Life, for me, was not easy. Especially when I was young. I had known that my family was broken and the school did not help. None of my classmates except for maybe one or two had a stepdad or mom. So nobody could identify with my family life. Most of them didn’t want to know me or who I was, regardless of my family situation. Because I didn’t live in town.
I lived in the country with my grandparents. I had to ride a school bus to get to school. I know, all of these reasons don’t sound like a real reason to look down on someone but I could feel it. Even though I don’t remember anyone saying anything to me, it was the tone of their voices or the way they looked at my clothes or my shoes. Did all of this affect me?
Not just this but also the custody and child support hearings which my parents were going through at the time added to the anxiety and the feeling of being less than what others expected. I was never told this, of course, but looking back on it from the point of being fifty years older I can recognize the feelings which were there. Even if I didn’t know what they were at the time. I mean, how can you know about these things when you are six or seven years old?
Now I can look back at the self-destructive behavior which I began even before I was a teenager and I can see that this was caused by my situation and not by myself.
Do I blame my outcome on my classmates? NO! In many ways, being in school with them very likely helped because most of them came from Christian homes. I did as well, but I was angry. Angry at God and my own Dad and my mother…truly I was angry at everything around me in some form or another. As I got older, I turned that anger inward and began smoking and drinking. I had a few wrecks before I graduated from high school because I was so drunk at the time I can barely remember them. Even on my senior trip, I had gotten so drunk the night before until I have no idea how I made it home. The next morning I still had enough alcohol in my system that even drinking coffee before going to school made me drunk again.
I would say that I was on a self-destructive path, which is why I am writing this because I never believed I would live long enough to be in my late fifties. I pray that someone reading this who may be in a similar situation might turn away from their self-hate and seek the only One Who can help you.
Have I had other problems with alcohol? Yes, but not quite to the extent that I did during high school. I have gone out and drank alcohol but I have not gotten drunk enough to not remember how I got somewhere or with whom I was at the time. I also never drank beer to the point of being or getting drunk. When I drank, I drank whiskey or bourbon. I intended to get drunk.
Why do I write this now? Because things have changed. I am no longer angry and I am not trying to kill myself with whiskey. I am writing this to show that even though I am a pastor now, I wasn’t always someone that could get up and preach or tell others that living for Jesus and with Him in your heart is the way to live. Yes, I do buy whiskey occasionally but it isn’t for the reasons which I did over forty years ago.
If I buy any today it is for relaxing before bed or for making some home-made cold medicine, nothing more. I don’t get drunk and I don’t drink unless I am NOT driving. I am not claiming to be perfect or anything other than a recovered drunk. For a while, I had worried that I was an alcoholic but I think that most of my problems with alcohol were my own and not a disease.
God has been good to me these past ten years or so. His blessings and His grace have carried me through some hard times with finances and sickness but I know that He is in control and at some point soon, He will come for His church and hopefully take me home with Him. I urge you to seek Him out and give your heart to Him too because there will soon be a time which will test the whole world and it will happen after the church, the body of believers, are taken to Heaven. Make sure that you are part of that number who have gone with Him.