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Why I Waited Until 21 to Have a Beer

beer, alcohol

Thanksgiving Break during the first semester of freshman year, I got the chance to go home for the first time. It was time to spend with family, celebrating and giving thanks. As most of you know, I was a very social person throughout middle and high school, and I think my dad recognized that. If anyone of my siblings was going to get sucked into the party scene in college, it was me.

I was always looking for things to do, people to hang out with, and adventures to go on. I had an amazing group of friends (a lot of which I still would call my closest friends), that wanted the same thing. We would hang out all the time, sometimes through the night playing Rock Band, enjoying each other's company. While most were at a party, we were climbing the roof of our middle school and having rap battles, or building potato cannons.

This continued theme of our relationships instilled in me a personal choice to find the joy in other things without the need of alcohol. I chose here to not drink until I turned 21.

This was reinforced by my dad who always told me "Kev, I hope when you turn 21, you'll let me treat you to your first beer. I will give you X amount of money to save that beer for me." My dad found value in this and knew what it could do for me in my life, not because of the money, but the values that would come from it.

I have waited until today, my 21st birthday, to have my first sip of alcohol ever with my Dad.

EVER.

I try not to go throwing this around in people's faces, as I have heard all the responses to it. The "Wow, I am so proud of you, that's awesome!" not to be overshadowed by the "Yeah right Kev! There is no way you have never had a sip of alcohol." Or even the dreaded question of "Why? You think you're better than me because of that?" This question makes me cringe.

I am not better than anyone.

I am NOT better than anyone who chooses to drink before their 21st. The standard I hold true for myself is not one for me to hold everyone else to. I struggled with this for a long time. But just because I am convicted of this, does not mean I should be disappointed in others for not sharing that. This struggle humbled me in a great way.

I have been able to pour my life into others in hopes that God speaks through me. This personal commitment for me has been there for years, one that I made a promise to my dad for, and one that I have taken as my own to serve others better. I have simply chosen to not partake so that I can better show others Christ's love. That doesn't mean I don't mess up.

I mess up. A lot.

But I serve a Lord whose grace decides to pick me up every freaking time. Our God forgives. He sees our genuine heart in asking for forgiveness and sees us as pure again. The only way we get that grace is by dying to ourselves and living for the Lord.

"It's not me."

I had this tattooed in my father's handwriting on my wrist as a daily reminder to not make life about me. If it's about me then it's selfish and not selfless as the Lord calls us to live. Just as God gives me a second, and a third, and a fourth chance, he does the same for you. He wants you to be with him. Forever!

"Our God forgives."

I listened to a sermon series by Andy Stanley that has impacted the way I make every decision, big or small, in my life. In light of my past experiences, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the WISE thing for me to do? Not the legal thing, not the best thing, not the good thing, what is the WISE thing for me to do?

As I have seen the days tick off the calendar before my 21st birthday, I have even considered the idea of not drinking at all. What is the wise thing for me to do?

I have asked myself "How am I going to best serve others and show them the Lord?" "How can my actions be glorifying to the Lord in everything that I do?" "Is drinking going to impact my ability to show others God's love?"

I wrestled with this for weeks, calling mentors, some who have chosen to not drink alcohol 100%, others who have a drink here and there. I have turned to the Lord and scripture and seen how even Jesus drank wine, and I have continued to wrestle with the question of "Is this something I want to take part in?"

My conclusion has been this. If it takes a beer for me to get to sit down with someone I wouldn't otherwise have the chance to love on, why would I not do that? If I can make the responsible decision to not go overboard on the amount of alcohol I consume, why not share one with a friend? This has not been an easy decision. In a society that encourages drinking, especially in the college environment, I have had my fair share of pressures.

beer, alcohol

"Just one Kev"

"Come on, your dad will never know"

"It's no big deal dude just drink it"

It was pretty easy for me to make it through high school without it, but the ease of alcohol being available anywhere at college was a challenge. But God calls us to live radically different lives than what society says is okay.

RADICALLY DIFFERENT.

Going against the flow isn't easy. It took me two and a half years find a group of friends that I could rely on to have my back and vice versus. I wanted to be somewhere else. I didn't want to be at school anymore. But then the Lord brought me a group of guys who wanted to solely push me towards God. They wanted only what would push me in my walk with God, and nothing else. This has encouraged me to find where I am at, in life, in the Lord, and to accept that.

I AM THIRSTY.

I get to sip on the living water of the Lord each and every day. I don't need a drink to fulfill my thirst, as I have found the eternal spring of water in my faith in Jesus Christ. He is my strength. He drowns my fear in perfect love. He is the light that guides my every move. He is the one that fulfills my thirst.

I've seen many searching for answers far and wide, but I know we're all searching for answers only you provide

God is doing big things.

BIG THINGS.

Today is a big day, not because I get to enjoy (or try to enjoy…) my first ever alcoholic drink, but because it's another day the Lord has blessed me with life. Another day to show the love of God to others. 7670 days total. Each of these days I have been able to challenge myself. The challenge of not drinking until my 21st has been a daily mental battle to push forward and press into the Lord. I believe that with little challenge, there is little reward. But, with big challenge, there is BIG reward.

It has never been about the money I will get for saving this beer for my dad, but the idea of following the Lord with everything that I am and growing in him. That is the biggest reward I could ask for. Sure the money is a sweet perk, but this decision has given me more value than I could have asked for in my life to overcome temptations and truly live for God. I will definitely do this with my sons and daughters if I am lucky enough to have some one day. I want to be a man that selflessly serves others and the Lord. I want to talk about that, and if you want to share a beer, let me know.

Above all else, I love you. No matter your past. My past is broken. But God mends that.

I am a child of God. He calls me his own. He forgives, loves and provides. Thank you, God, for the blessing of life.

Originally posted here.

Kevin Flanegin is a Senior Sports Management major at Colorado Mesa University. Originally born in Atlanta, Georgia, he moved to Colorado Springs at the age of 3. He is the fourth of five children in his family with three adopted sisters from Russia. He hopes to eventually work with the United States Olympic Committee, serving elite athletes as they pursue their dreams to be the best. He loves his family, friends, and the gift of life and hopes to serve the Lord in everything he does.

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