I was 21 when I took part in communion at a Haitian village church. That wine was my first sip of alcohol. I took my second sip at age 35.
In the years between, I liked to talk about the details of my remarkable abstinence. I wasn’t being prideful; I was simply sharing how to successfully avoid sinful activity. Or so I thought.
The Influence of My Childhood
The first reason I abstained directly correlated to my family. My paternal grandfather spent many years moving from one drunken episode to another. By the time I came on the scene, Grandpa was a changed man, and my memories of him are of a sober, loving guy who could tell stories for hours and find joy in making people laugh. He’s been gone many years, but his legacy remains. However, the consequences of his earlier years of addiction played a significant role in shaping the lives of his children. I’m certain my father’s childhood experience was one of the reasons that alcohol was never served in my home. He wanted a different life for my brother and me.
The second reason stemmed from the church in which I was raised. I don’t know the official church doctrine—and I assume there were varying perspectives about drinking among the congregation—but the point that was impressed upon me definitively was that drinking is bad. Period.1