Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rescued From Death, or, Two Years of Sobriety!!

This is a re-post from a guy named Mac Mitchell. I don't know him personally, but I'm interested in his story. Not so much because of his clean life now, but, for my re-posting usage, and for the sake of the 'older brother of the prodigal' readers (those already in the family of God), I'm interested in the paragraph 1/2 way down, the one in bold type. I'm interested because this guy Mac saw something different in the Christians around him: joy that he himself didn't have. And its significant that Mac had Christians around him, they weren't tut-tutting from the sidelines. They were there with him in the least as much as they could have I guess. Mac knew them as his friends. So they weren't tucked away in the cloister; they were in Mac's life. That's good but it can be scary for those still in the cloister. How do they get out, right? I think by opening the door and walking....and praying.

Rescued From Death or Two Years of Sobriety!!

Posted in Philippines by Mac Mitchell on 1/6/2011

Note: This may be one of the most personal, most in-depth blogs I write this year. (In other words, it's kind of long, but also probably kind of awesome. You should read it.)

If you’re willing, I’d love to paint a picture of my life two years ago. Great. Thanks. You're the best.

I was 27. I lived in my own totally awesome apartment (with a sweet book collection, hip posters of old cigarette ads I got in China and a fridge always stocked with good beer) in the “cool” part of town where my two favorite bars were in walking distance from my front door. (Or as I used to brag, they were in perfect stumbling distance from my front door.)

I worked for a newspaper as a photographer and writer. As long as my stories and photos were in by deadline on Thursday afternoon, no one really kept tabs on me. So, my week looked like this (I’m not even sure my family has a full grasp of what it looked like. I think they might, I was too busy not communicating with them to really know):

Monday: I’d sleep in, lounge around, call my editor, let him know my story ideas for the week and then proceed to eat leftover pizza for breakfast and play Xbox. By lunch, which, who are we kidding, was about an hour after I woke up I’d be ready for a beer. Or a margarita. Or Jack Daniels. You know…whatever seemed to fit the mood. The rest of the day was spent on video games and drinking, knowing I had the rest of the week to work. At night, I’d be at a bar, already drunk, so that I could save money. (Later on I was a part of a group of men who got together for about 3 hours every Monday night in order to share our lives with one another.)

Tuesday: I’d sleep in, wake up hungover, and have a beer for breakfast, a firm believer in the hair of the dog mentality. The best way to get rid of a hangover was to get a buzz going. I’d start the day with just an hour of video games, which without fail, turned into a day of video games (steadily drinking, of course). Back to the bar at night…again, already drunk in order to save cash.

Wednesday/Thursday: Work my tail off in order to make up for two days of sitting on my keister. Thursday night I’d be so stressed that the only way to unwind would be going out to drink…and since I had probably only had 2 or 3 drinks during the day by that point I was ready to make full use of the bar without wasting anymore time.

Friday: Sleep in, waking up hungover. I’d deal with that the same as always, start drinking…a little slower this time knowing I had a whole weekend. But by evening I was drunk, and ready for a Friday night out…drinking.

Saturday: Pretty much like Friday.

Sunday: Go to church if I could muster the energy. Be home in the evening, drinking.

Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Now…on top of that add in smoking almost a pack a day, recreational use of marijuana, casual sexual relationships and a very, very bad relationship with pornography, without much of a second thought. That was my lifestyle, more or less, for a number of years.

(There were days where I'd do stuff that didn't involve drinking. It's not like I was just walking around drunk all the time. But, life constantly revolved around drinking. That had somehow, over the course of my 20's become the sole focus of my life.)

I had no ambition. No hope for anything greater. No real concern for myself or others. No nothing. The only reason to get out of bed was to drink. And on the days I had to work, my motivation was to get work out of the way, so I could have money, so I could drink. And I was miserable. Completely and utterly miserable.

I was depressed. I hated myself for being such a waste. I hated myself for being fat and lazy and not reaching my potential. I hated myself for going nowhere in life. I hated life for having nothing deep or meaningful to offer. Before I bore you with rambling, I’ll take a shortcut and say that I had given up on living, life had worn me down and I was going with the flow until the flow stopped, at which point I expected to be relieved of it all.

That was two years ago. Drinking tequila on the rocks because I didn’t want to pay for margartia mix. Hating myself almost every single minute of every single day. Being fully disappointed in life. Not caring about a single thing. Two years ago. Just two years ago.

And then something changed. I began to realize people around me, and people I read about, were experiencing something that I wasn’t. Something deep. Something rich. These people were Christians. The ones I read about had amazing stories of life and God. But so did the ones I saw in church. Real people. People I knew (vaguely) and could talk to. People that were in my life. There was something in them…a spark, a joy, a hope, a sense that life was huge, adventurous, worth exploring fully. They seemed to really be experiencing that stuff…and after awhile, I wanted it. What I had going was, for lack of a better phrase, complete and total crap.

So on January 5, 2009 I told a group of nine men that I had come to know as deeply as men can (and I mean that with every word) that I was going to sell my stuff for Jesus…because that’s what the Bible says to do. I was willing to take a chance on Jesus, because He might be better than what I had going on. Now, these guys knew me. And so, while commending me on wanting to passionately pursue Jesus, they challenged me to give up drinking instead. And honestly, that thought, the thought of never drinking again scared me more than anything. Why would I even want to live without being able to drink? How would I enjoy anything? Why….why would I ever want to be alive without being drunk? I couldn’t imagine life without drinking. Honestly…I’m not exaggerating. I could not imagine it. I didn’t want to. But the look in their eyes spoke louder than words. They were serious about that challenge…they knew it was a matter of life or death.

So after double checking, then triple checking, to make sure we were on the same page, that they were asking me to give up drinking, forever…all drinking…and truly forever…I consented. (Partly to back up the “big game” I was talking about wanting a life change, but mostly I agreed out of a desperate hope that maybe it would be worth it. And if not, well heck, I’d never really kept my word on much before…if it wasn’t worth it, I’d just go back to drinking.)

Two years later I am still choosing not to drink because it has proved itself time and time again that it’s all worth it.

Please read this if nothing else: Today, January 6, 2011, I have lived life two years fully, without a single drink. And it’s not the “not drinking” that has changed everything…that was just an outward catalyst for the change. It’s been Jesus. Only Jesus. Jesus. Jesus rescued me from a life of destruction and hopelessness. For two years I have put my trust and hope in Him, and He has delivered, and delivered and delivered!

Life…all of life…hope, joy, worth, identity, value, ambition, success, direction…everything…it is always and only found in JESUS.

I don’t know if that makes sense to you. You might be asking yourself, “Um, dude, how can a guy who they talk about in the Bible change your life? You mean his philosophy has given you direction and hope? His teachings? You mean like that?”

No. Jesus. Himself. Because He is alive. Truly…not metaphorically or “spiritually” or anything…but He is alive. Actually…He IS life.

In telling you this part of my life, I want more than anything for you to know the joy, the freedom, the hope, the LIFE that has come as a result of living with Jesus…not in his ideas, not in following a “good, Christian life”…but in living with Jesus. It has changed everything. Everything! What life is. What’s important. Where joy comes from. What truth is. Who I am. Why I exist at all. All those big life questions, the big big ones…they all end with Jesus. (It’s fine if you think that’s totally nuts…but it is totally true.)

My life has been completely, completely changed. Forever. And it is real. The evidence is the person typing these words right now. From hopeless to forever hopeful. From bitter, depressed and angry to loving, thriving and joyful. From dead to ALIVE!

No, my life isn’t perfect. No, I’m not perfect. Not even close. So when you see me screw up, rest assured that it isn’t a dent on my “new Christian identity.” It’s just part of life that happens as I walk through this life as a human being experiencing conflict between the depths of the spirit Christ has given me, and the world to which it’s opposed. (Ugh, I’m getting way, way to “Christiany” with all this. Just know I’m still human. Not a goody two shoes who does everything right the first time now. Okay? Okay.)

So…whew….with all that said. Today I celebrate! I celebrate the work Jesus has done in my life! I celebrate his Holy Spirit that lives inside of me! I celebrate that I never, never have to return to a life of emptiness! I celebrate that in Jesus I have discovered life to the full! And I celebrate the adventure of discovering more life, more fully every remaining day of my life! And all of it…all of it…is because of Jesus! Jesus!

Jesus. My God. My friend.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

(And thank you so, so much to my family: Dad, Mom, Zach, Sam and Katherine for all of your support, encouragement and love. I am thankful for each of you. Truly...thankful. Annnnnd....thank you to my friends who have poured so much into me. Jesus has used your love and help to change my life forever. Thank you! And there's way, way more of you than I could ever represent with photos here!)

Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

**Mac is now with The World Race....interesting.

No comments:

Post a Comment