My testimony is not of a person who didn’t know the Lord. I grew up in a Christian home with great parents. We went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night – even on Wednesday nights. I can’t remember the exact age I was, but I vividly recall sitting on the edge of my bed as a little boy with my Bible. My mom sat there with me as she led me to the Lord. I was saved! If only the “once saved, always saved” mantra was true, unfortunately, my life is living proof how wrong it is!
By my fifteenth birthday, I had turned my back on all I knew. I found it was fun and exciting to be wild with no limits. My parents were good parents. They had given me boundaries, and I did my best to live my life within those borders. So, how am I going to keep up appearances? Lie, lie, lie!
I didn’t set out to do it, it just happened as I allowed more and more sin into my life. I started becoming more and more antisocial, distancing myself from my friends and family. Shortly after I began drinking, it became an all day, everyday thing.
You may wonder how this was possible for a young boy with a wonderful Christian family. You might argue the fact that I could do this while involved in church, passionate about sports and continuing to maintain good grades - but it was quite easy actually. I soon figured out that I was very good at all the wrong things.
“This is awesome!” I thought. I was at my first drinking party. People were everywhere – laughing and having a great time. Someone had handed me a beer and I liked what I was tasting. Inwardly, I puffed my chest out a bit. I had been invited by some older guys and I wanted to impress them with my ability to keep up.
Loud cheers erupted from a group of partiers gathered in a circle towards the center of the room. I elbowed my way through to see what was happening. “Man! Look how much that guy can drink!” I was immediately impressed as I watched one kid in particular chugging down beer in a race against the other drinkers – only difference? He was using a two-liter bottle – and winning! I envied his ability!
I reached for another beer and smiled inwardly. This was living, really living! And I was all too willing to join in wholeheartedly. By the time I passed out on top of a freezer that night, I had taken down thirty-four beers. Why I remember the number, I don’t know. But I can tell you this, that night was the beginning of a very long road of abuse and pain.
Even now as I think back to that time, I am bombarded by so many feelings – excitement, fear, pain, disgust… shock. I shake my head in disbelief that this story is mine to tell. I soon discovered I liked liquor better than beer. It made me feel better quicker and it was easier to hide.
By the age of sixteen, I was guzzling vodka before my 6:00AM workout. At seventeen, it only changed in that I added another couple of rounds after school each day. By my eighteenth birthday, I needed more. The 6:00AM fix didn’t cut it. Once I was finished with my workout, I was convinced a few good drinks before school started was what I needed.
I soon started filling Mountain Dew bottles full of vodka for my 8:00AM classes, telling myself the classes would stink without it! I made it through the morning classes, but several bottles later, you’d find me sliding my shoulders along the lockers – struggling to stay upright. “Pull it together, Mike!” I’d tell myself, “There’s a teacher coming. Get it together like you always do… Just get to class and then you can sleep!” Somehow, I would make it through the day, but even as I worked my way around the cross-country course, I would stop long enough to get another drink. Lap, after lap, after lap, I just couldn’t resist the temptation to get another guzzle down another one.
Getting my next drink consumed my thoughts. Only a few people knew about my habit, but even they didn’t know the extent of it. I drank all day everyday – except during football season. My love for football was stronger than my love for Vodka, and it was only the arrival of football season each year that gave me the will to sober up.
But when the stadium lights were turned off for the last time each fall, boredom set in. Soon I was back to my old habits. Unfortunately, eventually the drinking lost its edge. I needed a new rush. I was about to hit a new low, trying to find my next high. But like always, I didn’t care.