“And the king appointed
them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he
drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they
might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:…But Daniel purposed in his
heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s
meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the
prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1: 5-6, 8.
For some reason, I was under the impression that the type and quality of social interaction in graduate school would be an improvement over the general trends of undergraduate life. So far, I appear to have been misguided in that assumption.
Our first day of orientation, our peer advisors started informing us of all the orientation activities that were planned for 1Ls, and every single one of them involved alcohol. It seems now that we are in a setting where everyone is of age, there are no bars (no pun intended) holding back.
That day, I went to collect my school provided lunch. Our group was one of the last to go through line. I saw a sign that said TUNA, another that said ROAST BEEF, and another that said TURKEY. I started heading to the tables on the other side of the room when one of the administrators barked at me, “its same thing over there.”
“Is there a vegetarian option?” I responded. “Oh,” she said scanning the signs. “I guess we ran out.”
When Daniel asked, he got 10 days of veggie food. I had to pick turkey off of a sandwich to eat it. Good thing they only provide food the first day.
But that doesn’t take care of the alcohol problem. Every Thursday afternoon the student association provides a keg for the consumption of the student body. Every Thursday evening they have an event called “Bar Review” which has nothing to do with the state bar and everything to do with becoming highly inebriated.
It frustrates me to see how easily the devil has snared people up, that he has found such an effective mechanism that it has worked for almost as long as time sin has existed on this earth.
On Friday evening, there was a “potluck” for our group at one of the member’s house. Being a good Adventist, I assumed that meant lots of food and a laid back atmosphere. As soon as I arrived there, pasta dish in hand, I realized that while that’s how it would start, it would soon evolve into those drinking parties I made a point of avoiding during undergrad.
But I started looking around the house. The people in the middle of the room were the ones with the drinks in their hands. But out along the edge of the room were several young ladies, uncomfortably looking at the scene around them.
So before I made an early exit, I made friends, steering the conversation until I got the confirmation from each of them that I suspected, they don’t drink either.
It’s funny. While in school, if you don’t drink, it’s almost like you are a part of Non-Alcoholics Anonymous. You don’t drink, but you don’t talk about it either for fear of the stigma of social rejection.
But in these young ladies I saw the desire for social acceptance. That’s why they came to the potluck in the first place, looking for new friends. They also don’t want to compromise by taking even one drink. But they are afraid to be bold about their lifestyle choice.
In this already I see God opening a door to ministry. Being a Sabbath-keeping vegetarian makes me weird enough. I’ll wear the target for the non-drinkers too. And hopefully my willingness to be counter-cultural will give them the courage to be more bold about their beliefs.
We are starting to plan alternate social activities that do not involve alcohol for this group of individuals. My prayer for this is twofold. One, that by the grace of God, over our time here we can change the culture of this school.
Secondly, I believe God used common ground in being non-drinkers to bring me to these young ladies. While being social is important (especially for a group of people who will likely see no one but each other until December), I pray that God helps me exert my influence in such a way that its social to save.
Non-Alcoholic. Not Anonymous. Dare to be a Daniel.