Straight A's and Hangovers

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BY LAHAI ALLEN, a graduate student

when I was 7 years old, my younger cousin, Ashley, and I took beginning swimming lessons. For our final exam we had to jump off an Olympic-sized diving board into the deep end. Ashley took one look at the diving board and declared she wasn’t jumping, which also meant she wasn’t advancing to the next level. I, on the other hand, was torn. I was afraid, but I desperately wanted to pass.

I reasoned that once I got to the edge of the board, I could always change my mind. So without much thought, I found myself climbing the ladder. At the top, however, everyone began cheering for me. I felt the only way to go was down. I jumped, and it was one of the most uninhibited and frightening moments of my young life. To make matters worse, I didn’t even move to the next level because at that point the summer was over.

If I had made up my mind from the beginning, I wouldn’t have jumped. I relate this experience because it taught me an invaluable lesson on the benefits of predetermined choices. With the prevalence of college drinking, predetermined choices in favor of sobriety are needed now more than ever.

Drinking is seen as a rite of passage, and the best time to make a decision of whether or not to drink is not while people are cheering you on. The reality is that these days drinking occurs at colleges. This includes Seventh-day Adventist institutions, too.

In college I knew a young woman who boasted that she got drunk on the weekends and got straight A’s during the week. But the more I got to know her, the more struggles I saw her deal with as a result of her poor lifestyle choices. Her relationships with men were detrimental to her reputation, and she thought God no longer cared about her.

Deep down I have always known there was a battle for control of my mind. God created me with the ability to choose right from wrong, and the freedom in which to exercise that power. I never wanted to compromise that by letting alcohol impair my still-developing brain.

Research has shown that although the brain has finished growing in size by about age 5, cells and connections within the brain are not fully developed until age 25. Alcohol causes the gravest consequences for the very group whose brains contain the greatest potential for growth.

Now that college is behind me, I’m glad I made an early decision never to drink. I don’t need alcohol to have a good time, and I find freedom in having a clear mind and conscience. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2).

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