From my freshman year of college up to today (a total of 12 years), I have constantly had a “Dr. Pepper Friend.” A few people have filled this job over the years, but someone is always in this position.
What exactly, you might ask, is a Dr. Pepper Friend?
Well, see, I have this problem. Some people have soap operas; others have teenage pop music. My guilty pleasure is a nice Sonic Dr. Pepper (or Chick fil A…or Chuy’s). I know it’s bad for me, full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. I know it’s rife with empty calories. Yada yada yada. It just tastes so good.
So over the years I have always had a friend who makes me feel better about my habit. We bring them to each other. We both order one at dinner. We make excuses for why it’s really okay–“you’ve had a bad day” or “you’ll never get through without it” or “the baby’s not sleeping so you really deserve this.”
Many times I’ve cut back and tried to quit, but then there’s always a friend. I can’t let her down. I don’t want to leave her behind. We’re in this together.
So I blame the friend in my mind. If only they just didn’t enable me, I could quit.
I know it’s probably obvious to anyone reading this what the real problem is here. It is completely embarrassing that it has taken me 12 years to figure it out: I’m the Dr. Pepper Friend.
I have dragged down several addicts along with me over the years through my enabling. There is one common denominator–me.
I was thinking about this recently and realized it’s not just Dr. Pepper. I’m an enabler in many other ways. I don’t know the exact reason. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to face my own sin. Maybe I truly want my friends to feel better. Maybe I just run from confrontation (metaphorically, not literally, although I had a friend in college who, on multiple occasions, literally ran from confrontation).
Regardless of the reasons, over the years I have made excuses for my own sin and that of my friends.
My language has been:
“You deserve this”
“You need this”
“Well it’s not really that bad”
“Well yes, but you were hurting”
Really, the list could go on. The point is, I don’t like talking about sin with people I claim to love. I don’t want to shame them.
But minimizing sin does not alleviate shame.
And so I’m praying God will make me a better friend. There is no love in telling my friends their sin is not really sin. There is no love in making excuses for them. And there’s no love in wanting them to do the same for me.
The way to alleviate shame is not through minimizing our friends’ sin, but through magnifying their Savior.
In his book, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself, Joe Thorn writes about the memory of sin:
Look, the memory of your sins is no cause to beat yourself up and wallow in guilt. Instead, it should lead you to rejoice in the redemption you have in Jesus. […] And in remembering these sins, you hold fast to Jesus. This remembrance does not encourage you to shrink back from God but to draw near, seeking him because of the hope of the gospel. When you remember your sins, you learn humility, love Jesus, and make much of the gospel.
The same goes for the conviction of sin. If I love my friends, I will want them to be free from the bondage of sin and free to experience sweet communion with Christ. Hopefully they want the same for me. And this is only achieved by recognizing sin for what it is–idolatry and pride, an affront to our holy Father–and the gospel for what it is–our only hope, the Good News of Christ’s perfect life, death, and resurrection on our behalf.
So if I’ve been a Dr. Pepper Friend to you, I’m so sorry. I mean, I’m not completely sorry about the Dr. Pepper because it is REALLY good.
But I’m sorry for making excuses for sin and wanting you to do the same for me. I’m sorry for robbing us both of the joy of sweet , thirst-quenching grace.
I pray we sisters and brothers can point each other to Christ, the only One who takes away shame and replaces it with Love.
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD;”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.