Spiritually Speaking

QUESTION: I’ve recently quit drinking because if I hadn’t my wife was going to leave me. She said since our children are grown, out on their own, and are successful, there was no reason for her to stay with a drunk. My problem is most of my friends drink especially when we bowl or go to ball games. I still want to bowl and go to the games, but when I do, I’m heckled by my friends for not drinking, even though I’ve told them my marriage was much more important to me than drinking. And I don’t want to give up my friends since we’ve known each other for over 20 years.

Is there anything I can say that will make them understand I’m through being their drinking buddy once and for all?
~ In a Quandar

Dear In a Quandary,
From your letter it sounds like you have been married for a number of years and during that time you drank in a way that was excessive. You came to an understanding with your wife that you needed to stop drinking once your children were out of the house. You made the decision to stop drinking, and that decision puts you in a conflict with your friends who you bowl with or go to sporting events with. Now you are revisiting the decision to stop drinking because of the peer pressure you are
receiving from your friends.

You have a very difficult decision to make. On the one hand, you have your health and wellbeing. Staying sober is a very difficult path, one that takes effort and support. Finding friends who will help you on this path is vital. You have made that decision in order to stop which means you see that your overdrinking is a problem to your health and with your marriage.

On the other hand, you have friends who you have known for 20 years. You enjoy going to games and bowling with them. You enjoy their company and getting out to have fun. Part of this enjoyment is to drink together. Now you have made a decision that puts you at odds with this experience. They have not bought into the new you.

So you have to decide: Is your decision to be sober important enough to help you make new friends who will support this decision and help you carve out a new understanding with your old friends? Or will your need to fit in override your decision to be sober? I believe in a God who can help us on our journey, who wants us to be well, who walks with you even in the toughest moments.

It is all up to you to make that decision, to decide who you are going to be in the future. I wonder – who do you want to be? I do know that whatever you choose, there is work ahead for you. I pray that you will choose the path that leads you to where you want to go in your life, and find those who will support you through it. Friends, true friends, will want the best for you and do anything to help and support you.

Is that the kind of friends you have in your life?

Blessings and God Speed.
Pastor Steve Marshall WEB
Pastor Steve Marshall
Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church

Dear In a Quandary,
It sounds like you want to save your marriage and quitting drinking is not easy. As someone who has never met you, I applaud your desire to change and improve your life. I would hope that the people who know and care about you for 20 years would see this too and want to support you. But the truth is, your action is making your friends uncomfortable. You threaten their beliefs and they may even see your action as a criticism of their own behavior.

You ask if there is anything you can say to make your friends understand that you are through being their drinking buddy and, assuming you have already tried to make them understand, my answer is no. Your actions speak much louder than words. There is power in silence. Just don’t respond to their heckling. With no response from you, it’s not much fun for them to heckle. In time they will accept your decision if they are truly good friends. If you are prepared to weather temporary unpleasantness, I think it will be worth it, don’t you?

As we change, we often have to let go of some things and I hope your longtime friends can go the journey with you. And if the unpleasantness persists and you feel the peer pressure is too much, I highly recommend Alcoholics Anonymous where you will find the support of others who have made the tough change you are making and where new bowling and ball game buddies await you.

Trust yourself and allow the change to broaden your life if need be; it sounds like your marriage is worth it to you.
Joan Doyle WEB
Joan Doyle, RScP
North Hollywood Church of Religious Science 

QUESTION: My granddaughter, who is now 22, was never taken to Sunday school or church. I had wanted to take her, but I worked on Sundays so she’s never received any religious education. Now she says she doesn’t believe in God and I think that’s because she’s never been exposed to a religious experience in a way she can understand. She doesn’t want to hear about God, she doesn’t want to discuss God, period.

I pray that her eyes be opened in a way that she can include religion in her life. Beyond that, do I have any other responsibility?
~ God Lovin’ Granny

Dear God Lovin’ Granny,
Never underestimate the power of God’s spirit or the immense influence of a grandmother. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve conducted a funeral for a godly grandmother and listened to 20- or 30-something-year-olds share, with tears in their eyes, the impact that that grandmother had in their lives.

However, nagging her to go to church or giving her a tract is probably not going to be very effective. What will impact her is you! Young adults want to know if something is real – if it is authentic; does it make a difference in who you are and how you live? When you live a godly life, sharing His love, she will see God in and through you. In accepting her, listening to her and being there for her, you show her the reality of your faith and of His character.

Continue to pray for and, if the opportunity presents itself, with her. And share your stories – stories of what God has done in your life, how He has helped you in the difficult times, how He brings joy, purpose and love into your life. These stories are part of her legacy – your legacy to her – and can be an important part of her journey towards God. Don’t preach at her, just tell your stories.

Most young adults are not interested in “religion,” but they are responsive to finding an authentic relationship with God. You can show her what that looks like.

Pastor Bill Flanders WEB
Pastor Bill Flanders

First Baptist Church of La Crescenta


Dear God Lovin’ Granny,
Your granddaughter is blessed to have your prayers. By nature, children are very open to anything a trusting adult exposes them to. This is why children who are raised in church often keep that as their faith base as adults (but not always). Once one reaches adulthood, statistically chances reduce. But there is still hope! For you, living by example, sharing faith in times of her personal crisis, and praying for another avenue to bring the faith message her way are some examples.

Human nature can be stubborn. We are often not receptive to having things pushed upon us. In fact, it is usually a turn off. In other words, if we keep talking about something a person has told us they do not want to hear we do not win them over; we usually push them farther away and the chances of them ever coming around are reduced.

As far as responsibility, as an adult one’s relationship with God is their own. Every one of us will be held accountable. Yes, we are told to share, but that requires wisdom in knowing when to stay quiet and not turn people away from God by being too zealous. In this case, I would continue to pray for your granddaughter. God loves her even more than you do and knows her intimately. He discerns exactly what will reach her unique heart and He is very clever in using methods that touch individuals in such a way that they want to hear more.

Your responsibility and obedience are through prayer.
Kimberlie Z WEB 0922
Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian,
LMFT, licensed psychotherapist.