faith, food, Struggles

Is Drinking Bad?

I did not drink any alcohol for the first 39 years of my life. I didn’t try it in high school. I didn’t go out to a bar when I turned 21. I believed all alcohol was bad for me- physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Most of my friends and family didn’t drink alcohol, so it was pretty easy to avoid. It didn’t bother me to not drink, and I felt like it was good for my health. I was doing what was right for my body and obeying a commandment from God.

When I discovered that my religion was not good for me- physically, emotionally or spiritually, I began to question all that my religion had taught me. Among the litany of questions that my new life presented, a major question I had was-

Is drinking bad?

I have read countless studies of the negative affects of alcohol. I have also read studies on the positive health benefits of red wine. I know that it isn’t good to drink frequently, excessively or illegally.

There are a lot of other things that I should not consume frequently, excessively or illegally (like white bread, chips, doughnuts, candy, ice-cream, soda, meth, heroin, etc.). I don’t always eat things that are good for my health, but I do like to eat things that bring me joy.

mmmm, Irish candy bars

Christ drank wine with his disciples. If drinking was so bad for our spiritual health, then why did He do it? If the Son of God thought it was ok to drink alcohol, then maybe it wasn’t a major sin. Maybe God wouldn’t keep me out of heaven for drinking.

At age 39, I finally decided that I would try it.

OMG, why didn’t anyone tell me that alcohol tastes disgusting!?

The first drink that I tried was something called a ‘trashcan’ (don’t judge me, I didn’t have anyone to guide me on how or what to drink, okay!). It was a mixture of hard liquors, sugary syrups and Red Bull. Yuck. I don’t even like Red Bull. Surprisingly, I couldn’t drink it, so the nice waitress brought me something else. My second mixed drink was only okay. I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember thinking that it wasn’t much better than the first drink.

Even though I hadn’t had a lot to drink, I still got a little tipsy. My head and arms felt really heavy (didn’t know that happened). The Red Bull made my heart race and for some reason, I couldn’t stop talking. My husband made the mistake of watching a movie with me, and I gave incessant (and unwanted) running commentary.

[Note to self: no more Red Bull or trashcans]

A few weeks later I tried some wine.

Once again, why didn’t anyone tell me that wine has such a strong fermented flavor? I do know it’s made from fermented grapes, but I was still naively surprised.

Learning to understand wine is like trying to get a college degree. There are whole multi-page menus just for wine.  There are $5 wine bottles and $5,000 wine bottles. Does it taste that different? Why does it vary in price that much? How am I supposed to know what is even good? Does it matter where it was grown or bottled? Why did Jesus even like it?

trying to be like Jesus

And beer…

Yuck, yuck, yuck. That is something that I do not understand. It tastes gross, it makes you fat, it’s full of calories, and it takes several bottles of beer just to feel a buzz. No, thank you.

…but when you’re in Germany, you should drink, just so you don’t offend the locals (even if it is just a sip-which is all I could get down)

I have learned a lot about drinking in the past six months. I have found mixed drinks that are wonderful like, mojitos, lemon drops and (a recent discovery), long island iced tea. I have discovered some wonderful tasting wine (though, I couldn’t name them, there are far too many different types). I still have yet to find a beer that I like.

Drinking makes me feel less stressed, more outgoing and even happy. Maybe drinking is good for my physical health (red wine), emotional health and even spiritual well-being.

Now I can see why Jesus liked it.