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Wayward Artist Discovers Road Back to God

“I always felt like God gave me this talent for a specific reason and I shouldn’t waste it, and it was a big part of my life,” says Michael.  

As a child, he would sit for hours coloring and drawing.  It was his connection to God.  But for a shy kid who felt he never fit in, it was also an escape.

Michael explains, “I didn't enjoy school at all.  It was a lot of uncomfortable situations and moments.  It was definitely a problem being shy.”   

Despite his social awkwardness, Michael still enjoyed the attention he received because of his talent.

He says, “It was a good way to stand out and put yourself outside of the crowd.  It made me feel like I had some value.”  

But in high school that changed, when he found others were as talented as he was.  No longer the artist of distinction, he looked elsewhere for acceptance and escape.  At 17, he found both through alcohol.

He says, “I liked the way it made me feel.  I liked the excitement, the gamble that came with it.  It gave me courage and it made me happy.”

He continued his study of art in college.  But by then, alcohol was taking over his life.  

He says, “It was the same home I found with art as a child.  It was-it was a different, more sinister place to be, a darker place.”   

After finishing his Associate’s degree, Michael spent the next ten years as a functioning alcoholic, going from job to job.  He painted on occasion, but his creations were rife with dark, depressing tones.  

He says, “There wasn't a lot of joy in those paintings like when I was a child and-and drawing.  There wasn't any happiness.  I was waiting for my life to come together so I could start again and paint and draw like I did when I was younger.”  

His family sent him to a number of medical professionals for help, but he resisted their efforts.

He says, “I just didn't want to deal with it.  I didn't want to stop drinking.  I just wanted to continue that lifestyle.”

And adding to Michael’s growing depression and addiction, was knowing that he had abandoned God.

Michael says, “It was definitely something that, as I grew older and got away from and got into other things, I missed and felt guilty about, that I wasn't using this gift.  I felt like I'd disappointed God.”

Even then, he never tried reaching out to God.  He says, “There was always that lining of hope that I had and waiting and waiting and waiting for God to appear or uh for life to change on its own.”  

By his mid-30’s, Michael was in the worst state of his life, physically and emotionally.

He explains, “I was a wreck.  So it didn't look promising.  It looked like a dead end.  The alcohol had taken over my organs and I wasn't functioning properly.  I-I looked unhealthy and I didn't have a future that – I couldn’t see past a week.”  

One night, he got into a fight with his brother.  Michael had been drinking and made disparaging remarks to their female friend.

Michael says, “It was violent and it was fast and abrupt, and it-it could have devastated my relationship there.  But the aftermath of that made me reconsider what I was doing.”

The brothers made amends, but it made Michael realize he didn’t like the person he had become.  Two months later, after waking up from a night of drinking, he was ready to ask God for help.

Michael says, “I had just had it, and got on my knees and-and prayed and asked God to forgive me and, uh, I told Him I couldn’t do it anymore, and I need you, and I surrendered. I just told God, ‘I give up.’  You know, ‘Take me and change my life here.’  It felt like freedom.  And this burden was lifted off my shoulders, and all I had to do was surrender, and it felt like I could do anything.  It felt like I could conquer anything or, you know, it was the greatest gift of my life.”

Michael says God instantly set him free from addiction, and he’s been sober ever since.  And the creative spark he thought he had lost, was restored.

He explains, “I didn't need recovery or rehab.  I just needed God, and that was my recovery and rehab.   Brought me back to my childhood.  It made me feel whole again, like I was when I was a child drawing.  It was the same feeling.  It's a home there, and you have endless possibilities.”

In 2012 he married Lauren, and they have three daughters.  Now, Michael is using his art – and his life – to glorify God.  

Michael says, “He turned that wreckage and that mess, into this.  You know?  It's not a perfect life, but it's pretty – it's a pretty beautiful life now.” 

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