I’m so excited to be sharing a real and lovely post from my friend Addie Zierman who does most of her writing over at her blog “How to Talk Evangelical.”
Addie has a way of taking your soul and putting it into words, so I implore you to follow her blog immediately if you know what’s good for you. Addie is sharing her voice for my “Beautiful Scars” Series, and if you’re interested in doing the same I would love that, click here for more info.
Beautiful Scars- The Year of my Drinking by Addie Zierman
That was the year that I was very sad. The year that I was drinking to get happy. Drinking to forget and remember and feel something all at once.
Before that point, my relationship to alcohol had been downright ambivalent. As an on-fire-for-Jesus high school student, I had thought drinking was a sin. As a college student at a conservative Christian college, I adhered to a strict Lifestyle Statement that banned it altogether.
But in 2007, I discovered my own bottomless, inexplicable sadness. And I discovered Starling Castle Riesling…a sweet, mellow wine that I could drink in great gulps.
After the first glass, I felt happy and buoyant. After the second, honest and authentic. Somewhere in the middle of the third glass, I felt myself float away like a balloon, and all of the pain looked tiny and surreal so far beneath me like that.
The Depression, of course, had to do with biology and with old wounds, never really healed. In this place of darkness, you encounter something normal like loneliness, and you cannot handle it. In this place, some church person that you barely know says some well-intentioned something, and it breaks you in half because you have become so brittle in your pain.
And what I want to say is that yes. I have been wounded.
Many of the wounds came from the high-mobility, high-passion evangelical teen culture of my youth. There was a high school boyfriend who, in his scrambling to be “passionate for God,” broke my heart brutally again and again. There was a fervent, teen missions organization that set impossible standards and then made me feel less-godly, less-beloved and less-chosen when I couldn’t meet them.
My wounds came from unexpected places, places that I thought were safe, people who I thought were speaking the Word of God, and they cut deep. I was wounded and it was cruel and unfair and painful. I was wounded, and it matters.
But the thing about wounds is that they will heal if you let them, if you tend them, if you take care of them. But we are terrible at this. I am terrible at this.
Ever since the Garden, we have had this compulsion for covering. We cover the pain with silence or with excuses or with simplified Christian answers or with Starling Castle Riesling.
We walk around this world infected with anger and bitterness that we do not understand, and we just keep throwing stuff on it, expecting that we eventually, we will bury it deep enough that it will just decompose like an old piece of bread.
But this is not how it works. By covering my wounds, I only compounded them. In my desperation to numb the pain, I made it worse.
I drank and drank and raged. I flirted with temptation and peered into the cavern of my own darkness, and then, one day, I reached the bottom of myself. I reached that desperate place where I had to change or fall into the abyss.
Here is why my scars are beautiful: because they represent the work I have done to become whole.
My scars are beautiful not because they are wounds but because one day, I stopped pouring the Riesling overtop them. Because I went once a week to a sweet, serious therapist who made me talk through the ache. A therapist who helped me find them, clean them, sew them back together one brutal stitch at a time.
Scarring is that beautiful thing that happens when you hold out the painful thing and let the healing in. Let God in.
It’s that thing that happens when we uncurl from around those tender places and expose them to that startling, searing, beautiful Light.
Addie Zierman (@addiezierman) is a writer, mom, and Diet Coke enthusiast. She blogs twice a week at How to Talk Evangelical, where she’s working to redefine faith one cliche at a time.