God Said “Love Your Enemy,” so I Loved Myself

Randall Craft | Nov 14, 2017

I grew up deep in the game in Salyersville, KY, learning from my Dad. I was always taught from an early age to hustle and con, with a “by any means necessary” mentality. I looked up to my dad and wanted to be just like him. This life was the only one I knew, and so I thought that making a name for myself meant going to jail. Insane, right? Addiction is insanity. I started using drugs and alcohol when I was 16 years old. My opioid abuse continued for 12 years. Over that period, I became a 3-time convicted felon, with a total of 8 years of my life lost to incarceration, 5 stents in treatment centers, and I lost my beautiful, amazing 18 year old sister Coco to a drug overdose. I love my Dad to this day and always will. I know that he taught me the same things he was taught and they just carried down through the generations. Of course, I could have made the decision to turn it around, but I couldn’t learn from his mistakes. I had to make my own.

“If You Don’t Surrender to Christ, You Surrender to Chaos.” ~E. Staley Jones~

That quote was basically my life in one sentence. I had the most amazing mother ever. She raised 7 of us on her own because Dad was mostly locked up all my life. There were many nights she would do without food or wear the same old couple of outfits for months, just so we would have food to eat or clothes to wear. She never gave up on me, even when I had given up on myself and the world had given up on me, too. Mama was always there. She had me sent off many times, but she was only trying to save my life. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I’m very grateful for that today.

My recovery journey began on February 17, 2016, the last time I ever stuck a needle in my arm. I checked into a detox unit in Ashland, KY and regretted it 20 minutes after I got there. I literally had to sit in the hospital waiting room for 8 hours, and I wanted to leave but I kept telling myself that if I left, I was going to die. The thought of the rush running through my veins would draw me close to the door, but that voice in my head kept saying, “don’t go, just stay,” and for once, because I was so hopeless, I had no choice but to just do it and take a chance. I had come to the realization that day that if it didn’t work this time, then nothing would ever work for me. I had literally come to the crossroads in my life to where it was either “go left and die or go right and live.” I decided to choose the opposite road than the one I was on. That road was just the one I had always known, and I had to attempt to live even if I had no idea what that kind of living was. After making it in the detox, my blood pressure dropped, I had a seizure and ended back up in the emergency room where I almost died from withdrawals. I barely remember those next 4 or 5 days. I knew I couldn’t do it anymore and I prayed for God to take my life. I had lost my girl, my kids, and my soul. I had lost it all. I felt like I wasn’t alive, but only existing in a world full of sorrows.

On March 17, 2016, I checked into Belle Grove Springs a broken man, filled with guilt, shame, the inability to forgive myself, resentment, anger, and with no hope whatsoever. It was the first faith-based treatment center I had ever been to, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had remembered making a joke back before I went to someone and telling them, “Maybe I’ll find God. You never know.” I remember walking into a group full of men who took me straight in as their brother, even though I was wearing the pink shirt that was part of their intake clothes. I think that God was trying to humble me from the start. I rolled up in there, snuck my cell phone in, and was the same old Randall because I didn’t realize that my problems were within me. I fought with myself for 10 days to leave because I was there on my own free will and could have easily walked off at any time. I made things worse by having my cell phone. I was still connected to a world I had no need to be a part of. I couldn’t work on myself with the distraction, so I was back and forth with my emotions. However, what I know is this: I had to find something beautiful in this life and hang on for all I was worth. On that 10th day, I got caught with the phone, and even then I tried to smooth talk my way out of it, but that ended up being my aha moment. The light bulb came on. Or, as I like to say, “When God smacked some sense into me.” From that moment on, I started working on holding myself accountable and changing every old pattern or habit of the Randall Craft I had been for so many years. I reached a turning point with humility, humbleness, and devotion. I realized that through my relationship with Jesus Christ I had truly been forgiven. I had spent all those years looking over my shoulder for the enemy, but the reality of the situation was that I was staring at the enemy every time I looked in the mirror because the enemy was within me. Since that day, I have never looked back. I knew I wanted my recovery more than the air I needed to breathe, and I knew it was literally life or death at that point.

I graduated from Belle Grove Springs on April 28, 2016. On May 5, I entered the Intensive Outpatient program as an abstinence based client at Prestonsburg ARC. When I came home, I had already made up my mind that this time it was going to be between me and God and not between me and other people. I had hurt so many people, and, even though I knew I had been forgiven and wasn’t dwelling on my past anymore, I still had a whole lot of making up to do. However, I realized my words would not mean anything as much as the changes my new life would make, and if people couldn’t forgive me, then God never intended for them to be a part of my future. I had completely broken my home on Christmas Eve 2015. My girlfriend Alysia had left me, and she had taken my kids. We just had a newborn that was only a month and 22 days old. We had got into an awful fight and beat each other’s brains out. Obviously, I hurt her worse than she could ever hurt me. I lost everything that night. I missed my family but I knew nothing I could do could bring them back. I had to carry on, be a good father for my babies, and put my recovery first or everything I loved would come last. Alysia saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, and that a light and hope had been restored in me. I had been driving from Prestonsburg, KY to Morehead, KY every Sunday to Better Life Church. I always like to call this time in my life-building blocks. God was laying a foundation step by step from the rock bottom I was at when this all began. At first, I was going by myself. I had given my life to the Lord on April 27. I started taking my kids with me, and then Alysia came and gave her life to the Lord.

Alysia came home and within a month, on June 12, 2016, we were married. I had a broken home that was now restored and made possible by God. No sooner after that, things got hectic, and I know what you’re thinking—“that’s the married life,” but I was working on my recovery and needed to take one beautiful day at a time. I’m very blessed for my amazing wife, but the enemy attacks in all different ways. It never takes a day off. I would pray and tell God that I trusted him and knew the problems were part of the plan He had laid out for me, and that I needed to walk by faith and not by sight. I like to include this part because this was a true defining spiritual moment in my early recovery that grew my faith and made me see that I was on the street, on my own, with no roof over my head keeping me from my recovery, and God has helped me to persevere through something that before would have broken me and sent me back to using. It made me realize that this recovery thing may be possible after all. The day after Father’s Day, my car blew up but God assured me it was going to be okay. I prayed so hard, not for a car, not for anything, but more of Him, because He knew my needs. I had faith when things were very hard. I did not doubt because I knew God had me in His hands, and I reminded myself of that every day. He brought peace to my heart and to my mind when everything around me could have easily turned to bitterness. He was my hope and my rock like always, and He answered my prayers! On July 25, 2016, Alysia and I thought we were going to the grocery store with my step dad. We pulled into McDonald's and to our surprise, there was our pastor Daniel Lucas and his wife, Leigh Ann. It was a total shock to us but such a beautiful blessing as we hadn't been to church in a month. It was hard, but we stayed clean and close to Jesus at home. I’ve learned that you can always worship the Lord anywhere and anytime. I saw a quote on my case manager Danielle Keeton’s wall that said, "The Perfect Morning Is a Little Bit of Coffee and a Whole Lotta Jesus!" How beautiful is that?! Out of nowhere, Pastor Daniel and Leigh Ann told us they would like to help us start over with a place they have down in Morehead! God is always working even before the miracle happens. I’m thinking, “Man, I haven’t earned anything. I don’t deserve a blessing like this.” The next thing I know we were walking outside, and there is a 2009 Toyota Sienna Minivan that Better Life Church had blessed us with. I didn’t realize it at the time, but because I had put my absolute faith in Him and walked in obedience, He blessed us double. It wasn’t about the car. What I learned was that someone actually cared enough to show me love without expecting anything in return when I was least expecting it.

I love to include this testimony because you see life is full of tests and challenges. That was the first true test I had encountered and I’ve had many since then but that was my jump start. It built my faith and showed me I can overcome things with God guiding me and it’s growing brighter every day through the storms, through whatever comes my way. I know my faith is in Him and Him alone. He will carry me through. God has opened many doors for my family since arriving here. He put us in the perfect place surrounded by the most amazing support system I could ever have at just the right time. God’s timing is always perfect. It is never early or never late and always on His time!

Some things may be like a brick wall, but in the end, we all can make it through it. We just must be willing to give it our all. When I used drugs that was the lowest point in my life, and I praise God I did not die and had the strength to keep fighting. I encourage each of you who are listening to me that no matter what life throws at you, no matter how hurtful life may be, He can and will use it for His glory. I’m a walking, talking testimony of John 10:10, “A thief is only there to steal, kill, and destroy, I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” In my life before Christ, I allowed Satan to steal and kill my joy and destroy my purpose. When I came to know Christ as my savior, He restored my joy, gave me purpose and He leads me to a better life each day. These past 20 months of recovery have been like walking out of a black and white movie and into a Technicolor sphere of possibilities. I truly believe that nothing I have accomplished would have been possible if I was not a person in recovery who only found life because I surrendered it all to God and let Him take complete control of my life.

Today I am back at my second home, Belle Grove Springs, as a Peer Support Specialist. I am where it all began, and I couldn’t be more thankful for my job and ARC. This company was laid out by God’s hands from the beginning and it’s changing lives and families every day because we are the clay and God is the potter. He takes broken things and makes them beautiful. The people of this company care because they have all been in my shoes in one way or another. They cared and showed me love when no one else did it, and it has changed my life. I hope that I can impact someone’s life the way they have truly impacted mine. I’m not going to question why God blessed me with all these people in my life or the blessings my family have received, I’m just going to let God love me!

My aha moment

On my 10th day at Belle Grove Springs I got caught with my phone, and that was the day the light bulb came on. Pastor Kyle Burchett and Jason Damron explained to me that my problems were not just my drug problem but with my thinking, and that is what always led me back to the game of drug addiction. They gave me a second chance and from that moment on, I started working on holding myself accountable and changing every old pattern or habit of the Randall Craft I had been for so many years. I reached a turning point with humility, humbleness, and devotion. I realized that through my relationship with Jesus Christ I had truly been forgiven. I had spent all those years looking over my shoulder for the enemy, but the reality of the situation was that I was staring at the enemy every time I looked in the mirror because the enemy was within me. Since that day, I have never looked back. I knew I wanted my recovery more than the air I needed to breathe, and I knew it was literally life or death at that point. 

The driving force that keeps me going when times get tough

I love my wife and I love my family. Every breath that I take, I take for them. I do not know where this road will take me however, what I do know it’s a beautiful thing the restoration that God has brought into my life. He took all my broken pieces and rebuilt me and I give all glory to Him. That keeps me motivated through every tough time that comes in front me.

Advice for the addict still struggling

Don't give up. You may feel lost and defeated, but if you’re breathing then you are one of the fortunate ones who still have a chance to turn your life around. Reach out for help, please don't be afraid of something that will set you free.

What obstacles or roadblocks have you faced in your recovery?

Through these last 20 months many trials have come my way, from my father overdosing and almost losing his life, having to cut important people out of my life, living the first 10 months of my recovery without a job, and many other hard times along the way. The hardest obstacle I faced was back in April of this year when my wife miscarried after being 10 weeks pregnant. It was one of the most difficult things I have faced thus far because I had to be strong for her. Then afterward, the grieving came for me. I wanted to ask God why. However, I realized that He wanted that baby more than we did and I refused to let my faith sink so I held on to Him even harder and I came out with some gratitude and my faith is stronger than ever today.

What is something you want people who never struggled with addiction to know?

Although it may be hard to see the picture through a clear lens at times, we are ordinary people with amazing hearts. Sometimes we do bad things because we are sick, however, don’t ever count us out. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes in this life but that doesn’t mean we can’t be forgiven and have a chance for a new life.

What advice do you have for family members of a person in addiction?

Never lose hope. As hard as it may be sometimes, know your boundaries. Don’t love us to point where you're enabling more than youre helping. Never lose hope because there is always hope for anyone. Always tell your loved one that you love them because so often we feel that no one loves us.

Closing Thoughts

Never give up hope on anything, always aspire to reach for your dreams, and always remain humble. Through all of this I have found that the only battle I was ever truly fighting was the battle against myself. Today I’m free. I’m changing my family tree one day at a time! I live the truth, for God, my family, and for other addicts. I am their hope. I found my identity, who I am, and what my purpose is. I am to spread hope that there is way out of addiction and the light that Jesus resides in me. I’ll hold your hope until you’re ready to come get it. I love my life, I’m a child of God, and without Him I’m nothing. I need him every second of every day.

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a Future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11~

 

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care at 606.638.0938 or visit them on the web at www.arccenters.com.

There is hope. There is help.

 


Randall is the Pastoral Counselor and Peer Support Specialist at Belle Grove Springs. He provides individual and group counseling for both Pastoral and Peer Support sessions. He also provides Peer Support Mentoring for students in the Academy that are enrolled at Belle Grove Springs. He graduated from Belle Grove Springs in 2016 where he entered the IOP programs through Prestonsburg and Mt. Sterling as an abstinent based client. After a year clean he was hired as Residential Staff, then promoted to Peer Support Specialist, and now Pastoral Counselor.

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