I grew up Lutheran. We went to church all the time as a family, and I attended a Lutheran parochial school in our small town from kindergarten through eighth grade. We read the Bible, recited hymns, and learned the catechism every day. It was like homework—just learn and memorize. I don’t know that I understood much. And once I was an adult, I didn’t really go to church. My mom would ask from time to time, “Have you thought about going to church? Are you going to church?” Just very simple encouragements. My younger brother would challenge me a bit more. He’d invite me to church and to his men’s group, and I would attend with him from time to time, but that was about it.
Ten years ago I was in the midst of a divorce, had lost my job, and was drinking too much. It was at this low point when I checked into treatment. It became a defining moment for me. As an alcoholic, you’re just kind of isolated, and you don’t want to share anything. But there at the treatment center, there were others like me, trying to do the same thing, and I was able to actually admit that I was an alcoholic. I don’t want to say it was easy, but once I took that step, it was just like, Okay, this is what you’re going to do, and this is how you can be this other person and not the person from before. I began to pray every day, meditate, and share with others. Being honest and talking about my problems got me through that difficult time and enabled me to grow. I quit drinking, went to AA meetings, and ultimately, started going to church.
I used to think I could solve these things myself, and I would try to do different things to improve. But I couldn’t do it on my own.
At times it’s really been a struggle—especially with my family and friends telling me I should stop drinking. Knowing I can trust God and pray to Him helps me get by. I’m someone who is sort of ADD. I just rush through life. But I’ve come to accept that I can’t solve every problem. I’m trying to slow down, be more active in my faith, pray more with my wife and son, and practically apply my faith to my life.
Growing up, what I learned in school about God wasn’t connected to my life outside in the world. My parents taught us to be good, nice people, but there wasn’t discussion about who God is and what the Bible says. Now when tough things happen, I’m not seeking self-help books and worldly things or solutions. I’m looking to the Bible instead. I’m growing through the messages at CPC and being changed in my heart and soul. And I’m trying to use my faith every day—reaching out, helping other people, praying. Day-to-day, it just helps me knowing that I have Jesus.