The Sober Truth

The Sober Truth

“Dear Scotch Whiskey,

Will you be my friend? I am lonely, and I want to believe that I am lovable. I feel scared, I have no power to control my future. Will you help me be brave? I have done some really crappy things to friends and family, the shame of it all is so great. Will you help me feel released?

  The God of my faith is slow. I have asked Him for all of these things, many times, and He seems in no hurry. He has asked that I be faithful to Him, but you will let me play around. He has promised that I will be better, but all I want is to feel better now. I get excited when I anticipate our rendezvous, and I am hesitant and maybe scared of the God of my faith.”

I never quite understood the story of idols in the Scriptures. I tried to make the connection to my life via materialism, but it never really fit. Six years ago or so, I became a daily drinker, and then soon after that a daily/heavy drinker.

I remember as I sat in my recovery group and it dawned on me—alcohol is my god. I ask it to meet my deepest needs and in exchange I pledged to it my loyalty. I did what it said. I loved the warmth, the burn down my throat, the reminder that numbness would soon arrive.

I’ve never woken up in a jail cell, or the gutter, or had a DUI. That does not make me a better drunk, but maybe it does make me a luckier one. I have spoken freely the past 2 ½ years of the freedom I have found in my 30 months of sobriety. I have, without much hesitation, shared my story with small and larger audiences, alike. But I have never written about it, and I am scared. Once it’s in print it is out of my control.

It should be no secret to you if you have read any of my previous posts that one of my agendas is to create a conversation about the current dismal state of the American Evangelical church. I am clearly on a mission, and I would love to be a part of the new wave of Christian community that I sense coming. I would love to be perceived as a 30-year veteran of ministry who is full of wisdom. But the truth is I am a newly recovering alcoholic who has only scratched the surface of living without addiction. I could enter any 12-step group made up of co-dependents, sex addicts, over-eaters or TV over-watchers—not sure that last one is an actual group, but it could be—and feel at home. I have tasted all of them. But my favorite was always “liquid joy,” distilled peace, my fermented god. So all that to say, I admit that the group I would most like to influence and dialogue with has ample evidence to dismiss me.

I am learning to trust the slow but real God as I understand Him, and I am practicing surrender, but before we get too far down the road in this conversation I wanted you to know this piece of my story. It is only fair.

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27 Responses to  The Sober Truth

  1. John says:

    Thank you Karl, your honesty really gives me hope, hope for myself, maybe…

  2. It’s stuff like this that make me love you! It’s like you’re bringing the light into a dark room when you put it out in space like this! Bravo.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Karl— thank you. You have been given the Gift Of Desperation or GOD.. God bless you in your journey to wholeness….

  4. Vicki Scheib says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  5. Laura says:

    Wow, … still love you, brother. Even though, yes, you sometimes scare me terribly. I hope your insurance company can’t see this. God is greater, and he demands we put our schtuff into the light for examination… for release and for accountability. More power to the God your your (our) faith! I hope you also share the processes in the miracle of working for it, intervention and healing here.

  6. zoggdog says:

    Thanx, buddy, for the courage to share ur struggles. A breath of fresh air comming from a pastor. U r the real deal, my friend!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I love this part of your story and the way you share it! It makes us all a little braver.

  8. Laura Sealey says:

    Beautiful Karl, truth and grace in a beautiful dance

  9. Kevin Short says:

    It is my honor to call you friend. I love you.

  10. kathyescobar says:

    i am so glad to call you friend. yes, your courage makes all of us more brave.

  11. lovestoski50 says:

    You are my hero and my example. I hope that I can be as open and honest with the world someday as you are here. It is very brave to put this out into cyberspace, because truly everyone can have access and you open yourself up to the possibility of rejection. But as you know and are learning, the reward of opening up and experiencing freedom and healing is way more worth it! I love you.

  12. Mark Tracy says:

    There is no condemnation for you in the eyes of Christ. None of us, whether saved or unsaved is ever condemned as a result of our sins. Jesus didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery even though there is no mention that she repented, or even “went and sinned no more”. Heaven and Hell are determined for us at the point of no return when we see Him face to face as ones who have believed or ones who have not (Jhn 3:18). You and I are SAFE brother! I, for one, cannot look in the mirror and then turn around to judge a brother. Thank you for having the guts to share!

    • karlw says:

      i love the goal of leaning into living under the banner of no condemnation, when all that is in me screams out that shame is what i deserve. thanks mark

  13. Janelle Cook says:

    “I admit that the group I would most like to influence and dialogue with has ample evidence to dismiss me.”

    THANKS Karl. “Dismissed” is exactly how many churches make us feel………and by “us” I mean all who have tried to bring our pain and shame into the light for healing. Hate is not the opposite of love, indifference or “dismissal” is. I think I would rather be hated than dismissed. I’ll have to chew on this for awhile.

  14. karlw says:

    dismissed is far more painful than hated. dismissed gives me no opportunity to reconcile.
    we missed you this weekend, finally a campout with no hail!

  15. I was once on a jury that heard testimonies from 32 eye witnesses. Not a one of them was the same. I was more inclined, however, to trust the testimonies of those who admitted to getting behind the wheel after six rye-and-sevens, or being in the back alley buying a joint when the shooting occurred, than those who portrayed themselves as model citizens. Integrity counts when it comes to influence. I admire you.

  16. Of course, I’ve heard your story before, but I like the way you told it in this post. I think we all have atleast one addiction. Hey, it’s the American way. Some are easier to hide than others. I think all of us are part of a “tribe”, whether it be a church, work environment, group of friends, etc. Tribes set up “camp” somewhere. Tribes typically have their pet sins (acceptable) as well as those they have mastered. It is easy for a “tribe” to point fingers at those whose sins lie outside their “camp”; in other words, those which they have mastered and others have not. The group with which you wish to influence and dialog has no evidence to dismiss you. Remember, if you invite two Baptists to dinner, they will drink none of your beer; if you invite one, he/she will drink all of it. Baptists (or other evangelicals) never recognize eachother in the liquor store, especially on Saturday night:)

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