend, the Holy Spirit, used this to confirm several things for me today. Happy New Year!