He Had Everything, But Gave it Up

“All I wanted was to be accepted by somebody when I was growing up,” says Steve. “And then just to have, you know, a true friend and have somebody I knew that cared about me for who I was.”

Steve Waldrip was bullied for most of his childhood.

“I was really skinny. God blessed me with a big noggin, I had a big head, you know. Kids would bully me and I got the name ‘Jug Head’. I got beat up a lot. I got picked on a lot.”

At fourteen, Steve found acceptance when he gave his life to Christ at a summer camp.

“It gave me a sense of hope, that, that Jesus truly loved me. That He didn’t care if I was skinny or I was ugly. You know, He loved me for me.”

But the bullying intensified and Steve spent more and more time alone. He was struggling to learn the guitar and asked God to help him.  

“I say God, if You’ll teach me to play this guitar, to sing and to write songs. I’ll do it for You, for Your glory. And guess what? God said let’s do it. Because from that day playing a guitar, it was like second nature to me.”

Soon after, a popular kid from school heard Steve playing the guitar. He was so impressed that he invited Steve to play at a party the following weekend.

“They were paying attention to me. I felt accepted for the first time. Nobody was looking at me like this big headed, ugly kid anymore. They were looking at me like ‘Wow, we like the way you sing, we like the way you play. You’re part of us now.’ They were paying attention to me.

Steve drank his first beer and smoked his first joint that night. He continued to party with his new friends and then dropped out of high school in tenth grade to sing and play guitar at honky tonks.

“But I could always hear God keep telling me this is not what you told Me you’d do. This is not our deal but see, the thing is God didn’t kill me. God didn’t take that talent away from me.”

His deep voice caught the attention of a strip club owner, who offered him a job as a DJ. Soon Steve was running the place, and several other clubs. At 22, he left music behind, but fell deeper into alcohol and drug abuse.  

“Man, I had all the women I wanted, you know, and all the cocaine I wanted, all the whiskey I wanted, all the money I wanted. I had everything I wanted, but I didn’t need God.”

Steve continued to live and work in the dark underbelly of strip clubs for the next fourteen years. Then one night a friend invited him over. When Steve arrived at the home, a man jumped him and beat him with a metal pipe.  

“I remember seeing a darkness and feeling a loneliness as I laid on that floor. I had this loneliness and this feeling of nothing. No love, no anything.”

He woke up in a hospital with a doctor standing over him.  

“He said, ‘I’m not a religious man, but I want to tell you this. Somebody upstairs was looking out for you.’ He said, ‘Because 78% of the people that take a blow to the head like this don’t live to tell about it.’”

Steve learned an ex-girlfriend had set him up, and left the hospital a few days later set on revenge.

“I went to the liquor store and got me a 1/5 of Jack Daniels. I got my 9 mm and I loaded it heavy. I was intending to kill everybody in that house.”

But en route to his ex-girlfriend’s house, Steve was picked up for DUI and spent the night in jail.

“God really starts turning up the steam on me. God said, ‘Steve, I love you. This is not the plans I have for your life.’”

Steve’s business partners bailed him out the next day and brought him to the club to let him cool off.

“I’m walking around with a glass of whiskey in my hand. I’m the boss man. I hear God say something to me you never want to hear God say. God says, ‘Steve, it’s now or never. I’m tired of playing with you.’”

He fell to his knees in the middle of the club.

“Security gathered around me because they thought I was dying. They thought that surely, you know, this lifestyle has caught up with him. What they didn’t know is I was on my knees saying, ‘God, forgive me. Let me come home.’ I got up. I pushed everybody away from me. I went in the office of that club. I called the owner and I said, ‘Man, I quit.’ He started laughing. He said, ‘You need more money?’ I said, ‘No, man, I quit. I just gave my life back to Jesus.”

Steve was able to walk away from the clubs and the drugs, but he still wasn’t free.

“The first place I went when I left there was to the liquor store and got me a bottle of Jack Daniels. And I went home and I prayed and I took a shot of Jack Daniels. I read my Bible and I took a shot. And I did that until I passed out. I woke up the next morning and I did the same thing.”

Steve tried everything he could to stop drinking, including several stints in rehab. He was only 38, but he knew he was dying.

“One day I was looking in my bathroom mirror and I looked at my eyes and I seen death. I told God, ‘I said don’t let me die. Don’t let me die. I’m back doing what You asked me to do. But I can’t let go of this whiskey. I can’t stop.’ I fell on my knees and I found the key to breaking those chains was I said, ‘God, I cannot do this without You.’ And God be my witness, there’s never another drop of whiskey touch my lips since that day. God immediately released me from that chain. He broke that chain.

In 2013, he married Kelly and today they travel the country, sharing a message of hope and second chances through Steve’s music. Just as he promised.

“It kinda gives you chills, man. To know that God will use an old strip club manager, someone that turned against Him, and [He] never, ever stopped loving him. That’s an awesome God. You know, finally Someone loved me for who I was. There’s that Friend I was looking for.”

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