Rick’s* drinking and drug use had taken everything from him. It had taken his wife. It had taken his home. It had taken his job. But there was one thing it had never succeeded in robbing from him—Alyssa, his daughter. Somehow that girl never gave up on him. Rick can only shake his head in both thankfulness and bewilderment at her persistent love over the decades.
Rick doesn’t remember much from his childhood and the memories he does have aren’t happy ones. He struggled through school. He failed at sports. As one of the smallest kids, he was bullied and picked on. At home, his older sister got whatever she wanted, while Rick was the one never quite good enough. He felt inadequate and rejected. In an attempt to boost his self-esteem, he started drinking and smoking marijuana in his early teens. By the time he was 15, he had quit school and moved out of home.
Once out on his own, Rick started selling drugs. He loved the power that money gave him. Suddenly people seemed to like him. He got a girlfriend and they had a baby two years into their relationship. But when she fell in love with another man and left Rick, their son was given up for adoption. Devastated and angry, Rick moved to another city and drowned his troubles in alcohol. Drugs and drink were the only real life he had.
Then Rick met Paula. They married and had Alyssa. By this time, however, alcohol had full control of Rick. Paula suffered because of his drinking and after four years of marriage, she had enough of Rick’s behaviour and divorced him. It shook Rick enough to make him stop the drugs and drink for three years. During that time, he tried hard to be good enough. He even “tried God,” but didn’t know what it meant to have a relationship with Christ. He finally caved in again to his previous addictions when the effort and loneliness got too much.
Rick describes his addiction as a disease that was “cunning, baffling, and very, very powerful.” His life spiraled down even further the moment he picked up a crack pipe and started smoking cocaine. It was the worst thing he could have ever done, but it gave him that coveted feeling of competence. Rick finally hit rock bottom. He was homeless and jobless, and without hope.
But not without help. His daughter Alyssa still loved him. She was a believer and she did her best to keep in touch with him. She had prayed for him all these years. Through her persistence, she finally convinced Rick to enter a Christian rehabilitation program.
Each participant of the rehab program went through a study of By This Name, regardless of their previous exposure to Christianity. Some entered the program with absolutely no knowledge of the gospel while others had a confused, muddled understanding. But the program director had found that By This Name reached them all. It was a clear overview of the message of the Bible and the person and work of Christ. The director had found that it was the ideal book to lay a biblical foundation for the rest of the program.
Rick read the book and worked through the accompanying workbook as he progressed through the chapters. He ended up putting his trust in Jesus for salvation. Rick now knew that the creator God of the Bible loved him and accepted him—not on Rick’s own merit, but on the basis of what Christ had done on the cross.
Soon after leaving the program, Rick laid out his life before God. He knew he could not live without God because the pull of the addictions was still too strong for him to face on his own. He got down on his knees and prayed.
“I was asking him to help me… I could not get through this and beat this addiction or this drinking. I just couldn’t do it and he had to help me.” It was then he realized that it was God he had been looking for through the years—in the drink, the drugs and the relationships.
Ever since the rehab program, Rick has been learning and growing in his understanding of God. There are still struggles, but he now has the Spirit of God to give him the strength he needs, and he also has a good family and church support. He is particularly thankful for Alyssa. Rick calls her “my angel who never, ever, gave up on me through the darkest and toughest times.” Her persistent love had helped him through some of his darkest moments. He says, “Through my daughter and son-in-law, Christ literally pulled me from the dungeons of slavery of addiction and is showing me how to live a family-oriented life while walking with him. I now find my strength in him.” He draws strength particularly from Philippians 4:13 (NIV)—“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
(* All names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)