This is what happen to me and how I was finally able to believe in a Higher Power. In August of 1978, the Navy sent me to kind of treatment for the first time. Although it was not all Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) I think it was part of the treatment. There was a lot of family counseling involved in the treatment but I do not think my wife at that time attended. I could not see or understand that my life had become or was becoming unmanageable. I was still married, still working, still had clean clothing, had a baby daughter and was still young. I was 22 years old. I had stopped attending church, praying and reading the Bible. For all practical purpose God was no longer glorified or worshiped in my life. I thought at that time in my life, “If I did not do something it would not get completed right.” I felt I had to depend on me and no other person. This was the way I had lived for years and it seemed to work most of the time. 12 years after my first A.A. meeting and first treatment, I discovered that I was mad at the God of my youth. I did not believe that God or any other person really cared if I lived or died. In 1978, my ego and pride were so great that it was impossible for me to see the truth about my own condition and accept any outside help. For 12 years, in and out of treatment, in and out of relationships, I could never get past the God issue because I was always looking for my own experiences and knowledge to solve my problems. My problems continued to get worse. Over the next 12 years, I lost virtually everything except my job in the Navy.
In February of 1990, after the U.S. Navy had ordered me to my third treatment facility. I found my Higher Power from the words of my 13 year old daughter. For the first time in my life, I was given unconditional love and felt this love. My daughter said to me, “That’s ok Daddy, I love you and I am glad you are finally going to get well.” I felt real hope. For the first time, since my early youth, I cried. I was able to use my daughter’s faith in me to work thought the God issue. I still did not believe in a God at that time. When I saw other’s living happy and free from the damage they had once caused in their own lives, I started blindly following what they had done in hopes that I would not let my daughter down again. I converted my daughter’s unconditional love to just love. I even made up an acronym for the word love so that I could start to practice it in my daily life. LOVE = Letting Ourselves Value Everyone. By believing in something other then myself for the first time in my life, I was able to stay sober. I was able to work and start applying the program of A.A. to my life. I started to feel freedom. I finally had a Higher Power.
When I was around 10 years sober, I still thought that I was an atheist. I heard a man say “Guy you can not be mad at a God you don’t believe in.” I then became an agnostic. At 11 years sober, I heard a speaker say, “GOD = Group of Drunks” and I was able to see that I used both the hope from my daughter’s expressed love and the experiences of sober alcoholics to change my life. When I was 12 years sober, I heard a speaker in Laughlin, Nevada say that the bible says that God is Love. I was able to call my Higher Power by the name God. I understood that the power to solve my problems is the Unconditional Love of God. It took me over 12 years without any mind altering chemicals in my body before I could finally accept and believe in God. I am not agnostic any more.
When I first started out down my road of recovery, I thought that insanity meant crazy or nuts. Any person who was insane should be locked away from society so as not to hurt others or themselves. What I came to believe in my heart of hearts, over the first fourteen years of my freedom from alcohol, is that in recovery, insanity means to be without a solid belief in God and sanity means to believe in God and His unconditional love. I now enjoy a deep level of peace because I now know and believe in God’s unconditional love for me.
When I had 14 and ½ years of sobriety, in October of 2004, I received a suicide note in my email from a friend in A.A. named Janet D. It was around a quarter till midnight on the 30th and I do not know why I woke up and checked my email at that time but I did. I call 911 and reported the email and told them the area where Janet lived and then got in my truck and drove there myself. Shortly after arriving at Janet’s trailer her ex-boyfriend and I found Janet’s body where she had shot herself. This started a depression that I did not see the end of for a year. Following this time it seemed like 13 more friends died. I attended grief counseling to try to accept what was going on and to get out of the depression that I was in. I felt a lot of anger towards the ex-boyfriend of Janet D. for the way he had been treating her just prior to her death.
Then at the start of the 2005, the rains came really hard in Payson where I live. There was a lot of rain damage to my house. It cost me a lot of money to fix all the damage. In the long run there was a new roof, utility room and complete kitchen. I also had to put up a new fence because the old one looked like it was falling down because the wood had gotten weak. When all this was over, I had to go to California for my son’s High School graduation.
Just prior to my son’s High School graduation I was notified that he wanted to legally change his last name from my last name to his step dad’s last name. This hurt me emotionally really bad. I wrote him and talked to him on the phone asking him not to do this or to just add the step dad’s name, but Joshua would not hear my plea. All of this It only helped to push me further into depression. I found that I felt loneliness like I had never felt it before. Joshua was nearing his 18th birthday and was graduating High School. He did change his last name to his step dad’s last name and that hurt me a great deal emotionally. I had been holding onto the thought that when he got older that he would want to get with me and come to know who I was more. In June this hope was crushed in my heart. Even though I had a lot of A.A. friends around me and was in a lot of A.A. service work, I still felt alone in this world. I felt like an out cast. I felt miles away from the people I deeply cared about in life and did not know how to connect with them on any meaningful way. I tried to make phone calls and write but this did not seem to fill the deep void I felt inside. The doctor’s increased my antidepressant medication and the depression did not go away. Then I found out that I had this fibbers tumor growing inside my gut around my aorta and that caused me even more worries. On top of all of this Valerie (my daughter) was going through the start of a divorce and I felt helpless to help her in any way. I did not know how to support her or to comfort her. All I could do was watch and cry silent tears from a far.
All this took place between June 2005 and the start of August 2005. I was still depressed and could not work my way out of the grip of depression no matter what I did. I was just going through the motions of life. Then the thought hit me, “Where is God in all of this?” I started taking a look at my relationship with God over the years and found myself lacking. I reviewed my life based upon the seven deadly sins of mankind and found myself in very bad shape. I found that pride, greed, anger, lust, gluttony, envy and sloth ran through my life like an evil corroding thread. I saw that in one form or another that these seven sins touched every part of my life going as far back as my early childhood. I saw that my motivation for most things I did from early on in life were do to selfish and self-center reasons. Very few times did I ever do things with the best interest of others in my heart and this included God and Jesus. I saw where my actions, even ones I thought were positive had hurt other people in the long run in life. I saw that when I was married before that I was not a very grateful Christian husband or friend to my wives. Following the dictates of my heart – forcing my own way in life not really caring whose toes I stepped on so long as I achieved the goals I thought would get me what my heart desired. For most of my life I lived very selfishly and self-centered.
In A.A. we talk a lot about doing God’s will in our life but we do not talk about finding out what that will is. We go about guessing what it is. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous was written from the Bible and talks a lot about finding God in our lives to help over come alcoholism and to live better lives. So I felt, for me, the Bible was the logical place to go and study to find out what God’s will really was. I found the Bible my second wife (Janet) once gave me and started reading it as if for the first time. I am learning a lot. I started calling my Dad in Indiana and he would give me passages to read in the Bible and had me read some of the books of the New Testament.
In late September 2009, I returned to Church for the first time in many years. I talked to one of the elders of the Church of Christ here in Payson and he had me read the books of Luke and Acts. I saw that I never understood that repentance means more then just feeling deep sorrow for ones actions and conduct but that it also means to change direction and start doing things differently. Doing what is right no matter what. It means that there might be things I want to do but they might not be the right things to do, so I need to learn not to do them. I found that when I was baptized that I did not understand this meaning for repentance and so I asked to be baptized again. I asked because when I was baptized before my life, conduct and actions did not change. I continued to do things with selfish motives in my life. I continued to do things I wanted without thought of others in my life. I remained selfish, self-seeking and self-centered. So I felt because my actions never changed then I must not have understood what true repentance means. The elder’s agreed after hearing why I wanted to be baptized and I was allowed to be baptized on October 14, 2005 at about 4:30 pm. That was a Friday afternoon.
Today I am trying to learn what is really right and wrong. Today I am trying to learn what God’s will in my life really is. Today I am learning things I should have learned when I was younger – when I was a child but never heard. Today, even though it seems hard on me and my plans at times, I am trying to put God and Jesus first in my life, in my thoughts and in my actions. I am trying to avoid things like conversations that are negative, that are full of cussing, and that are full of gossip. When I drive now I try to drive the posted speed limit and not speed. I know this sound like simple little things but it is a start for me. I am trying to train my mind to ask myself, “What would Jesus do?” or “What would the Master do?” before I do anything. I am trying hard to end old habits that I have had for 30 to 40 years of my life. It is not easy.
I am trying to replace the traditions of Guy with the Word of God. I listen to church music when I sleep so my mind does not play old tapes of lust, evil or bad thoughts and memories when I am going to sleep or waking up. I pray in the morning before I start my day and at night when I end my day. I pray often during the day. I am trying to remember to pray before every meal. I still sometimes forget until into the meal and have to stop and do it then. I am trying harder then I have ever wanted God and Christ in my life before. I have completed the World Bible Study courses. I am trying to put as much good stuff into my mind as possible because that is where the war is being fought for my life. I really think satin is trying very hard to pull me back into the world. Memories of bad things I have done still float into my mind from no where and without reason. Things I once enjoyed and thought were fun come back into my thoughts for no reason many years after I have stopped doing them. I have talked to our preacher about this and he says it is the devil trying to pull me away from the Lord. He says what ever the Lord has the devil wants. I have a big fear of going to hell. That’s why I try hard to understand 1 John 5:13.
I am slowly studying the Bible. I want to grow in my understanding and knowledge. I would like to find other’s who are willing to help me grow and not expect me to already know a lot more then I do because I am a “preachers kid” or because of my “age”. I just do not know all that much right now but I am trying to learn and grow. I want my faith and love of the Lord to grow stronger. I do not want to be weak in faith when temptation crops up in my life. I need prayers for this and I pray for this.