Hi, I’m Texas. For real—that’s my name.
As far back as I can remember, my parents have been in ministry. I’m a preacher’s kid. I grew up hearing about God, His love, and how He’d sent His Son, Jesus to save me—to ransom me from my sin. I even asked Jesus into my heart at five years old. But much to my surprise, life wasn’t perfect after that.
The details of my life make it easy to see that salvation and submission are two separate events. For some they take place at the same time, but for me, it took forty years to give up my way and lay down my life at the feet of Jesus Christ.
Grace. It’s the only reason I’m here—for sure.
My memoir, Deep in the Heart of Texas, is a grisly and graphic picture of the years I spent thinking I knew best. It begins in childhood and explains how my mind calculated the events I lived through. None of them were more horrible than those of the average child, but the beliefs I formed drew me into a dark place of deception that I couldn’t see my way through. In all my years of insane rebellion, I don’t remember ever doubting God’s love for me, but I’m sure He wouldn’t say the same.
My first toke of weed captured me with a sense of pleasure I’d never experienced, and it left me hungry for more. Within weeks, I was selling so I could smoke for free. I wasn’t very impressed with my first tester of cocaine, but within a month I quit school and left home on a trip to discover “real life.” Cocaine ended up my drug of choice.
My adventure started in a big city ’hood. Beautiful cars, expensive jewelry, and all the drugs a body could handle. But the glam of rebellion is not trustworthy. A year later, I found myself in a small-town projects, at the top of the cocaine food chain. So what if it wasn’t the level I’d been introduced to, at least I was still at the top.
Our enemy sure is good at distorting reality in his attempts to destroy us.
Attention and acceptance. That’s where I found value—not that different from other young adults. However, the added disillusionment of drugs and the degradation of sexual activity created a swirling cloud of trickery I couldn’t escape. Sin wraps its tentacles around you and doesn’t let go.
I’m not bold enough to say I’ve tried every drug, but I wasn’t offered one I didn’t give a good go. Swallow, snort, smoke, shoot—why not? All attempts to be self-governed. Wherever the new fix promised to take me, I was ready to go.
Like it always does, sin got ugly. Further and further down I went. I’ve got horror stories of waking up in disgusting spots with strangers and of not being able to fall asleep beside a man who’d taken more than I was willing to give. There are tales of going without sleep so long that trees appeared to walk and furniture started to talk—no joke.
Or how about the pathetic and useless struggle of rechecking every baggy and stash spot until I found a crumb or two. Trying to get high off that left me more frustrated than when I had none. There was never enough. It’d get the best of me at times, and I’d end up crying myself to sleep. Gross. Not a pretty picture, but real nonetheless.
Let’s not forget the depth of shame and separation. Never felt like I fit in with the rest of the world but I was loved and embraced by my family…until they became overly exhausted and bitterly embarrassed. And who can blame them? Not me. If I could’ve avoided me, I would have. Thin and pasty, tired and depressed—next came jail. Again.
Then I was gonna be different. Again.
“That’s it, I’m done with drugs forever. Don’t want to live like this anymore.” Sometimes I’d make it for months with white knuckles, but sooner or later I’d find myself scraping the bottom of the barrel. Or should I say pipe?
And then it happened. I changed. What changed? My view, that’s what. I became willing to look at the truth no matter how nasty it felt. Somehow, through all the lows, my mind still told me I was on top.
On top of what? On top of the bottom, because I was nowhere near the top.
The problem wasn’t the truth. Everybody could see it but me. The problem was what I believed to be true.
Our minds are in complete control of us. They can be used to slay us or save us. That’s why I believe the most important question we can ever ask ourselves is, whose truth am I believing? Just because it’s truth to me, doesn’t make it the truth. We are weak-minded humans who are way too influenced by our emotions. Let me break it down: God didn’t promise life wouldn’t get hard. He didn’t promise perfection. What He promised is to remain with me no matter what. And He has. And He does.
Now, I’m never alone. I always have the help I need. It’s amazing. This doesn’t mean circumstances don’t feel overwhelming at times. What it does mean is that I can hold tight to Jesus and continue to believe God is good, regardless of emotional upheaval. This, my friends, is the practice that has saved my life. Literally.
God is faithful to forgive me of all unrighteousness, but He won’t choose righteousness for me. That’s my job. And all this—“It’s too hard; I can’t; I’m powerless”—thinking does is enable me to continue on a negative path. Truth is, I can do or be whoever the heck I want. You can too. Any voice that says something different is a lie. Everything that comes against me is sent to wreak havoc, but it only possesses the strength I give it.
I’m well rehearsed in the art of making excuses. I fed that monster until he got so strong he kicked my rump. Took a sure-nuf beat-down. But when God said to me, “You don’t have to feel like this ever again,” I made a choice to trust Him. Not just for eternity, but for today. I recognized that He’d been there all along and that every other false promise I’d believed was producing the exact opposite.
The enemy said, “Selling drugs will give you authority and respect.” Until someone has a better product at a better price. “Being high will make you free.” Until the cell doors pop for 4 a.m. chow call. “Sleeping with men gives you significance.” Until somebody cuter, younger, or just different comes along. “You can get away with…” “No one will notice…” and on and on. Lies, lies, and more lies.
Today, I fight back. It’s become automatic, familiar, and comfortable. On occasion, the old lies scream at the top of their lungs, but with that same determination that had me walking six miles at 6 a.m. to find more dope, I yell back. So long and so strong with such conviction that they have no choice but to shut the heck up. And when they do, I begin to celebrate. It’s the best rush ever.
The more lies I squash, the more truth comes to light. The closer I get, the easier the steps feel. The more I enjoy my freedom, the freer I become. You couldn’t drag me back there if you tried. No matter how difficult this life gets, it can’t compare to that garbage I used to live in. Now I’m hopeful, excited, and also filled with contentment. Best of all, I wake up with a killer buzz that keeps me pulsing throughout the day. Sweet!
I can think of a few choice words to describe what that old life’s about, but this is a Christian magazine, and that’s not who I am anymore. I’m fully dedicated to what God says is true. That’s what works. In my heart, I’ve purposed to remain aware of the fact that the all-powerful God of the universe is insanely in love with me. All of me. All the time.
We all have flaws. Some are easier to identify than others. Yet God loves us and is ready to free us from whatever enslaves us—flaws and all. This process requires our submission, but that’s no problem once you realize rebellion is overrated.
God has a phenomenal plan for each of us. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of settling for my way. I want God’s plan.
Written by Texas Stready
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez