Where Have I Been This Past Year
Next week, I turn 23. 22 has been the worst, yet most beneficial year of my life. First off, I wanted to apologize to all my friends. I have been really distant this past year. I have been less focused on other people and took time to focus on me. I needed to learn to love myself. I needed to learn to forgive myself. I needed to learn who I was.
Last summer, I graduated Summa Cum Laude with an Honors BS in Psychology and an Honors BA in Christian Studies with a minor in Worship Arts. I had a few job offers both inside and outside of ministry for after I graduated. I was working in youth ministry at my church and had my local ministers license. It seemed like I had everything together. On the inside, I was falling apart. After 2 years of sobriety from alcohol, I started drinking again at my grandma’s funeral. It started off small, and soon became a problem once again. I was spending almost every night at the bar after classes. I would find any reason to drink. I was trying to cover up the deep depression I was experiencing. Summer hit and I graduated. I had no job and no school to keep me distracted from my depression.
I drank from the moment I woke up, until the moment I passed out. In the midst of my drunkenness, a deep dark secret got exposed. I had sexual trauma in my past that I had not dealt with. Instead of dealing with it, I drank more. The more I drank, the more I drank. The more I thought, the more I drank. The more the sun shined, the more I drank.
One night, after an argument with somebody who’s opinion of me meant everything to me, I decided I was done. I was done trying. I was done living. I spent the night at a friend’s house instead of going back to the place I was living that night. That night changed my life.
I was in a trance. I looked in the mirror and literally did not recognize the person in it. I felt like my body was on autopilot and I was watching myself from the outside. When my friend went to bed, I decided that was the night I was going to end my life. I grabbed a rope from the backseat of my car, constructed a noose, and hung it from the top of a parking shelter at the apartment complex. I put the noose around my neck, but then stopped. I realized the thoughts that were in my head were not from God. I thought about all the lives God allowed me to impact and how the ministries I had been a part of would be tarnished because of my actions.
I took the noose off my neck and took a step down. The storm around me was raging almost as badly as the storm inside my head. I started to walk. It was 4:30 in the morning and I was walking in the middle of a lightening storm. I called a friend and she took me to the Emergency room. There I spent 25 hours before being sent to a mental hospital.
The week I spent in the mental hospital really opened my eyes to how important it is to focus on myself and learn to love myself and have compassion for myself. My identity isn’t found in my mental health, a diagnosis, my grades, my job, mistakes I’ve made, or things that have happened to me. My identity should be found in who I was in God. The problem was, I wasn’t accepting God’s love for me. I freely gave it out and preached about it to other people, yet I thought I was unique in that God could not love me.
I got kicked out of the place where I was staying while in the mental hospital, so I moved back in my parents when I got released. When I got out of the hospital, I met with my senior pastor. Because of my drinking, he rightly revoked my local pastors license and had me step down from ministry. Just like that, I went from being super involved at church to now not even attending for a couple months. I was not mad, just embarrassed. I talk about this experience in more detail in my book.
Over the past year, I have experienced a lot and the year seemed to go by quickly. I started taking my recovery seriously. I got on medication. I started attending meetings in the recovery rooms for my drinking and got a sponsor. While attending these meetings, I learned there are people out there who have been in my shoes and have years of sobriety and happiness. This gave and gives me hope. There is something amazing about walking into a room of broken people and hearing how they are overcoming their struggles. There is something powerful about a room full of broken people praying the Lord’s prayer together in unison. They face their demons everyday and win. I have learned humility, vulnerability, and strength in the rooms. I have always felt welcome in every meeting I went into. If church was as loving and welcoming as these rooms, more people would be open to attending. If people at church were as spiritual as the people in these rooms, prayed as much as people in these rooms, and relied on God as much as people in these rooms, the Church would be the Church that God calls it to be.
So back to that apology. I am sorry I have been so distant this past year. I have been focusing on myself and my recovery. I have learned that there is nothing selfish about putting myself and my sobriety first. Anything you put about God and sobriety will be taken from you. As I turn another year older, I hope I am another year wiser. I still have a lot to learn. I’m still learning to love myself. I’m still learning what a sober life looks like. I need to never reach the point in life where I think I know everything. Thank you for all the people that have been in my corner this past year. Thank you for the people who have let me spend the night on their couch because I was not sure I was strong enough alone to overcome temptation. Thank you to the people who randomly checked on me. A big thank you goes out especially to my mentor, Joe. I have been meeting with him every week since I have gotten out of the hospital. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have called him up crying. He has stayed by my side through the worst. So thank you especially. A big thank you goes out to my wonderful girlfriend, Sabrina West. She sees me at my worst and at my best. She knows my heart better than I do. She encourages me, loves me, sees my potential, and prays for me. I couldn't ask for a better girlfriend.
My book is available for purchase at the link https://www.amazon.com/Blind-Man-Given-Eyes-See/dp/0692082492/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526361230&sr=8-1&keywords=blind+man+given+eyes+to+see