I Lost Count At Twenty-One...

For most people the number Twenty-One has a lot of positive meaning attached to it. It is the age that you can finally drink alcohol without it being illegal. You are really set on the course of adulthood by then as well. Many of us older people (by old I mean 30 and up) we often say, “Oh if I were only Twenty-One again!” There is a sense of “Finally” and a new found freedom that happens at Twenty-One that shapes and molds you as you move into the years of #Adulting.

But upon reflecting recently, this number has been one that pains my heart in deep and terrible ways. You see, I realized that I had lost count of the people I personally knew who either were in prison or died of an overdose, or both at the number Twenty-One. What seems like a number that speaks of freedom for many has become a number that reminds me of how much in our world is still bound.

It’s truly a strange thing to be someone who is reflecting upon this reality, considering that 12 years ago this April I had just found freedom from addiction for the first time in my life. I had been a heavy drug user since the age of 13 and by the time I was 19 I had evolved into an unrecognizable Meth-monster. Selling and using Meth in quantities large enough to “kill a cow”, and I mean that quite literally.

For most of these Twenty-One plus loses, they were mostly acquaintances or people I knew growing up in school, a few of them were in the “closer friends” circle but nothing that was really close to my heart. However, most recently I lost someone who was like a brother to me. Someone who was the most loving and kind person I knew growing up. No one was really aware that he was using and it was so sudden and tragic. Even now, my eyes are filled with tears writing about just how much it hurts. This tragedy came at just the time when Drinklings was getting ready to ramp up our 8 week conversation concerning Addiction and Recovery.

Needless to say, that this topic of discussion has always been near and dear to my heart, but in this season it has become almost as important to me as remembering to breathe. I know, I know, you don’t have to remember to breathe. But if you did, believe me this issue would rank up there for sure!

That’s the reason why Drinklings is going to be spending these next 8 weeks tackling this issue from various aspects. We will have a mixture of personal testimonies, Program Directors of recovery centers, Psychologists, Pastors, Counselors who will be giving voice to this very important issue both in our churches and in our cities.

Just yesterday I found out that in a 32-hour window in Louisville, KY there were 50 plus reported heroin overdoses that came flooding into hospitals. As someone who worked as a chaplain in an ER, I can tell you that this has gone beyond just a problem and has moved to a full on crisis. That means one thing, and one thing only for us who call ourselves the Church….ALL HANDS ON DECK!

Here at Drinklings we feel it is absolutely necessary to understand that if we as the Church say we are Pro-Life then we are talking about more than just being “against abortion”, rather we are a for a WHOLE LIFE movement, which means that we are “For” so much more than what we are just “Against”. This includes the care for those who are suffering in all the various forms and capacities of Life, from conception to death and all areas in between, especially when we as the Church have Jesus to offer, the only way anyone finds. We are all “Created in the Image of God” and each and every person has inherent worth to them. They should be treated as such.

Thomas Merton (who we feature on one of our mug designs, wink…) was a Catholic monk and spiritual writer who lived here in Kentucky at the Abbey of Gethsemani. I believe this quote of his says it best, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”

Too long has Addiction been a taboo issue within the church. “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Rom. 15:1). There is no reason whatsoever for congregations to remain in a stasis of fear, worried how a bunch of ragtag, messy, broken sinners will affect “the way we’ve always done things.” Jesus came not for the healthy, but for the sick. We as the church are precisely that only when we are busting at the seams with messy, broken sinners who are in desperate need of Jesus.

We have a lot of work to do to get to that place, and we believe the very best way to start is through having this difficult conversations. That’s our whole mission at Drinklings, to begin conversations about difficult things that are present in the Reality of the Here and Now. We believe these conversations happen best over a cup of good coffee among equals who can speak, listen and love with Christ in our midst.

My hope and prayer is that over the course of these next 8 weeks, you will enter into the conversation with us, with each other and make steps to be a part of the solution and not just a disgruntled spectator comfortable and warm inside your churches and homes. May this simple and humble blog be a symbolic gesture likened to putting the kettle on the fire, with deep anticipation for the delicious nectar that comes from that heavenly bean and the euphoric connection that happens when friends pause to talk deeply about things that actually matter, Life.

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