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What rock bottom looks like

“There’s something wrong with Daddy.”

Rock bottom sounds like that.

I thought he was too little to notice. I couldn’t fool my wife, my brother, my boss or myself, but I thought he was too little to notice.

Alone at 3 in the morning, desperate to stop shaking, to slow the racing anxiety, to be done with it all. Rock bottom feels like that.

Amanda had banished me to the couch. She didn’t do that out of anger. It was love.

“I have babied you since I’ve met you. This time I’m not doing it. Figure it out yourself.”

Jacob wrestled God in the desert; my match was in the living room. The problem was, I did not believe in my opponent.

Four years earlier, my wife was almost done with nursing school, and we were moving to Nashville. I had made connections there and had songs being pitched to major artists. Fame and fortune were just around the corner – until I got offered a job at home, too good a job to turn down.

I cried when I took it. I had told God I would follow his will, but I didn’t mean it.

I wanted my will. His was different. I hated him for it.

Hated him until I decided he didn’t exist.

The hate spread. Soon I hated my life, myself and my music – that one stung. Music had been there when nothing else was. I pushed God out of my heart, and the gift he’d given me went with him.

I was an atheist. I didn’t tell that much, but as I begged my wife to hold me until the detox was over, I had zero belief.

She held strong. It hurt her to do that. I could tell it.

I’d manipulated people my whole life. I thought I could use her hurt to let me back in the bed, but sometimes things are done in the name of love that hurt you more than the person you love. She held strong. I gave up.

Twenty steps back to the couch, four years in the desert, 10 years since accepting salvation, 30 years on the earth – one desperate, broken prayer.

“God! I have made a mess of my life. I can’t do it anymore. I will do whatever you tell me to do if you help me. Maybe I’m getting a divorce or getting fired. Maybe I never sing again. I don’t care. I give up. I will lay concrete if you tell me to. I will do whatever you tell me to do. Please help me!”

“OK.”

OK? That’s what I heard in my spirit. No thunder from the throne, just “OK” – but not my voice. God’s voice. The voice that whispered, “There’s a song in that.” The voice that told me to marry Amanda. The voice that said everything would be OK during the hardest times of my childhood. A voice I hadn’t heard in a long time.

I felt something different in my heart. I was smiling. I went to the mirror, certain someone else would be looking back. I knew life would never be the same again.

I knew what to do at home, what to do at work, how God wanted me to serve others from that point forward. They weren’t my answers, for once; they were his.

That was five years ago – five years filled with joy. I have a life again, and I write songs again. I have a loving marriage again.

Most importantly, I have a son who knows I’m OK.

Will Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville.

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