I didn’t mean to overhear this conversation in the waiting room of an agency, but I reflected upon it and how I used to think it was so cool when I was a teenager:
GIRL: Hey _________! What happened to you guys at Opus?
GUY: Hi! [beso] Uy, grabe we got home late
GIRL: Si _________ got into a fight!
GUY: O talaga? What happened ba?
GIRL: We transferred to Distillery kasi eh. Eh si ______ has an ex-boyfriend kasi who saw her with her current squeeze, kaya ayun nag-away…
Then I tuned out.
In my teenage years, I felt the pressure of having to give in to alcohol-drinking, late nights and bar-hopping. I knew it was not how my parents raised me, but because I desired to become part of the in-crowd, I found myself wanting to try out those things to be called cool by my friends.
In my line of work, getting drunk, hanging out in bars, smoking and dancing till dawn are considered normal. If you don’t engage in it, you’re either married to a strict spouse, a prude or just plain boring. Since I lived in Rizal before, it was not very easy for me to go out at night and hang out with my friends.
Number one, my parents were worried about how I’d get home [and the popular bars then were at Ortigas and Makati]
Number two, it was scary to go out without any supervision.
Number three, there was this nagging feeling inside me that even if I wanted to feel cool, it just wasn’t right.
Back then I even thought that being a Christian teenager was difficult. I felt like I didn’t have the freedom other kids my age had. In one rock event I attended at the NBC tent, booze was overflowing and given out for free. Since I wanted to look cool, I grabbed a can of light beer took a sip and pretended to enjoy it even if deep inside me I was like “Why does it taste like this?!!!” I took another sip, thinking maybe I’m just not used to it but I honestly do not like the taste of beer.
I friend of mine was with me that night and we excused ourselves and went to the rest room. I brought the can of beer with me inside the cubicle and threw it. Gah. They say beer is acquired taste, but my tongue never grew accustomed to it.
In another radio event, I had my first taste of margarita. Compared to beer, I think the margarita’s taste is better but it hits harder since it’s tequila-based [right?]. To make the long story short, the tequila did not make me feel well. I was red and queasy and had to excuse myself from the party. The event was at the old Capone’s along Valero street and it was late in the evening when I made my exit. Since I didn’t have a car back then, I took the cab home.
Thankfully, I rode a cab with a really nice driver. Imagine taking a cab at night in that state! Who knows what might have happened to me? I was dizzy and I knew I would pass out, but I kept pinching myself to stay awake. The cab driver was old and loved to talk so I guess that also kept me up. Looking back at that experience, I feel so humbled by the fact that God’s protection was over me even if what I did was clearly an act of disobedience. Still, God’s grace is not our “credit card” to sin. When I reached home, I took a quick shower and slept, with no anticipation of the after effect.
At 4AM, an unbearable headache woke me up. Congratulations Ingrid Nieto! You just experienced your first hang-over! IT WAS NOT PLEASANT AT ALL. I felt tears stinging my eyes as my head throbbed. I made a mad dash for the bathroom to vomit and felt so sick. The pain just didn’t go away even if I tried to sleep it off. I woke my mom up to ask for help and of course, she had to ask me if I consumed alcohol. I guess she was too sleepy to argue or berate me, so she just gave me some painkillers. Lying back down on my bed, I thought: “Is this what you get after drinking? Why torture yourself?”
I know getting drunk on alcohol is a norm accepted by the world. It’s not like the government will send you to prison when they catch you chugging a beer in a bar, although there are laws and punishment for drunk driving. I also struggled back then: “Lord, if it goes against your Word, then why are there a lot of establishments that sell and encourage drinking alcohol? If we all know that too much alcohol is bad for one’s body, why does everyone seem to enjoy doing it?”
In my immaturity, I thought God was a kill joy. As I deepened my relationship with God, He revealed to me that the world’s standards do not always match with what His Word says is good or bad. With the popularity of adapting new-age beliefs and modernism, the basic truths founded in God’s Word tend to become twisted in favor of man. “Whatever is convenient, whatever makes me happy—That will be my truth as long as I don’t violate anybody.” So goes the thinking of the world.
I may be labeled a pharisee for writing about this, but I feel that I should just speak the truth based on God’s Word and what He has revealed to me through experience. Engaging in drunkenness is empty. One tries so hard to fill an emptiness inside but that will never be filled without Christ in one’s life.
We try to fill the gap with activities, interests, hobbies and whatnot, but man will never be complete without letting Jesus into his life.
What about those who have already found Christ, but are constantly drunk on alcohol?
If you understood the full extent of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, you won’t use Christianity as a license to sin. Jesus came to save us from spending eternity in hell because of our sinful nature. If Christ has made us spotlessly clean, why would we want to play around in the dirt again?
If as a Christian, you are having a difficult time getting rid of this habit, you are to humble yourself before Christ and ask Him to change you. Getting rid of drunkenness is not an easy feat and you might find yourself craving for a drink or two once in a while, but rely on God’s strength to help you flee from the temptation of alcohol.
When you make the decision to stop drinking, expect to be booed or teased by your peers. Don’t give in to pressure and stand firm. They may like you less, but remember who you are following. If your friends like you only because you drink with them, can you say that they accept you for who you are?
If this was your former way of life, a lot of people may persecute you and even call you fake when you decide to get away from it. Don’t listen to their jeering, keep your focus on God. Eventually, if you take your stand, your real friends will learn to respect your decision. It is important not to compromise, because we have to remember that we are the salt and light of the world. If we claim to be from Christ but act otherwise, do you think we’d be able to bring people to Him?