I went to the doctor last week. I’ve been dealing with some lingering sinus issues since early-to-mid August. I thought it was a combination of allergies and a sinus infection. It was allergies I was dealing with, but another diagnosis came up that surprised me.

I don’t really drink alcohol. I’ve not liked the taste of it. In the past, I’ve usually had a beer in social settings to ease everyone else’s mind. I’m at a social gathering, or a family gathering, and people are drinking wine, beer or something else. They know I’m a pastor, and I can tell by their body language they are uncomfortable with me when alcohol comes out. They wonder if I will come down on them for drinking. Some feel guilty for drinking in front of me. I will grab a beer, take a drink, and people relax. More often than not, I then hear their theology as to why they drink. “Jesus drank wine!” The social gathering continues, and everyone is at ease with the pastor who is not going to blast everyone because they are drinking.

It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve had these experiences. I’ve also lost track of the good, and spiritual, conversations that have arisen out of me grabbing a beer and taking a drink.

Obviously, I don’t have an issue with Christians, or people for that matter, drinking when they follow the law, aren’t getting drunk and setting a good example for those who are underage.* I’m not one either to always advocate why Christians should drink. This person usually seems to annoy me, as they are more concerned about fighting for their freedom to drink copious amounts of alcohol over various social injustices and other things that deserve such concern.

*I also advocate Romans 14 where Paul talks about not destroying the work of God for the sake of food or alcohol. Christians should be considerate of those who are “weak in faith”. Diving into this passage of scripture deserves its own blog post at some point.

The past few years I’ve probably averaged a beer every two to three months. Something I’ve started to notice, over that time, is I was having reactions to drinking alcohol. I would have my one drink, and everything would be fine. About thirty minutes later, I would start having an allergic reaction. I would be sneezing uncontrollably, have a runny nose, be feverish, my chest would tighten and I’d have trouble breathing.

I didn’t make the link, right away, to alcohol. And, it didn’t always happen when I did have a drink. I can’t recall when I started to make the connection, but I think it was sometime last year. It seemed odd. In my twenties, it never happened. It’s something that started coming on in recent years.

While I was dealing with my lingering sinus stuff, since August, my wife and I went out on a double date. Drinks were ordered, so I got some local beer. I drank maybe half of it. Maybe it wouldn’t affect me this time, I wondered. After while, I started to notice feeling feverish. My nose started running. I was wheezing, and doing everything in my power to not start sneezing. I motioned to my wife and she knew what was going on. We left soon after, and when we got home I was overwhelmed by the allergic reaction.

Jana and I agreed that when I saw our doctor about my sinus issues that I’d bring up the allergy/intolerance I’ve been having with alcohol.

I brought it up with my doctor, explained my history with it, and he said it sounded like I had developed an allergy to alcohol. He’d never heard of it, but didn’t deny it’s plausibility. I could find out for certain by seeing an allergist. However, he added that if I didn’t mind not drinking that I should be fine. I don’t mind not drinking.

After the appointment*, I was walking through the Atrium at work. I thought, “Of all people to get this diagnosis, I’m one of the few that does not mind at all that I can’t drink anymore.” That made me grateful for some reason. Now I can have all sorts of conversations about having an allergy to alcohol when at social gatherings.

*As far as my seasonal allergies, I was given some Singulair samples and they’ve been helping me out till we have the first hard freeze of the season.

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