Back in June, I said I would try to start a chronological itemization of my life, so the impact, influence, and changes God has had in my life could be more evident to those who don’t know me personally. I am not writhing this with a boastful heart, but with a heart of regret and remorse. The life I lived prior to my Salvation was deplorable and despicable, and I am not proud of any of it. Any “detail” is to “paint an accurate picture” of the hold Satan had on me, and not intended to plant any seeds of temptation. As the story unfolds, you will see the consequences I suffered because of Satan are the real message of my story.
In Romans 14:12-14 (NLT)
12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. 13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. 14 I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong.
I grew up in the suburbs (“Downriver” to be specific) of Detroit, MI in the 70’s & 80’s. I came from a typical middle-class family. My parents were married and together, so we had what most would call a “solid” family unit. I found this to be a fairly relative term. Both my parents worked hard and pinched pennies where they could in order to put myself, and my two brothers through Catholic School.
I was the eldest of three boys. My parents treated me as though I was the yard stick that my brothers should be measured against. My parents came from a generation where children were seen and not heard. You respected your parents because they were your parents, not because they earned your respect. They believed that the parenting styles they were subjected to and witnessed were the best parenting styles available; there was no interest or need for learning, and or changing their parenting style. Thus, corporal punishment was the popular and most frequent option. I’m not sure how or why they came up with some of the punishment’s they used, but they were militant, severe, very painful and often traumatic. A back hand across the face, or a belt to the bare bottom were some of the less severe options. This left me with some very deep emotional scars.
My parents seemed to revel in pitting myself and my brothers against each other. Exploiting each child’s weakness and using it as leverage in comparison to the other brothers was common place for granting approval; and I was constantly seeking my parent’s approval. I couldn’t (or more accurately), didn’t do it in school or sports, so I did it by dominating my brothers (and their friends) physically. I bullied them and asserted my will over them whenever possible. My actions also made me very unlikable amongst their friends. This physical display and domination of others seemed to somehow make my parents happy, as long as I did it within the twisted confines of OUR family reality.
My friends were other children who shared similar home lives, and together we formed some sort of “gang”. There were only three or four of us so we never referred to ourselves as a “gang. However, I suppose by today’s standards, I guess we were. By the time I was twelve or thirteen my “friends” and I were able to find plenty of mischief. We would steal our parents booze, shop-lift, vandalize, and pretty much do whatever we wanted in “our” neighborhood. By the time we reached high school drugs entered into the picture. We were not the worst kids in the “Downriver” area, but we certainly weren’t the best.
Since school was not my strength and college was not going to be an option, I joined the United States Marine Corps. I worked hard in the Marines, as I was always seeking the approval of my superiors, and made my way to a supervisory position. During my four years in the Marines, the bullying lifestyle I had adapted as a teen, combined with the unequalled physical training of the USMC, created within me a persona of invincibility. I was bigger than most physically and used that to my advantage whenever challenged. I got into many fights and brawls. Alcohol continued to be a mainstay in my life, while the drug use took a back seat. Drugs were not tolerated in the military, and I was at a point then, where the drugs were easy to stay away from for the time. During the years from 1982 to 1986 there were no real military threats or actions (other than Grenada), for which I was not called upon. So military service life for me after the first year was pretty “fun”. When I wasn’t “on duty”, I was either drinking or fighting. This led me down a path of further self-destruction. I took a part-time job off base, working as a “bouncer” in one of the many “male entertainment” establishments. Since I was always around women of “questionable character”, promiscuity became my next vice. I learned quickly how to adapt the “bully persona” into a clever manipulator of women. I would go out when I was off duty and not at the part-time job and prey on vulnerable women. During those four years of my life, Satan created a very strong soldier for himself for many years. I did manage to escape the Marines with an Honorable Discharge. To this day, when I look back at all the “extracurricular” activities I did off duty and off base and I can only believe that my Honorable Discharge was granted to me by the Grace of God.
When I exited the Corps, I moved to Florida with a couple of Marine buddies. The life I was living in the Marines, was nothing compared to the life I was about to start in Florida. I found myself being led by the Enemy and got in with the “wrong” people. I learned quickly that to hide the lifestyle I was living was easy if I worked in restaurants. Drinking or doing drugs before, at, or after work was not uncommon. The job allowed me to sleep most of the day at the beach, then work and party all night. Days off were spent getting drunk and/or doing drugs, and then preying on my next sexual “conquest”. It got to a point where I used the sex, drugs, and alcohol just to get through the day without having to feel anything.
One day in September 1989 (I don’t remember the exact date) I woke up and something didn’t feel right. I realized that if I ever wanted to do anything with my life, I would have to stop the way I was living. I didn’t know it then because of the powerful hold the Enemy had on me, but I believe now, this was the first time I heard God calling me. He was telling me that he had bigger plans for me. I was 25 years old.
To be continued…