The Last Time I Got Drunk

By: Matt Carter

“The Last Time I Got Drunk” may sound like a “Christian testimony” in which I tell you that years ago, back in the day, before I was saved, I used to get drunk… until the last time, in which something miraculous happened when I got saved and left all that behind.  Sadly, that is not the story I am about to share.

The last time I got drunk was last football season.  It was the evening that Florida State beat Clemson, ending their hope at an undefeated season. As much as I’d like to make a joke about it, let me be clear.  This was sin, it was wrong; it caused harm to me, my reputation, probably to my liver, my family, my ego and my perception of my relationship with Jesus.  In short, I regret this fully, but nonetheless it is true, and here is what happened.

I was so excited when I found “The Clemson Club” in Seattle.  I was wearing my Clemson hat visiting some friends who were watching the Husky game at a sports bar when someone asked me if I was with the Clemson people.  As it turns out, there was a whole private room of Clemson Alumni who meet every week to watch the Tigers together.  I quickly informed Toby, who was living is Seattle at the time. He was equally excited, and we agreed to meet there to watch the big game.  Toby was a staff worship leader at a church at the time, and he brought with him two other guys in leadership from the church. One of these guys was completing his pastoral training is now the lead pastor of the church at which I lead worship many Sundays.

Needless to say, I was very anxious about the game, and excited to be surrounded by shouting people wearing orange.  While I can assure you that I didn’t intend to get drunk, I was not at all careful or mindful of my consumption.  I must have had 2 or 3 IPA’s (strong beers) in the first half.  At this point I should have ordered a meal at halftime and started drinking water – duh.   But here is logic an idiot like me came up with.  “Food here is really expensive, so I won’t eat.  My wife is picking me up so I’m not driving.  This is a big game, and we are winning at halftime! What could go wrong?”

I may have failed to mention that upon a Clemson touchdown in the 2nd quarter, a buddy of mine brought Toby and me a shot he dubbed the “Tiger Bomb”.  My friend is not a Christian, and he was trying to be both generous and fun.  He continued to buy and bring us “Tiger Bombs” as the game wore on, and yes, I drank them.  I honestly do not even remember how many.

Side note:  Toby has developed a good strategy to deal with this problem.  At Emery concerts, fans frequently buy and hand us shots of liquor and all but demand for us to take them together.  It’s very difficult to refuse them because they are so excited and have already spent the money and almost never take no for an answer.  So, a split second before everyone raises their glasses together, Toby nonchalantly dumps the liquor onto to floor and mimics taking the shot.  The shot buyer never catches on and everyone wins.

I suppose I feel bad saying no. I also want people like my friend to think I am fun, that I am tough, that I can hold my drinks.  I know that is stupid.  Even worse, at some point I knew there was a decision on my part to just go with it.  In other words I was plunging headlong into it instead of resisting temptation.

I vividly remember Clemson’s defense failing as Florida St. won the football game, but everything after that was foggy.  I have no idea what I may have done or said that made me look like a fool.  I’m sure that my drunkenness was obvious to the folks in the Alumni Club. I stumbled out to the street where my wife picked me up.  She already knew I was drunk just from my phone call telling her when to pick me up. I blabbered about how our season was over the whole way home, and once we got there I just laid on the floor for a few hours.  I am so thankful that my wife is forgiving; she did not shame me or scold me.  She was gracious and took care of me, knowing that anything she said would be wasted breath anyway.  She did insist that I sleep on the couch that night, though.  It was the only night of our marriage when we slept separately while in the same house.

You can guess how I felt the next day.  I spent the next 16 hours in pain, throwing up, and unable to move, but the shame I felt didn’t even really kick in till after the hangover.

A few days later Toby and I were on a living room tour talking about God to believers and non-believers.   A few weeks later on Sunday morning I was on stage at a large church, shoulder-to-shoulder with the pastor leading the congregation in worship, and I was ashamed.