I had an addiction. Not a physical addiction. I have those, too being a smoker and coffee lover. My addiction, the one that over rode my life, was an addiction to pride and ego.
I had been brought up believing you live a good life and do good things and "you're in." I did for the most part. I volunteered at shelters, donated time and money, and I took people in off the street. I read from the gospel and taught CCD (the Catholic equivalent of Sunday School). I told myself these things are what God wants me to do. Only the truth was I didn't do any of it to glorify God. I did them to glorify me. I did them so I would feel good and, with any "luck, people would not notice the real me. The sad lonely me. It worked, again, for the most part.
See, as I did these things and people began to notice what I did and thank me, my pride grew. I would tell myself ", God rewards good people. Look at how good these people think I am. They love me. They trust me. They come to me because they know I will help them." Still, I gave none of the glory to God.
Eventually my ego would grow to the point I turned my back on God entirely. Not only was I not glorifying God in anything I did, but I also had come to believe it was my will that made these things happen. When the people I had helped were not "thankful enough" or did not act the way I wanted I turned my back to them as well. " They are not worth of my time or compassion," I would say. Then I would write them off.
Even through this there successes in my life. My friend Scott K. and I were able to take a restaurant in our area that had not seen a profit realized in ten years and in under two years turn in it into the flagship store of our company in profits, metrics, and national awards. Again, I did would not share the credit with Scott, the rest of our team, let alone God. "Look! The company has made me the highest paid AGM in three states because of what I made happen!" When I moved on from this company to the next and the back of house (the department I was assigned to) metrics went from being last to top two I did the same thing: took all the credit. I was in line to be fast tracked. My only acknowledgement of God was, again, to say: " See God knows I am a good person and work hard. He has rewarded me again"
Over and over again I fed my pride and ego until I was so bloated all I could do was fall. This time was different, though. Instead if bouncing back as I had always done, I stayed down. I lost my job, and my few friends. Instead of turning to God and repenting, I pointed my finger at Him. How dare He do this to me. I pointed my finger not just at God but at everyone I had ever helped, every job I had ever worked, and every friend who abandoned me. I pointed at everyone but me.
"I'll show Him.. I'll show everyone. I don't need Him. I don't need them. I don't need anybody."
Over the next five years not only did I not show anyone or Him. I lost what little I had left. My wife of ten years and I split. I was on the street. I was failing my children. Work was sporadic at best. Mercifully, Melissa would bring me food. Still I remained stubborn. I went from being indignant to being angry and hateful to everyone and everything especially God.
Just as I thought things could not get worse, my father was in a horrific accident. By the grace of God, he was not killed, but my father was hanging by a thread. I finally felt I was totally alone in this world. The last person who stuck by me through all of my failures was now fighting for his life thousands of miles away. I had no way to get there. The other members of my family would not help me get there to be by his side because of my actions over the last few years. So, I prayed, begged and bargained with God.
"Please, God take me not him. I am the one who failed you not my father. I am the one you are angry with not him. Please, Lord. I beg you."
Even in that moment I had made everything about me....
My father got worse not better. For two months he fought in ICU at OU Medical. During that two months my daughter was diagnosed with mental illness, My ex's hours were cut done to 16 hours a week, my family pushed my further away, and I had worked combined total of maybe 10 days. Things had indeed gotten worse.
One night I prayed tearfully:
Lord, thank you for all that you have done, are doing, and will do. Through Jesus I know all things are possible, Lord. I know I am not worthy, God. I know I have failed you over and over and yet you loved me enough that you sent your only son to die for me.... Father, help me find my way. I can't do this alone. I can't do this without you. I ask this in Jesus name and I give all the glory to you. Amen"
Nothing happened. There was no positive change. Things progressively got worse. For two weeks I prayed this same prayer.
One day I went into the temp service and we were sent out to set up a warehouse. It was there I met Bob and Liz. Bob does these morning prayers and Bible studies. It was there in one of these bible studies with my co workers I was moved by the Spirit. As I confessed what was in my heart I was moved to tears. I felt a peace I could not ever remember feeling. I was overcome with a sheer joy that was overwhelming and more tears. I was so overcome I was unable to put into words what I was feeling when asked. My heart raced and I literally felt as if a great weight had been lifted off of me. I felt relief. So much relief.
I was found that day. Jesus found me. In the time since, I have been blessed with a change in the way I see things and deal with things. I have been blessed with a change that is noticeable enough for people to ask me what happened. What changed? I get to tell them my story and the difference between knowing about God and knowing God through Jesus. I have the opportunity to glorify God in everything that I do, every person I interact with, and in my heart. I have been blessed in realizing I was in never control. The Spirit moved me to see this clearly about my life. God is in control. When I tried to take control boy did I mess it up. Since I gave control back to God, my time hasn't been wasted in worry. My time here is about glorifying Him and spreading His story His truth by living the way He meant for me to. Since I began giving all the glory to God the pressure to "succeed" is not there for me.
I have so much to learn, yes, but ,as I learn, I want to take what I am taught and share it with my family and friends. I want to share with everyone. I share our memory verses and the teachings we learn from them, our everyday testimonies from our work day, and most of all I share the love I feel everyday from God and the peace I feel of knowing I am saved.