I remember as a young man, all the self doubt I had. I always felt like I had two left feet, like I didn’t fit in. I felt like I wasn’t good enough and that no one would want to hear what I had to say. I was embarrassed to pray or talk about God in front of others. I felt all alone, even in crowds! I was a chubby kid, not strong enough to support my own body. In sports my shoulder dislocated several times. In time I had to have a shoulder operation to repair the damage.
I remember in freshmen football, the coach used to give me a hard time because I was so weak on the bench press. He would say, “How can a guy so big, be so weak!” I was so embarrassed. This only helped feed the lie on my spirit, that I wasn’t good enough! I isolated more and more. My walls of defense were ten feet thick. I didn’t let anyone in. I always felt like others were making fun of me. I was a wreck!
I didn’t know it then, but I had all the isms of the disease of addiction. My life began to spiral out of control. I started to drink alcohol. All of the sudden the world felt just right! Another lie on my spirit! For many years I was in the deadly grip of addiction. I was hopeless and spiritually dead.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
After believing the lie on my spirit and the lies of addiction for many years, I was involved in a terrible motor vehicle accident. This was nineteen years ago in December, and the last time I consumed alcohol. I entered rehab. There, I learned about the problem of addiction, the solution to addiction, and the program of action that is life changing. I did everything they said to do. I took all their suggestions. I started to change.
I gave my life to the Lord in recovery. I established a new understanding and a new relationship with God. I was becoming a different man with a new mind. I no longer needed a chemical to deal with my problems. I started to have real friends in my life. I started to write poetry. I started back in the gym lifting weights. I was improving, body, mind, and spirit!
I sent out some of my poems and writings to publishers. I started to compete in bench press competitions. I started to study to become a reverend. I no longer believed the lie on my spirit that I wasn’t good enough. That old directive was taken away and I was given a new one. My new directive was that I was a good person, that I had a purpose and a place, and a right to be. I believed it! I experienced inner healing.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free
My life continued to change over the next few years. I continued to listen and learn. I realized that I am a servant of God, and that I have a calling. I was no longer hopeless, scared, and alone. My life was turning out better than I ever could have imagined! I became an Ordained Reverend and helped to start a Ministry in Pennsylvania. I had hundreds of poems and essays published internationally. I had a book of poetry published in England. I became a National Bench Press Champion 9 times. I was the outstanding Master Bench Press lifter in the 2009 Nationals. In 2009 and 2010 I was The World Champion in my age and weight class. I have good friends, family, and an awesome God in my life! I no longer believe lies! I have been alcohol and illicit drug free for almost nineteen years.
For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
While I was training for the 2011 World Championship, I felt a pain in my hip. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with extreme arthritis and degeneration of the hip. My hip is completely shot and I will need a replacement. That was four years or so ago. Today I am in a wheelchair waiting to have surgery on my hip. I can only walk a few steps with assistance. Even though I am in quite a bit of pain, I have still been faithful. I continue to minister to those that need help and their families. I love to lecture on addiction recovery and do recovery coaching. I know that God has a plan for me and that there is a reason for everything.
God doesn’t make mistakes! We all have a purpose and a place, and a right to be. We all have the power inside to move mountains! There is always hope. We need to think about the message that we are giving to young people. My coach didn’t mean any harm, yet he caused hurt and pain with one simple sentence. We all have gifts and short comings. Acknowledging these is humility. Faith is more powerful than fear. We don’t have to be afraid of who we are, or our relationship with God. I love Jesus today and there is no shame in that. I love to pray with other people. There is great power in love. “Acceptance turns a victim into a hero!” Dr. Paul O., a contributor to Alcoholics’ Anonymous Basic Text, said that.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, just be you. Dare to dream dreams, and then dare to live them! You are a champion to someone. Be true to yourself! Don’t believe lies, or be afraid, and let your light shine!
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
You are a good person, you have a purpose, and a place, and a right to be, and so do I!
Rev. Kevin T. Coughlin PhD.