Brad - Charlotte, NC
This is Brad's story - from right here in Charlotte, NC!!!
Such an awesome dude. Give him a follow on Insta @blewis7tx.
"Hey what's up everybody, my name is Brad and I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. My story is one of utter wickedness and miraculous redemption. If God can change my heart, he can change yours too. I pray telling my story will help someone!
I grew up in a loving home with my biological parents and was raised on Christian principles. I have always believed in God, but growing up I didn’t have what I would consider to be a personal relationship with Him. It wasn’t about Jesus, it was about religion, and it wasn’t about a personal relationship with God, it was about following rules.
My childhood was really incredible – I had everything I needed and could have wanted. I had great family support, was athletic, made great grades, and had a lot of friends. I never would have dreamed that I would become an alcoholic and drug addict. I thought that only happened to people that grew up in broken homes or had severe emotional or economic problems. It turns out this disease doesn’t care who you are, where you come from, what color you are, what your education is, etc.
I took my first drink when I was a junior in high school. I immediately loved the effect produced by alcohol. I didn't drink to numb any type of pain or to fit in and feel "apart", or talk to girls. I just enjoyed the effect and thought it was innocent – kids drink alcohol and have some fun – no harm, right? I had some blackouts and got into some minor trouble, but really didn’t have any major consequences from drinking alcohol. When I got to college I really started to chase all the things the world had to offer, seeking happiness and fulfillment in all the wrong areas. I became my own God and I served myself. You would think that I partied my way out of college, but far from it. I actually made great grades. I didn’t drink every day; however the problem was that when I drank, I just couldn’t stop. I started having some real consequences as a result of my drinking: I got in numerous physical fights, I totaled a vehicle while driving drunk, I got arrested twice, and at the end of my sophomore year I got suspended for 2 semesters for a series of incidents, all alcohol-related.
After some soul-searching during my year off from school, I decided that I wanted to go back and finish my degree. I was on my final strike with the university, so I knew I couldn’t get into any further trouble. I decided that I needed to give up alcohol. I was sober for 18 months, but after my junior year, while doing an internship in the summer of 2009, I decided to drink again. I forgot about all the alcohol-related consequences. I forgot about that selfish and self-centered person I was. I thought I had grown up and was more mature, and that I could handle drinking again.
The crazy thing about alcohol and drug addiction is that the disease is progressive. How can you be sober for a long period of time, pick back up and then be in worse shape almost immediately? It’s the reality of this disease, and it wasn’t long before I was drinking myself back into oblivion every weekend. I started seeking the maximum amount of pleasure with the least amount of effort. I quickly reverted back to being a completely self-absorbed asshole. Everything looked great on the outside – I had a great job, a girlfriend, financial security – all the things the world said would make me happy, yet on the inside I was dying. I struggled greatly with anger and resentment. I was incredibly insecure. My identity was rooted in all of these superficial things that had no eternal significance. I was constantly disappointed by other people and the circumstances in my life. I became severely depressed and my personal life unraveled. While getting treated for depression, I gave up alcohol for a period of time but started smoking marijuana. At first it was only on the weekends, but then it became a daily habit. I couldn’t wait to get home at the end of the day and get high, only to wake up and do it all over again the next day.
In the summer of 2013, it all came crashing down. After going to a bachelor party and making several bad decisions, my girlfriend at the time broke up with me. I had hit rock bottom. Over the next few days I felt the presence of God come over me and it felt like he was whispering in my ear “Come home. You don’t have to live like this.” I knew I had a serious problem and I needed help. I decided that I had had enough. I had to change. I got down on my knees in my bedroom on the night of Tuesday, July 23rd sobbing and said, “God, I’m sorry, I’ve been a terrible person. PLEASE forgive me. I’m tired of living for myself and doing things my way. I need your help. I don’t want to live for me anymore. I want to live for you. I don’t want to drink and use drugs anymore. Please help me. Please show me the way.” Although I grew up a “Christian” I didn’t realize what Jesus did for me until that very moment. It hit me that He died a terrible death for ME. So that I could be saved from my terrible sins. So that I could have new life in HIM and become a new person. At that moment, I felt so forgiven and so loved – how could God love me so much that He would send His only son to die for ME so that I could be saved from my wickedness? The thought overwhelmed me and blew me away. I made a decision right then and there to invite Jesus into my heart to be my personal savior and I pledged to give my life to Him. I vowed to give up drugs and alcohol and seek professional help.
It has taken a lot of work (professional help, a professional outpatient treatment program, meetings, church, Bible study, accountability partners and an incredible amount of prayer) but I’ve been sober ever since. My life is totally different today. Folks that knew me back then hardly recognize me now. Folks who didn’t know me back then have a hard time believing me when I tell them my story. Every blessing in my life today is a result of sobriety and my relationship with God. My beautiful wife T and I got married in the summer of 2014. She has never seen me drunk or high. She doesn’t know that person. We welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Sloan, into the world in September 2015. My life today is more than I ever dreamed of.
Depression, alcoholism and drug addiction brought me to my knees, literally and figuratively. I found redemption, restoration and hope in Jesus. He repaired my heart and made me new again. God truly worked a miracle in my life and turned a wicked, selfish boy into a sober, loving and serving man. If He can save me, He can save you too. Don’t give up on yourself, because God will not, and even if you have given up on yourself, God has not. There is hope. You just have to come home. I’m getting behind CLTIVATE to help spread that message."