My Story

I grew up in Dallas and have lived in Texas all my life.  At a young age I learned I had a learning disability called dyslexia and felt alienated as a result.  I grew up going to Northwest Bible Church and in high school I was active in K-Life, which at the time was led by Todd Wagner.  However I remember high school as a very lonely time.
I went to Baylor University and my faith was a big part of that decision.  At that time I started to have doubts about my beliefs, which I did not discuss with anyone.  I also consciously decided I wanted to put my beliefs on the back burner and pursue my social life, which I felt I lacked in high school.  I only went to church one time while at Baylor and it was on a date.  A few classes on Old and New Testament only amplified my doubts and I quickly went from flimsy beliefs to atheist.  Where I had been shy, quiet, and lonely in high school, I was popular in college and had greater confidence in myself.  My social life was exciting and fun and in this spirit I stared drinking heavily and smoking pot.  I failed enough classes my freshman year that I could not rush a fraternity.  I was also starting to alienate myself from friends because of my drinking.  I pretty much always drank until I either passed out or blacked out.  But I didn’t see my alienation as a result of my behavior, but instead a result of going to a religiously conservative college.
My junior year I started hanging out a lot with one guy in particular and we smoked pot a lot.  We eventually started selling pot to our friends to support our own consumption.  By my fourth year, college life was miserable.  I felt really alienated from everyone but the guy I sold pot with.  By every measure, I was failing life.  One day right after Christmas break I smoked pot and had a psychotic break.  I was hospitalized for a while and my parents brought me back to Dallas and I started attending an outpatient rehab, The Meier Clinic, and seeing a therapist.  The consensus was I had a substance abuse problem and it was suggested I go to AA, where I was a regular at The Preston Group for almost ten years.  I had a psychotic break, what does that have to do with alcohol?  But I went and it was one of the best things I ever did.  I was an atheist at this point and I remember the despair of realizing I had a problem, being told God was the only solution and thinking that 1)do I have a drinking/drug problem and 2) would a solution that depended on God work.  I got a sponsor who told me to “fake it until you make it”.  He was talking about belief in God, not soberiety.  I started praying and don’t remember where it went from feeling stupid to a feeling that I was heard, but it was quick.  That year my life radically changed, not just that I was sober but I made a decision to trust God.  Although most of my friends in AA were Christian, I was sure it could not be the truth, although I never really investigated it or gave it a shot.  For 9 years AA was my religion.  I explored things like Buddhism and Raja Yoga but was sure Christianity was not worth investigating.  I had a belief in God, but it was my own.  AA was an extremely positive for me, but there also some unhealthy aspects to it.  I eventually quit AA.
I can’t explain it, but I felt God was telling me AA was stunting my spiritual growth.  I tried controlled drinking, as it is suggested in the Big Book and then decided I could drink normally.  For whatever reason, I didn't drink like I used to.  My AA friends universally agree that I never had a problem in the first place, but I believe that like the Big Book suggests, God can remove that problem and he did.  I felt that the answers had to be out there and I looked for them everywhere.  I got involved in Freemasonry and the occult.  At this point I believed in God, but my beliefs were built on sand.  As an aside, the second time I had a break was reading this book which I found at Half Price Books and the third time was being initiated into Freemasonry.  I am not the only person this has happened to.  The only other person I know well that is bi-polar told me the first time he had a psychotic break was reading the same book.
One day I met an old friend from AA  (one of the Christian ones) and we talked about God.  It turned into a long string of emails which ended with him saying he thought I wasn’t sincerely seeking God and only wanted to argue.  I was so angry.  I felt Christians always copped out when pressed on their beliefs.  I think the truth is they just don’t want to argue, or at least that is how I feel these days.  It occurred to me that I had given AA a chance, not knowing if it would work, or even if I had a problem.  I had trusted it and it had been the most positive change I had ever seen in my life.  I decided I would give Christianity one year and in that time I would go to church, pray to Jesus Christ, tithe, and treat Christianity as though it was the truth.  The third time at The Village, I felt the presence of God in a way I could never hope to fully articulate.  I can only say I felt overwhelmed by the love of God.  I had made my pursuit of God an intellectual pursuit, but this was an emotional experience.  Or rather, I realized my relationship with God was a love relationship, not an academic pursuit.  After that I knew I could believe the Bible as the word of God.  It is a philosophical change in belief for me that seems so radical that I don’t know that anyone really appreciates what a departure it was from what I once believed.  I started studying the Bible, reading commentary, and listening to recorded Chandler and Timothy Keller sermons almost daily.  Now I feel Christianity is so logically sound that I could convince anyone.  And I’ve tried.  And failed every time.  But my faith is firmly rooted and I feel in both my heart and in my mind that I have found the truth and for that I am grateful.