2010 HOF Speeches

Character – Who You Are When Nobody Is Looking

jaybercrow avatarAn author once described how every person must mourn the losses in their lives for an appropriate stretch of time, but then we must also choose to move on and grow from the experience. But he said far too many of us refuse to give up on what we’ve lost as if we are chasing the setting sun in the west, hoping to catch up, when instead we should turn around and start walking toward the rising sun in the east.

I wish I could say that “turning” was easy for me but it wasn’t.

I was a pastor for 20 years, married for 19 and have three beautiful teenage daughters. I enjoyed my years doing what I believed God wanted me to do and yet knowing deep inside that something wasn’t right. I poured my heart and the best of everything I had into preaching and leading. The problem is that you can’t give your best to anything or anyone other than your wife and family. We all paid a price for that.

Five years ago my wife and I looked at each other and acknowledged that our marriage was over. I lost everything: my career, my wife, my home, and the privilege of going to bed every night under the same roof as my kids.

The five months between the two of us making the decision and when we would make it known to anyone was when I rediscovered the false comfort in chewing tobacco. Since high school I had occasionally put in a chew but was successful at keeping it at what I felt was a safe distance. I could keep a pack of Red Man in the toolbox in the garage for six months at a time and I would never chew more than once a week.

What I didn’t realize was that my addiction was simply laying dormant waiting for my time of weakness. When the wheels came off the bus of my life I found that I gravitated toward chewing. It seemed that the only time I felt peace was when the nicotine was working through my system. I can remember many times a day sitting outside the church on a folding chair, crying and spitting, thinking somehow that I deserved some pleasure in a life that was falling apart.

I cried every day for six months after I moved out. I went “underground” and shut myself off from every friend I ever had. Literally hundreds of people wanted to help, but I refused to accept it. I blamed God (though I knew it was my fault) and I became completely self-absorbed. I mourned for far too long and in that period of mourning I found it all too easy to compromise my integrity.

I will spare you the details of my three years of living as a post-divorce prick, but I am not proud (okay, the three different women within 72 hours was pretty amazing, I won’t lie about that).

But then came that point of turning when I realized that I had become steeped in mediocrity and a man I wouldn’t want my daughters to emulate. The turn toward the rising sun wasn’t easy. There is a perverse pleasure in continuing to beat oneself up. But it was time.

Since then I met (and married) an amazing woman. My girls’ mom and I work together to raise them, I started a new career and am now more passionate about living in the moment than I have ever been. The restoration of my character began but one thing remained…the Red Man addiction.

To be honest, my greatest motivation for overcoming this addiction wasn’t the fear of cancer. That wasn’t enough for me. Instead, it had everything to do with being a man who does what he says. I can’t go back to the way I was living and expect to be the husband my wife needs me to be and the dad my girls deserve. There had to be a complete restoration of my character.

So I quit. I quit lying and deceiving. For more than two years, KTC was my homepage. I would open up Explorer and the home screen would pop up. 100 days ago I made the decision to enter and explore. I ended up in the Chat room and SamCat helped me post for the first time.

I was overwhelmed by the support! Throughout the day I would check my blackberry and see words of encouragement that were absolutely critical in those early days of my quit. Those ahead of my sent messages with phone numbers. I am grateful for every single of my pisser/tard brothers as well as the consistent support of those who came before us.

If you are reading this and you are thinking about quitting, you have some hard decisions to make. Odds are good that you are lying to someone about how you are spending your time. That makes you a liar. You are cheating those you love out of your time and devotion, which makes you a cheater. Do you really want to live the rest of your life that way? Character counts!

NOTE: This piece written by KillTheCan.org forum member jaybercrow

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