After six years with Uncle Sammy, two TMJ surgeries and hundreds of prescriptions for pain pills, my Air Force career wound down. There were many factors that weighed into why I chose to trade my Air Force dress blue uniform in for a suit and tie of the civilian world, but ultimately it came down to one pretty simple reason – a tremendous job offer from a national/international company that would allow my family to move back home. Thus we did.
It wasn’t long after moving back that my personal life and relationships began to completely unravel. Many of the old friends that I’d left behind some six years before were literally still sitting on the same bar stools I’d left them on.
I reclaimed my old stool.
I started playing golf with the “old gang” again – especially the 19th green (ask a golfer) – although, golf was never fully about golf for us. Oh sure, we were competitive and all, but a large part of our rounds of golf were more about the rounds of drinks we consumed while playing, as well as the “extracurricular” items we used to enhance the experience. Though I would take part in the “extras,” I always had my own little “something-something” stashed away in my golf bag that even the gang didn’t know about –
my pills -
my own little secret.
The guys I ran with were partiers and all…but I began to notice something above and beyond in my life. Unlike most of them, that when the party was over it was over, my use of “extras” and pills was becoming consistent and persistent. They had become “the norm” – part of my life.
My move back home would last only two and a half years. This time when I moved away it was without my family, but with a lot more baggage. My life became the epitome of the working definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. I became like a nomad wondering and searching aimlessly from job to job, city to city, and relationship to relationship – on a quest to find something or someone that would calm the raging storm within my soul and fill the dark empty void.
I was not successful.
With each failure, I heaped abundant amounts of self-inflicted pain upon my heart. It came to the point that no amount of pain pills or “extras” would extinguish the pain that I had ignited.
There was a time that I blamed my demise on my decision of getting out of the Air Force and moving back home. But after many years of introspective evaluation, in all honesty, I had to admit that it had nothing to do with the choice. My self-centeredness and addiction had me on a collision course with destruction long before I packed the truck to move back home. It wouldn’t have mattered where I was or who I was with – location and others weren’t the problem – I was the problem and…
I wanted out.
I wanted to die.
Thank God He doesn’t always give us what we want.
Instead of leaving me to my own destructive thinking and ways, God began to use His loving discipline and abundant GRACE to get my attention. Although there are several definitions for GRACE, in this incident I mean God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
Looking back through life’s rearview mirror, I smile when I think about the gift of GRACE God placed in my life so many years before this hellish time –
my daughter – Pooh.
In all honesty, if it were not for her presence in my life back in those dark, dismal, confused days, I probably would have “checked out.” I literally get goose bumps sometimes when I think about God’s sovereignty and how He knew that I would need her existence, love and character in my life in order to muster up the strength to press on.
So press on I did. I slowly began to realize that I really didn’t want to die; and if I didn’t want to die, that meant I really wanted to live; and if I were going to live, change had to take place.
I had no idea how hard and painful that change would be.
…from the inside…ray-ray