This is the shortest version I feel comfortable with.
This is my testimony.
I was born on the wrong side of a small town in Southern Illinois; the side where the government housing is located. It all began there, but the beginning didnt last long. We moved when I was Three. It was a big decision for my parents. My father was offered a job that would allow him to better financially provide for his family, and after much thought my parents decided to accept. We had beaten the system. We had made it out of poverty, and the bad side of town.
It was a good life. I remember riding my bike to the downtown corner drug store for 10 cent cherry cokes. I had all I could ever dream of. A swing set, a fort, and all the neighborhood friends any kid could ask for. I had all I needed. If I needed glasses, I got them. If I needed money for school, it was there. My family was far from rich, but I never went without. My mother was a Christian and I attended church every time the door was open, but I was never saved. Life was good in small town USA. Then why did I have so many problems?
I was scared of people. I mean really scared. A lot of this is coming back in retrospect, but as usual with hindsight, its very clear. I was very timid as a child and the raising of a voice was enough to bring tears to my eyes. I was even nervous and scared in class when other children got in trouble. This didnt last forever. I was a male and big boys dont cry. I dont recall having anyone actually say that to me, its just an unwritten law I guess. Maybe it comes from the teasing and name calling when we are children. Im sure a good deal of it comes from TV and the movies as well.
As I got older I started to show more confidence, but on the inside I was anything but. I was a popular kid in grade school. I sang in the choir and was on the student council. I had cute girlfriends. I ran track and even played in the band. Im sure it appeared to any onlookers that the world was mine for the taking; but inside I was falling apart.
High school was a whole new ball game. It started out about the same as grade school with girls, sports, and student council, but I was soon to discover the answer to all of my problems. Alcohol.
I dont remember my first drink, but I know it was in grade school. I think someones older brother gave me and some of my friends a drink once. They were cool and we wanted to be cool as well, but in high school it turned from being cool to being medicine. From every other weekend to every weekend, and from there to just about any time I had the chance. I didnt like being drunk. I liked being relaxed. The nervousness and timidity lessened under the effects of alcohol, and if alcohol was good at relieving these problems then drugs would be better.
High school was a big party, but I didnt use drugs all the time. Sometimes I would only drink for months before going back to daily marijuana use. I would, and did, try any and all drugs. I remember once making some kind of amphetamine at a buddys house when his parents were at work. We cooked hydrochloric acid, the liquid from some kind of nasal inhaler and some other odd ingredients on the stove. We all snorted some of the residue and decided to take some to a more veteran druggie we all admired. He was about to do some when he asked where we got it. We told him we made it. His eyes got as big as saucers as he moved back from the table. Thats how people get killed! he said. He never did do any. I didnt sleep for almost 48 hours from just one very small dose of that stuff. Thats just one of hundreds of times I believe I cheated death.
High school was basically a good time as long as I was medicated. I was nervous and extremely uncomfortable around people, especially crowds. I relied on drugs and alcohol to help me.
The college years were next. I was on the presidents list the first semester and had dropped out by the next. I was dedicated to my self destruction and was not going to let a little thing like college get in my way. My parents decided to give me another chance so I moved about an hour and a half away to attend a different college, only this time I was a Christian. Yeah right! I was about as Christian as a turnip. Oh I thought I was, and my church friends may have believed it too, but I now know the truth. I was a false convert. I learned a lot in college. This was my first real experience with the bar scene, and I liked it. To make a long story short, I was living with my parents again in six months. I knew nothing of higher education, unless the names and addresses of drug dealers counted.
The next several years where comprised of working, drinking, and doing drugs; sometimes quite extensively (cocaine, LSD, crack, etc
). I worked with a lot of drug users and my boss was not strict. I worked as an electrician and sometimes you had work, sometimes you didnt. Like before I didnt do drugs all the time; it would go in spurts, but I always drank. I was in my early twenties at this time and could drink a fifth of whiskey by myself. At 140lbs this was a lot. I remember leaving a bar one night at closing time and someone asking me if I had even been drinking. I had drank more than my share, but I was never in it for the drunk or high; I was just trying to cope, and it was requiring more and more. I couldnt even sleep without a fairly large amount of alcohol in my system.
About six or seven years after graduating high school a major change took place. On the way to work at a small factory where I worked as a maintenance technician I completely lost the ability to drive. Nervousness and irrational fears completely gripped my life. It would be over a year later, and after visiting several doctors, that I would be diagnosed with panic attacks, social anxiety disorder and depression. I lost that job because of these medical/psychological problems. I now realize that I suffered with anxiety and depression for most of my childhood. It was the reason for my struggle to remain in school and hold certain jobs.
I spent the next couple of years just existing. I was drinking everyday and not just beer; I was now drinking whiskey and hard liquor just as often. As bleak as this picture may seem to some, it will come as a shock to others. On occasion I would be able to get out of the house and appear normal. I was self medicating in a deadly way. It was in 1997 that I first realized I had drank every single day for over a year. I was not happy or proud, and I quickly put that thought out of my mind.
In 2001 I met someone that said they would help me. I believe, she believed, she could. I now wish I had not married her in order to find out it was not true. I guess we thought love was involved, but now I know it was not a factor. I moved in with her and we were married a year latter. She never drank or did drugs, but had as many problems as I did and was not able to help her self; let alone me. My doctor suggested I seriously consider spending time in a clinical environment to help with the depression. I was on the last medicine he was going to prescribe me, we had tried it all.
One night I was home alone thinking. I had worked at a chicken factory in Alabama, owned my own computer business in Mississippi, been an electrician in Illinois, and even sailed the oceans as an engineer on a cruise ship. I had been to over forty of the fifty states. I had been to several foreign countries, and I was worthless. I could barley function in public; most of the time not at all. I was thirty, and I was nothing. The world had nothing to offer me, I had tried it all. I had been on million dollar yachts, smoked the best Cuban cigars, and drank the worlds finest liquors. I had tried every drug imaginable, legal and illegal. I had experienced more than most people do in a lifetime and I was absolutely miserable.
It was on that night, the 31st day of December that I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and accepted him as Lord. All alone, broken, and with my head held low, I humbly told him I was done trying to make a life for myself. Whats mine is yours I said and realized at once it was true. Take it; take it all, its all meaningless! I cried. That night I realized that the doctors had nothing I needed. I found all I needed that night. I found it in the lover of my soul.
With tears in my eyes I poured out what remained of a bottle of whiskey. My transgressions were so clear to me. I remained in a broken state for days, just crying and trying to understand and accept his Amazing Grace and tender mercies. I didnt know how to pray and had no one to teach me. It would be months later, before I would understand that he had heard my groanings.
I stopped taking medications for depression and anxiety, high blood pressure and cholesterol. I also stopped taking prescription pain and sleeping pills. I take no medications (other than for a cold) and have been clean and sober from that day.
I have lost most of my possessions, a house, money, land, a truck, furniture, and personal belongings. My wife became hostile to me and demanded a divorce. She said she started the divorce proceedings before my salvation, but Im not sure. She became very bitter and resented my being a Christian. I lost most of what I had acquired during my thirty years, including my dog and I consider it gain. That day changed my life, and I have never been happier. I wouldnt change a thing. I thank God for the privilege to serve him. He Is Worthy!!!!
There is much more to tell. I left out many details. The crime. Drug dealing. Bankruptcy. Being arrested. The arguments. The yelling and screaming. There is not enough paper for me to be able to write down all my mistakes and transgressions. I still cry when I think of all the pain and suffering I caused so many.
I feel I have not even scratched the surface when it comes to revealing all that my Lord and Savior has done for me.
Since that night, by the grace of God and through his guidance, I have become an emergency medical technician. I am now back in school majoring in religious studies and testifying to the worthiness of my Lord and Savior at every opportunity afforded me.
This is my testimony. I testify because I have witnessed.
God bless you all
Thank you Greg. This site has helped me more than you will ever know. God is using it, and you.