In high school junior class, “Well, I never,” became one of those responses to just about every situation that caused one to raise an eyebrow or melt in shame. The math teacher assigns 2 hours of homework for homecoming weekend – “well, I never.” Our English teacher assigns 3 hours of reading for the night – “well, I never.” My girlfriend tells me she’s pregnant – “WELL, I NEVER.” I relate my generation’s words to the recently popular, “Shut up.” Yeah, thankfully, what was cool years ago like, “cool, daddyo,” and “friggin far out,” wear out and the younger hip dudes and dudettes come up with their own lingo. OK, OK, forgive my lack of current jargon literacy, I don’t interact with many young people.
But, it was, in my days of being cool, just an expression of exasperation over something another person said or did. And it caught on in junior class to the point that even junior high kids were using it. Of course to us hip cats in junior class that meant that another response needed to be found. “Well, I never,” was just so not cool anymore.
Later in life, after years of self-flagellation at the hands of alcohol, when sobriety became a matter of life or death, we heard the “I nevers,” many times at our recovery tables. I never cheated on my spouse, I never stole from my employer, I never beat up on my lover, I never hurt the kids, I never wrecked my car, I never swore at my dad, I never murdered anyone, I never, I never, I never. And the correct response to all those “I nevers” was a resounding, “not yet.”
Go back out for more field research, hang out in my favorite bars, start feeling sorry for myself and that I never list will dwindle.” Many sober drunks became again drinking drunks and did things they boasted would never happen. Their I never list shrank. Some died chasing down remaining items on their list.
I don’t tempt the statistics. If those numbers prove that hanging out with the wrong people in the wrong places doing the wrong things reduces my chances of staying sober than I will not put my sobriety in jeopardy. When my friends argue with me that I have been sober a long time and not an alcoholic anymore, “Go ahead have a glass of wine,” then I am in a dangerously precarious situation. When I am tempted to forget my last drunk and my last car wreck and my last blackout, then I need to get on my knees and turn it all over one more time to the God of my understanding.
That same God says in the Book of Hebrews in chapter 13, verse 5:
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
That’s an “I never” to which I will nail my sobriety. How about you?