My life was out of control ever since I was just a kid. I grew up in Edmondson Village, on the West Side of Baltimore. I lived there for most of my youth and was in a constant battle to fit in. I never felt good enough. It didn’t matter what I did, what I wore, whether I fought someone bigger than me. I always felt like I had to do more to be good enough. This way of thinking would shape how I handled every significant event in my life and created a huge handicap of insecurity. In my eyes, this was the way it was, you had to fight to work your way in.
My self worth was directly related to how tough I was, and how much I could hurt people both emotionally and physically. I would never allow myself to be completely vulnerable to any one person. I viewed my emotions as a sign of weakness. This level of emotionally immaturity, and lack of a healthy outlet, led to a series of bad decisions that would eventually almost cost me my life.A contract is where you lay out expectations and if those expectations are not met, then no deal. A covenant is doing something for someone regardless of whether they deserve or earned it.Click To Tweet
I grew up in a loving Catholic home. My dad had originally wanted to be a priest in the Catholic church, until he met my mom and things changed. The Catholic faith was always present in my life. But the problem for me growing up, Catholicism did not present a scenario where I was going to make it to Heaven. By the time I was in grade school I had already disobeyed my parents, harmed my neighbor, and commited the sins that the old covenant says is going to ban you from being with God. I had no understanding of this new covenant and I didn’t understand the difference between a covenant and a contract.
A contract is where you lay out expectations and if those expectations are not met, then no deal. A covenant is doing something for someone regardless of whether they deserve or earned it. I didn’t understand that.
I lived my life with an understanding that God has this contract with me, and unfortunately I wasn’t meeting the terms of that, so no matter what, I’m not getting in to Heaven, so I might as well just live my life how I want. Needless to say, that didn’t go well.
I started dabbling in drugs and alcohol at age 12. I’d considered mind altering substances to be the solution for the problems that I didn’t have a solution for. I found a way to escape from reality. I didn’t have to deal with my problems because those things were silenced from my soul. The best way I could describe it is like the fan of the air conditioning on a hot day. You want so bad for that noise to go away. If all that noise was the outside world and all the problems that I’ve got, then that’s what drugs and alcohol could do for me, they silenced that noise.I had always believed I could do good, like I was able to help people. I just didn’t know what that looked like or how to do that.Click To Tweet
When I was around 18, I was fighting a lot. I got arrested a couple time for some assaults and my drinking had progressed to about a 30pk a day. This eventually turned into a need to make a serious life change so I decided to join the marine corps. This, I thought, was going to be my saving grace. I had always believed I could do good, like I was able to help people. I just didn’t know what that looked like or how to do that. I thought to myself, I love to fight, this is a way that is going to allow me to fight, and also serve my country and do something honorable.
I married my first wife while I was in the marine corps and put her through awful situations due to my alcoholism. My addiction didn’t start where I had to drink every single day. While in the marines, it looked more like, “I need to have a drink, I have to have one”. The only way I could really stay focused on something other than alcohol was if we were doing something physical. So I worked out. That’s where I grew a love for physical training and getting people in shape. This was strong enough to distract me while in the corps.
When I got home from my deployment, that all changed. I had almost nine months of forced sobriety and I could not wait to get a beer. So I tried to cram 9 months worth of drinking into about two days. The amount of physical destruction I caused as a result of my drinking and the pain I caused my ex-wife, both mentally and emotionally, were unforgivable. I did not create an environment that was conducive to a successful marriage.I did not create an environment that was conducive to a successful marriage.Click To Tweet
I had originally planned to re-enlist when my four years was up. But as that time got nearer I was faced with the decision, my wife or the military. I chose to get out, because I thought this was going to help my marriage. When I got out of the military I was given opiates and muscle relaxers because of some of the injuries I’d had. Up until this point I had thought, “Drinking is my baby”. But with opiates, I was like “Nope! Drinking PLUS this is my baby”. Fast forward a couple years and we now have my son Connor. I had started to build a semi successful personal training business. I had started going back to my parents church, everything was going well.
And then suddenly it all started to fall apart. My wife and I got divorced. It was ugly. It wrecked my emotions, finances, my business, and it destroyed my reputation (I thought), to a point where my need for recreational drugs skyrocketed. Life was too much for me to handle. I could not take these things on by myself. I needed something to numb the pain. I would sit in church services high. As soon as I left I would go get a drink, and more pills. I moved back in with my parents and adopted the mindset of, “I don’t really have any responsibilities right now so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing”. I was under the assumption that there was no God for me, I could not meet the criteria needed so it was like why not?
After the divorce finalized, in May 2015 I met the woman that I’m going to spend the rest of my life with, her name is Stephanie. When I met her she expressed to me that she’d had to deal with people in her life that were addicts and I did not want to be that person in her life. I made a commitment right then and there to stop. So I did. I quit drinking, the pills, all of it.
In my fitness training for a powerlifting competition, I hurt my back. So I’d gotten a prescription and the addiction started again. After about a year, we had a ceremony to get married. The best thing she could have done for us was not file the paperwork to be married. She saw where my addiction was, and she saw where my head was. She knew I wasn’t ready to be a husband to her yet.She knew I wasn’t ready to be a husband to her yet.Click To Tweet
I was doing everything I could to try to feed the addiction. Stealing, working odd jobs, you name it. It eventually reached a point where I realized, this has to stop at some point, or I’m just going to die. Last September, 2017, the drinking and pills had reached a level that was entirely unreal. I realized I am a terminal alcoholic and an addict. I realized, Okay, I’m going to have to die soon because I can’t keep living like this. When I’d wake up I would start my day with as much alcohol as I could drink because I’d be sick from not being able to have any pills. I realized I wanted to kill myself. I did not want to keep going through this life. I thought there was no hope for me. There was no possibility of redemption or salvation. Those were things for people who spoke back to their mom when they were younger. It wasn’t for me. Not with the violence, and things I had done in my life to feed my addiction, and everything. What that was, was a dream. So I said, I’d rather just not live.I was doing everything I could to try to feed the addiction.Click To Tweet
So now, Steph had taken the girls away and moved back in with her mom, I lost everything that I had owned and I was not being a parent to my children. I told my mom that October, If things don’t get better by November, I’m killing myself. I made up my mind. I planned out how I was going to do it. I really weighed the options of how I was going to do this. I turned on the news and was like man, everyone is dying from heroin, I’ll just go do that. I wrote a suicide note, and I had the note in my car, and a contact list for people to call.
I was just going to go and do it and sit in my truck and wait for it to do what it was going to do.
It was December 10th, 2017. I spent about $150 on dope that day and it did not kill me. After drinking 2 pints of vodka, and using too much of whatever they were selling, I overdosed at a traffic light on Frederick road. I was out for about 45 minutes and when I was out I saw nothing but black. I was standing in nothing but blackness. It was like I was deaf and couldn’t see. The paramedics saved me. They gave me 4 shots of narcan, and just as they were about to intubate me, I just sat right up. I realized that I was destined for a dark abyss with no warmth, no light, no sound, complete nothingness.
I didn’t know how it didn’t kill me. I do know why it didn’t kill me, but it defies everything we know about this world. Against medical advice, I did not go to the hospital. I still had more dope in my truck. I went home, and I was supposed to be meeting Stephanie and the kids at the house. I remember thinking it would be a good day to die because they would all be together to support each other. But I failed again, and I thought to myself, “I just can’t die”.
And so I continued to use and eventually got caught using at Stephanie’s house on a nanny cam. The next day she sat me down with my family to talk and she said, “We love you, we dont want you to do this anymore. You’ve made mistakes but that’s all they are is mistakes” I thought, “no they’re not”, I cannot come back from what I’ve done. I was like, “you don’t get it, that’s not in the cards for me.” Then God gave me a moment of clarity for about 5 minutes.'We love you, we dont want you to do this anymore. You’ve made mistakes but that’s all they are is mistakes'Click To Tweet
God showed me “If you don’t listen, you’re not going to have a home, you’re not welcome at your parents, you will never see your kids, your ex is going to take your son away.” and I was placed in a position where I had to choose: drugs or my kids. I had chosen drugs and alcohol over them too many times to count. But saying it out loud would make it real.
Finally, on the 14th of January, my family comes to me and says, “We are going to send you to Mercy hospital downtown for the free detox”. The withdrawals were terrible. An AA meeting was brought into the hospital. I thought to myself, man, I’ve tried this. You all are lying, sobriety doesn’t work. You don’t understand. A nurse comes in and says if you don’t come out right now, we’re going to kick you out.
In the next moment God said to me: “Get up, get dressed, wrap yourself in a blanket, and go sit in that meeting.” This wasn’t a choice I made, God moved me to go out there. When I walked down to that meeting I heard the man that is now my sponsor and best friend. And I hear him say “I know that God loves me and he’s going to take care of me even through this trial.” He was facing life in prison. Now, before, if you told me you can face charges like this and still say everything is okay because God’s got you, I would have laughed at you. But, I started to hear a message that I had never heard before about someone who had gone through worse things than I did. It gave me a feeling I’d never felt before and that was hope.It gave me a feeling I’d never felt before and that was hope.Click To Tweet
So hope takes root, I got this guys number and we started talking. He told me “you need to pray”. I’m like, listen dude, I don’t think you understand, prayer doesn’t work for me. He told me to shut up and just do it. The next day, I prayed, “Lord, if you’re real, just go ahead and take away the withdrawals.” I’m waiting, I sat there and nothing was changing. I texted him, “You’re a liar, prayer doesn’t’ work, it didn’t do anything for me.” My sponsor texted back “you’re not supposed to pray for the withdrawals to go away, God wants you to remember that. You need to pray for the source of the problem to get fixed”.
So I sat there in the bed in the fetal position trying to figure out what my problem was that needed fixing. And then finally I realized I did not feel worthy of anything. I did not feel I had value. I believed I had been abandoned. I hated myself. I hated myself so much. I didn’t understand how anyone could love me.
So I prayed, “God, if you are real, take away this desire to kill myself”. And within about three hours, that desire was gone completely. I was still going through withdrawals, I was in terrible physical pain, but I had felt a peace that I’d never felt before. It was beyond real, that peace was more impactful in my life than anything else, and it changed everything.God, if you are real, take away this desire to kill myselfClick To Tweet
This peace took me from the dark abyss that I thought I was destined to be in forever and it pulled me out. I sat there in the hospital bed and I just felt something slowly come over me. I felt it in my head, and my shoulders, and my chest, and down to my legs and it was like I was being cleansed from head to toe. I didn’t understand what it was.
The next few moments I was in tears because I was so happy, I couldn’t believe what was happening. I texted my sponsor and said “Whatever this magic is, I need to have more of it. I want to recreate this everyday. So what is it?”, and he said, “That’s the power of God”.
I did not want that to be the answer but when he said it, I couldn’t disagree.
I ended up not going to a rehab. I had completely given myself over to God in that hospital. I didn’t see any long bearded white man in a robe or anything, I didn’t see that man, but I know I experienced God. What I felt was more real than anything and I was set on pushing myself toward that for the rest of my life. When I couldn’t get into a rehab, my sponsor told me I needed to regularly attend meetings and I needed to find a church.I had completely given myself over to God in that hospitalClick To Tweet
One day, I’m driving around Glen Burnie with my son, and he says “Daddy turn right! There’s something going on here”. So I turned into the lot and I see the big “LH” on the side of the building and I remembered seeing this before, but couldn’t remember what it was. Turns out it was Lighthouse church and service had just let out. I started to see these smiles on people’s faces and I was drawn to them.
I went home and researched this church, watched some of the sermons online, and was like “This is not catholic church. It sounds like these people have shared in what I’ve experienced and I need to be around that.” I came back the next day and the message was about setting the stones of change. I was in the back crying, thinking this message is exactly for me. I’m like, “How does this man know what is going on, this is unreal.” I still have the memorial stone handed to me when I walked in.
Pastor Sammy talked about when he was lost in his former addiction to heroin and I felt at home. I remember thinking I was in the right place. I had already committed to this AA program and I was working the steps, but it felt like spiritual kindergarten, I needed to know more, get more, have more. I needed to grow deeper in my faith. So I started getting more involved with the church, in small groups, Celebrate Recovery, the men of the church have really helped me dig deeper in my relationship with God.Since I gave my life over to God, my life has done a complete 180Click To Tweet
Since I gave my life over to God, my life has done a complete 180. I’m not angry about life anymore. All I want to do is help people. I want to help people get to where I am. To help people step into the light out of the dark. I had 6 warrants out for my arrest, they’ve all been dropped, thanks to God. My relationships with Stephanie and my kids are the best they’ve ever been. I volunteer at Lighthouse, and I am on fire for God. My life has meaning again. My life has purpose. And that purpose is thanks to Jesus Christ, who washed away the sins of a wretched man like me. My slate has been wiped clean. And He can do that for you too.My slate has been wiped clean. And He can do that for you too.Click To Tweet