I was an emotional and insecure child. I just never felt good enough. One of my earliest memories was at Christmas time when I was 3. My parents wanted to take a picture of my grandparents holding my brother and sister and asked me to step aside. I stood off to the side and started blubbering uncontrollably. I felt like I had been discarded for the two cuter babies and I was out of the picture completely.
My father drank and my parents frequently argued. I remember being caught in the crossfire at times. Along with my insecurity, this led me to strive for perfection to keep the peace.
In 3rd grade, I went to a neighbor’s Good News Bible school and there I accepted Jesus as my savior. This was a turning point for my family. Mom took us to church and we continued to attend for many months until they had a gospel sing and Dad agreed to go. There he accepted Christ and never drank again, and we became a church going family. But I was still striving for perfection. I worked for straight A’s and just knew that if I could be perfect everything would go my way. I was just a kid and I was already playing God, thinking I had control of others through my actions.
At 13, my father had a cerebral hemorrhage and became permanently paralyzed on his left side and had to go on disability. At 16, my best friend was killed in a car wreck. I stopped my school activities and took a job across the county where I met a new group of friends. I could be cool, cuss, break laws, and eventually go drinking with them. As a teenager, I was arrested for vandalism. Naturally, we were drinking. But I didn’t have a drinking problem.
Our church had sermons about God’s grace, but the enemy and my pushing for perfection kept me from hearing them. All I heard every week was not being perfect was sending me to hell. Looking back, I know that I lost hope and got mad at God.
I finished two years of college, but by then I’m drinking nearly every day and eventually drunked out. I joined the Air Force to change my life around, but it was just one big party for me. I got out of the service and got a job where there were people who invited me out for drinks after work. I became the happy hour drunk. I would leave work, telling myself and my family I was coming straight home, only to turn right into the parking lot of the bar. I eventually got a DUI and was later arrested for domestic violence for backhanding my 14-year-old son. But I rationalized that it wasn’t my fault. Children’s services removed my daughter from my home for 30 days. These were all things I had to hide from my friends and employer.
I was starting to think that I had a drinking problem. I even wrote a letter to my boss seeking treatment in 2005. I never gave it to him. I quit drinking for two months then went right back to it, convincing myself that I had no problem. I started drinking almost every day, but my denial told me there isn’t a problem. My 2008 resolution was to quit drinking. I got drunk Jan 7th. I started seeing a counselor and began AA, but I felt miserable and hopeless.
Somehow, we decided to return to church as a family. When the worship band played Hosanna, “Hear the sound of hearts returning to you. In your kingdom broken lives are made new”, I knew God wanted me right there and I just released everything to Him. The pastor shared this quote: “We were created to worship God; with a yearning for intimacy with our maker. When, for whatever reason, we turn from God, we will always try to replace Him with something else. Relationship with God is the heart’s true home” (Mike Pilavachi).
I had become angry, given up hope and drifted out of touch with God and was trying to fill that hole in my life with alcohol– but it wasn’t working. Right there, I began my true relationship with Jesus Christ. I went up for prayer after service and heard about the church’s Celebrate Recovery program. I started attending that week and have been involved for nearly 13 years now.
The guideline for testimony writing asks how my growing relationship with Jesus has influenced my recovery. My relationship with Christ IS my recovery. He has freed me to live a sober and fulfilling life in service to Him, with a clear conscience with my family without having to live in the shadow of my former life. I know this because in John 8:36 Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”.
Jesus Christ is the life preserver that I cling to for my recovery and hope. The folks at CR are the ones who threw me that lifeline and they help me hang on. Now I have the freedom of only having to be one person. I get to be the same person at CR, at church on Sunday, at work during the week, and at home all the rest of the time. Now thanks to God giving me hope, I get to receive that part of the serenity prayer of being “reasonably happy in this life” even before I get to my next supremely happy life. I’m not fixed or perfect (just ask my wife) and I’ve got troubles like everyone else. Now when I have troubles, I no longer have to struggle alone. I have God to turn to for hope. When I lean on Him, those problems or any others are not so big that God can’t handle them. I am FREE from those hurts, hang-ups and habits because Jesus set me free.