Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-priority:99;mso-style-parent:””;mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;mso-para-margin-top:0in;mso-para-margin-right:0in;mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt;mso-para-margin-left:0in;line-height:107%;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

July 6,2018

40years ago today, I made a decision that dramatically changed the trajectory ofmy life. An only child of parents who divorced when I left home for college,God saved me from the chains of addiction that devastated my family. Shortlyafter arriving at Duke University, I was invited to a Bible study in mydormitory. Several months later, on July 6, 1978, while repenting of my sin anddeciding to follow Jesus, I was baptized, receiving God’s forgiveness and a newlife of purpose and hope. I am so grateful to my friends Gary Knutson and DougJacoby who helped me find God’s grace. And though the time was relativelyshort, the process was not easy.

God’smercy went even deeper than the forgiveness of my sin. He gave me the power tolive a life free from the chains of addiction that had and would plague myimmediate family.

Both ofmy parents were alcoholics: Mom was a fall-down drunk who was medicating herloneliness, and Dad was an aloof, mind-numbing drinker. Mom screamed forattention, Dad withdrew. And I was caught in the middle. To outsiders, myparents were young-looking, athletic, and fun. Inside of our home, however, itwas a different story. In fact, in addition to any genetic predispositions, Ideveloped some of the personality traits that would make me even morevulnerable to addiction. I became a perfectionist, focusing on academics andanything I could control to find a mooring in a home environment that was notsafe. I found it difficult to process or share my own thoughts and emotionsbecause there was no safe way to do it, and that was the example I had at home.

Likeme, my mom was an only child. My dad had a sister who was also an alcoholic,married to a violent drinker. My grandparents were not drinkers, but myparents, and aunt and uncle, lived the “normal” party lifestyle and then usedalcohol to regulate their thoughts and emotions. The consequences weredisastrous.

Momdied at the age of 44, dying in a fire caused by her drinking. Dad wastwice-divorced, living his final years with my wife, Maureen, and me, drinkingsteadily in his final days. The oldest of my two cousins died of cirrhosis ofthe liver at the age of 50. The younger cousin continues to be plagued by drugand alcohol addictions.

Therebut by the grace of God go I.

Collegelife was the time when I, too, could have joined the party scene and thenlearned to use alcohol and/or party drugs to regulate my own emotions – aslippery slope with the risks and consequences suffered by all in my immediatefamily.

But Godgave me a craving to find him and know him, and to learn about forgiveness,love, and hope. He caught my attention within days of arriving on campus. Andthe rest, as they say, is history, or his story.

God hasshown his mercy to me, giving me a life of forgiveness, purpose, and hope.Where I’ve lived, who I married, where I worked, and how I have spent time andmoney, have all been different.

Everythinghas not turned out perfectly. Some of my adult children have had their ownstruggles, but by the grace of God, they have a different parental example, andhave or can find true north.

Today Itake time to be grateful, but also to dream about the future. What will thenext chapter look like? What kind of old(er) man will I be? What impact/legacywill I leave behind? What adventures are in store in the next 10-30 years?

I am sothankful to God that he not only forgave me, but he has continually given methe strength to overcome the challenges of my personality and upbringing. Healso gave me my wife Maureen, who has broken similar chains, and we willcelebrate 35 years of marriage in a few weeks! Additionally, in giving us alife of purpose, God has been able to use us to help many fall in love with Godand experience the same grace and mercy.

Titus2:11-14 captures God’s grace, power, and hope for my life:

For thegrace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us tosay “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled,upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of theglory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickednessand to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what isgood.