A little over a year ago, I found myself in a 12-Step recovery program.
This is me, the vocalist of August Burns Red, a Follower of Christ……. and I was in a 12 step program. Addict.
I struggled with abandonment issues, having very close friends or family making me feeI “left me for dead” and over the years continued to grow inward, building more resentment, more angry and in turn lashing out at others. Even the people who had nothing to do with my pain, they were just in the cross fire of it all. It was affecting all of my relationships, my band mates, my wife, my friends…..and it was digging it’s way into everything that I touched and it wasn’t going to stop unless I found a way to stop it and find healing.
There came a night when I had exhausted all of my options. I had drank myself into a stupor hoping it would go away. I had tried to close myself off to the outside world and not trust anyone. I pretty much did any and everything to run from what was bringing me pain, but what was wrong and broken was….well…..me. And I realized it would never leave. It’s comical how so many people think I have it together, or that my life must be going good since I’m in a relatively successful band, a Christian, and married to an amazing woman. Obviously not the case as you can see, and my first step towards breaking the cycle was to recognize that I couldn’t fix myself. That I had an issue that had to be dealt with. And so I called on God for help.
The good news is that my prayer was answered. Not in the form of the clouds splitting and God speaking “Here I am to fix you!” And it certainly wasn’t that the next day that my feelings of resentment and abandonment suddenly disappeared. Nope. Instead, it was in the form of the 12 Step program. Ben (Sledge) had been working the steps himself and happened to introduce me to his buddy Josh (who’s story is insane), but I could see that this was perhaps what God was offering me as a way to not only get closer to Him, but to finally get healed.
Josh was the type of guy who’s story you listen to slack-jawed. He had run underground casino’s that had been busted up by federal marshals and had such a bad crack/cocaine addiction his friend’s nicknamed him the “coke machine.” He was averaging a couple thousand dollars a week on drugs. His story made mine look like a joke. I scream in a band. This guy had lived a scene straight out of the movie “Rounders“. I was intrigued to say the least. But upon hearing his story I thought, “Surely I don’t belong in 12-Step!? This guy for sure….but me?” But what Josh showed me is that ANY and EVERYONE should go through the 12-Steps. It doesn’t matter what the issue is: porn, drugs, resentment, self-love, self-hate, anger. It. didn’t. matter. And the funny part that had kept me and keeps so many others stuck was that most people don’t believe they have an issue. And that my friends, is simply PRIDE. And in realizing this, my journey began walking through my issues of resentment, anger and abandonment.
Josh and I
For the first time I really had to face myself in the mirror. Really see myself for who I was, what I had done wrong, where I was selfish, deceitful, lying, and manipulative. Perhaps one of the hardest things the Steps had me do was right my wrongs by making amends to those who I have hurt. Sometimes it went well. Other times it went horrible. And throughout this entire process the main focus was admitting I was powerless over my failures, flaws, and addictions and would always go back to them, but at the same time giving my will and power over to God and letting Him heal these areas of my heart I so desperately couldn’t fix.
Many of us wonder why God leaves us to struggle and why we can’t find healing, but you have to understand that God provides for us in so many different ways, and some of those ways can be a painful or a not-so-easy season of life. Most times we think it’s just too difficult of a path to take, so we quit before we ever begin. This was me for so many years, until I took the plunge and went through a difficult year of Steps work where he unveiled my true heart to me and showed me who I truly was and what I really needed.
What I’ve realized is that God is on a mission to get us back. He doesn’t want us living under an umbrella of resentment, unforgivness, and addiction. He wants us free and able to live out the purpose He has given us. That by giving Him these areas of my heart, He is able to unveil who I truly am and heal me from the inside out! It may be painful to do, like walking through a wall of flames, but in the end there’s healing. I cannot fix me, but Christ can.
And even when I didn’t want to love him or went back to my habits and addictions, he was still there working in my life, chasing after me, and loving me. It was like he was this obsessed madman who was searching for a lost son. Like child services wrongly stole your kid away and you were fighting to get them back tooth and nail.
And during my Steps work I really got to see that.
I had to face all the times I’ve gotten drunk to the times I’ve struggled with porn. The moments I’ve screamed at my band mates, my wife, my mother, father and sister. Or the times when I decide to spend money selfishly and run into debt. Or even the the times I ran away from home and got lost in a sea of women.
And what is amazing, is that when I hit this low point in my life, He was accepting me AS IS. It wasn’t that I couldn’t come to Him because I wasn’t good enough. It was that I could come to Him because I wasn’t good enough. He knows we’re often bent on our own destructive patterns, but He also has the answer. How? Because this father, “Creator”, made us in His image. And because we are His, his love is real. And that is what I felt. Loved.
Currently I’m on Step 11. And what I’ve discovered is that I’ve finally got to be a part of what I’ve started at HeartSupport. To be honest where I struggle and where I hurt and where I continually fall short…and be okay with that. And with admitting it in front of all of you. And I’m hoping….I’m praying…..you do the same. And see that maybe there really is this God who’s crazy about you and is searching to fill that one need we all feel.
To be loved.
I hope you take the plunge with me. I hope you share your stories, hurts, and struggles. And together we can become this community that holds our brokenness up and says “We’re not ashamed….and we’re getting better.“