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When I started my journey of recovery I soon realized I was in a battle. A battle for my life as a matter of fact. It is hard to not see when ones ass is getting handed to them over and over. Many years I lay on the matt being stomped and beaten by addictions. This is because I thought I was “The Star”. I didn’t need a partner, team or anyone. Or so I thought. I didn’t realize this was actually a tag team event and God was the star, not me. I started realizing that God was the skilled warrior. He didn’t need to tag me. God already had the fight sewed up. He generously gave me time in the ring to give me experience in defending myself and teaching me so I could grow in my survival skills, “Spiritual Survival Skills”. I struggled for many years. Beaten time after time. Day after day. On deaths door I eventually started tagging-out or passed it to God. I would gaze through the tears and blood as He Masterfully and quite easily won. Yes, this is figuratively speaking! I am not delusional, I promise.

The point is that eventually I needed to except that these were never meant to really be my battles to win. God would do the winning. I just got to improve my sobriety swordsmanship. My life started changing when I came to the realization that I needed to turn these battles of life over to God. In fact, I struggled for the first ten years of my journey because I would still occasionally try to be the star again and my pride would defeat me. 30 days, 90days, 1 year a couple of times and I actually made it 3 ½ years once. At the 3 ½ year mark I was in ministry and the Associate Pastor of a church. My pride grew and I would find myself behind bars after one friendly drink with a perspective client for my business. I was a Bi-vocational minister you see. This means I had to work and earn income to support my ministry habit. This trend would continue until I became homeless and suicidal. One drink eventually would lead to another and another and then drugs and I would transform in to Super Drunk. Able to ruin my life almost instantly. Thank God for being merciful and loving me and seeing far beyond my illness and struggles. God doesn’t focus on our mistakes He focuses on what we can become through Christ. He loves us.

Listen up! If we look at the ordinary church of today, it’s like and Onion. Many layers. At the initial glance we determine its worth buying. As we begin to process it to cook with we know we need something more satisfying than the unprocessed onion.  As we peal we find some bitterness that is unpalatable to us. If we compare the church to that outer Layer we think, “Damn, these people are as screwed up as I am”. Don’t they realize I’m sensitive? We may tear up at times because they do not handle us with the respect we feel royalty is deserving of. Should we toss the onion all together? We could realize that if we work past the tears and the bitter experience, short-lived unpleasantness we start to get to something that will make the perfect dish we prayed for. We whittle away cutting out what we can’t use and only use that part that makes life wonderful and sustaining. The yummy part.  We grow and find nourishment. Maybe we could except that not all onions are perfect. After all, we are not perfect either for that matter. Right? Do we not have our own bitterness, ego and personality defects? It is worth noting that some of the saltiest of people I have encountered at church later showed me incredible love when least expected. Don’t stop eating because it’s not the best tasting meal every time. Even the most unpalatable food may contain some of the best nourishment. Sometimes we take the fast food approach to life and settle for fast and yummy. Fast and yummy is not always very nourishing.


Back to the battle at hand. Sometimes I refer to my Bible as my sword. A sword can be used to help gain nourishment. I use my bible to defend myself against temptations and it can be used to protect others at times. It can defeat the enemy. But God Knows we are not perfect at wielding that sword, (Bible) at first. In fact, it can be a little dangerous. We can accidentally cut people emotionally with it, not meaning to do harm. A spiritually inflicted wound is a difficult wound to heal. Cuts are deep when the church or Christian is the one hurting us. See, many of us believe church or God is the place to find help with broken heart. When we get hurt by church, it is especially painful. We feel betrayed. We were vulnerable and reaching for help. Satan tries to convince us that the one place, “Church or Pastor” we reached out to for refuge is not real, or not capable of protecting us. Then the cut feels fatal to us. We give up. We turn our back because we bought the lie. Don’t let the lie into your heart. I have believed that lie and I almost didn’t make it back. I would have died a horrible death.

Even church folks have a tendency at times to attempt to measure the faith and spirituality of another to decide the value. Its sinful human nature and futile at best. Its judgment dressed up in pompous piety. It is an attempt to measure or compare ourselves to one another. Only God has the ability to judge righteously. And He says his grace is sufficient.


God knows we miss the target. We shoot ourselves in the foot. We plant the arrow in someone’s ass occasionally. We are broken and misfits toys at times. I am! But God loves me anyway. Even though I may be the most beat up, goofy looking toy on the shelf. My hair may be missing in spots, one eye barely attached, buck toothed and butt naked. But I swear to you there are times when I feel like God is holding me to his precious heart and I am is being cradled in His arms. Finally, I find comfort and peace. I just know that I don’t want it to ever end. I want you to see what that feeling feels like also. 27 years of sobriety, many sermons later, deaths, heartaches, bad health and I live in poverty as I write this and, “I AM STILL IN LOVE WITH THE ONE WHO SAVED ME AND MADE ME SOBER”. No, I’m not perfect. I am not rich, but He is perfect enough for the both of us. And yes! I do love going to church. Even today. Not the hangout for saints that I thoroughly expected but the toy box that all the most precious of treasure are kept as broken, beat-up and broken as they may be.

Written By,

Robert S. Newberry, “Sinner”

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