One Good Word Makes all the Difference by Rose McCormick Brandon is available for purchase here.
Many of the people who celebrated Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday, were down-and-outs, derelicts, the kind of people who don’t often show up in church. On that occasion, Jesus pointed out to a grumbling Pharisee that children and harlots recognized Him as the Son of God whereas many ‘holy’ people didn’t. Here’s a story from Nancy McKay, a woman who would’ve been a dancing and shouting participant in that first palm-waving celebration. When you read her story you’ll know why.
Living a Double Life
By Nancy Lee McKay
I liked the taste of alcohol. Alcohol made me feel free. It ruled my world, made me feel grand and peaceful. It minimized my problems and made me love everyone but when I awoke the morning after a drunk I always felt disappointed and depressed.
My association with alcohol started when I was about eight years old. I spent hours waiting in a car outside the Legion Hall in Baie Verte, New Brunswick. Dad, always the last to leave, seldom returned to the car before 1:00 a.m. His drinking cronies always needed a ride home so our car was crowded with five children, my parents and two or three of Dad’s friends.
Because I saw what alcohol did to my father and his friends, at a young age, I swore I would never drink. My father weaved our car from one shoulder of the road to the other as he drove our over-loaded car home. Liquor loosened the tongues of his friends and they became vulgar, something I couldn’t stand.
In spite of my resolve not to drink, alcohol became a serious problem in my life. I initially drank socially but never to get drunk. Then, I began drinking alone, something my father never did. I drank alone because I didn’t want anyone to know. I was a Christian and no one in my church suspected that I was a drunk.
I was a nurse who often went to work hung over. I’d take two Tylenol, have a cold shower, drink a cup of strong coffee and pray I wouldn’t be assigned to dispense medications. The nurses on my shift weren’t stupid. They recognized that I was hung over, but they covered for me when I made mistakes and didn’t report me to my employer or to the College of Nurses.
Initially I brought expensive liquor but quickly began to depend on beer and cheap wine.
I was fooling my Christian friends at church and I thought I was fooling God. Often in despair, I cried out to God to deliver me from my addiction to alcohol.
I’d go to church, praise and worship and weep before Him. I sent up many prayers for deliverance. But, the next day I’d get drunk again. During this time when I lived a double life, holy on Sundays and a drunk the rest of the week, if anyone at church had confronted me about my alcoholism, I would’ve left and never gone back. I was so ashamed of my addiction. I needed a miracle.
One night I went to a bar. I only had one beer so I felt safe to drive home. As I was driving, flashing lights appeared in my rear view mirror. The officer asked if I’d been drinking. “Yes,” I said, “but I only had one beer.” I’m sure that’s what all drunks say to police officers so he gave me a breathalyser test, which I passed. But, he impounded my car anyway then took me to the Police Station.
The officer on duty said I could call someone to come and get me but I didn’t want anyone to know that I’d gotten myself into a mess, so I walked to the police impound to get my car. I walked and walked for hours in the dark with only flip-flops on my feet. By the time I got there, my feet were bleeding and blistered.
Then the attendant said, “We only take cash.” I didn’t have enough cash in my wallet to pay for my car. I felt like crying.
I sent up a silent prayer to God and then the attendant agreed to accept a check for payment. His change of heart was a miracle to me. On the drive home, I contemplated my situation and decided to take this whole episode as a warning from God that if I didn’t stop trying to hide my sin more bad things would happen to me.
The following Sunday, after the morning service, I remained in the pew alone after everyone else left. The sanctuary was being refurbished at the time and it was all torn apart. I got up and went and knelt beside the baptismal tank. I said, “Lord, I need you to refurbish me in spirit, soul, body and mind.”
I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see Laura, a woman of faith and prayer. She said, “Nancy, in the name of Jesus, you no longer have to battle what you have been fighting against for the past six years.” Immediately after her prayer, she left.
How could she have known about my battle with alcohol and the length of time it had lasted?
I left the church sanctuary released of my addiction to alcohol. I felt totally clean and fresh inside. I should have experienced deliriums, sweats, shakes and hallucinations. But I only experienced joy. My need for alcohol completely disappeared. Jesus had delivered me.
I experienced a new freedom. I wasn’t living a double life any more – holy Nancy at church and drunk Nancy at home.
That was May 5, 1985, my day of deliverance. Not one drop of alcohol has touched my lips since that day.
(Nancy Lee McKay attends Peoples Church in Hamilton, Ontario. She is an artist and is presently writing her life story.)