(I consulted the ultimate authority: Love.)
I continued to work and live at the Salvation Army. I continued to improve mentally. Physically, I was no longer poisoning my body with alcohol, but after decades of abuse certain damage had become irreversible. I was diagnosed with diabetes. My heart attack and coronary difficulties could be traced to several contributing factors, and alcohol and nicotine are counted as two of these. The other two were diet and genetics
I was living, growing, and learning how to be a social creature. Aside from church, the center was a large and vital social community. 120 men living in a closed environment require social avenues of expression and the Salvation Army under the direction of the pastor and his wife (both S.A. majors) ran a well organized and executed program of activities. we had excursions to minor league baseball games and deep sea fishing. Two or three times a month we had in-house activities, not counting a once-a-month awards banquet. It was at one of those banquets that I received a “Man of the Month” award for excellence in work and general deportment.
More importantly, I was growing by leaps and bounds in faith and with the Spirit. The Center, by definition of being owned and operated by the Salvation Army, was an excellent spot for nurturing spirituality and religion. The religion was strongly and decidedly Christian, but each man was free to decide their own course in spiritual development. No man was forced to speak any religious formula that was not in his conscious or heart. Bible classes were held but attendance was strictly voluntary. Sunday church was required but any other religious observation was strictly voluntary and no official or unofficial stigma was attached for non observance. You didn’t have to believe in anything other than your own belly button, but once a week you were required to go to church. It was and is not a cult.
When my disease was first removed, I spent a great deal of time listening for and to the voice of the Spirit for instruction. The first major message to come across the airwaves was when I was praying for what I should do once I was out of this controlled environment and the temptation came on me to drink. What should I do?
If I was truly cured, couldn’t I drink again but without the abnormal results from previously?
To answer the second question first: of course not. I had already proven with catastrophic and near fatal results that I cannot control alcohol. There are serious psychological and/or environmental reasons why addicts indulge their addictions. Removing the addiction does not remove the reasons.
You feel and think 100% better and come to believe that you can go back and toy with your old habit(s). But, with the original causes still in place it is but a short step to destruction. It is like dancing in a puddle of gasoline while holding a lit torch. “Oh, I’ll be careful this time. I won’t drop the torch.”
I’ve got news for you. If you have ti think about it, then it’s not “normal.” And why the hell are you dancing in fire with gas in the first place? Either get out of the puddle or put out the torch. Doing both is preferable. So, the answer to the second question is “No.” Being cured did not give me license to drink.
Now for the first question. What should I do, I inquired of the Spirit, when I am confronted with the temptation to drink? The answer I was given was, don’t fight the temptation and don’t try to ignore it. Did that mean I was supposed to drink at the first temptation? You have to give me more credit than that to think that is what I was implying.
What it means is that in addition to proving that I cannot control this particular demon once I start to indulge it, I have also tragically demonstrated that my power to resist it in the first place is non-existent. Trying to ignore it is just as bad or worse. ever try to NOT think of something? You end up thinking about it all the more, plus now you are thinking about not thinking about it.
My illness was taken from me by a power outside myself and infinitely greater than the illness itself. If there is a problem, then it is no longer mine. It belongs to that which freed me from it in the first place. why in heaven would I want to re-fight a battle on my own that was already won by a power who destroyed the enemy when I proved repeatedly that I was impotent over it?
I’ll tell you why. It’s because I’m a stupid human who in deadly vanity wishes to believe that I can defeat evil and insidious influences completely on my own when it has been abundantly proven that it is completely outside my human capabilities.
Vanity. That’s why.
Some people personify these influences as “Satan.” So do I.
So, when “Satan” tries to convince me to have a drink, that a drink will make me feel better, and that this time I’ll be able to control it, I don’t ignore it and I don’t get into an argument with the Father of Lies. When Satan appeals to my vanity in all his various ways, I simply say, “Sorry, I’m no longer entertaining debate on the topic. Take it up with the one who took this problem away. It’s his now.”
Then, I move on.
Moving on. This was the first major message I received. The second came as my time approached to leave the Center.