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The 700 Club

What It Means to Be a Man

The outdoors has always been a place of solace for Steven. As a young boy growing up in rural Michigan, it was his escape.

“I was either in fear or I was by myself,” said Steven, “so outside is all I had. That was my playground.”

Outside, was a safe place from his abusive father. Steven’s parents divorced when he was five. He blamed himself for the divorce and his father’s fits of anger.

“So I just didn't feel adequate, didn't feel worth a thing,” Steven said. “No one wanted Steven around is how I felt. You know, so I manufactured my own world.”

A world where Steven was at the center. Throughout adolescence and into adulthood, Steven worked to prove his worth as a man.

“Manhood was working and making a living, and pretty much that was it,” Steven told with confidence. “I mean, ‘work hard, play hard.’ And I became very good at that. Very good.”

‘Playing hard’ also meant drinking, fighting and showing others he was the better man. By his early 20’s, Steven was a husband to Pamela, a father and starting a career in sales. He also found something else to bolster his growing ego – competitive bodybuilding – again, he worked to be the best.

“You know, I was just winning, winning, winning,” Steven said remembering his ‘glory days.’ “The ego was blown away. Couldn't hardly get my head through the door.”

His growing confidence also boosted his success in medical sales. While Steven never liked the confines of an office or a suit and tie, the money, and the praise, seemed to make up for it – except for one thing…

“The wealthier, the more successful I got, the more miserable I got,” he said solemnly.

That’s because Steven still had the heart of a hurting, angry, boy.

“Lack of self-esteem. Didn't think I was worth anything,” Steven confessed. “So when I found out that I could do these things and achieve them, I thought by achieving them it would help me, put me up here where I was okay now.”

Then one night, while Steven was out drinking at a bar, a man made a passing comment about his (Steven’s) wife. It was enough to set Steven off, and he chased the man into a phone booth.

“He thought he was safe because of ‘unbreakable glass,’ but I said, ‘not with me,’” Steven said smugly. “I punched right through that glass like it was nothing. Cut all nine tendons, the nerve, and the artery to my right hand.”

The injury ended his seven-year bodybuilding career. Now in a job he hated, and no outlet for his anger and hurt, Steven started drinking more often. 

“And I was feeling good, and I wanted it to continue. I didn't want it to go away,” Steven said. “It was suppressing all the depression, anxiety, and the thoughts of I never wanted to be a salesman, I don't like being a salesman.”

Eventually, Steven was drinking every day. Now a functional alcoholic, he was trying to hold on to his fragile ego. 

“I would treat my wife badly, and she darn well had better taken care of everything I needed, and if things went wrong, I couldn't blame myself, because I did no wrong,” said Steven of his past prideful self. “Anything I did was okay. You know. Because I was ‘the man.’”

By 2012, after some 20 years, Steven had lost numerous jobs, his marriage was in shambles, and his health was deteriorating.  At 56, he weighed in at 380 pounds and was living on disability.

“That's my fall. All’s I could think about was just keeping myself from sobering up, so I didn't have to deal with the reality,” Steven said reflecting. “And I looked at myself, and I didn't see anybody I recognized at all.”

It was then Steven decided to drink himself to death. But he never got the chance.

On March 15th, 2012 after his morning vodka, he heard a voice.

“‘You're not you. And you're trying to destroy yourself,’” Steven echoed the voice he heard, “‘Your life is not yours to take.’”

In a moment of clarity, Steven knew that voice was God’s. 

“I called out, ‘God help me, don't let me die like this – looking like this, thinking like this, everybody knowing me like this,’” Steven pleaded. “That's the legacy I was going to leave. I called out, ‘Don't let me die.’

Steven continued, “I saw who I really was, had become. And I said, ‘Lord Jesus, what do I do? I feel your unconditional love and I surrender unconditionally.’”

Steven put down the bottle and picked up a Bible. That started him on a journey to healing his body, his heart, and his broken relationships.

“He (God) gave me self-worth. That I had a responsibility to my wife, my children, my family, the community that knew me,” Steven listed.

Long since retired, he’s reconciled with his wife and family and made his life in the outdoor. Finding solace, and a Father’s love.

“I didn't think I was worthy,” admitted Steven. “In that miracle, God told me, that you're worth more than you know.”

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