I mentioned something about remembering dates in my last post… one that I’m most amazed about each time it comes around is today, September 21. This date will always be special to me for one incredible reason; God saved my life on this date in 1985. This was not a typical story and I thank you in advance for reading this.
As a very young person, alcohol was never a big deal to me. It was something that my parents had in the house. It was really a non-factor for me until I went to a party at the end of my 8th grade year of school. A couple of friends and I left the party and walked down the street to the home of an older kid who asked us in to hang out for a while. After sitting there for a few minutes, he offered us some shots of rum… the other two kids declined, but for some reason I ponied up to the challenge… and proceeded to do seven shots. Needless to say, I was very drunk in a short time. This one evening of inebriation would kick off a pattern of binge drinking and black-outs that still scare me to even consider to this day.
As many of you know, starting high school seems to bring with it countless opportunities to experiment with many things that aren’t necessarily good for you… my teen years were no exception. I was quickly drawn towards the crowd that was constantly looking for opportunities to get drunk, no matter what the time of day.
My Freshman year it was just a couple of beers here and there… I was still very paranoid about getting caught. Things kicked up quite a but during my Sophomore year: I started pulling the sick act on my parents… then as soon as they would both leave for work, I would hit their well-stocked liquor cabinet… never drinking too much of any one thing so as not to call any attention to the missing booze. By the time my parents got home I really was sick so they rarely questioned my health complaints. It was also during that year that while on a hiking photography field trip that I shared a bottle of whiskey with a couple of classmates and almost fell on my face a few times getting back to the bus. While I made it though the trip without incident, someone else on the trip ratted us out for drinking and I ended up getting suspended from school for 3 days. I wish I could say that I had learned my lesson after getting in such big trouble, but sadly it just caused me to be even more crafty about my growing habit.
My Junior year is where I actually started having some memory problems… drinking binges where I would pass out at a friends followed by a day trying to remember what happened the night before. I started driving that year, and sadly very often drove myself home and couldn’t remember even getting behind the wheel the next day.
My senior year just seemed to offer unimaginable opportunities for more and more drinking. I was only in school until noon and had a friend whose dad was a liquor distributor… drinking and driving were much more the norm over studying or homework. It’s any wonder that I graduated.
Just out of high school and no real plans to go to college, I moved out of my parents house and in with a friend who had just turned 19 before they changed the legal age to 21 in Arizona. The only thing we ever had in our fridge was bologna, burritos, and beer. On a regular (non-party) night, I needed to slam 3-4 beers just to go to sleep… if I didn’t, I’d lay in bed thinking about needing a drink. For most of my junior year and all of my senior year and beyond, I had been dating a good Christian girl who put up with a lot of my stupidity (I still don’t know why). I can’t even believe how many times I’d call her and start the conversation with, “I did something really stupid last night”. That was usually all I would have to say… she knew that meant that I got hammered and probably drove myself home.
Even though we went through some really rough times, I eventually proposed to that sweet girl and we set a wedding date for September of 1985. Most of that year was busy with work and wedding plans… and my drinking continued, most of the time hidden from my family and my soon-to-be wife. Scarier still was that I started drinking during my lunch hour at work. A friend and I would split a quick 6-pack and hurry back to our assembly line jobs, always careful not to let the boss smell the beer on us. As September rolled around, I thought that I would just get married and live happily ever after, but I was starting to fear that I might never gain control over my drinking.
One week before my wedding, my best man threw me a bachelor party… while there wasn’t any big Las Vegas-type experience, there was plenty of beer. I really have no idea how much I drank that night, but I know it was a lot…. at about 4:30 am, I drove myself home (again). As I poured myself into the bed, I had a bit of a panic attack; all of the thoughts of adulthood, marriage, and possible fatherhood began to completely overwhelm me… and I cried out to God. I told him that I knew that there was no way for me to fix my problem… I told him that I was in no condition to be someone’s husband and that unless he did something, I was going to end up killing myself with the drinking…. and then I passed out.
I know that super-spiritual things freak a lot of people out… even those who call themselves Christians… but I give you my word that the end of this story is exactly as it happened. I woke up several hours later and the first thing that I realized was that I didn’t seem to have any of what I was expecting to be an incredible hang-over… no headache, nausea, nothing. I got up and could stand without staggering… this was really weird! As I’m taking this quick inventory, I recalled the crazy man’s prayer that I blurted out before I passed out and it occurred to me; It was finished. Done. In an instant, God had taken my problem and dealt with it. Trust me, no one had more disbelief that it was even possible than me… and yet, there I was, almost pinching myself to grasp what had happened.
I married that beautiful woman one week later… we have two great kids… and countless other incredible moments that I still don’t feel that I deserve… but here I am, 23 years later and I have never had the slightest desire to go back to that life.
Does God still do miracles? Yes, and I can never thank him enough for mine… and I appreciate you reading my story.