Hi My Name is Matt
I grew up in Princeton, KY a small town not far from here. My earliest memory from my childhood is watching my father fighting the police. He had lived a life of crime that was coming to an end before my very eyes. I was 4 when I witnessed him being taken away. That’s when my problem with authority began and I felt abandoned for the first time.
After my father was sent to prison I was left with my mother, granny and my granddaddy. I stayed with my grandparents while my mother worked to keep food on the table. My grandparents showed me love by being generous with gifts and accolades. This was my beginning of instant gratification. I started expecting everyone to treat me the same way my grandparents did. I thought that’s what love really looked like, if you loved me you would give to me freely. I started looking at the world and people around me for what they could do for me. I even at times felt like my grandparents loved me more than my own mother because of what they “DID” for me. I never once thought about how my mother was doing everything she could to keep food on the table and a roof over my head. I was young and extremely selfish and had no idea what was happening. I started school and the first day I remember feeling like I didn’t belong. I felt as if I had to try to fit in. I started seeking acceptance of others from that day forward. My dad being in prison made me feel ashamed and different than the other kids. Around this time is when my mother began dating a man named Harvey who lived across the field from us. I didn’t like Harvey because he wouldn’t let me have my way. I perceived this as being mean and controlling. He tried to get my mother to put more rules and structure into my life. He forced me to eat things I didn’t like. One night I even through up meat loaf on him because I was so upset and determined not to like it. BUT today I love meatloaf. The only time I liked being at home is when it was just my mom and I at home. My granny lived within 100 yards of my mom so I could walk down there anytime I couldn’t get my way at my mom’s. Eventually my mother and Harvey got married and we moved in with him. I was not happy and I couldn’t understand how my mom could be happy. Harvey made my mom hang clothes outside instead of using a dryer to save money. He even made her walk down alternating sides of the clothesline to keep from killing the grass. I couldn’t play in the yard because it might kill the grass so I was forced to play in the field. My granddad was the only positive male role model I had in my life. He became my dad; teaching me to hunt, fish and play sports. He was very kind and patient with me. I wanted to grow up to be just like him. I was blessed with two moms in many ways, my granny being the second. She taught me manners, how to be respectful and drug me to church every time the doors were opened. Granny was planting seeds and doing God’s work before I even knew what that meant. She was the one that drove me to see my dad while he was in prison. I didn’t go see him a lot however when I did he told me about all the great things we were going to do when he got out, like go to football games and ride four wheelers. The only thing I really heard was that he was going to spend time with me. When I was 9 I became a big brother to a boy named Kevin. I had also wanted a little brother so I would have someone to play with. Living in the country as a little kid with no one around made things boring at times. When I did spend time with kids my age it was awkward because I didn’t know how to communicate with them. Other than my dad being gone and a step dad I didn’t like my childhood was good. As my dad’s release date got closer all I could think about were those promises of “time”. Secretly I had hopes of my mom and dad getting back together and everything would be normal. What I wanted to happen and what was about to happen were two different things. The reality was his promises were empty. When he did get out he re-married and started a new family excluding me. My heart was absolutely broken, I was crushed. I wondered why he didn’t love me enough to want to spend time with me. I still got to see him every other weekend for a couple of years but I was second place to his new family. My mom and step dad split up and she started dating other men. My mom started drinking and when she did I felt abandoned all over again. I started feeling second place at home too. Remember that entitlement I felt in the beginning of my testimony, I was in a great emotional conflict. This new mother I was seeing was scary and unpredictable. I started staying with friends a lot just so I didn’t have to be at home. I was starting to feel like I fit in and I thrived on that feeling. I had always been against drugs and alcohol because of what it did to my mom and dad. But, when I saw what it did to my friends I became intrigued. I went to a friend’s party one night and the older part of this group had alcohol. The older crowd of people were the ones I sought attention and acceptance from. They offered me some and without hesitation I drank it. 30 minutes later I became the person I wanted to be; free of pain and accepted. Alcohol was the answer to all my problems. I didn’t have to think of my dad’s other family, my mom’s struggles or that I didn’t fit in. At 14 years old I started down a dark path of destruction that would forever alter my life and those around me. Girls started noticing me and I began feeling a whole new level of acceptance. Life was starting to feel good and then my dad abandoned me yet again. He was believed to have been involved in a heinous crime and when word got out he fell off the earth for almost 2 years, hiding from his consequences and me. The disappointment from my dad only escalated my need to numb the pain. Not long after his disappearance I got arrested for the first time, public intoxication and drinking under age. My mom and granddaddy had to pick me up from the jail in Lyon County. They weren’t mad but something worse, they were disappointed. I knew the best way to keep the shame away was to continue using alcohol and marijuana. I had progressed from just drowning pain caused by others to now drowning pain I was causing. My life was now like a snowball rolling off a mountain, growing larger and picking up speed. Now my addiction was including other drugs. I remember vividly December 28, 2003. I had been up all night on Adderall and at around 5:00am my mother’s phone rang, it was my granny calling my mother. A few seconds later my mother came running through the house yelling, “Daddies’ gone, granddaddy’s dead.” My heart sank, my only thought was getting to their house. I threw some shoes on and ran to their house. When I walked in my Granny was standing crying trying to cover her face but couldn’t because she was shaking so bad. My grandfather was laying on the couch, I sat beside him in disbelief that he was gone. I kissed him on the forehead one last time. That was the most painful day of my life. My heart from that day forward was cold and empty. The reason I was so cold and empty was because the night before he died I was driving by his house. He was outside and stopped me. He asked me if I wanted some chili he had just made. I was too busy trying to find more drugs.
This began a long period of drugs, alcohol, and jails all of which just escalated my need to medicate from the pain I was causing.
At age 23 I decided I was going to be an addict who would end up in jail or dead. My drug use, types and amounts greatly changed. I began abusing opiates, meth and benzo’s. To the point I couldn’t function without them. One night while my girlfriend and I were at my granny’s we got into a fight. I took 23 years of hurt and frustration out on her physically while in a drug induced rage. My granny opened the door and I was holding my girlfriend at gunpoint. I made my Granny come into the room. Granny started crying and screaming out to God. I continued beating my girlfriend for the next 30 minutes while holding my Granny hostage. Granny’s prayers worked because I finally calmed down enough to let them go. In the middle of that darkened rage I felt God’s presence, for some reason I had a strange feeling everything would be ok. I went to jail that night and bonded out after a month. A few weeks after bonding out I had a car wreck that nearly took my life. I don’t remember anything from the wreck other than waking up in Vanderbilt Hospital. Despite having a broken neck, broke leg and fresh out of surgery on my nose all I could think about was getting high. Drugs now controlled my every thought. I was released late one night and within 24 hours had taken the entire prescription of 60 Lortabs. My mother was helping me buy them off the street because I was in so much pain. I never one time thought what my behavior was doing to those around me or myself. I was in and out of rehabs and jail for the next few years. In 2016 after only being free for 6 months I found my bottom after shooting at my cousin and mother. While in jail I got a letter from my Aunt Lori, I remember when they handed it to me I slipped it under my mat and went back to sleep. Later that night I got up and read the letter. She said she knows how hopeless and lost I must feel and compares it to the night Granddaddy died. She didn’t know how she would continue without him. She said she laid in his bed all that night crying out to God for the strength to get through this situation because she couldn’t do it alone. She said she had to rely on God’s strength. That was my “light bulb” moment, God’s strength, not mine. All those years of Granny planting those seeds in me by talking to me about God and dragging me to church, it all came back in an instant. It was like a tidal wave crashing over me, God now had my attention. I knew a better direction I had just chosen to ignore, but not now.
The fear of being lost forever became greater than the fear of change.
All the worry, hurt and pain I caused my family, yet they never gave up. God told Aunt Lori what words to put in that letter and she obeyed. I had said the “Sinner’s Pray” many times but I never said it from the heart. Romans 10:10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. It wasn’t until that day in jail that I said with every ounce of hope I had in me. I spent that night crying myself to sleep begging God to come into my life and change me. When I woke up that next morning, I was different, I was truly SAVED. I had a strong sense of peace that I’d never had before. I had 9 years to serve and it didn’t matter to me. All I could think about was serving God and being grateful He had given me the chance to do so. I stayed sober the entire time I was in jail but it was hard to stay focused. I met a man that had a drug addiction as well and was trying to live for God. Surrounded by negativity God put us together so we could better focus on Him. God was just getting warmed up. I was shocked out after only 9 months to the Fuller Center. While I was there God dusted me off and energized me to do the work He’s called me to do. God knew I would need more strength training to stay sober, 28 days just wasn’t enough time to unlearn my character defects. I needed and wanted more of His peace and understanding. I and I said “I” planned on going to Center Pointe, after my interview I couldn’t get in because of the nature of my crimes. I had a bed date at Lifeline but I didn’t want to go back there. I was there several years ago and it wasn’t a quite a rehab. I tried getting into other places but all the doors were closed. Lifeline was my only option, it actually made me angry at God, I couldn’t understand how He could put me back in a bad situation knowing I was trying to do right by Him. After a few days of walking around worried and arguing with God about Lifeline, A lady came up to me and said, “Matt why are you questioning God’s plan for you?” I knew those words were from God. I felt bad, which I now know is conviction, for doubting Him. I get to Lifeline and instantly see God had been working some changes there too. It was nothing like before. I was in the exact place God needed me to further my training. I listened and asked questions in my classes. I took Celebrate Recovery serious, those questions in that step study book walked me through the detailed training I needed. I remember my 5th step, I was so nervous and yet ready to let the resentments, guilt, shame and hurt out. Through my 5th step, I saw God at work in my life from the day I was born. My Dad was not going to give me the love and guidance I needed as a young man so He gave me a Granddaddy. He gave me a Granny, Mom and family that would not give up on me. I was now getting a different perspective on my life and situations. I sought wise council as the Bible teaches and I started reading a few books that re-enforced everything I was learning. I had the honor of attending an Emmaus Walk, if you haven’t been, GO if the opportunity arises. I had never seen or felt that much love from so many people in one place. I made my amends, I even cut my cousin’s grass. She paid me to cut her grass a long time ago and I didn’t actually do the work. So I made it right. I’ve graduated Lifeline completing all the requirements, however I choose today to stay there. I’m not fixed yet, He continues to show me character defects. I have a shoe problem currently. Today I have the privilege of giving back. We also co-lead the Celebrate Recovery step studies in phase I and II. I entered a step study as soon as I entered 3rd phase that meets every week. My family still today supports me unconditionally. I honor my Granddaddy, Granny and Mom who never gave up on me by giving back. Hebrew 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially sin that trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. I have to keep moving forward in my growth because I never want to feel that cold empty feeling again. Today I know, Love, Grace and Mercy it’s given to me freely by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My name is Matt I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles but yet is blessed beyond measure.