Removed from Temptation but not Desire
I know I am not the only one who silently questions if this time of lockdown was directed at me. While I know it is for everyone, I think it is up to each individual to figure out what that looks like specifically for you. I have tried to be intentional (my word of the month) every single day about how I use this gift of time that is unexpectedly, my biggest commodity right now. What I had lacked in for about the last year (time) is now abundant, and I know I am supposed to use it wisely.
Having moved the end of last year in the midst of a book deadline, the holidays, and preparation for a speaking tour, I was crazy busy. Throw in a few unexpected life lessons and you have the perfect storm brewing. At least I did.
Shortly before the restrictions of lockdown I distinctly remember thinking as I looked around our home, will we ever be totally settled here? There is still so much I want to do but it will probably be fall before I get to it. It was depressing, but I moved on quickly knowing that this was not the most important thing in my life right now. In the midst of this brief pity party, I was issued a watch, you know the weather warning that says "keep an eye on the conditions". So I did. I worked hard to stay peaceful in all I had going on but kept an eye on the radar so it didn't turn into a severe Sherry shit storm (pardon my french, but it works really well here.) I watched closely for an alert to blare that things were getting out of hand. That a warning had been issued. It didn't happen. I stayed in full trust mode and felt peaceful most of the time no matter what my day held.
Then things really started to ramp up and the alert came. Not just to me personally, but to all of us.
Don't go to the store
Buy Toilet Paper (I personally did not hear that one but apparently someone did)
Practice Social Distancing - a new term for 2020
There was hardly time to gather supplies for this house arrest we were all about to be under. I had a project list a mile long and I only had supplies to go about a 1/8 of a mile. My mother has taught me over the years to be resourceful, she might also tell you that this not usually my strength, but enough of her instruction had sunk in I guess because here I am, killing it. Making due with what I have.
This flower arrangement? The flowers are ancient and I thought I threw them out when we moved. Think 2009! The "vase" I don't want to tell you about the state of this when I found it hiding in the barn. Honestly, this arrangement brings me joy every time I walk past it!
This would be the first of many lessons I have heeded to. It goes on from there and week by week I am making my way to the bottom of the endless list of ideas I keep writing down.
I did not need anything extra from a store to do what I love most, writing. That's been harder for me though as the rhythm of life has changed. I finally gave up on my pre-virus schedule and just started going with what I feel like doing at the moment. This didn't work before because of my inherrent lack of self-discipline. What I usually felt like was coffee with a friend or a quick trip to Homegoods and off I would go. Ignoring what I should be doing and working late into the night to make up for my impulsive play day. Those distractions are gone. Literally taken from me! Wow God is all I have to say to that one.
Don't confuse temptation with desire. Yes, I want to do all the things that I am told I cannot. These are not temptations, but true desires. I miss Otto and his parents and our newlyweds from the east side. We were supposed to have houseguests this past month, spend a few weeks in Alabama, and Craig and I both had speaking engagements we had prepared for. I will tell you that the number one thing I desire ( I know I'm not alone in this one) is for my family to all be together. In one room. To watch the grandboys play together. To pray together and share a meal. All the things a few months ago I took for granted. Never again.
I am seeing that the desires I talk about are things I love and the temptation side of life is made up of mostly things I like or enjoy. None of them are really bad or sinful until they cause me to sin and distract me from what I am supposed to be doing. BAM! I just described alcohol.
Alcohol is not a bad thing until it becomes a temptation and then a desire that is all-consuming. It may not be in your home but you are tempted to throw on your mask and gloves and drive to the essentially (sorry had to throw that word in because it pisses me off but that's for a different day) open liquor store. It has this power over you that you truly don't understand. Seriously, it's a liquid that for under $10 can destroy me and those around me. I have to resist it and for a lot of us, that is a minute by minute thought.
The mind-boggling part of this drinking conundrum is that it seems your brain is not your own. If it is a choice why can't I reign it in and just make the choice not to?
The thought process around active drinking goes something like this;
Morning Brain: I feel like shit. I can't believe I drank again last night. I've been awake since 3 am. It's going to be a long wasted day. No more, I declare myself not ever drinking again. Okay for sure tonight.
Mid-Afternoon Brain: I still feel like crap. Maybe just a little drink would help. I can start tomorrow feeling better if I don't drink very much. Just enough to take the edge off. I don't' want the 3 am wake up call and start all over again tomorrow.
Evening brain: Dinner? Was I supposed to make that? I need more, what I had left wasn't enough. Good thing I can have it delivered. I can have it delivered with dinner!
Sound familiar? It does to me because that was me! Minus the fact that six years ago the option for delivery wasn't in place nor would I have to mask up first. The core remains though, your drinking has become a hamster wheel you definitely want off from. It is all-consuming and has totally hijacked your life.
This verse is a good place to begin.
Don't tell yourself you'll quit after quarantine. I call BS on that because weren't you going to quit after the holidays, the new year, for Lent and now this unexpected thing that has changed life dramatically? Time to stop with the excuses. You don't believe any of them and neither do the people around you who are watching you self destruct.
How? Just for today push through the pain. Don't add to it by drinking more. The longer you go without the better you will feel. USE THIS TIME! Right now you have the gift of not being tempted to go to the bar, hang out with friends, or happy hour. If there was ever a place you could get by without sharing your secret its a zoom meeting with club soda and lime! Add a shot of cranberry for a foolproof no questions asked drink in hand. If you want support then don't pretend and hold up your non-alcoholic drink with pride!
What about tomorrow? Repeat the process and pray about it, give it to God. Just like the verse says, he is giving you an out. Don't waste the invitation or the opportunity. Lord willing this opportunity won't be here ever again.