I’ve spent several years of my life living at rock bottom. I have two adult children who rarely speak to me. I spent at least five months during four consecutive years living at a faith-based recovery home for men suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. While no one has filed for a divorce as of yet, my wife and I have now been separated for over two and a half years.
These are just a few of the highlights. The lusts of my heart have created a much longer list of consequences. I’ve always just assumed these were simply commonalities of living at rock bottom, a place I have found myself at over and over again since turning 16. All of that changed in about two seconds last Monday night.
My rock bottom has been pretty bright compared to what many people I know have been forced to live through. That being said, I have more friends than I can count who wouldn’t have made it a day through a few of the seasons of life I’ve traveled. Regardless of what it looks like in your life, we all have something in common. Rock bottom isn’t a place we want to revisit.
Alcohol has taken me places I never wanted to go. It’s also opened the door to many other dark secrets in my life. An addiction to pornography that’s always worked when the “other woman who understands” wouldn’t pick up the phone. Stealing from others to create false happiness for myself.
Putting those closest to me through whatever hell had to be endured so I could live whatever made me feel important for the time being. Hold on for a sec. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything as authentic as this. Let me get myself together and put on a different ball cap so I at least look decent while sharing this.
Man, I’ve been through some stuff. Wait a minute. That sounds pathetic. There’s no honesty in that statement and it almost sounds as if I’m taking the easy way out. Man, I’ve put others through hell. I’ve made those closest to me endure pain and suffering no one in this world deserves. All while building a name for myself as a “Christian writer.” Twisted, isn’t it? That’s what rock bottom can do when you become so comfortable with it that you no longer search for a way out.
Going to 12-step meetings is starting to be very important for me again. They’re a blessing I too easily take for granted and allow the enemy to tell me is a form of punishment. Because of my great sin, God makes me waste an hour of every day going to these meetings. That statement couldn’t be further from the truth and has made life even more difficult for me over the years.
During any one of these meetings, there are several mundane statements you hear over, and over, and over again. To say some of them can be cliché is an understatement. That being said, sometimes your heart is sitting in just the right place and your ears are affected. Last Monday night, I heard something that grabbed my attention. The statement took my breath away. It was just one of those things you hear and instantly know it’s something that can produce great effect if used correctly.
There’s a good chance you’ll hear the statement and think to yourself, “Man, I hear that all the time. That’s old news.” When I asked the gentleman about the statement following the meeting and he told me where he’d heard it, there’s a good chance I might have heard it a thousand times before myself. Again, sometimes your heart is sitting in just the right place and your ears are affected.
“Rock bottom isn’t a place. It’s a state of mind.”
Now, you have to keep in mind, I’m an alcoholic. I drink too much. As my buddies would say, “I’ve spilled more beer than you’ve drunk.” Alcohol affects me differently than it does others. However, for the first time in my life, I’m starting to comprehend my main source of trouble is my thinking. As intelligent as I am, the way my mind works is jacked up. If I don’t have enough problems in life as it is, give me a couple of minutes and I’ll think a few more into existence.
After hearing this statement on Monday and allowing it to make me toss and turn all night, I had to do something with it Tuesday morning. Again, I’ve got a sick head. I can’t simply hear an amazing statement and allow it to play out. I’m a writer. If being an alcoholic isn’t bad enough, I’ve been blessed with this sickness as well. In order to comprehend something, I have to find a verse in the Bible and write what it looks like to apply it in my life. I can’t just do something. That would be too easy and logical.
I called Jason who was a very significant part of me falling in love with Jesus. He also played a huge role in helping me discover my passion for writing. I left him a voicemail explaining what I’d heard and that I needed to write about it. The man knows God’s Word like the back of his hand and I needed Scripture to make it all click. His answer was nothing short of breathtaking. I was told to read Romans chapter one verses 18 – 32.
To shorten things up I’m going to share two of these verses and touch on a couple of things that have helped me escape rock bottom in the past. That was when I viewed it as a place where I was stuck. Now that I know it’s a state of mind, I’m hoping to live these steps out myself will lead to similar results as they have in the past. Maybe, you’re someone looking for a way out as well.
Romans 1:24 & 25 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
Escaping Rock Bottom
In the past, I’ve always looked at this as a location. Somewhere I could pick up and simply move away from. The process has led me from Indiana to Florida, and then Texas. Because rock bottom is a state of mind and not a place, I then had to go back to Florida, back to Texas, Florida again, made a return to Texas, and now I’m home in Indiana. There were a few more trips back and forth between Texas and Florida. I’ve just got to stay focused on my word count. Can’t make this too long.
Because I’m dealing with a mental state of mind instead of a physical location on a map, I can drink myself into the pits of hell from anywhere. Unless I’m able to learn how to begin thinking differently, I’m always going to be stuck. Sure, my mind has to start ticking differently for this to happen. But, it all starts with a new heart. Until I become someone new, my head will never manufacture a new thought. If Jesus doesn’t become the center of my motivation, this is never going to happen.
Acting Our Way into Thinking Differently
This is something I’ve always had completely wrong. From the time Jesus and not drinking became priorities in my life, I knew repentance was needed. The thoughts that would fill my head, the words that I’d say, and the things that I did, all needed major attention.
I can remember the time Jason gave me an exercise. I was to carry a pad of paper and a pen with me everywhere I went for an entire day. Every evil thought that came into my head I was to write down. When the punk at Wendy’s gave me the wrong order in the drive-thru and I wanted him to know about it, something had to be written. The things I wanted to do to the attractive woman standing in front of me in the line at the gas station, all that x-rated junk had to become a note on my piece of paper. The old man doing 35 in the passing lane, you get it.
My thoughts disturbed me. With an honest review, it was easy to see what was leading me to do some of the dumb things I was doing. For some reason, my mind told me that all I had to do was start thinking differently and I’d begin to act in a manner that was pleasing to God. Again, I had it all wrong. It wasn’t until I began acting differently that I was able to find a new way of thinking. When I began to respond differently to the situations and circumstances around me, I was able to find peace in between my ears and in my chest.
Keeping Our Eyes on the Cross
By far, this is what’s most important. I can write all the articles, blog posts, and books that I want. I can jot down my thoughts and be accountable to mentors. I’ll go to meetings, make amends, and correct my mistakes to the best of my ability as soon as I can. Still, I’m going to jack things up every now and then. The hard part is learning to be ok with that.
Jesus Christ was murdered. He was hung on a chunk of wood and killed by men just like me. Every time I sin, I drive the nails a little further into his hands. He was completely aware of this while praying in the garden. Jesus knew what was coming. Still, he was willing to fulfill the mission. He was willing to go anywhere needed to make sure I knew I’m still loved.
Yes, repentance and obedience are needed in my life. I have to make some serious changes. I’m not going to go about this perfectly. I’m going to make mistakes and there will be a sin. Still, Jesus is willing to go wherever he has to in order to save me. Even my darkest state of mind. I just have to show him he’s wanted and that I’m willing.
Jeffrey has a degree in theology from Aidan University and is the founder of Gospel Grammar in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. His goal is to inspire others to seek a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.