I’ll start by telling you exactly what I tell every person:
I’m just a guy who screwed up a lot.
Three years ago, I was in Birmingham, Alabama - battling a crippling hangover and writing suicide letters to my loved ones. I had become a full-blown alcoholic, a coke head, a thief, and a liar. My depression and anxiety was too much to bear, my hands were too shaky to even hold a glass of water, and I was ready to die. For whatever reason, I wrote a suicide letter to myself, too. Just in case.
Here’s that letter - I share it with you, because I want you to know that life is worth it. I want you to see that God can rescue anyone, and that miracles do happen.
By age 26, I had been fired from 17 different jobs, wrecked every relationship, and pushed away all the people I cared about. (I’m also the father to a son I’ve never met. Another story for another day – still working on that one).
My drug habit started in 6th grade on a church retreat. I started popping pills with a friend, just to see what would happen. That attitude of rebellion and searching led me to cocaine, more pills, and heavy drinking in high school. I loved getting messed up. Partying was my way of forgetting how I felt inside, and I loved not remembering anything from the night before.
My college nickname was literally “Party”. I was just having fun. Somehow, I made it through college with a marketing degree and no real consequences (aside from becoming a dad at age 19 and being financially cut off by my parents.)
After college, I started hustling. I needed cash to pay for partying every night, so I worked a ton of jobs like valet parking and golf courses. Like I mentioned, I got fired from every single one of those jobs, but I didn’t care. It wasn’t my problem. I was having fun. The hangovers started getting bad, though.
I began day drinking just to steady my shaky hands and make the headaches go away, and I’d do whatever drugs were around just to find the next level. I’d push my parents away, and I’d go off the grid for weeks at a time. No text messages, no phone calls, nothing. I just wanted to be alone, and I felt that no person could ever understand me, so I didn’t bother explaining myself. I’d just get wasted and keep living my life.
I hate to admit this, but my plan was to just party and steal things until I got caught. Then I’d kill myself. By that time, I had totally turned my back on God – I didn’t understand how He could let bad things happen to me, and I just wanted to die. It’s the darkest, loneliest existence, and I don’t wish it upon anyone.
I started lying and stealing - doing things I swore I'd never do. I wasn’t happy anymore. I was dead inside.
2014 is a big blur to me. I do remember one day from that summer. I was contemplating suicide, per usual, and my plan was to drive my truck as fast as possible into a tree. My hands were too shaky that afternoon to hold the steering wheel, so I pulled over in a McDonald’s parking lot and began to just cry. The crying turned into weeping, and the weeping turned into wailing.
Then…my phone rang. It was Mom. I hadn’t talked to her in a while, and it was weird that she was calling me. I’ll never forget her words… "Zack, I don’t know where you are or what you’re doing right now, but I need you to know that I love you.”
I couldn’t even speak. I didn’t have any more tears, so I just held my phone and listened to the silence. She knew. Moms just know. If she didn’t call me in that moment, I would’ve killed myself that day. I really would have.
Fast forward to September 29, 2014, I found myself in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Birmingham, Alabama. I don’t remember making the choice to go, I just knew I needed help, and I was ready to give it a shot before killing myself. I don’t know what anyone said in that meeting, but I remember crying, letting everyone know I needed help, and I remember feeling understood for the first time in many years.
After the meeting, an old man told me to go home and pray. Luckily, I still believed in God, and I knew how to pray. I hit my knees that night, and I surrendered my will to God. I told Him I couldn’t take it any longer, and that I needed a miracle.
Well…I’ve been clean and sober since that day. The miracle happened on 9-29-14.
It hasn’t been easy – in fact, sobriety has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever been through. But I can honestly say it’s worth it. The light has returned to my eyes, there’s joy in my heart, I’ve learned how to appreciate every moment, and I’m in love with my Creator. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and He keeps me safe.
I still screw up a lot…I still battle depression and anxiety…and I’m still trying to figure out what the heck to do with my life. But I don’t have to drink or do drugs anymore, and that’s the miracle. I’m about to be 30 years old, and I have a beautiful life to look forward to. I’m grateful for all the struggles, the suicidal thoughts, and the darkness I felt. Because it brought me here.
I’m no longer ashamed of my story. In 2016, I felt a strong pull on my heart to leave everything behind and go tell the world about faith and sobriety. So I did. I left my full-time job, sold all my stuff, and hit the road. I now travel full-time, sharing my story wherever possible. It’s the most challenging thing ever. I’m super poor, and I usually don’t know where I’ll be sleeping at night. But it’s worth it, because it teaches me to lean on God completely.
That’s what God does. He takes our brokenness and uses it for His glory – if we let Him. So…I’m gonna go for it. Whatever doors open, I’ll walk through them with a smile. I’ll continue to carry my joy through the hardships and the good times. My goal is simply this: to point people to God. He’s the answer.
I keep going, because life is worth it – every broken part of it.
If you'd like to support me on this mission to spread hope all over the world, I'd greatly appreciate it! Every little bit truly helps. Thank you so much!