The Road to His Strength
I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, MI in the 70’s & 80’s. I came from a typical middle-class, blue-collar family. My parents were married and together, so we had what most would call a solid family unit. In hindsight I would call it functionally dysfunctional.
I made friends with other kids who shared similar lives and together, we found plenty of mischief. We would steal our parents booze, shoplift, steal, and fight with anyone and everyone that we could. Drinking, getting high, fighting and vandalism were a typical weekend during my high school years.
Since school was not my strength and college was not going to be an option, I joined the United States Marine Corps. Sadly, these years did little to fill the void in my life. During my four years in the Marines, the bullying lifestyle I had adapted as a teen, combined with the unequaled physical training of the USMC, created within me a persona of invincibility. I was bigger than most physically and used that to my advantage whenever challenged. I got into many fights and brawls. Though drugs were not an option during my time in service, the alcohol continued to be a mainstay in my life. When I wasn’t working, I was either drinking or fighting. This led me down a path of further self-destruction. I took a part-time job off base bouncing in one of the many local male entertainment establishments and worked for an open tab at the bar. Since I was always around women of questionable character, promiscuity became my next vice. To this day, when I look back at all the “extracurricular” activities I did off duty and off base, I can only believe that my Honorable Discharge was granted to me by the grace of God.
When I exited the Corps, I moved to Florida with a couple of Marine buddies. The off-base life I was living while in the Marines, was nothing compared to the life I was about to start in Florida. Again, I found myself associating with people of questionable character and I learned quickly that hiding the lifestyle I was living was easy if I worked in restaurants. Alcohol or drug tests were not common place in the food service industry at that time. Drinking or doing drugs at work was not uncommon, especially since I worked in the kitchen. The job allowed me to sleep most of the day at the beach, work and party all night. Days off were spent getting high and/or drunk then sleeping with the newest waitress to hire on. Once I worked my way through the staff at the restaurant du jour, I would move unto the staff at other bars and restaurants in the area. It got to a point where I used the drugs and booze just to get through the day without having to feel anything. I eventually realized that if I ever wanted to do anything with my life, I would have to stop the way I was living. I didn’t know it then, but I believe now this was God telling me that he had bigger plans for me. I was 25 years old.
Although I stopped doing “drugs”, I continued to objectify and use women sexually and abuse alcohol for the next 9 years. Then in August 1998 I met my wife. When she got pregnant in 2000, her days of partying ended, but for me that wasn’t the case. For the next thirteen years, she would patiently love me and pray for me to get my act together. Then on August 6, 2013 my life changed forever. I received a traumatic brain injury from a freak non-alcohol related event. However, that day was the first day in a long time that I can remember not taking a drink. That injury led me into sobriety. After several months of medical care, severe depression, and a to-close-for-comfort suicide attempt; I finally broke down and asked God to take over. I came to the stark realization that I couldn't get through this pain, depression, and misery on my own. I had been trying since my injury to once again solve and control the problems in front of me, and without alcohol, it led me to attempt taking my own life. Only through God (my higher power), could I make it through this life without alcohol.
Today, I know now that as His son, my life is for His glory, and I try every day to make that a reality. I spend time with Him in the Word and in worship and in prayerful reflection daily. I work hard to find joy in all that He puts in front of me, because I know that the trials and tribulations of today are for His glory tomorrow. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) the apostle Paul writes: ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ I believe this is my life verse. I needed to be humbled and made weak for God to finally get my attention. Because of my pride, false bravado, ego, and eagerness to control my destiny; because of my running and hiding in alcohol, drugs, and sex, I missed all the other times he offered me His Grace. However, once I had no other options but to become humble and admit weakness, I became strong.
Today I still struggle and fight with temptation in my life, but I no longer fight alone. God fights with me and through my weakness, His power prevails.