My dad loved to drink and have a good time.
It was like he was the party machine. Where ever he was—everyone was guaranteed a great time. My dad was the life of the party. He told awesome stories and jokes. He’d buy rounds for the house. He laughed loudly and never met a stranger. He was well known in the region and personally knew every business owner and wait staff by name at every establishment he frequented. My mom participated with him for years. I grew up in a party family. We had no idea what it was like to have fun without alcohol. It never occurred to us not to drink. Having fun often meant intoxication to the point of wild behavior, blackouts and relationship issues of epic proportion. Every generation participated exactly like the previous one. Excess wasn’t ever an issue! It was a family inheritance.
In the early days, my parents both were business leaders in the community. We believed in the Lord and went to the right church. My parents were members of all the right clubs. They both owned separate small businesses at one time. We built a four bedroom, three bathroom dream house. We chose sculptured shag carpet for a sunken family room with a field stone wood burning fireplace. Soft pastels were accents to the celery green formal living and dining area. Our house was spectacular on a wooded lot surrounded by other spectacular homes built from the same builder. We had a camper, a cottage, two vehicles and spent family time with other families who lived and acted just like we did. Party central! Every weekend, all weekend long, Summer, fall, winter and spring.
The problem was we didn’t ever consider how these actions affected our family. As you may already know, my parents divorced when I was about sixteen and my brother thirteen. The whole system crashed. Businesses dissolved. Partnerships were broken beyond repair. My mom, brother and I ended up living in subsidized housing for most of my high school years. My dad bought a mobile home. We lived there part-time for several years every other weekend and every Thursday night. But, the party never ended.
My dad died three years ago at age 70 from complications of an excessive lifestyle. After my dad’s funeral, we went to clean out his residence. It was a place a friend of his let him live rent free for years. We found unopened medication he was supposed to take that filled a large black trash bag. He suggested to me that his medicine would make him sick. What he wanted was to party and party hard right until the end. That’s exactly what he did.
I am a regular at the Recovery groups on Thursday nights at the Naperville campus. I go for my own reasons. I also listen as parents or loved ones tell their story about someone they love having a substance abuse issue. Many of the families have sons or daughters that overdosed on heroin. Some of the families now meet in a different room because their children died from an overdose. I think it’s pretty common to think of the folks that meet on Thursdays as ‘those people.’ Most people don’t realize we can all have an excess problem. We don’t typically recognize our own behavior as excessive. We don’t imagine that our behavior affects the next generation. These are common phrases I hear: “I can quit any time.” "I can put it down and never look at it again.” “Our credit card balances aren’t that big." "I have a special diet.” “I just need a little bit and then I am fine.” “My spouse doesn’t know I do this."
The question for Sunday is ‘why doesn’t God do something about addictions? I encourage you to invite someone to come and listen with you. Go out to lunch afterwards and talk about what you hear. I will be speaking at Naperville and Rev. Terry Clark will be speaking at Oswego. It may take courage for some to listen to what we have to say. But, transformation is possible and life can get better.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NIV