"You must be so excited about turning 21!"

"Yes, I am actually."

"How big of a party are you throwing now that you're finally legal?"

"Um... I'm not."

How strange it may seem to some that a young college student doesn't consume alcohol at all and doesn't even make an exception for his or her twenty-first birthday. Allow me to enlighten some of you on a not-so well-known (but should be) fact: not everyone conforms to societal norms. I am one of those people.

I am turning twenty-one in a matter of days and have every intention to be in church on my birthday rather than in a club. I plan to spend time with my pastor that day rather than a lot of inebriated people that are making decisions they may come to regret the next day.

Now, please do not misconstrue my message. I am not looking down on anyone that has or will spend their nights drinking. I used to live that life. I spent both my eighteenth and nineteenth birthday, my high school graduation, and several weekends in between and after drinking and doing things that I should not have been doing. I drank to escape pain I felt from situations that happened in my past. I drank to forget how broken I was. I drank to feel like I belonged and was included. I drank, sometimes, just because I thought it was fun.

However, there came a point in my life where pain far outweighed inebriation and where I just wasn't having fun anymore. I was at the end of the road. Everything was dark, and I felt like I couldn't take it anymore. But right when I thought nothing could help me any longer, God changed my life. From that moment forward, I no longer had any desire to consume alcohol because the temporary numbness alcohol gave me simply could not compare to the everlasting joy God provided me.

Let me put it this way: the Bible makes it very obvious that there is no in between when it comes to God and the world. Either you're for God, or you're for the world and are, therefore, against God. Either you love God by keeping His commandments, or you hate Him by keeping the statutes of the world. It's one way or the other--white and black--there is no gray. The consumption of alcohol with the intention of drunkenness and numbing of the senses is a statute of this world because it goes against the Word of God.

"Do not get drunk with wine, for that is wickedness (corruption, stupidity), but be filled with the [Holy] Spirit and constantly guided by Him."
Ephesians 5:18 AMP

It is a counterfeit the world provides when the real thing is something only God can give you, and the real product is always better than the knock-off. Here are some reasons why:

1. Where alcohol only provides a temporary happiness through numbing of the senses, God provides an eternal joy through His mere presence (Psalms 16:11).
2. Where alcohol only allows you to forget about pain for a little while, God heals you completely from every pain, every hurt, and every affliction (I Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53:5, Psalms 147:3).
3. Where alcohol is considered poisonous and chronic consumption of it can lead to death, God sent Jesus so that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
4. Where waking up after a night of heavy drinking causes you to feel immense pain and sickness and be hung over, waking up after a night (or entire day) after spending time in the presence of God leaves you feeling better than before, well rested, and secure (Psalms 91:1, Matthew 11:28-30).
5. Finally, where alcohol can often times leave you feeling empty and where its side effects (both positive and negative) are only temporary, God makes you whole, and He and everything He does for you is everlasting and can only be good (Revelation 1:8, Hebrews 13:8, Isaiah 40:28, Psalms 90:2, Ephesians 1:4, Jeremiah 31:3, Psalms 100:5, Psalms 117:2, Psalms 119:68, James 1:17).