The following plan is simple to state. Like anything worthwhile it takes personal discipline; but half the battle is won if we have confidence in the plan. Here it is: Find a plan that works. Employ it as your plan. As you exercise the plan modify it to fit you. You then have your personal plan of problem solving that will lead to victory. This leads us to the third level of change.
Substantial Change. By substantial change I am talking about a change of attitude. Until we see things differently, for the most part, we do not change our thinking, feeling or behavior. There is a Spiritual Dynamic that accompanies this level of change that allows us to permanently alter our actions.
In brief statements, omitting the ugly, I'll summarize a 17-year period of my life.
On New Year's Eve, 1951, the teens I hung-out with got some beer and we drank it while walking downtown to a movie house. It was cold, and we did not feel the effects of the alcohol until we sat in the warm theater. I liked the smell and taste of beer. I liked the light-headed dizziness.
Unfortunately for us, we are free to do whatever we want to do as long as there is no one present to stop us. Worldliness confirms this and says: It is your body; you can do with it what you want. This is a half- truth. You may be free to do what you want to, but you are not free to choose the consequences of your choices.
Starting Tuesday, January 1, 1952, it became almost a daily quest to drink beer or something alcoholic. Yes, I became an alcoholic following my first night of drinking beer. For the next 17 years I was drunk, getting drunk or sobering up.
Even so, I've never been unemployed. Every job I've held I started at the bottom. When I left that job I was either at the top or my position was higher than the top when I began. I never had to ask for a raise in pay. I earned merit pay increases ahead of schedule.
(Note to reader: Let me interrupt my story. This is not the success story of Tom Lacy. A major point in telling segments of my life story is to show God's Hand on my life, first recognized by me, when I was 12. No, God did not condone my alcoholism. What I am revealing to you was a complete mystery to me as my life unfolded. Suffice it to say, for the sake of teaching this lesson, I started selling automobiles July 5, 1967, after leaving 13 1/2 years in the printing equipment and supply industry. Selling automobiles was my first big ticket, hard sell job. In fact, it was literally, no sell - no eat!)
In November 1968 I was walking across the showroom floor toward the sales manager’s office to get a deal approved when a fellow salesman stepped in front of me, put his finger in the middle of my chest, looked me in the eyes and asked, “Tom Lacy, don’t you think it’s about time you do something worthwhile with your life?”
I brushed his hand aside saying, “I am doing something worthwhile with my life. I am selling lots of cars, making big buck, and taking better care of my family than ever before. This is the good life!”
His words, however, haunted me until January 16, 1969, when I attended a company sponsored Beef N’ Booze dinner. The sales team I was on won the December selling contest and that was our reward.
I volunteered to set up the small dining area in a local restaurant – not because I was a nice guy – but so I could get into the booze an hour earlier than the other team members. Then a Miracle happened.
As I sat down my second double bourbon and water to lite a cigarette, God showed me my life as He was seeing it. Seventeen years of drinking events rolled through my mind’s eye. As I viewed the scenes I said to myself (out loud), “This has got to be the ugliest sight I have ever seen; I do not want to live this way another day.”
Although I did not grasp the fullness of that event, I went home sober that night for the first time in many years.
After having not consumed alcoholic beverages for six weeks, I said to my family, “I don’t think I am going to drink anymore.”
They said, not un-kindly, “Why should we believe you this time.”
Time for me seemed to be in slow motion as I re-coiled from their remark. I thought, “Don’t they realize I haven’t drank anything for six weeks? But, quickly, my thinking came back to real-time: “How many superficial changes had I made in 17 years. How many situational changes had I made during this time period. Plenty!”
My response came calmly, “I now have a new attitude. For the first time in 17 years I know that what I have been doing has been wrong.”
Readers: This is the moral to my story. Until we have a change in attitude we will not perfect effective change. There is no change if there is not change. If you want tomorrow to be different from yesterday you must do something different today. Different meaning better! In the vernacular: Same ‘ol same ‘ol doesn’t get it.
Ask God to show you your life as He views it. Ask God’s Holy Spirit to make you sufficient to change those things you do not like in your behavior.
Next time: You Can’t Steer a Parked Car!
Author’s Note: Next I will teach this tool and add additional problem solving tools to our growing list: Problems are Solutions in Disguise.
Rev. Thomas (Tom) C. Lacy is Founder and Director, of New Hope Counseling Service and on the Board of Advisors of the Virginia Christian Alliance