Fifteen years ago I woke up with a massive hangover and decided something had to change. The night before I was pouring myself a drink and my little girl came up and asked me for some. I said, “no, this is poison.” She didn’t know what the word poison meant, so she said, “I want some poison.”
Something had to change.
I was not a huge drinker. I don’t know if I was technically an alcoholic, but I was getting to the point where I would have many drinks four or five days a week. I was waking up at 3 a.m. with a hangover all the time. I did not like where my life was going, and I felt an incredible sense of guilt pressing on me, like I was wasting a precious gift.
A few weeks before I had begun, out of the blue, to read the Bible. I had reached the age of 35 without ever reading more than a few passages. I could sense that something new was coming, something frightening but also promising.
So I woke up one morning 15 years ago, feeling disgusted that I was drinking poison, and told myself I would never do it again. And I haven’t.
I was luckier than other people. I did not feel any withdrawal symptoms, my hands didn’t shake, and within a few days I was really OK with this new reality, the sober me. I never went to AA or any other similar program. I took it one day at a time. When I thought about getting a drink, I would simply force myself to think about something else. I changed my habits. For months I would go out of my way not to drive by my favorite liquor stores.
It was easier for me than others. The Lord was helping me. He was holding out his hands. I was taking some steps toward Him, like a toddler toward a parent. And then He was holding me, but I didn’t know I was being held at the time.
When I was drinking, I did not see any way out. My vision was very limited. I would spend a lot of time every afternoon anticipating that first drink, telling myself how fun it would be to buy a six-pack and watch a football game. I would spend all week thinking about those pitchers of beer at the bar, but afterwards I would say to myself, “is this all there is?”
Reading the Bible got me thinking. God was not the stern authoritarian I thought He was. He was forgiving and loving. Even though His people kept on doing stupid things, He kept on offering them another chance. All they had to do was take a step toward Him.
When I finished the Old Testament, I thought I might be a Deist because I definitely could believe in that God. I had no knowledge of both the Father and the Son. So I read the New Testament, and I remember very clearly the moment I read the Sermon on the Mount. This was the Man I wanted to follow, the Man I wanted to be. Why didn’t the world know how wonderful this man, this Jesus, was?
I had some Christian friends at work, and I would talk to them for hours about this man, this Jesus.
And then, completely unexpected, my sister called to say she was getting baptized in the LDS Church. I said, “Religion is good, I believe that now, but a Mormon? Don’t you think they just want you for your money?” She laughed and said no and asked me to fly out for her baptism.
It was at her baptism that the heavens opened. I was surrounded by Joy. I could not stop smiling. I felt love for everyone and everything. I felt true hope and I felt like my life had a direction, although I had no idea what that direction was.
Five months later I got baptized after reading the Book of Mormon for the first time. I am happy to report that I have read the Bible and the Book of Mormon many times since then.
Did the journey start when I first picked up the Bible, or did it start 15 years ago when I woke up one morning with a hangover and decided not to drink again? I don’t know. But I know I am blessed. Five kids, a wonderful wife, a beautiful life with opportunities to help others and be a tiny bit like that Man I love. Thank you Lord for these 15 years. I could not have done it without you.