DURING high school I started drinking alcohol with friends at parties. Soon getting drunk with friends was a regular weekend occurrence. I thought I was having fun until some of the things I did while I was drunk had unpleasant results. And these negative consequences seemed a lot more permanent than parties.
I was totally at a loss as to what to do. One day when I was feeling totally alone and helpless, I remembered some of the things I'd been taught at the Christian Science Sunday School my mother had occasionally taken me to while I was growing up. We had a copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. I started reading it and learning about God and about my spiritual identity as His loved child. Little by little, as my thinking started to change, my life began to straighten out.
I was so pleased with what I was learning and how things had worked out for me that I wanted to join The Mother Church and the branch Church of Christ, Scientist, that I was now attending regularly. Church membership, however, requires that you be free of any use of alcohol or drugs--healed. I could understand the reason for this. Christian Science heals without drugs, and it teaches us to rely completely on God for our joy and happiness. Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health, ''There is no enjoyment in getting drunk, in becoming a fool or an object of loathing; but there is a very sharp remembrance of it, a suffering inconceivably terrible to man's self-respect'' (pp. 406407).
I really wanted to meet the requirements for membership, but I still wondered if by giving up drinking I was giving up something good, something fun! What's wrong with a few drinks now and then? Mrs. Eddy points out in her Miscellaneous Writings: ''Strong drink is unquestionably an evil, and evil cannot be used temperately: its slightest use is abuse; hence the only temperance is total abstinence'' (p. 289). She says a lot more about the subject, and I was really trying to be obedient to the requirement not to drink alcohol.
I had not been drinking for quite some time when I was invited to a party. I went, and that night I decided to drink again to see if I was missing out on any fun. It wasn't fun at all! I got really sick. And right in the middle of feeling ill, it struck me as absurd that I had thought that giving up drinking--and the dizzy, out-of-control feeling that went along with it--was giving up something good.
God never requires us to give up anything good. The Bible says of God in Psalms, ''No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly'' (84:11). I never drank after that. I never felt as though I'd given up anything. After that experience I would go to parties and not drink. And I had more fun than I had ever imagined was possible. The first chapter of Genesis tells us that man is made in God's image and likeness. So if we're like God, we can express God's joy all the time wherever we are.
I didn't get a lot of peer pressure to go back to drinking. Some of my friends even told me secretly that they thought it was nice that I could have so much fun without drinking. I think this was because my main concern was pleasing God. It really didn't matter to me if my friends approved or disapproved of what I was doing, because the important thing was to be obedient to God.
Eventually my friends changed. The new ones didn't drink. Instead of going to parties where drinking was the main activity, I became involved in activities such as skiing, diving, flying, and hiking. Christian Science showed me what a good time really is.