DRINKING-Sentinel Article


Whatís needed to resist the pressure ó and
desire ó to drink already exists within.
By Lynn Gray Jackson

Not long ago a friend of mine and his colleague were in Russia on business. One time, at the end of the day, they were invited to a clientís home for dinner. After dinner, the client offered each of them a shot of vodka. My friend explained that he didnít drink alcohol. But his colleague, feeling awkward and nervous about possibly losing this clientís business, said he would drink for himself and my friend. What followed was a game of toasting and drinking, shot after shot. My friendís colleague finally fell, knocking over the television and VCR. He lost the game.

Youíre not receptive to whatís
going on around you and whatís
going on with yourself when you
drink. I often find that people
who abstain from drinking are
happier, freer, more at peace.

Of course, the pressure to drink doesnít occur only when weíre dealing in business. Often it begins early in life, continuing through high school and college and well into adulthood. Once one has begun drinking, it can seem difficult to stop. Yet, whether one is aware of it or not, Godís Christ is already stirring deep inside an irresistible yearning to stop drinking. Becoming conscious of that yearning is the start of prayer.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy comments on the value of such heartfelt desire: "Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds" (p. 1). The simple desire to improve gently leads us to communion with God, the source of good. And this communion changes things for the better. To be exact, it changes thought, and when oneís thought changes ó becomes more God-based ó oneís life also changes ó becomes more God-based. The temptation to drink can end naturally, then, just as the caterpillar leaves behind its chrysalis once it becomes a butterfly.

If God is Life, if God is
Love, if God is Principle,
those foundations, those
qualities, what more do I need?

Contrary to what weíre educated to believe, the appetite to drink doesnít begin with the body. Like anything else it begins in thought. If we desire to cross the street, we first have to think of crossing it. If we want to play basketball, we first have to think of playing it. Just so, before taking a drink, one must think of doing so. Whatís needed, then, is a way to watch our thinking so that we can arrest the thought that says drinking is either a good or a necessary thing.

I think itís cool not to drink. I
have seen very many people, my
friends and my family, destroy
life through alcohol. Thereís their
nothing positive about alcohol,
and thatís why I donít drink.

But how? It takes more than manipulating oneís thought to resist continued the pressure to drink or to stop drinking. It takes real power ó the spiritual power of Christ. The Christ enables us to realize that, in reality, each of us is a child of God. This affords us the might of divine Mind, another name for God. And there is no other actual power able to resist God. When you think about it, that makes perfect sense. After all, if God is all-power ó and He is ó thereís nothing else able to compete with Him. So thereís nothing outside of His allness to make us desire anything harmful.

"Let the words of my mouth, and
the meditation of my heart, be
acceptable in thy sight, O Lord,
my strength, and my redeemer"
(Ps. 19:14).
I use that as a prayer, as a
checkpoint for me. Whatever
I do, whatever actions I take
ó not drinking, not smoking ó
these are a way of showing my
gratitude to God, to my strength
and to my Lord, my redeemer.

We stop thinking about drinking, then, by starting to understand God. Communing with Him, we find His care and help reaching our thought ó and thereby governing our experience. Step by step, our growing understanding of God and of our relation to Him stops us from doing anything detrimental or degrading.

No matter how much pressure there is, we can choose to turn to God. Nothing can keep us from making that choice. In fact, God, Himself, helps us choose Him. He helps us simply by being God. Yielding to all that God is already doing ó governing us, guiding us, loving us ó is whatís needed.

It takes more than manipulating
oneís thought to stop drinking.
It takes real power ó the
spiritual power of Christ.

This takes practice, but it is not a halfhearted proposition. The goal is not merely to drink less but to stop drinking alcohol entirely. Mary Baker Eddy minces no words on this subject. In her Miscellaneous Writings, she states: "Whatever intoxicates a man, stultifies and causes him to degenerate physically and morally. Strong drink is unquestionably an evil, and evil cannot be used temperately: its slightest use is abuse; hence the only temperance is total abstinence" (pp. 288Ė289).

I could see that I couldn't
get any happiness from a
totally false god.

Instead of seeing these words as too authoritative or old-fashioned, we can take them as a reminder of manís God-given desires. Would God have us buddy up with evil to even the slightest degree, claiming that weíll be better or happier as a result? No, the desires God gives us are entirely good and spiritual. In reality, they already exist within each individualís consciousness, and itís natural for them to blossom into full-fledged confidence in our ability to be the way God makes us ó pure, perfect, free from anything that would diminish or degrade us.

While I was attending a Christian preparatory school, I was surrounded by people who had moral standards similar to mine. But when I came to a college in a large city, I felt no one had the same standards. It didnít bother me at first. I had a solid moral foundation to begin with, so I wasnít tempted to do what I considered to be inappropriate things. And it wasnít as though anyone was pressuring me to do them. I had friends who drank, but I didnít think it affected our friendship until I began reading the Bible more and learning about Christian Science and being involved in church. Then it became a dilemma for me.

There are strong moral standards in the Bible that I use as my guide to life. To me, these meant being modest and not drinking and not smoking. Treating other people the way that you want to be treated ó as Jesus brought out in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt., chaps. 5-7). While these people definitely were wonderful friends, it did not appear theyíd had that type of foundation growing up. So, I wondered, should I stop being friends with them? That seemed really harsh because the Bible also tells you not to judge.

I remember, when Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, people were wondering why he was hanging out with sinners. They were judging him. But Jesus had a good answer. In essence, he said the righteous donít need me; Iím here to save those who need me. So, I began to focus on being the best person that I could be, and trusted that everything else would fall into place.

I love gospel music. It really inspires me. And thereís a gospel song that says when people take a close look at us, that they see Christliness. Meaning that although you donít look like Christ, they feel the love and the pureness and the innocence that we all really want to be expressing.

My friends would joke and say, "Ha, ha, weíre going to get you drunk" or "Weíll see what it does to you" or whatever. But it wasnít pressure. I really felt that they respected me. When I did go out, even though there were drugs and drinking at parties, they would protect me, and when someone offered me something they would say, "Oh, sheís a Christian Scientist ó she doesnít do that." Or even at the end of the night, when I was the only one who was still sober, they would say: "Iím so glad that youíre Christian because youíre the only sober person here."

But actually, there were one or two times that I remember being stressed out, and hearing, "Oh well, you can just party it off on the weekends." And there was a time when I totally gave in to that. I had had a terrible week and came home and thought, "Iím just going to get drunk and forget about it." It didnít have anything to do with my upbringing or my foundation. It was just that temptation. Sometimes you become hypnotized into doing things that go against everything that youíve ever been taught about relying on God. Well, thatís what I did.

The drinks didnít taste good, first of all. But then I realized that my problems were still there, and I felt out of control. I felt even worse, as though I were giving over my control ó the control of my life and my thoughts ó to someone besides myself and God. And I didnít like that, so I never did it again.

Having friends and having a social life when youíre young and having fun, I feel is right, and it expresses the good God gives His children. And so when I go out I donít think, "Oh, if there is alcohol there, I canít go." I just think about going out and being the best person I can be and expressing goodness.

I want to be a Christian, siding with good. I find that when I focus on that, I often end up in places where there isnít a lot of drinking or other things that are not in accord with my moral standards. But even if there is something, I donít feel uncomfortable, and I find time to talk to people.

People ask me why I donít drink, and they think itís pretty cool. Iíve found that a lot of young people are looking for a reason not to drink. I think theyíre looking for a reason not to do what the world expects young people to do.

Written for the Sentinel

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