On the plus side, most evenings I don’t even miss the beer. It’s been long enough now that my habits have changed. At suppertime I no longer have to stop myself from heading towards the basement stairs and the beer fridge that stands at the bottom of them. As the night winds down I no longer find myself glancing up at the liquor cabinet on my way out of the kitchen. Yes, in general this Lenten experiment in discipline has gone about as well as I could hope.
Of course it has not been without its struggle. For example, after a five hour, highly charged governance meeting, I wanted nothing more than to have a bourbon in my hand when I collapsed into my living room chair. The other instance when I found myself severely tempted occurred last weekend when I was out with friends celebrating a birthday.
After our initial plans fell through (thanks Erin Express for turning University city into a zoo where every restaurant had a 90 minute plus wait) we headed west to Dock Street. While it was odd to be in a place dedicated to good beer (Man Full of Trouble Porter anyone?) I had no problems ordering and fetching the first round for my companions while sipping away on ice water. Yet I still found that I had to consciously check myself, not in combatting the desire to order a pint of my own, but in resisting the urge to sample the beers my companions ordered.
This was not so much about the alcohol as it was about a different dynamic- something fundamentally social. One of the joys of going out with close friends is sharing what we order. When the pizzas arrived we all shared a slice with anyone who wanted to try it and tried some of theirs in return. It seems to me that such practice not only improves the meal by expanding our culinary horizon, it also strengthens the bonds of friendship. As a result I had to actively resist the urge to ask for a sip of their Belgian Quad or Kolsch, not because I wanted the booze but because I wanted to know what it tasted like. While it was a good learning experience, it wasn’t particularly fun.
So here I am at the halfway mark. And while I know that twenty booze-free days (and nights) still lie ahead, I am not worried. For I also know that with few exceptions it will only get easier as I go along. And even when it’s hard, I know those times of trial and temptation create the greatest opportunity to learn.
Please keep those questions and supportive thoughts and prayers coming!