There may be no “do overs.”

Journal entry:  We won the state championship today which was very exciting!  I had no idea how much it would mean to me, but after all these years of wanting this title; it is a wonderful feeling to say the least.  Now I guess I will sit and wait to see what the college scouts thought about my play.  I would love to continue to the next level.  My coach thinks I will get a scholarship, but who knows.  I will miss my teammates and most of all my coach.

This is a story about a young man (Joe) who was an exceptional athlete.  Joe did go onto play for a storied colligate team on scholarship and had winning seasons.  And while today he looks back on those years very positively; there was a time he didn’t think he would survive another day.  All he was doing was standing up for himself, honoring one of his life commitments.

It was just another night in the bar with the team.  They were celebrating their victory from earlier that afternoon.  All seemed to be as normal as with other evenings as the team participating in proud victorious festivities drinking, with only one player refraining, sipping on sodas instead.  It wasn’t that he didn’t cheer, brag, and carry on as the other players did; he just elected to abstain from alcohol.

“Well I guess I will go home now” exclaimed Joe as he got up from his seat to leave.  Wait a minute Joe cried out a teammate from across the room.  I am getting pretty tired of you being unwilling to participate with us after the games.   What on earth do you mean as he exited the bar?  You know what I mean Joe could faintly hear as he left.

Joe waved off his teammate knowing he was pretty out of it, thinking he was only joking with him.  Suddenly this man got up and urged the entire team into action, “It is time we put a stop to Joe’s unwillingness to party with us after our games!”  Agreeing the team walked out together as their energy began to build.

They began remarking:  Let’s take out a bottle of whiskey and give Joe two choices.  He will either drink with us, or we will beat him to a pulp.  Agreed, no teammate of ours chooses to not take part in team sport.  It will be the last time he elects not to join in.

Hey Joe, wait a minute; your team wants to discuss something with you.  Joe could see nearly the entire team coming toward him as he wondered what on earth was going on.  As they approached Joe, the first teammate to arrive grabbed him and through him to the ground.  What are you doing he yelled out baffled as what was happening.  Have I done something that has offended anyone of you?

Yes, you never drink with us Joe and we are tired of it.  Tonight you have two choices, either take a drink of this whiskey, or we will beat you into tomorrow.  Are you kidding me?  No we aren’t, any team member of ours will party with us.  I do every time, I just don’t drink alcohol.  Well you will now perhaps; what’s your choice?

With fear in his eyes, and a steadfastness to his heart Joe said, “Beat me up I guess, I will take it like a man.”  What?  Are you serious?  Yes, as serious as I ever have been at anytime in my life.  But before I take the first punch, I want to share something with you.  You probably believe I don’t drink because of my faith, which is only partially true.

I grew up as a son of an alcoholic father.  He made a tremendous salary, but never had enough money to support our family.  We loved our father, but hated the disease.  All we knew is we didn’t have the same relationship with our dad as our friends did with their fathers.  Dad was often abusive to my mother; he too would find ways to inflict pain on my siblings whether physical or emotional.

Each of us knew what a great man dad was before his drinking.  It all started after a traumatic life event he suffered from when we were young.  We all wanted the father that resided in this gentle giant, ruined from the effects of alcohol.  He embarrassed us in public, and made us fear his arrival home being unaware of what it may bring.

Alcohol took our father away and robbed us of our childhood.  As a young man I committed that I would be the father Dad was before drinking.  To do this I would have to never take that first drink.  I know it seems silly and there have been times I almost caved in while we were together, but I didn’t.  You see I feel I wouldn’t be able to control myself as my father was unable too.

So for me, I chose tonight to take a beating at your hands so that I can be the father I know I can be.  With that, Joe lay down again on the ground and prepared himself for the first punch.  What happened next surprised Joe, the team fell down at his side then picked him up by the arms.  Joe, we honor you and your commitment and will stand by your side.  Please forgive us, we had no idea!

From that night on it was his team who helped Joe keep his commitment and defended him anytime anyone gave him grief for not drinking; other than the sodas of course.  There were a couple teammates who joined Joe in drinking soda and shared stories of similar fears with him personally.

Joe is a personal friend of mine and today is a Grandfather.  He has maintained his life goal having never taken a drink.  He is an example to all he meets, teaching others to maintain their commitments regardless of what they are.  There will be times we are tested, times were we feel like giving in, don’t; no matter the promise you have made to yourself.  You will be better for it I guarantee!



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