Do You Need a Glass of Wine
Do You Need a Glass of Wine?

I get it. I really do. I have more than my share of awful days.

Like when we speak 15 times in three days (for an hour each time!) and stand at the booth in between sessions, counseling and praying with folks, all of which we love, but are exhausting. Then we pack out our booth. By the time we get back to the hotel room, I feel like I’ve been mugged. I’m too stupid to order a pizza, so I collapse on the bed in hunger and avoid even getting up to walk on my aching feet to the bathroom. Honestly? Sometimes I’m so tired I just cry.

Or when two of our kids are both hormonal at the same time. Nobody gets any work done, just bicker, bicker, bicker all the time, punctuated with tears and recriminations and the occasional utter meltdown. Sometimes I feel like screaming and running from the room. Yep, today was one of those days.

Being a parent is HARD. Being a stay at home mom is HARD. Being a homeschooling, work-from-home, ministry-oriented stay-at-home mom, like many of us are, is downright brutal some days.

More and more, I see my friends saying, “I need a glass of wine,” and I wince.

I wince, even though I understand. Sometimes we just want something to take it all away, to just let us catch a break. I feel that way right now. School was a failure today. And thanks to a business crisis, I got about two hours less sleep than I needed last night. All I want is peace and quiet and a nap. (Thank you, dear daughters, for that marzipan cake, though. That really helped.) Sometimes I think, too, “I wish I could just have a glass of wine.”

I don’t, even though there is wine in my cupboard – good wine (I really love marchand du vin sauce). I don’t, for several reasons:

All encouragement is not created equal. It really is qualitatively different to say, “I need coffee” or “I need a brownie,” and to say, “I need a drink.” Alcohol is really, seriously addictive in a way caffeine and chocolate are not. Alcohol causes a dopamine release that your brain quickly adapts to and finally needs to function.

I know, I know. It’s only once in a while; it’s only when it’s been a really bad day.

That’s the problem, though. When you use alcohol to help with a bad day, what do you do when you have a bad year? We’ve had them. The year our youngest was born with a life-threatening heart condition, three of our other children had surgery, our business was struggling, and Hal was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. It nearly killed me.

If you need a glass of wine to get through a day with whiny kids, what are you going to do when real trials hit, one after another, until you think you’ll go mad? I’m not judging you, I’m just concerned.

Diet Coke and brownies don’t break up homes. A young mother I know was arrested for child endangerment when she passed out in her car in the discount store parking lot. Her small children ran inside the store to get help because “Mama is sick!” Yes, she was, but not the kind of sick they thought. She had become an alcoholic and it had destroyed her judgment. Don’t be too quick to write her off — I met her before all this, at a parenting group. She was a very good mother then … before “needing a glass of wine” took over her life. Really.

No, this isn’t about legalistically forbidding drinking at all. I have zero problem with having a glass of wine with a fine meal or drinking champagne to celebrate an occasion. After all, the Lord told those unable to travel to Jerusalem in Deuteronomy 14:26, And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. He wouldn’t tell us that if drinking wine in moderation in celebration was wrong. It’s not. That’s not what I am seeing every day on social media, though. I’m seeing alcohol being used as an anesthetic, a spiritual one.

The Proverbs tell us, Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

Why are God’s children, the redeemed, the ones who have seen God’s grace, resorting to numbing themselves from misery? And can we truly say that our “bad days” rate as Biblical-level misery?  I think we’d do better to get on our knees.

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Growth is difficult. When we say “I need _________ to get through this day,” I wonder if we’re short-circuiting the learning God has for us. Maybe He is allowing these things in our lives so that we will seek Him and His grace and mercy and power, not just something to take the pain away.

Proverbs further warns, Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.

It’s mind altering. It changes our perceptions and lowers our inhibitions. It can make it easier to fall into temptation. It really is different from a cup of coffee or a piece of pie.

Please, sweet mamas, be careful. You really don’t need a glass of wine. There is One who says to you, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. There is safety there. Refreshment. What you really need to keep going.

I know you probably know that. I realize it was probably just a throw away line to tell your friends, “I’ve had it. I’m beat,” but your kids are listening and so are your friends. Maybe some of them are struggling – or will one day. Let’s be careful what we’re throwing around.

With much love and sympathy,