My testimony is about how I chased something I already had and didn't know
For as long as I can remember, I have had this uneasy feeling inside. I didnít always know what this feeling was caused by but I knew it was there and I hated it. There was a real emptiness that I couldnít fill no matter what I tried and when I ignored it, the feeling just got worse. Looking back I see that my life has been obsessed with trying to ease this pain.
I was raised a competitor. My family owned and operated roller skating rinks my entire life and I competed in various disciplines. Looking back I see now that much of what I did was to earn my fatherís love. If I could only be good enough maybe this emptiness would go away. The harder I tried the worse I felt. Nothing worked. Deep down I knew I couldnít earn my dadís love. So I just gave up. I didnít see that he already loved me. Something told me that I didnít deserve to be loved and I believed it.
That emptiness spilled over into every area of my life. If I could only be better at what I was doing and earn more than I was earning, the emptiness would go away. I took jobs that I had no business taking. I took promotions that led to nothing more than being overwhelmed and frustrated. The harder I tried the more I was faced with the fact that there was nothing I could do to earn the love I so dearly needed.
I got married to a beautiful woman from Hong Kong. Once again I tried to earn the love that I needed. I spent way too much time at work trying hard to earn more money so that she would love me. I took risks in business hoping that if I could only make this one work everything would be alright. I tried harder and harder. And I never earned her love. I really didnít understand - she too already love me.
All throughout my experience I learned how to medicate my emptiness with alcohol. The harder I tried, the emptier I felt and the more I drank. This worked really well for a number of years. When I was drunk I felt no pain, literally. I was OK. It no longer mattered that nobody loved me. I felt good. My toes tingled and I was ready to live life. For over twenty-seven years alcohol was my best friend. It comforted me through the death of my mother. It comforted me when I lost my job, my house and everything I owned. It celebrated with me during the good times. It helped me through the difficult times. It worked. It comforted me each and every step of the way. When I was drunk, I was OK!
At some point, however, the alcohol stopped working. Deep down I knew what was happening to me: that I was merely avoiding the truth. I was not OK. My alcoholism had become an addiction to prescription drugs. For nearly three years I took Vicodin, Codeine, Darvocets or any other opiate I could get my hands on. When this no longer worked, I traded up once more to Crystal Meth. Life was now over. Realizing that there was nothing I could do to be OK, I got really committed to not being OK. What I mean by this is simple. The drugs got me to the point of no longer caring. I knew I was an addict and didnít care. The people around me were destroyed and all I cared about was easing my pain. I couldnít work, I couldnít eat, and I didnít care. I had lost all hope. Death was simply a matter of time and I was OK with that.
Then, late one night something touched me. In the silence of my madness, God spoke to me. My life passed before my eyes and God told me He was my Father in Heaven. He told me that He loved me.
Part of me wanted to fluff it off as merely some computer trick but another part of me knew it was real.
I didn't know why at the time but during the next few days I began to want things to be different. In a very emotional moment, I saw who I had become. I was devastated. I was sorry. With all of the sincerity my heart held, I wept. I asked God for forgiveness and I begged Him for a real miracle. A simple computer trick wasnít going to help, I told Him. I really needed Him to rescue me.
I was exhausted. I stopped trying to fix my problem and I surrendered wholly and completely. Whatever God wanted to do was fine with me. I had had enough and even if death was the answer that was fine with me. I knew there was nothing I could do to change.
Two days later I was sitting with my devastated and broken wife in front of Pastor Ed and his wife Lou. I told them I no longer wanted to hurt the people around me but that there was no way I could stop this addiction. Pastor Ed told me there was hope. He gave me a promise: If I would go into a detox facility for thirty days he would accept me into the recovery program at Hope International Bible Fellowship (www.hopeibf.com) where I would spend the next 6 to 18 months.
WHAT? 18 MONTHS? My mind told me that I would be lucky to get through the night. There was no way I would even get through detox. When I hesitated, my wife pleaded with me to go. I told Pastor Ed I would try but I knew there was no way I could make that commitment.
I donít know how or why, it must have been God's strength, but when I got home I made a couple of phone calls. God opened the doors and the next morning I was admitted into a detox facility in Pasadena.
Even though the program at Hope was full, Pastor Ed was faithful to his promise. He picked me up from detox and brought me directly to Hope. I slept on a couch upstairs for the first couple of weeks because there were no beds available. Things progressed slowly. Pastor Ed and all of the people at Hope provided me with a safe place. I learned to let go. I studied the Bible, something I hadnít done in nearly twenty years. I prayed morning and night. I talked to, argued with, and opened up. I cried often as I let go of all of the pain that was bottled up inside. I recommitted my life to Jesus Christ and began accepting His love for me.
As I look back, it brings tears to my eyes. I am humbled by the fact that God answered my prayer. When I cried out He was faithful. He gave me a miracle, a real miracle. It took nearly nine months but my wife and I reconciled. My career has been given back to me but it no longer holds the highest priority in my life. I learned that I am loved and that real love is given, not earned. I know now that the people closest to me loved me all along. I am also learning how to love back, something I have never done before.
Through the Hope Drug and Alcohol Recovery Program, I have been given the tools I need to deal with lifeís frustrations. My life is not easy but it is based on Godly principles and filled with integrity.
And most important of all, I have a real relationship with Jesus Christ, my Savior. I talk with Him daily and trust His direction and purpose for my life.
It is very clear to me that Hope International Bible Fellowship was used by God to perform a very real miracle in my life. I love Jesus with all of my heart and I have a deep love, respect and connection with everybody at Hope Ė not because of what they have done for me, but because I know God is using them to perform miracles.
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