This weekend we bring to you special testimonies and personal stories straight from the men who lived them. These stories are anonymous, but they are true, and behind them stand some brave warriors who decided to act in faith and take a chance by doing something new. As they say at the veterans' programs up at Sky Rose Ranch -- If what you're doing isn't working, why not try something new? Today's story comes from a military veteran who found his life spiraling in a dark direction, and facing an ultimatum from his wife he decided to give God a chance.
In his own words:
John Doe #1 served for 13 years and eight months. He was deployed to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once. These are his answers to the following questions:
Why did you come? What did you expect? And what did you take away (from the programs at Sky Rose Ranch)?
I was given an ultimatum by my wife to either lose my family or get help. Chris Carlisle was there the day that I went in to get help, and something about the way they presented it seemed intriguing. I had been drinking excessively, getting verbally and physically violent and cut off from the world. Isolated from everyone. I wasn’t on the right path.
I expected … I didn’t know what to expect. I knew I wanted to change. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was open to something new. I kind of knew this program was faith based but I didn’t know to what extent, but it’s for the better that it’s faith-based. Until about day two, I thought I was a man and that I’d been there and done that – this made me a man (the marines) and I found that I really wasn’t… living the way God wanted me to live as a man. I needed God.
The topics that impacted me the most were on purity – being pure within myself, living well, treating my body well, not putting stuff in my body, and knowing that we’re not just hurting ourselves but we’re hurting Christ as well. Also with my marriage – I would look for other women to fill the void, I would look to cheat on my wife…. I have two children now. To be able to hurt someone the way I was – I want to be a role model, now, and an example. That’s what I want to give to my children is an example of how to live your life in Christ.
Also brotherhood was big, because I thought I was alone. I thought I had no one, that I was going through my own battle. I realized pretty fast that we all have our own battle – be it alcohol, drugs, sex, there’s always someone there just like you. I expect now to have brothers here – someone who can always have my back. Now I see that they want to help me, and no man fights alone. That weighs heavy on me, it’s the truth. Now I see it’s not just for guys in the military too, it’s for everyone. Brotherhood means everyone, and now I see that we’re all the same.
We talked about the “man in the mirror,” which is the way you look at yourself. I thought so highly of myself like I was a superstar because I’ve done all these impressive things in the military. After I tried to take my own life I realized that I should be able to see myself and be happy, and I didn’t have that until I came here.
I had thought that I would be better off (dead)… I was acting like an animal. And I felt numb. I was tired of wearing a mask and hiding and I didn’t want people to see me as weak, but deep down I was crying at night. And I think that’s what a lot of people don’t understand – you’re a bigger man if you do ask for help. I had to train myself to love, because for years I had been trained to kill.
How are you paying it forward?
I’ve gotten three or four people in the program now, and I volunteer in the church. And if I see a vet, I help him. One guy said he needed a tent – I went and bought him a four bedroom tent. And the look you see on their face when you do that – it’s awesome. I’m about to become a team leader, and now I just want to give back and give other people the hope I have.