Alcoholic Father Discovers New Role Model

“I seen my mother and my sisters drive off. I remember my dad flicked a cigarette and that's kinda when everything, my life went down with his.”

Eight-year-old David never thought his parents would divorce, but the signs were there. “I noticed my mother and father started arguing more.  I noticed the fights started getting more violent and my father started getting more violent,” said David.

His father’s discipline had also become harsher. But David held onto the good memories, before things got bad.

“I had a lot of respect for my father. I loved my father.  He was abusive, but i still loved my father, so we had that, you know, we had that connection.”

So it was decided he would stay with his dad, while his two sisters went with their mom.  From there the abuse, and drinking only got worse.  

“He started going to the bars every night. The house started getting louder.  You know, sex in the house.  It turned into a home that I didn't even know. And not only that there was mental abuse. ‘You're a flunky. You're a loser.’”

At 11 years old, David started drinking and smoking pot because, according to his dad, it was the cool thing to do.  On the weekends he stayed with his mom, who tried talking to him about god, but he was too angry and hurt to listen.

“She’d always, you know, encourage with bibles and, ‘God has plans’ and you know, ‘things happen for a reason’ and all this stuff you don't want to hear, you know? And you know, even if there is a god, where is he at?  You know, why is this happening?”

In 11th grade, he dropped out of school and became a small-time drug dealer. He left his dad’s and bounced in and out of drug houses and was arrested numerous times.  Like his dad, he felt life was hopeless. “Your mother's gone, your father's abusive. You don't know what life is.  You have no value of life.  I had not value for life.”

That is until David’s girlfriend told him she was pregnant. As he prepared to be a father, he felt something he never had before.

“There was a hope,” he said, “that life was going to change. When I seen the heartbeat it's like ‘wow. This is where my life is really headed now. You know, this is where it's really going.’”

Then, without notice, his girlfriend got an abortion.  David was crushed, and felt that in some way, he was to blame. “I had to get away.  Cause I knew my life was now costing other lives. That's when I really started first realizing that there needed to be a change in my life, that I needed to do something with my life.”

David earned his GED, joined the army reserves, and took a job at a steel factory.  But it was when he married and had two sons, that he felt he had found what he had been looking for.

“I always started trying to find that hope, you know, that it was all about family, it was all about, finding someone to marry, having kids and that would settle you down.”

David loved his sons and was never abusive, but he never got over his need for alcohol.  He and his wife argued constantly and eventually filed for divorce. He said, “When the separation finally happened, I pushed farther away and I went to the only thing that I knew how and that was back to the bar scene, back to drinking, even more so.”

While waiting on the divorce settlement, they shared custody of their boys. “When my sons were around I held it together, it's when they weren't around that I that I went off.”

One night, David was arrested and jailed for driving while intoxicated.  The divorce hearing only weeks away, and David feared he would lose all custody of his sons.
He remembered, “I automatically, at that moment, felt a sense of brokenness that I'd never-never felt before. My sons were really on my heart like, what are they going to do? You know?  How is this going to all get fixed?  What's going to happen here?"

After his arraignment, David posted bail and went home to await trail. He recalled, “There's tons of millions of thoughts [that] went through my mind on what to do, that I wasn't good enough to be a father. You know, they're probably better off without me. Everybody I let down, they're probably just better off without me.”

David turned on the television, looking for a distraction.  Instead he found a message of hope. The 700 Club was on, and Pat Robertson was ministering.

“At the end when he said, 'You have two ways to go right now.  You can go the way you're going or you can accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and choose the life that he has for you.’ I was like, ‘Wow! Is it – is it really that easy?’ Cause I never heard that it was that easy before?  So I went in my back room, kneeled down, prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, I believe you, I need you.’  It was a need. it was a hunger and a thirst that I'd never felt before. And I remember I rose and I felt free for the first time, like everything was going to be fine.  I was like, this is – this is like a wow factory, you know?  Everything was going to truly be okay.”

David got himself into a rehab facility where he started reading his Bible and praying, he discovered the true meaning of being a man and father.

“I didn't have a father figure to look up to, but I had God. And oh, did he reveal his true identity to me. And through that time, he equipped me to be a better father, to be everything that my sons needed, so. All that fear was gone.  All that fear of what's ahead, was gone.  You know, all that fear of who I was going to be was gone.”

Freed from his addictions, David showed up to his pre-trial a changed man.  The judge counted his rehab as time served and dropped the charges. Two weeks later, he was in front of a judge again – this time for a custody hearing. He said, “I wore my faith on my sleeve and told the judge everything about my faith, everything about, you know, my newfound hope. So two weeks later I get a phone call from my attorney that I won residential parenting rights. We shared parenting, but they were going to, they were allowed to go to school where I was residing, so.”

Today, David is a pastor, and ministers to people suffering with addictions. He’s married to Rhonda, and together they’re teaching their family whose example they need to follow above all.

“I'm encouraging,” he said. “I love them, I'm their dad, I'm their friend, but they know that there's one over me, and that's their father in heaven. And that's why I am who I am today.”

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