I was looking out of the window of the bedroom I shared with my brothers, and thinking about what life was all about. I don’t know how to explain it, but even at age 10, I knew that God was real, and that He was with me and would guide my life.
My parents were not too religious, but we did go to church most of the time. And they lived out their marriage vows, raising us kids as our father and mother, instilling in us a desire to be honorable and to live right. They also supported us as we got into sports and scouts. Boy scouts were great, but I took to basketball like a fish to water. I discovered that God had made me a good basketball player, and that completely took over as my most formative influence in high school. I was a star athlete on what would become the state champion team!
Girls broke into my locker, leaving notes, their phone numbers and other little personal items. It was intoxicating!
But it was not enough. I started drinking at age 17, mainly because it just went with the partying that was so easily available to a popular, good-looking star athlete with a popular good looking girl ready and willing all the time. Drugs came later, and I used them to feed the ability to drink more. I could stay awake longer when I was high on coke!
I never abandoned my faith. I continued to attend church even during the years after high school, when I was really just drifting along, working only enough to survive. I was with Karen (not her real name) during those years, and we continued to party together. Later we got married and had two great kids. We tried to be a family, but we couldn’t stay away from drugs and booze for any length of time. We tried, but we just couldn’t pull it off.
One night a guy I knew did something I didn’t like, and I went to his neighborhood and called him out. We went at it, and I took care of him pretty well. Later though, I was at a friend’s house, and saw the guy I had beaten up heading toward the house with a shotgun! I hid in the bathroom (no back way out!) and something told me to duck. The shotgun blasts ripped through the door and just missed! He later did some serious jail time for that!
Another time I was driving one of those huge earth-moving machines owned by the stone quarry I worked at, with a full load of freshly-dynamited stone. I was still high when I came to work that day and had not had any sleep. I fell asleep at the wheel, and was headed off a very high cliff, when I realized I was in trouble. Not that I got awake – I was still too stoned! But by the grace of God, eyes still shut, I slammed on the brakes and threw the rig into reverse, stopping with the front wheels hanging over the edge!
My life was spared both times, but it was still a train wreck! Eventually, after watching others my age getting good jobs, buying houses and nice cars, and generally just doing well, I realize that I needed to make a change. But one of my biggest challenges in trying to get well was Karen. She was even more out of control than I was. Eventually it became impossible to maintain any semblance of family, and we split, with the children going to live with two different family members.
As I was turning more and more to Christ to make me well, I eventually learned about Compassion House. I was accepted as a resident, and began to finally get serious about submitting to Christ-centered living and healing, as we had daily devotionals, and a weekly bible study along with mandatory church and AA attendance.
Today I am still a work in progress, but I owe a lot to the Christ-centered folks at Great Compassion Ministries. I am working, staying clean and sober, and living with a degree of normalcy I had all but given up hope would ever be my lot.
Thank you GCM, and thank you Jesus!