The Journey of Recovery
Growing up, I attended Catholic church as a young child and never really enjoyed it or ever wanted to go actually. As a family, we would go on holidays and special occasions. For me, the best part was the donuts. About the time I was in middle school, maybe 12 or 13, we started going to a Christian church at Rocky Peak. My parents wanted us to start going there because they thought it would teach us good and important things children should learn growing up. I enjoyed the youth group there because they had fun games and events that were fun for kids my age.
I also started to learn about who Jesus actually was, and that he is a personal God, things I had never heard before. The idea of a loving, personal God who wants to help me with any problems I may encounter sounded appealing to me, so I accepted Jesus into my life at one of the youth group nights. Through middle school and high school, I continued to believe, and even had some moments of being on fire for the Lord, but for the most part my own desires took over, and I eventually left the church after high school.
Around the age of 17 or 18, I started trying things of the world - drinking, smoking and partying. For me, at that time, those things felt like what I had always been looking for in life, and they were very appealing to me. For a few years, until about the time I was 24 or 25, I continued living that way. As time went on, it progressed from having an occasional drink, to a serious addiction, to marijuana and getting drunk a few times every week, or whenever I went out to socialize. At first it was fun. There were times of being in inappropriate relationships with girls, and partying, and to be honest, some very fun times. Deep down I always knew how I was living was wrong and one day it would have to come to an end, but I did not want to stop.
As time went on I began to lose relationships and became more of a solitude user. It was a very lonely time. There were many times when I wanted to stop getting high, but I could never manage to stay sober for more than a few hours, much less a day or 2. I knew the very sin I once enjoyed and pursued no longer brought me the same joy, but I could not stop; I was in a prison of addiction. As much as I wanted to change, and even friends would try and help me, I could not seem to get myself out of the mud I had found myself stuck in. Things continued to get worse as I lost my job, and began to lose the will to live. This time in my life was the lowest I have ever been. I was seriously depressed, suicidal, had a serious anxiety problem, and was just completely hopeless and alone, or at least that's what I thought.
I believe because of my decision for Jesus earlier, the Lord was not going to let me go. At this point he began putting ideas in my head. Nothing big, just the idea of God, thoughts of church earlier in my life, small things. Although it seemed small, God was really working to do something huge. One night as I was laying in my bed as a wretched, depressed, anxious wreck, I encountered the Lord in a very real way. As I laid there I began to feel the presence of God in the room with me, and he asked me if I wanted to be free from the situation I found myself in. Having nowhere else to turn, I said yes, and he said he could free me from my chains if I trusted in him.
Now this experience was the most powerful experience I have ever had and probably will ever have in my life. The feeling of his presence and love and peace was completely overwhelming, and hearing his voice was unprecedented. However, me being the way I was, I still was not sure. So I asked for another sign, and then fell asleep as I was bathed in the peace and love of the almighty Lord. Now God is merciful! He is so merciful he gives us far far more than we ever could deserve or earn. A few hours after I fell asleep, I was awakened by an earthquake that shook me enough to wake me out of my deep sleep. At that moment I knew that the Lord's promise was for real, and I knew my life would never be the same.
After that night I struggled with drugs and alcohol for about another month, because I was still trying to do things on my own. I can honestly say though from that moment on, the obsession was lifted, the chains were broken, and I walked a free man in the Lord! I was still seriously flawed, and it took a serious program of recovery working the 12 steps thoroughly and repeatedly in order to gain my sanity and in order to remain sober. These things are also very important - to be able to be put in a place where you can help someone else. Today I am still far from perfect, but I am not the man I was 3 years ago. I am thankful to have found OYF as I continue my walk in a place of community, and a place where I am always challenged to not become complacent.