Alcohol and marijuana have been in and out of my life since I was about 14 years old. My love affair with alcohol began with a night at a friend’s cabin at a campground. We snuck out to go to a bonfire party with boys too old for us and had our first alcoholic drinks ever. I can still taste the thick, warm, bittersweet Honey Brown that had been sitting near the fire for too long. (Cringeworthy) Despite the ew factor, that night was still one of the most fun I’ve ever had. We got caught of course, bumbling around and giggling like idiots, and even though we were in soooo much trouble, it was totally worth it. Even the memory of getting yelled at makes me laugh – it was hilarious, we couldn’t keep a straight face the whole time. I’ve been addicted to that thrill, the fun and the silliness I experienced with alcohol ever since.
I was a bit older when I smoked pot for the first time. Being the insecure follower that I was, my first experience with marijuana happened solely because I didn’t want to look stupid in front of the new crowd I was hanging with. I felt nothing the first time and was relieved. I secretly hoped I could avoid another opportunity to get high, not because I was afraid, but because my “friends” all thought I was as big a pothead as they were, and I had no idea what I was doing. Yes, I know it’s not hard, but you’re talking to someone who wouldn’t go anywhere unless I knew where the entrance was, because I was afraid of looking stupid in traffic. Not even kidding.
But the opportunity did present itself, many times over, and at the risk of being called out on my ignorance of how to work a bong, I watched, learned, and copied until I figured it out. Mostly I didn’t care for it. It made me feel disconnected and panicky, anxious about everything and unable to do anything about it until I came down. A rare few times it made me feel super chill, happy and giggly. That I loved. I am not a chill person, I am always stressed, nervous and frantically trying to fix something. I hate that. So I learned what to look for in weed to insure that I would not feel paranoid, but would instead make me relax and laugh my butt off. It soon became a regular part of my day.
As I used it more and more I found it had other benefits too. Sleep. I didn’t sleep well in those days. Nightmares, anxiety, drugs and alcohol kept me awake most nights. Years later I discovered it was an effective alternative for pain relief as well. I was prescribed percocet for some menstrual cramps that are out of this world. (Sorry for the overshare) This was years after I quit using drugs, and taking those pills was sucking me back down into a rabbit hole, and fast. I liked it too much. I tried other meds, nothing even touched it. I smoked one night after years of eradicating all drug use hoping to relax, and I realized that it actually made the pain go away. Even in the next few days, the pain felt more bearable.
So I made the excuse that I was only going to use it for that purpose, and only if the pain was unbearable. But I found myself enjoying the effects it had on my mood. I felt more calm, able to handle stress, people liked me more (I believed) when I smoked. I could deal with my insane schedule and definitely yelled a lot less. My boyfriend at the time liked me more. My faked desire to sleep with him became real when I was high, and all around, marijuana seemed to be a good, loyal friend to me.
Alcohol and I had a very different kind of relationship, a fine line between love and hate. It promises one thing, quite convincingly, but I always end up getting something else. When I drink, I have a blast for a short period of time. Just long enough to keep me craving more. I am fun, funny, confident, the life of the party, everything I wish I was naturally. Not wanting to lose that feeling, I follow the source. One drink turns to two, two to four, and so on until it turns on me and becomes my enemy.
What happens next can always be filed into one of three categories :
- Regrettable Mistakes
- Self Pity and Depression
- Fight Mode
All three are disastrous, and have ruined many a friendship in my life. But still, I chase that thrill, that excitement, that short period of carefree fun before it all goes to hell. Somehow, my mind convinces me it’s worth it.
There are many times in my life that I’ve shut the door on both of these vices. It’s never as difficult as I think it will be. I’m not addicted to them. It’s the promise they offer that draws me back, time and time again.
One thing we know about Satan is that he is famous for promising us exactly what we long for, and delivering nothing. His promises always involve a shortcut that negates our need for God. Only the shortcut leads to a dead-end, and we end up more lost and alone than when we started.
I’m not here to preach to anyone about the use of weed or alcohol. They’re not evil, in and of themselves. I am not opposed to the occasional glass of wine. And I truly believe that marijuana has incredible uses in medicine and will change many lives for the better.
I do want to point out really quick that the cannabinoids in marijuana used in medicine are often separated from THC, the psychotropic element that makes you feel high. Using medicinal cannabinoids is healing, getting high is directly in violation of God’s Word.
1 Peter 5:7-8 first states “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” To me, this verse, and many others in the Bible concerning worry and anxiety, command us to give him our worries, to let him be the healer of our hearts. The next verse says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I can make excuses for getting high all I want, but if I’m honest, I know that even with the best of intentions, my mind is not alert or sober when I’m high. And Satan waits for those moments when our guard is down.
So it’s time for me to stop making excuses and get to the heart of the issue. Over the course of the year, with job stress, kid stress, financial stress, relationship stress, I’d started listening once again to Satan’s promises of relief by taking the shortcut.
But why? Why I am I trying to take the easy road? What am I trying to escape?
Insecurity. Unhappiness. Not liking who I am, not liking feeling out of control, hating the constant loop of fear driven thoughts, the constant stress.
This is where I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking clearly,
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
This made me think, (I think a lot) what does it feel like to go to the Father? If I stop and imagine myself as a little girl, running to my daddy’s arms, what does it feel like when I reach him? Love, safety, peace, acceptance, a quieting of the soul. All things I am craving so desperately in this life. Imagine it’s you.
Now rewind. Start from the beginning and watch your child self start running towards your daddy once again. But this time, halfway there, a beautiful, motherly looking woman stops you and asks, What’s wrong? Why are you running? She has a warm blanket, a soft pillow, and a mug of hot chocolate.
You warily pause and tell her you’re hurt, and you need your daddy. But the woman convinces you that she has everything you need to feel better and be back to playing in no time. She offers the blanket, the fluffy pillow, the cocoa. You’re torn. The soft voice of the woman and the comfort she’s offering are so inviting. Your daddy seems so far down the road and you’re tired and hurt. So you follow her.
She wraps you up in the soft, cozy blanket, tightly, maybe a bit too tight. She puts the cocoa to your lips and tells you to take a sip, but it’s too hot and it burns your mouth. She seems agitated now, and pours it anyway, the hot liquid burning your throat and choking you. You cry out for your daddy, but that only angers her more. A look of hatred sweeps across her eyes. Her beauty crumbles, revealing what’s truly inside, a scary demonic being that is now furiously trying to smother you with the pillow you once desperately wanted to lay your head on. The blanket wrapped tightly around you like a straight jacket, you realize you are trapped, unable to move, unable to scream.
Marijuana and alcohol, in my opinion, (I know many of you will disagree with me) are not evil. They are much like the comforting bedding and warm drink in this illustration. The Enemy (the real evil) promises instant comfort and relief, but absolutely intends to use them to trap me. His promises deliver nothing but slavery.
I have chased the illusion of relief from my anxiety. I have chased feelings of temporary happiness, a thrill, the confidence, the attention I get when I’m living in the moment.
But it cannot be caught. Real peace, real joy can only be given, truly given, by One, God the Father.
The way to the Father? Through the Son.
The way to healing is through Christ.
The truth about who I am? Found in Christ.
True, abundant life? Yep, it’s in Christ.
There are no shortcuts. Only traps. Only slavery.
My abuse of alcohol has been nothing but destructive. It changes the way I think. When I drink several times during the week, even if it’s only one, I become a different person. Snappy, hateful, easily angered. Extremely selfish. The only time I’m happy is during the short buzz period.
When I’m smoking, even once a month, I think differently. I over think. Or I don’t think at all. What should concern me does not. I let temptations have their way, cuz who cares? I believe the lies my overactive mind and paranoia whisper. It’s a gentler slope, I’ll give you that, but it leads to the same dungeon. What starts out as occasional pain relief becomes occasional use for anxiety as well. Occasional becomes often. Often becomes routine. Chasing freedom from constant stressful thoughts. The more I chase, the more intense and dominant the stress becomes.
It’s a trap.
Guys, with the recent heroin epidemic, the constant fentanyl overdoses, the well-known dangers of meth and other street drugs, and more subtly, the barrage of recent news boasting all the benefits of smoking weed, it’s super easy to make excuses. It doesn’t look like the bad guy. It looks like the nurturing comforter.
But it’s not.
Jesus is the only way, the only truth, the ultimate life. No one comes to Father, to Love and purpose, except through HIM.
I am seeing and experiencing what it means to be in my Father’s arms for the first time. The healing in my heart, my family, my relationships, is explosive. The cost? Obedience. When my Father says don’t listen to the liar, follow my Son and come to me, I have to listen. Disobedience has walked me into its death trap for far too long.
It’s not about cutting out sin and taking the hard road. I’ve done that and still felt lost. I think that’s where we all get a little tripped up. (God doesn’t take from us, he gives to us. Satan takes.) It’s about realizing the only way to experience the freedom, peace and joy we so desperately chase is through Christ. It’s about finally understanding that we want those things so badly because we were designed to have them – through our Father. Sin separated us from him, from Love itself. As we search for him, the Liar offers false hope. We fall for it every time because we mistakenly believe that obedience means giving up the false hope that looks so very real.
Our father knows it’s fake, and not just a disappointment, a death trap. Obedience is what saves us from the fire and keeps us in reach of what we’re really looking for. Obedience gives us access to hope. To love itself.
Sorry for the super long post guys, I just wanted to make sure I clearly explained this, as I think it’s an issue for far more Christians than were willing to admit. Anyway, this was a post that took a lot of guts and vulnerability for me so please don’t judge. I am committed to living in obedience! For anyone struggling with your own vices, send me a message if you want to talk, or if I can pray for you. We’re all in this together. Thanks for reading!