imageThere isn’t a time that I can recall as a young child that my mother wasn’t under the influence and grip of alcohol and other substances. My parents divorced when I was four years old, and a lengthy and ugly custody battle ensued. My mother lost, and dipped further into substance abuse. There were times early in my childhood that I honestly feared for my life. She drove with me in the front seat of the car with no seatbelt while she was heavily intoxicated frequently. Her temper was short only bested by her attention span for me.

At the age of eight I finally told her to choose the alcohol or me. If it wasn’t going to be me, then I didn’t want to see her until she was sober. She called my father’s house a few times, asking to speak with me, and each time I would simply respond with a question. “Did she quit drinking?” My father would relay the question, and the answer was always no. This happened about twice a month for roughly six months before she gave up calling. In her head it was my father’s fault that I didn’t want to see her, not the substance abuse.

From that last phone call at eight years old, there was nothing. She had given up. She had given up on calling, on trying, and on me. Now, being that young does something psychological to a child. It makes you angry, makes you spiteful, and makes you think, what was so wrong with me that she chose drinking over me? Now in all of this, I didn’t know GOD, I didn’t know Jesus. My father and my family were not religious in any sense of the word, nor did they have a relationship with Jesus. It was looked upon by my father as weak, as something that people who feared death did to cope with the idea of it.

While he didn’t go out of his way to make us believe what he did, there was no support of a different belief structure in that house. So I was on my own to find God, to find Jesus. I went to a church youth meeting with a friend of mine when I was eleven years old, and gave my life to Christ. When I came home and told my parents what I had done it wasn’t met with joy and elation, but rather a confused “Okay” and then the conversation was dropped. Don’t get me wrong my Father and Step mother mean the world to me. I was raised in a house with morals, where you treat everyone with respect, and do the right thing. It was a house of love, and I am very blessed to have had that.

Like most people I lost touch with what I committed to. I had no support at home for what I believed, and that caused me to question everything. I was very skeptical of religion, and the people in those religions especially. Having tried a few more times in High School at what were obviously the wrong churches, I had it in my head that church was like a cult, and my father had been right all this time. But there was something else there too, something that kept telling me that there was more to it. More to life. More to everything, and to keep searching. Fortunately I listened to that whisper in my head and kept searching. While I may have strayed I never gave up the search.

When I joined the Army I got closer to God as most soldiers do, but not Jesus. I believed in a higher power, that there was something more to this world than just us as human beings, but no idea what. Almost an agnostic approach, and for a while that was good enough for me. By believing in a higher power I thought that meant I would be okay in the afterlife because I believed in what I called God and that would grant me access to heaven.

Fast forward a few years and I had been angry since the last time I spoke with my mother, whether I realized it or not. And now I was heading to war. I was home for pre deployment leave and decided that it was the right thing to do to try and see her, because it could have been the last time either one of us got the chance. It didn’t go well to say the least. She was drunk when I showed up, and could do nothing but tell me how much it was my father’s fault for being gone so long. This of course just made things worse. It just fed those thoughts, that anger, that spitefulness that was already inside me.

I had all but given up on church at this point. I was angry and bitter with the world. I had a failed marriage and divorce under my belt at the age of 25. On the up side though, I had met my current wife and we had moved to Evansville for work. While we were here she convinced me that we needed to start looking for a church. It was something she missed from her childhood and felt that it made for a better family life, especially with the way the world is now. I reluctantly agreed, and started visiting local churches with her on the weekends, hoping that we would find one that was a good fit for us. At this point I still had the agnostic belief. That there was a higher power, but I didn’t fully accept what it was. And then I found out we were going to have a baby and my whole world changed.

Something was telling me that I needed to turn to Christ. That I couldn’t do everything by myself like I thought I could. That I couldn’t be the man, the father, and the husband that my family deserved without submitting to Christ. About 3 weeks after my wife told me we were going to have a baby, in the middle of the night, something woke me up. Something had taken ahold of me. I clearly understood that to make this work, to be who I needed to be for my family, I needed to let go of control and put it in the hands of the lord. It was at that point in August of 2012 that I turned my life over to Christ. Fully and truly turned it over. I then started taking our search of a home church much more seriously.

The day my family and I walked into Mill Road I felt that GOD was there. There is an undeniable presence there that speaks to you upon entering. I had never had good luck with churches before. Partially due to my upbringing, partially due to my anger, but the first day there GOD spoke to me. Pastor John spoke about forgiveness. About how holding onto hatred and anger for something someone has done is no different than the wrong they did you. It was the same as holding a .38 to your head.

GOD was there that day, speaking to me. Telling me it was time to let go. About halfway through the message, Pastor had us take out a piece of paper and write down the name of the person or thing we were holding a grudge against. Then he had us fold it up, pray, and then tear it to pieces and let it go. I cried in the back of the church that day. I let go of twenty years of anger. Twenty years of pure hate. Twenty years of being consumed. I let GOD in that day, and have never shut the door since.

I have begun to rebuild that relationship with my mother. We talk every couple of weeks now. I don’t bring up the past other than to thank her. To tell her it’s all okay. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if weren’t for that, and it’s all part of GOD’s plan for us. We finally had a chance to reconnect in August where she was able to meet her granddaughter, and my wife.

Thanks to this, to letting go, and being moved by GOD in ways that I can’t even explain, life has been amazing. Letting go of all of that anger and those years of unknown internal torment has allowed me to build a relationship with Jesus Christ, and be the husband and father to my family that they deserve. And it all started by walking through the doors of my Church.

Kyle Clark
Evansville, IN

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