Someone asked me at the end of last week, learning that's I was about to go on holiday, whether I was planning to spend some of the time, if not all of it, drunk. She was insistent that a good time could not be had whilst sober. I’m not teetotal by any means it’s just my addictions lie in other places. Give me a large slice of cake any day.
On Sunday our church hosted a lovely lady from the charity Hope UK, which provides drug and alcohol education and training for children and young people, parents and youth workers.
She talked about the week she spent at a Keswick Convention some years before. Hope UK had a stand and she spent the week avoiding going anywhere near. She didn’t want to get involved. God had other plans and when she wandered close enough to the stand, the woman manning it told her boldly that God had chosen her for the job. A card was thrust into her hand which she put in a pocket. Once home she put the card in a box under the bed, deciding not to think about it. The card kept finding its way out of the box and onto the bedside table, until she relented, filled it in and sent it off.
I have to say that I didn’t go anywhere near the woman after she spoke. I didn’t want to give her the opportunity to tell me that Hope UK was my next placement. I have had my time with young people. And besides which, I really don’t have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, which might perhaps be an essential part of the story of what you learned through experience and would like to pass on to the next generation.
I have to say that I have heard it all before – identifying different drugs, the colours and shapes of different tablets and their effects. Have I heard it done better? The police did a good one years ago with a good visual aid. Was I just lucky that I never fell down that particular rabbit hole? God made me best friends with a wonderful girl who loved reading, and another wonderful girl who loved music and another wonderful girl who introduced me to tinned sweetcorn. He then introduced me to His Son and I fell in love. He also introduced me to my brain, not the size of planet, but in good working order and I discovered I loved learning. Of course, then He also uncovered in me a passion for writing. Would I write better if I was drunk? It might work for some, but not for me. I never was the experimenting type and nerd-like kept my focus on my degree.
As with other charities, Hope UK has its plastic bracelets in rainbow colours. Not a marketing gimmick the words on the bracelet are something along the lines of “an alcohol free day”. For friends that make the pub their meeting place, a man needs only to show the bracelet to his friends and they are supposed to respect his choice of having an alcohol free day and not push a pint in front of him. She talked about a man who was homeless who chose to put his bracelet on daily to remind himself that alcohol was not the solution to his problem.
A friend of mine was sitting next to me in church. We have known each other a long time and have quite a volatile friendship. We don’t just speak truth to each other, we shout it, standing on doorsteps, yelling at closed windows! It’s only just recently that my friend has started to come to my church. She has replaced the quiet contemplation of a small chapel with boisterous clapping and songs that make you cry. God is on her case and every meeting has touched her heart. She needed one of those bracelets and took away a red one. She couldn’t guarantee that she’d wear it every day, but she’d try.
She looked at me carefully.
“Everyone’s got their addictions, Mel.”
If I could have a plastic bracelet mine would have nothing to do with an alcohol free day. It might be “a day without cake”. I have a sweet tooth. Or “a day without chocolate.” Perhaps better it would be “a day without worrying”, or “a day without negative thinking”, or “a day spent saying thank you” or “a day singing God’s praises”.
So many days and so many opportunities to remind myself that this day can be different.