Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Testimony

What an awesome GOD I serve! Were it not for His boundless, eternal Grace I most likely wouldn't be here today to share my testimony.

I've basically been a Christian my entire life, but I wasn't born again until March of 1998. I was born and raised by an Episcopalian mother and father, and started going regularly to Sunday School when I was 5 years old. Then came singing (or my feeble attempt at singing...I can't carry a tune in a wheel barrow!) in the Junior Choir, and after my First Communion, serving as an acolyte. My sophomore year in high school I felt a calling to go into the Episcopalian ministry. At least at that time I thought it was a calling - to this day I'm not certain whether it was or not. You see, although I attended church regularly and deeply felt a bond with GOD, I was never actually taught anything as far as the indwelling of The Holy Spirit or the Kingdom of anyone from an Episcopalian background circa the 1960's can probably confirm! So on I went, determined to go to college, then divinity school, and then on to ministry.

But all the while, ever since the age of 13, there was another force at work in my life...a force I didn't really acknowledge the presence of, let alone realize its' insidious power and influence over me. My maternal grandmother was an alcoholic (she actually manged to quit drinking the last 10 or so years of her life, completely by her own willpower), and the gene for that disease skipped my mother and her younger brother and found an easy target in me. Throughout junior and senior high school I did what I thought to be the "normal" drinking the average teenager of that day and time did. But I was far from average. I always drank to get as drunk as I be the stuff legends were made of. My freshman year of college was pretty normal, with most of my drinking relegated to weekends, but still to extremes. My sophomore year never really began. I went to classes the first couple of weeks, until drinking and drugging (hey, it was the 60's!) consumed my daily life. I dropped out during Christmas break, moved to Wilmington, NC with my parents when Dad was transferred to start up the new DuPont plant at Cape Fear, and began my long journey into the depths of alcoholism.

I worked as an apprentice pressman at the local newspaper in Wilmington for a few months until getting drunk one Sunday morning and losing a battle with a telephone poll and totaling my brand new '72 Pinto. After about a month of being depressed about my situation I flew back to Woodbury, NJ (my hometown) and after a week and a half of doing nothing but drinking and drugging, enlisted in the US Navy. All I managed to get out of my 2 years and 3 months in the Navy, was an "on my own for my first time" wife, an undesirable discharge, and a Masters Degree in drinking. After floundering for about 6 months or so in Kenosha, WI, we moved to Wilmington, NC to live with my parents, and my marriage ended. I managed a pizza parlor for a couple of years and then in 1976 began working concrete construction...a dream job for an alcoholic like my butt off all day and drink all night! I continued in concrete construction, hitting the bars every weekend and several times during the week, and met and married the second "love of my life" in 1982. That union gave me a son, Colin Ross, in 1983 (whom I haven't seen nor had contact with since 1986) and ended in 1987. In April of 1988 I went to work for Super Fresh Food Markets (for whom I work to this day) and met and married the third "love of my life" in March of 1991.

Dot and I existed as best we could, both working mainly part-time (and me now a full-blown alcoholic) until in March of 1999 I finally admitted defeat and went into a residential rehab for alcoholism. Those 11 days opened me up to AA and surrendering myself to GOD, and I was sober until October of 2000, when I turned away from GOD and started back on my drinking career. And, true to form, my alcoholism returned to where it had been in 1998 before rehab and quickly went downhill from there. Naturally, my disease put an awful strain on my marriage, and to this day I have no idea how Dot put up with me for as long as she did...but she did, until June 5th, 2007. I had been working on the night crew at Super Fresh, drinking vodka all night at work and sneaking a bottle home with me in the mornings. Dot was driving me to and from work because I had lost my license due to a DUI in February of 2006. On Wednesday morning, June 5th, 2007, GOD put in motion His plan of bringing me home from my Prodigal journey. Getting home from work, and after Dot left to deliver lunches to home-bound senior citizens, I made quick work of my bottle of vodka. Apparently I had left a lit cigarette in an ashtray in the living room when I went back to my computer/music room (I say apparently because, thankfully, the exact details of what happened aren't clear to me) where I passed out. I was brought to consciousness by the sound of wildly barking dogs (we had 6 dogs...2 Greyhounds, 2 Yorkies, a Cocker Spaniel and a Pug) and the smell of smoke. I ran to the living room as the curtains of the picture window went up in flames and yelled and pleaded for the dogs to come to me as the entire living room became engulfed in flames. The dogs started down the hallway behind me but when I turned to the front door they headed to the back part of the house and the master bath room. I tried to go after them but the fire had made it to the hallway where I was and the smoke was so thick I couldn't see the way. I kept yelling for them in vain, partially succumbed to the smoke, when a neighbor grabbed me by the arm and led me from the inferno. He tried to go back inside for the dogs and 3 cats but couldn't manage more than a few feet inside the doorway. Aside from the Pug and 2 cats, our other cat and 5 of our beloved dogs were lost along with our home. Well, that was the end of the living with a drunk for Dot and we separated on July 6th, 2007, when I moved to an apartment in Lumberton, NJ.

You may well say that the tragedy of that day should have ended my drinking...but it didn't. Possibly due to still being in a state of shock, but definitely because of my inability to stop my drinking grew worse week by week, until the first week of September when I just stopped going to work and drank myself into oblivion. Finally, overcome by an ever-increasing sense that if I continued down the path I was on I would soon be dead, I called my union's Health and Welfare department and on Saturday afternoon, September 8th, 2007, I was admitted to Father Martin's Ashley in Havre de Grace, MD, one of this country's top alcohol and drug rehabilitation facilities which specializes in relapse rehabilitation.

Being at Ashley saved my life, restored my sanity, returned my spirituality to me, and gave me a new outlook and lease on life. After returning home from Ashley on Saturday, October 6th, 2007, I recommitted myself to GOD on Monday night, October 8th, 2007, after watching Jesse DuPlantis on TBN, and was immediately delivered from my alcoholism by GOD's Divine Mercy and Grace. Thanks to the cleansing, precious blood of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the indwelling of The Holy Spirit, I am now filled with a peaceful, quiet assurance that I shall never drink alcohol again. GOD's Word says that whoever is made free by the Son is free I can proclaim with total conviction, faith and trust that I am a recovered alcoholic, not a "recovering" alcoholic as AA puts it. Jesus is LORD!!! Glory to GOD!!! My faith is stronger now than it has ever been, and it grows stronger each new day as I try daily to seek GOD's face and strive to become sold-out for Jesus. "Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the Lord is the rock eternal." Isaiah 26:4 NIV

Just the beginning

Since recommitting myself to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in October of 2007, I have known deep in my heart and soul that GOD wants me to share my story somehow, somewhere, some way with someone. I have been tossing the idea of a Blog around in my mind for a while now, and this evening I finally decided to give it a go. This is, prayerfully, just the beginning of a journey of faith and commitment, not only for me, but if it be GOD's will, for anyone who may visit this Blog. Glory to GOD!!!