“How do I feel this good sober?” is a persistent question in Pink’s pop hit, “Sober.” I’m drawn to the brutal honesty in this song that portrays a woman struggling with addiction. She goes from feeling “safe up high, nothing can touch me” to lamenting her continued dependence on her substance of choice to feel good. Over the past few months, I’ve listened to this song over and over, drawn to the truth and cutting beauty of its words. It reminds me of the frightening power of my own sin and addictions. We all have them. For some it is drugs or alcohol. For others sex or pornography. But for others perhaps it’s building the perfect career. Or having the perfect family and home. However our idols manifest themselves, they promise us everything yet in the end leave us with nothing.
The struggle in this song reminds me of Romans 7:15, where the Apostle Paul admits “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” The woman in Pink’s song repeatedly does the very thing she doesn’t want to do. In her struggle, she vacillates from saying being high is “perfection” and the feeling of “no pain,” to crying out “never again” and admitting that she’s “just trying to find a friend.” In exasperation, she says this is “not the way I want my story to end.”
Created in the image of God, we long for significance and purpose. But in our quest, we often turn to these things that will unfailingly betray us. C.S. Lewis said that the problem with us sinners is not that we desire too much, but that we desire too little. In doing so, we often accept simple diversions as a substitute for relationships. The numbing of pain for peace. Fleeting stimulation for ecstasy. Momentary pleasure for glory. But all of this will leave us empty and asking in our frustration, “How do I feel this good sober?” Instead of settling for inferior substitutes, may we rest on Christ, who alone can offer the desires we are truly seeking.