My dad and I were close when I was growing up. I deeply admired him and we did everything together. He had the type of charismatic personality that drew others to him like a magnet and made everyone laugh. He was just one of those fun-loving guys. Riding dirt bikes was my favorite and when we would go riding, he would invite everyone in the neighborhood to join.
I loved him. I looked up to him. He was my hero. He also dealt crystal-meth.
He wasn’t just a dealer, he actually cooked the meth in our home and in a trailer in the backyard. Apparently his addiction began with marijuana; he would get high growing up. He entered the world of crystal meth during the recession. He had a tile business and lost a lot of work, so he began working trade shows. The company would pay him triple time if he worked 24 hour shifts, setting up and tearing down in one complete day. The job consisted of long, grueling hours and that led him to accept crystal meth from his co-workers. It was the only thing that got him through those unending 24 hours shifts. That job was my dad’s gateway into the world of hard core drug dealing.
Innocent and Unaware
When I was a kid, I had no idea what he was doing. People would come in and out of our house, obviously not the best kind of people, smelly and dirty. They would often bring their kids and they would beg for food.
I recall this vivid memory of my dad stepping into the shower and my sister and I playing on his bed. He had left this bag of white rocks on the bed and I started flicking them at my sister- I had no idea what they were. By the time he got out of the shower and saw what was going on he blamed my mom and starting yelling and cussing her out. “Do you know how much this is worth?!” It was one of the biggest fights I witnessed between them.
Three years after my parents got married, my mom gave her life to Jesus. My dad wanted nothing to do with it. She knew what he was involved in and they fought all the time. I was about 13 when the problem between my parents also became my problem. My mom would not leave him. She was committed to the marriage, but clearly, was not okay with the lifestyle my father was living. I resented my mom for this. I didn’t like her at all because I kept thinking she was trying to break up the family. And so, I did all I knew to do as an adolescent: I lashed out, I cussed her out, I blamed her.
I did not for one moment believe her when she explained that my dad was a drug dealer.
A Crumbling Foundation
Fortunately, my mom mustered the courage to kick my dad out of the house when I was 14, but he eventually came back home and back into our lives.
When my mother kicked him out a second time, my heart was on my dad’s side, he was still my hero, so I wanted to help him. The best thing I could think of doing was to clean the garage for him. I kept finding these glass pipes and called my best friend who lived across the street. His dad was always hanging with my dad, so I asked him what they were. “Dude, those are crack pipes!” he explained. It was at that moment that I realized my mom was telling the truth, and had been all along.
I remember feeling so alone in that moment. My hero had fallen and I assumed my mother did not still love me because I had treated her so poorly.
I was a shy, nerdy kid, but I put on a tough, unbreakable exterior. Inside, I was totally broken.
At one point, my dad got so mad at my mom that when we left, he took a chainsaw to all of the furniture and took all of our clothes and piled them on the floor, and then proceeded to pour bleach all over everything. It was shocking as everything began to unfold. He had to be sick, or that is what I convinced myself to believe. I spent the night at my neighbor’s and they ended up giving us clothes and helping us out.
The Breaking Point
As a young teen I was scared. This ‘unbreakable’ exterior was hiding an intense anger inside of me. So I began to play football in high school and let out a lot of aggression on the field.
Then, one night my dad came back again. When I saw his face I thought for sure that he was going to kill us. I ran over to the neighbor’s house. As I watched from across the street, I saw him grab my mom through the window by the hair and throw her to the ground. He then drug her to the garage. He bashed the gas line and he was going to blow the house up. My neighbors ran over there and ripped the garage door down but he fought them off and fled. It all plays back so clearly in my mind.
A few days later he came back to the house. He walked up and asked me to go get my mom. While I was getting my mom, he stole my dirt bike. At that point, I began to actually hate my dad. He intentionally deceived me and stole from his own son. How could he do that?
After that, I became depressed and angry. I really wanted to end it all, but because my mom grew up in church, I was taught that suicide was the only unforgivable sin. I would try to trick the system, sleep with knives or spill pills. If it was an accident then it wouldn’t be unforgivable. I tried to create an accident 3 times. I didn’t want to go to hell.
At the age of 16, someone sponsored me to go to Hume Lake Christian Camps. My mom forced me to go; she packed everything for me and dropped me off at church. “I love you Adam, see you later.” I responded, “I hate you.” She walked away crying. That is still a moment I deeply regret.
A Changing Perspective
The guest speaker for the week at camp was a man physically deformed by a bone disease. He lived with pain everyday and couldn’t manage without assistance. As I listened to him, I began to think that my problems were nothing compared to his.
One evening I went to the edge of the lake and started talking to God. It was so upsetting to me. “God, how can he love you? After everything he has been through? You are real to him, and I want to know what that is all about. If you are who you say you are, then I’ll give you everything. I have nothing, but I’ll give you everything.” Instantly, this crazy, overwhelming, inexplicable feeling of happiness and joy came over me. I remember smiling and crying and all I could say was “Thank you!” I said it out loud- I actually spoke out loud to God that night by the lake. I went back to the youth pastor from my mom’s church and he prayed with me.
From that point on, I was completely changed. I wasn’t escaping anymore, but investing. In my junior year of high school, I went from earning 4 F’s to straight A’s. God had transformed my life. My “unbreakable” exterior was being transformed into an unwavering faith.
I was reading the Bible as much as possible. My personality has always driven me full force into any hobby: dirt bike riding, computers, video games and at this point with the Bible; I couldn’t get enough. But I still hated my dad. God was breaking down the walls of my life, but this one seemed shatterproof.
An Unbreakable Exterior
One day, my dad showed up to the house after getting kicked out for a third time. As I listened to myself respond to him, I couldn’t believe how cold-hearted and dismissive I was. I told him to leave, and he said, “I have nowhere to go, if I leave, I’m going to kill myself.”
“Then do it, I don’t care,” was my response. He had caused so much pain. I saw him as the devil and I wanted him out of my life. He asked for money, I gave him the only $20 I had and told him to never come back. But about an hour later, he came back.
I asked, “What? Were you too scared to do it?”
He answered, “No, I wanted to do it in front of you.”
He got a knife and tried to stab himself right in front of me.
The white shirt he was wearing showed blood coming through. On the inside, I was going crazy, but on the outside, I was stone cold. He ended up stopping and fled to the bedroom. My mom called the cops when she realized what happened.
I remember my neighbors getting lawn chairs out to watch everything that went down at our house that night. There were firetrucks and cop cars; my dad was resisting because he didn’t want to go back to jail. All the cops were surrounding the yard yelling at him to drop his knife. He kept yelling, “I don’t want to go back to jail, just shoot me.” He decided to charge the police officers and all I heard was pop, pop, pop. They used stun guns and he immediately went down.
As they were loading him into the ambulance, I stood there thinking that this was probably the last time I would see my dad.
A Struggle with Obedience
That same year, I went back to Hume Lake and the speaker was giving a call for young men to become pastors. I felt so strongly against the idea that I said out loud in the service, “NO!” But I knew that the Holy Spirit was placing it on my heart. I immediately began serving at my church as much as possible.
When I got home that summer, my father had returned from the psych ward, declared sane and sober. He moved back in. I still hated him. But he started to ask me questions about Christianity and wanted to go to church. “Do you know any churches that are good for me to attend?”
I had heard about Sandals Church and what they were about, and I told my Dad, “Sandals Church takes people like you.”
Every Sunday I dropped my dad off at Sandals Church and picked him up. One night, after he had been attending for six weeks, he started talking to me in the living room and the Holy Spirit convicted me to ask him some questions. I was struggling on the inside because I did not think he deserved to be saved or go to heaven, but I was obedient to God.
That night I led my dad to Jesus. He gave his life to God, and God used me to do it.
Fighting for Forgiveness
Everything changed. He helped around the house, served the family and continued to go to Sandals Church. He stopped using and dealing for good. However, there was still so much hatred and unforgiveness in my heart and I began to be challenged by my youth pastor to forgive my father. I couldn’t at first, but God worked on my heart and began breaking down those walls and healed me. As I considered what God had done for me and how he forgave me of all my sin, I began to forgive my dad.
He died later that year. I was 21 and found him in his bed one morning. After years of torturing his body with drugs and alcohol, his heart had finally given out.
I have experienced things that no person, especially a kid, should ever experience, but I would not change any of it. I know now, more than most, what it means to love and forgive people. If God can give me the grace to forgive my dad, then I know I can forgive anyone. God has begun to make me whole through an incredibly broken childhood and I will forever be different.
And if God got me through that, he can get me through anything. He is unbreakable.
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