I thank God for my alcoholism – it ultimately led to my salvation

I know that many people reading this are parents grieving over wayward children, asking themselves, “What did we do wrong?” My name is Don, and I watched my parents do that same thing for several years. The answer is “Nothing”; substance abuse is about an individual’s bad choices, not a bad home life. I was raised in a very decent, moral, loving family and can honestly say that I had a great childhood. I did well in school and sports, graduated from college in 1994 with an engineering degree and obtained a great job. By many people’s standards, I had it all.

 I was able to travel internationally as part of my job and soon got caught up in the evening social scene of going out for drinks. My parents had warned me about the danger of drinking, as we had alcoholism on both sides of my family. But I made the choice to join my co-workers in drinking, and within 2 years realized that I had a drinking problem. I was a functioning alcoholic, but in my heart of hearts I knew what was really going on – and so did my family.

I married and my wife and I had a beautiful daughter together. Unlike me, my wife came from a very tumultuous background and our marriage was hard. It all ended in 2008 when she committed suicide. That tragedy spun my alcoholism out of control. I tried some secular rehab programs, but none of them worked. In 2010 I attended a revival meeting, and it was there that I came to know Jesus Christ as my Savior. I had attended church as a child, and once, when caught up in the moment, even walked the aisle as a teenager, but there had been no relationship. This was real. So my problems were over now – right?

Wrong! Within 5 months of that decision, God began the work of cleaning me up. I lost my job, then lost my house, broke up with a woman I was dating, then got a DUI that led to my parents taking over with my daughter. I asked the judge to allow me to go into a program, and he agreed. My parents had supported Valley Rescue Mission for a long time and referred me to come here. I poured myself into the men’s program, graduated in 2011 and began working for the Mission. I wanted a mother for my daughter and a wife for me, as well as to get my career back, so against godly counsel, left the Mission to marry. Things didn’t work out, and heartbroken, I began to drink again. I knew I needed to return to the Mission before things got too bad again, so picked up the phone and found grace and forgiveness on the other end of the line. I returned to the Mission, went through the program a second time, and graduated again earlier this year.

What’s the difference? My first time through the program, I became acquainted with the Lord; the second time through, I was totally broken and contrite and truly surrendered to Him. I begged “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God” (Psalm 51:10) and He did. I look back with regret on the pain I caused my family, but can honestly say that I thank God for my alcoholism. Without it, I would have just clicked right along with a good job, a nice car, a great house – straight to hell.

It took me two times to get things right, but addiction recovery is a process. I’d like to tell family members of people caught up in addiction that it’s a process, there is hope, and to not give up. My relationship with my family is now better than before I got caught up in alcoholism. We’ve been brought closer, and they have always been there for me and my daughter.

I’d also like to tell our donors that every piece of clothing or furniture that you donate, every turkey you bring at the holidays, every dollar you give – it all matters. You never know spiritually speaking what that donation has done. God used the Valley Rescue Mission to introduce me to Himself, and it saved my life.