Hello, I am a believer in Jesus Christ recovering from chemical dependency and compulsion. My name is Richard.
At 16, only two days into my school year, I was in a car wreck that left me in the hospital with months of rehabilitation, and my best friend dead. I felt powerless watching him die, but I thought I had to be strong.
Only two years later, I started five years of insanity, not a single sober day. I was experiencing many blackouts with no recall of what I had done. I never thought about God, family, or friends. My life was meaningless, compulsive, and all about me.
I married my girlfriend, who was pregnant. Our relationship was all about the party life. We had three daughters in three years, but that did not stop the partying. When my wife was pregnant with our third daughter, she went into premature labor while trying to lift me from the floor after another blackout. My daughter Ashley lived for 11 hours, and it seems like I would die with her. When the doctor told me, my knees buckled, and I collapsed on the floor in a cold weakness I had never felt before. God used this tragedy to gain my attention– I could not deny how out of control I was or how badly I hurt. Still, I was trying to handle the pain on my own.
Miserable and weary of the torment going on inside my head since my daughter’s death, I fought the reality of a God. My wife confronted me with my depression, and it was at that moment I stopped denying there was a God. I realized I’m not God. I admitted that I was powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life was unmanageable. The Bible says in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” My wife asked what was wrong several times before I responded, well, if you must know, “It’s my spiritual life,” and she said, “Your spiritual life, what’s wrong with it?” My answer was, “I DO NOT HAVE ONE.”
The next day I attended a church and remembered hearing from the book of James that the devils believe and tremble. Looking down at my hands, I too was shaking and knew I was in the same condition they were. God delivered me that day and accepted me as I called on Jesus as my Savior.
Thirteen years later, my marriage was a mess, my wife was struggling, and I gave up on church. See the pattern? I thought I could handle it. I felt shame and guilt all the time and began to drink again, only this time as a believer.
I walked into my home, finding my wife with a gun pointed to her head. As I walked closer, she turned the gun at me, firing the weapon and barely missing my head. And for the next two weeks, my alcohol abuse was worse than ever before.
As I sobered up, I began to hear God reaching out to me. He said in a still soft voice, “Richard, why are you here?”. It was like He was right there in my misery with me, feeling what I felt. I had a moment of clarity, and I rededicated my life back to Jesus Christ. I could not believe some of the things I had done as a Christian. I wanted so much to learn healthy boundaries. I began practicing what I was learning. Within a few weeks, my wife attempted to burn our house down, and shortly after, committed suicide. Good never comes from suppressing our deepest hurts. I was again facing a massive loss with feelings of failure overtaking me– that I could not help her.
In January 2004, I married Dara and experienced, for the first time, a godly relationship.
That first year we were married, I was asked to lead a ministry in our church called Celebrate Recovery, which Dara and I did reluctantly. I very distinctly remember thinking, “How are we going to be used in there?”.
I have learned by repressing my feelings– I froze my emotions. I came to understand that by feeling my feelings, I find freedom. Romans 7:18: tells me, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my sinful flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” Through Celebrate Recovery and my relationship with Jesus Christ, God has set me free from the shame of sin and the needless cover-ups. Allowing me to recognize the unhealthy patterns in my relationships, I now have the tools to surrender to Jesus’ plan instead of my own, quickly.
When I thought God could never use me again as a believer in Christ, he humbled me so I could see this, too, was a lie. I have learned these two amazing truths, “God uses the broken,” and “We are all broken!”.
Thank you for letting me share.