“Yeah, man, I’ll be there,” Tim said. His stomach tightened. “Yeah, I promise. I said I’d be there and I will be.”
Tim had just promised to meet Derek at one of their old hangouts. Tim hadn’t been going out to the bars for a while now, but Derek had been begging him to get together. The two friends had always enjoyed a couple of laughs and a few drinks.
And sometimes, a lot of drinks.
While Derek was still the same guy he had always been, Tim was changing. He had started going to church a few months prior because a co-worker invited him. At first, he wasn’t sure he would continue, but a few single women in the congregation caught his attention. The idea of dating a woman who attended church appealed to him, so he decided to go back and give it another chance.
After a few visits, Tim became intrigued by the sermons. It wasn’t the first time he had heard about Jesus Christ, but he was learning some things he never knew. Above all, he learned that being a Christian meant much more than he once believed.
He wrestled with himself over what to do about Derek. The two friends had always enjoyed a good time, but Tim had become concerned about their habit of over-drinking when they got together. The message he had been getting at church opened his eyes to other changes he wanted to make in his life - the things he did, and the people he was around. Most likely, making those changes meant he’d be spending less time with Derek.
Even though Tim agreed to meet Derek at the bar later that evening, he promised himself he wouldn’t drink at all. He wanted to prove he could have a good time without getting drunk.
Of course, Derek might give him a hard time for not drinking. Derek hadn’t changed much since their college days. He was still the abrasive, in-your-face personality whose idea of a good time meant drinking until the bar ran dry. But Tim decided to cross that bridge when he came to it.
Tim spotted Derek seated on a stool near the end of the crowded bar. As he walked over, he could see that his friend had already started the evening with a bourbon on the rocks.
Tim glided up and took a seat next to his buddy. “Hey, man, what’s going on?”
Derek turned up his glass and finished what was left of his drink. “Hey, dude, just getting started. Let me get the first round.” Then he called the bartender. “Hey, I’d like another, and get one for my friend here.”
Tim’s response came out in a nervous stutter. “Ah, I’m-I’m good, thanks though.”
Derek was stunned. “What? Gimme a break, dude. Don’t tell me you’re going to be a buzzkill."
Tim cut him off. “Hey, we're gonna have a good time. I just decided I’m going to take it easy tonight and lay off the booze.”
Derek had a habit of calling Tim by his last name when he got frustrated with him. “Look, Jackson, you're not doing this to me. When we talked earlier, we agreed we were going to cut loose tonight. It’s been a crappy week, and you’re not wussing out on me.”
Derek motioned to the bartender to bring the drinks, then turned back to Tim. “Look, Jackson. I’m going to order this drink, and you’re gonna drink it. You’re not screwing this up tonight. Trust me, you’ll thank me in the morning - after you finish puking!”
Derek laughed, but Tim didn’t. Though he had promised himself he wouldn’t give in to the pressure, Tim was already having doubts that he would make it through the night without overdoing it.
The bartender sat the two drinks down on the bar. Derek reached for his, but Tim just stared at the one in front of him. He knew if he reached for the glass, he would be going back on the commitment he had made to himself earlier.
He thought this would be easier.