I never struggled with believing in God. I never doubted that God could do what God said God could do. In fact, I believed so firmly that God could save me from my alcoholism that I did the only thing I could think to do:
I never asked God for help.
Have you ever known something was the right thing to do, but you were just too stubborn to do it? For example, have you ever lost something–glasses, car keys, cell phone–and you know the best way to look for it is to be methodical and organized? But instead, you just go crazy through every room throwing everything everywhere hoping to find what you are looking for.
Or if you are feeling sick, you know the best thing to do is lay down, rest, stay hydrated, maybe even call a doctor. Instead, we often push ourselves to the brink of exhaustion just because we can.
Just because we know better does not always mean we will do better.
I always knew, deep down, that I should not drink. I could look at my family and see people struggling with alcoholism and other addictions. I could see the ways in my life I had participated in activities almost compulsively. I was able to at least call to mind the thought that I should not start (or continue) doing something that had such dangerous potential consequences.
So why did I do it? Because I convinced myself that I was stronger than everyone else who had gone before me. Why should I think that I couldn’t handle it just because people close to me couldn’t? It did not matter that I knew (on an intellectual level) the dangers inherent in my decision. At that point, all that mattered was that I thought way more highly of myself than I should have.
I always knew, deep down, that I needed help. There was a time early in my drinking life that something happened that raised some red flags. I had not been drinking much. And when I drank, it was only a small amount. But one day, I had a difficult shift at work. I thought to myself, “I can’t wait to get home and I’m gonna drink more than normal to make this day better.” Having that thought alerted me to the distinct possibility that something might be wrong.
But that didn’t stop me. I didn’t tell anybody. Why would I have this knowledge that something may be terribly wrong and keep it to myself? Because I convinced myself that the shame I would experience if I admitted my need for help was not worth the potential safety that telling someone would bring. I felt a greater desire to protect myself from shame and embarrassment than what alcohol was doing to me.
I always knew, deep down, that I should turn to God. I was raised going to church. It has always been part of my life. I have never known a period in life when I did not believe in God. I have always believed in the power of prayer and have had practiced praying regularly. But I was always careful in how much I would talk to God about this particular problem. I had an intellectual awareness that something was wrong. I had a belief that there was somewhere I could turn for help.
But I didn’t. I made the conscious decision to not seek help. I knew that if I did, I may not continue to get my way. I might have to make some changes. I might have to admit weakness, failure, and an inability to control my life. I made the choice to continue on a path that I knew could lead to my destruction because I was too stubborn to admit my own limitations.
So for me, I did not have to start a journey of belief. I just needed to tap into that belief I already had. I had to admit to myself that I had finally had enough and that I actually wanted to get better. There was no magic formula. There was no grand epiphany. There was just a realization that what I was doing wasn’t working anymore. There was a realization that I did know better. It was just time to start acting like it.