Setting: Outpatient Rehab Center
Al: I went out and drank last night. I didn’t mean too. I love karaoke, and the only place they have it is in the bar. I love going. I know I can’t drink, but before I walk in I pray.
Eb: Pray for what, exactly?
Al: That God will remove the temptation to drink while I’m in the bar.
Eb: And he doesn’t?
Al: No. Everyone is drinking. My friends, the people I go with, the people in the bar, it’s too much. So I wind up drinking too.
Eb: So why do you walk into the bar?
Al: I like karaoke. I shouldn’t have to give up something I love just because I can’t drink.
Eb: So what do you do to prevent yourself from drinking?
Al: I pray. There’s a passage in the Bible that God will remove all temptations if you pray for him too. I don’t know what I’m doing to prevent him from working.
Eb: You’re walking into a bar.
Al: But I pray before I go in.
Eb: But, it’s not working. Time to try something else.
Al: Well, I guess I could pray harder.
Eb: Or you can NOT walk into a bar.
Al: But then I can’t have fun. God should remove the temptation to drink. I keep praying. I pray harder.
Eb: <sigh> Are you Catholic? Or some derivative, like Protestant, Methodist. You’re not Jehovah Witness, Baptist, Born Again, Calvinism are you? You quote the Bible, so I know your not Islamic, Muslim, or anything like that. <eyes the room of people> There’s a reason I’m asking.
Al: I’m Catholic. Proud Catholic. And I know I have to pray. I have to pray harder.
Eb: I believe you walk into the bar without the intention to drink. I believe you pray to God to help before you walk in. I believe you. I believe God answers all prayers. He does. But sometimes the answer isn’t what we want to hear, or how we want to hear it.
Despite the fact you drank last night, you came here. You drink every night, but something compels you to get up, come here, and open your mouth and tell us you drank. Some people, when they get hungover, won’t get out of bed. Or they’ll come and lie because they don’t want to change. Something compels you to come here everyday. And everyday you say the same thing. And everyday we tell you not to go into the bar.
God is giving you the answer to your prayers. Just not the answer you want or the way you want to hear it. He’s telling you, through us, through this support group, NOT to walk into the bar.
Al: But why doesn’t he do anything while I’m in the bar.
Eb: Because that’s the answer YOU want, not the answer you NEED from God. I asked what religion you were for a reason. Do you think Jesus WANTED to die that horrible, horrible, horrible death? In the end, he even asked God, why are you doing this to me. Why have you left me? But, for salvation, that’s what NEEDED to be done. He had to take on all the sins, suffer for them, and die in the pain of them, for us to have salvation.
Even Judas didn’t WANT to turn Jesus in. He killed himself, remember. He didn’t WANT to do it, but he NEEDED to.
You don’t want to drink when you walk into a bar. But for now, you do. What you NEED is to not walk into the bar. The harder you pray, the louder we get, did you notice that?
Al: So I can’t ever sing my karaoke again? I love my karaoke. And they only have it at that bar. They don’t have it anywhere else, I swear. I looked. I want to sing, I want to have fun.
Eb: No one said it’s forever. Until you build up the resistance to the temptation you need to walk into the bar and not drink, you need to avoid going in there. Have karaoke at home. Right now, in this moment, God is answering you. He’s telling you that you need to NOT walk into a bar. It will work itself out eventually Al. But right now, no bar.
Now that we got religion out of the way, because it’s hard to defeat religious principal, I feel I can say what I really want to say safely. Religion has a place, it’s a philosophy, way of life, common interpretation of whatever God really is.
But do you see the insanity of this? Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting a different result. You walk into a bar, pray not to drink, but wind up drinking. You do the same thing the next day. The next. Just praying for the removal isn’t working. At some point you have to make a change. At some point you have break the cycle. Praying harder is not change. You’ve been doing this for months now. Prayer alone isn’t working. It’s time to change the strategy here.
And maybe God is telling me to tell you that.