By Brian Raynor
Hello, my name is Brian. I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, and I struggle with alcohol and drugs.
As a young child, life for me was pretty normal. My mom stayed home and my dad bought wrecked cars, fixed them, and sold them. It was fun, as a little kid, having a garage behind our house. I could go down to the shop, hang out, and watch my dad work. I started helping him out, and I was good at working on cars. Just like my dad.
A few years went by and car sales were not going well. My dad was a perfectionist and would invest more time and money in the cars than they were worth. The business was bleeding money, and he ended up going through his entire life savings. All this stress made my dad an angry and uptight person. I was with him every single day working, and as I got older I was expected to work and help with the cars. The work I did never seemed to be good enough or right for him, no matter how hard I tried. All my best efforts would never make the grade.
At 13 I got drunk for the first time. It numbed the hurt, and I thought I had found the means to be happy. Satan had me. From that moment into adulthood, getting drunk or high was everything to me. When I was 18 my dad had a heart attack, and while he was in the hospital, it was all on me to get the remaining cars in the shop repaired and sold or returned to their owners. When he was well enough to come home, he told me he was getting a “real” job and that I needed to do the same thing, so I did. By 21 I had moved out, bought a house, and had my first child, a daughter. This kid was my world; I loved her so much, and no matter how I acted or what I did, she loved me unconditionally. Despite her love, I would continue to drink daily, and when I drank, I drank to get drunk.
It seemed I had to be the loudest, wildest, craziest person and attract the most attention everywhere I went. I was bitter and hardened, and for a long time I took risks doing lots of dangerous things—things that could have, should have killed me. Honestly, at the time I didn’t care, I was just SO angry and hurt that I always pushed the limits. On a regular basis I would drive my cars as fast as they would go, and I’ve had lots of fast cars. In no time at all I accumulated three DUIs and totaled countless vehicles. I would also drink and do drugs at work, staying high my entire shift.
I eventually settled into a steady job and settled into marriage with my daughter’s mother, but that didn’t mean I settled down. We had another child, a son, and I seemed to be on solid ground at a great company, but three days after my 30th birthday I was laid off from my job. Due to the huge financial loss, we ended up pulling the kids out of day care and I was responsible for watching the kids. While they were in school I would start to drink as soon as I got back home in the morning from dropping them off. My drinking spiraled out of control. I started hiding alcohol all around the house and even in places outside the house.
Numbers 32:23 says, “Be sure that your sin will find you out” (NIV). And that’s exactly what happened. No matter how hard I tried to keep my addiction a secret, my drinking and resulting behavior brought my wife and growing family to a breaking point. After I got kicked out of the house several times, terrifying my children and nearly destroying my marriage, something needed to give.
My sister had been attending a ministry at her church called Celebrate Recovery. She knew a little of the struggle I was having and she invited me to check it out. I had tried a lot of programs, counseling, and support groups with little success. I was sure this ministry would be just as pointless, but for my sister, I agreed to attend.
I showed up, then showed up the next week, and then the next. I would sit as far away on the outside “loner” seats as I could possibly get, but I kept coming back. Week after week, little bits and pieces at a time, my walls were being torn down. For the first time I really, actually wanted to be sober, not only for me, but for my family. They deserved it more than me. I also started to realize God had bigger and better plans for me, and that couldn’t happen until I surrendered.
Finally, one night, I stepped out in faith and took a blue surrender chip. I picked up that blue chip and wrote alcohol and drugs on it with the date of my surrender. Some time passed, and my wife and I got into counseling. I commend her so much for staying with me, for believing in me.
Today I am an example of God using the rebels, the scarred, the suffering, the oppressed, the desperately hopeless for his victory stories. I am sober today, and a leader at our Celebrate Recovery ministry. It took my willingness to surrender, it took working my program, and it took people in my life who wanted to see me succeed—people who had the same goals as I had.
I thank God because he has put my family back together, restored my marriage one step at a time, and he continues to bless me beyond measure. Thanks for letting me share.