A psychiatrist sat across from me; a file several inches thick rested on the table between us. One infraction after another had led to this moment. I was in the military and to put it mildly, I wasn’t a model soldier. The military had been my attempt to “get straightened out.” I thought a little authority and structure would be good for me, but it hadn’t helped. I didn’t do well with authority, and that file on the table proved it.
My behavior was so violent and my personality so “off” that several military psychiatrists had been called in to assess me. They concluded something was very wrong with me. It was no shock to me; I’d been hearing those words since I was five years old. It was a favorite question of my parents and teachers—What is wrong with you?!
The lead military psychiatrist sitting across from me seemed to have an answer. “You’re a sociopath, Bob.”
He pulled out a book and read the definition to me. A sociopath has a complete disregard for the rights of others and are incapable of love. They don’t have any normal feelings of remorse, shame, or guilt. They are cruel to both people and animals and have no empathy for others. Most that are diagnosed as a sociopath are capable of deadly violence. A sociopath is callous and has a reckless disregard even for their own safety. Most are pathological liars and are quick to rationalize the pain that they inflict on others in such a manner as to imply that the other party ‘deserved’ what they got.”
He continued with a strange look on his face, and said, “A Sociopath doesn’t have a conscience, Bob. Several serial killers are diagnosed as a sociopath, and if I had to guess, I’d say you are well on your way to becoming a sociopath.”
“What can be done about it?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he replied.
It was officially determined that I was not suitable to continue to serve in the military, and I was given an administrative discharge. I left with a hopeless diagnosis and continued down a tumultuous path.
All my life I’d been told I was a stupid idiot who would never amount to anything. I believed every word of it. And now it had been confirmed. There was no hope for me.
All I’d ever wanted as a child was to be loved and accepted by my parents or by a friend. It was obvious my father hated the very sight of me. His daily beatings confirmed it. And as far as having a friend goes? Well, transferring to nineteen different schools because of our family’s military background made that impossible. No one had ever loved or befriended me.
The tipping point came the day the school principal gave me a paddling for something I’d done wrong. When I got home, my dad continued the beatings with his fists and a strap. I distinctly remember making up my mind between blows that no one, and I mean, no one, would ever see me cry.
I looked at my dad and snarled, “Give me your best shot.” In that moment, I became stone cold and full of hate, rage, and bitterness.
When you live with such powerful emotions, something has to give. You either need an outlet to release the pent-up anger and rage, or you need something to cover it up. I chose both. Just as my father had done, I began to use my fists to control people and manipulate situations. That graduated quickly to a baseball bat and then guns. I inflicted great pain on many. I turned to drugs to cover up my pain. Methamphetamine and heroin were my drugs of choice. I shot up anywhere I could find a vein…even the veins in my big toe.
As soon as the effects of the drugs wore off and the pain of my miserable life began again to overtake me, I would shoot up again. It was a constant, deadly cycle. It’s nothing short of a miracle that I’m alive. If it hadn’t been for God’s intervention, I would be dead for sure.
One such intervention came when I was twenty-four. God sent an angel in the form of a nurse named Lydia. I’d been in a terrible car wreck and broken nearly every bone in my body. Several blood transfusions and major orthopedic surgeries were required to put my leg and other broken bones back together. Lydia was in charge of caring for me.
An insomniac, I asked her to bring me books to read to pass the night away. Lydia brought the bestseller book list for me to choose from. I was shocked to learn that the number one selling book was the Bible. I asked her for a Bible. She gave me her own.
I started in the Old Testament, but it was boring. I moved over to the New Testament and began to read about a man named Jesus.
I’d heard about Jesus but, to be brutally honest, I didn’t want anything to do with Him. I blamed God for everything wrong in my life. But I couldn’t help but notice that Jesus was a man of love. I longed for love. He was a man who hung out with what the world would call the unlovable. People like me. He hung out with prostitutes, drunks, and ungodly sorts…and He loved them.
I was attracted to this love, primarily because I’d never been loved by anyone. My relationship with my own father made it difficult for me to view God as a father—I couldn’t imagine what that would be like. But Jesus was different. Over and over again, I saw it. Jesus loved. And, according to John 3:16, He loved me too.
I kept reading, and I came to Philippians 4:13 NKJV. It said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I read it and reread it. And then I felt compelled to read it again. I just couldn’t seem to get past the statement that I could do anything. It bugged me to no end. I thought to myself, “Well, if you really could do anything that you wanted, what would it be?”
I didn’t hesitate.
I’d change my life!
I wanted off the streets. I wanted to be far away from the never-ending violence of guns, knives, and vicious fights. I wanted to permanently kick drugs. I was weary of spending my every waking moment thinking about how I was going to find my next fix, whether or not a “hot shot” might kill me, or if bad dope might send me freaking out to an insane asylum. I was worn down from being a criminal, I was sick of the paranoia and looking over my shoulder for cops, and I was sure sick of being around other dangerous, psychopathic criminals and drug dealers who would kill me for a nickel bag. I wanted to make my family proud of me instead of ashamed. I wanted to find a good job that was interesting and paid decent money. I wanted a girlfriend who was wholesome. I wanted some intelligent, happy friends who weren’t losers. Most of all, I just wanted to be happy and loved for once in my life!
Could Jesus give me all of that? No way.
I exploded with rage. This is all just a frigging Cinderella story! People like me don’t change! I’m a sociopath, destined to be a serial killer. I knew better than to believe I could change. I’d tried time and time again…and failed miserably every time. I’d seen scores of others do the same. There is only one way out for an addict like me, and that’s to be lowered six feet under into a pauper’s grave in a hundred-dollar pine box.
I called Lydia into the room and demanded an answer. Mocking her, I said, “Your Good Book says right here”—I tapped my finger on the page—“that I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me. Jesus or no Jesus, there ain’t no way, Lydia! You know it, and I know it. And I’ll tell you something else: if there was a God, He’d know it too!”
I threw her Bible across the room. She didn’t take lightly to that.
Crossing the room to pick it up, she snorted contemptuously, then said, “Jesus performed miracle after miracle, and every one was a lot harder than changing your sorry a–! Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and you ain’t even dead, crackah!”
Then she marched out of the room, leaving me to think about what she’d said. Yes, I believed that God was God. I even believed He could do anything. He could change me…if He wanted to. But why would He want to? Why would the Creator of this world want to change me? Why would He help me do anything? I hadn’t done a good thing in all my life. I was rotten through and through.
I figured it was worth a shot. I prayed a feeble prayer, the only kind I knew to pray. I asked the Lord to forgive me of my many sins and to save me. And He did. At that moment, I became a new man. God took away my desire for drugs and alcohol. No longer did I need those things to cover my pain. For the first time in my life, I knew love—the unconditional love of my heavenly Father. And His love covered all the pain and loneliness I’d ever experienced.
Yet even though I now had God’s love and my soul was saved for eternity and even though I had freedom from my addictions, I still had unresolved feelings toward my parents and the world. I remained angry and bitter.
You know, Philippians 4:13 says that through the power of Christ operating within us, we can overcome anything. But I had yet to realize that there was a part of Philippians 4:13 that involved me (and it does you, too). Yes, God’s power will help us overcome difficulties, but we have a part to play as well! My part was to forgive my father and mother. I had to let the hate and anger go. They were killing me.
I’m telling you, forgiving my parents was the hardest thing I have ever done. Overcoming drugs and alcoholism was a piece of cake compared to releasing them—especially my father—from all the hurt they had caused me physically and emotionally. But I knew the Bible didn’t give me a way out of this forgiveness. In fact, it clearly said that if I didn’t forgive those who had hurt me, I wouldn’t be forgiven.
Would my father even be receptive to my forgiveness toward him? I realized it didn’t matter. This wasn’t about him accepting my forgiveness; it was about me being obedient. At first he wasn’t receptive, but over time, he came around. Ultimately, both he and my atheist mother gave their lives to Christ.
Letting go of my hatred and refusing to allow anger to control me took years. I didn’t receive an instant deliverance like I had from my addictions. This was a daily process that required letting go of old habits. Every day I had to choose Christ over my feelings.
Released from the hospital, I began to search for work. But I was twenty-four with no resume whatsoever. Who would hire me? I started with an entry-level position at a paint company. I had the worst job in the company: putting labels on paint cans in a dark, dingy, dungeon-like atmosphere. It was hard. I could have made more money in five minutes with a gun on the street than I would in a whole month at work. But I continued. I was the first at work in the morning, and the last to leave at night.
You know, the Lord says if we are faithful in the small things, He will bless us much. And that’s exactly what happened. I stayed faithful in that terrible position. By the end of the year, those above me couldn’t help but notice me—I’d saved the company over $50,000 in paint-label expenses. I was promoted eight times in the next two years, all the way up to plant manager.
I decided I wanted to start my own business. People told me I was crazy. “You don’t have an education. You don’t have the money or experience,” they said. But I didn’t listen. I borrowed $1,000 on my credit card and began a business out of my home. I clung to my verse, Philippians 4:13. I knew if God had helped me overcome all that I had overcome to this point, then He could surely handle a business.
I worked hard, again remembering that as I did my part, God would give me the strength to be successful. I leaned constantly on the Lord and prayed for His direction. God blessed the work of my hands, and soon my company was thriving. I went from making $30,000 a year to $30,000 a week. To date, I’ve started twenty companies. I sold the last one for $75,000,000.
Not only did God bless me with incredible success in the business world, but He has blessed this lonely man with a wonderful family. He blessed me with a beautiful, wholesome wife, Teresa. We’ve been in love now for forty-five years. Our three sons are all college graduates and, along with their wives and our seven grandchildren, live an active faith. They are my biggest blessings.
All I can say is, to God be the glory! Apart from Him and His great love, I would be in an insane asylum, on death row, or dead and condemned to hell forever. Instead, I am living out the destiny God has planned for me.
I’ve shared my story here because I want my life to be a testimony of hope for you. If God can love and change old Bob Williamson, a violent man who was diagnosed a sociopath and destined to be a serial killer, then God can love and change you. If I can overcome drug and alcohol addictions, hatred, violence, and a sociopath diagnosis, you can overcome your weaknesses. Through Christ, through His power operating in you, you can overcome anything.
You are not alone in this world. For years I felt I had no one. Then I met Jesus Christ. Through Him, I not only found strength and power to overcome, but I found love and forgiveness. I found hope. I found purpose and life. Don’t listen to what the world tells you. A military shrink told me I was an incurable sociopath on the way to becoming a serial killer. But I’m not. What I am is a serial entrepreneur and serial lover of people. I met the Great Physician, and He healed me!
And He will do the same for you.
Written by Bob Williamson