I Surrender All is based on the true story of battling and beating an addiction to meth and cocaine. It is a five-step program, and what's great about it is that it actually works. Be prepared to laugh, cry, and sit on the edge of your seat as you take this journey of recovery with me. You will truly feel something you have never felt in your entire life. If you are suffering from any type of addiction or know of someone who is, you are now holding the cure from God. I promise that if you will follow these five steps, you will be healed from your addiction. This book is the most unusual approach to recovery ever taken. No amends are necessary, only a desire to get better. So join with me, venture through, and you too will surrender.
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I Surrender AllA 5 Step Recovery Program
By JOHN FURR
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 John Furr
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Promise That Awaits
March 23, 2009, was what I would say was one of the most powerful nights in my life. I was getting used to my freedom; I had just been released from a county jail in Utah and was in what's called the reentry program—basically a halfway house. I was awaiting sentencing for a gun charge that I thought had been dismissed, but I found out that it had been refiled as a felony. I had not been charged with anything since all my drug charges in 1999. I hadn't been in jail since 2002, and I was in a place unlike any other I had experienced in my life. I was actually sober for the first time since my 2007 relapse in Hawaii. I was unemployed, broke, and totally dependent on my faith in God for the first time on the outside. I had depended on God in jail, but it had been a long time. I am telling you this because it was on this night that I finally realized that God was actively involved in my day-to-day life, right down to the decisions I was making about my life. It was at this time that God promised me that if I would follow his teachings, I would prosper. I was facing more time in prison, a possibility that was, to say the least, unattractive to me. I had thought that my life of crime was over, but when I relapsed, it started all over again. I was trying so hard to not relapse into my drug addiction, and I really wanted to figure out where God wanted me—or, for that matter, if he wanted me anymore. I was lost but thought I could somehow pull something off in court that would save me one more time. I mean, I really wanted to change. The time I spent behind bars apparently hadn't worked, so I wanted this time to be a fresh start. I decided to ask the judge for assignment to a rehab program in California called Teen Challenge. It's a yearlong program but can be longer if needed. Participants can go to the program's Bible college for another year, graduate, and become staff members at any one of their more than two hundred centers. I really was excited about this possibility.
I was attending church regularly—weekly, in fact—reading my Bible daily, and doing everything I thought was necessary. I would walk through town every day in an attempt to find employment, but God wasn't speaking to me at all. My then mentor, or second mom—who is now my mother-in-law—was doing all she knew to do to point out where I was messing up in my thinking. She kept saying something to me that didn't make any sense at all. I'll never forget how she would say over and over again, "Son, surrender!"
I had owned a transmission repair center and had expanded it to seven locations. At one point in my life, I had more money than I knew what to do with, and yet there I sat in a hole-in-the-wall, one-room, government-assisted halfway house with no job, no hope, no car, no money, and no prospects. And she was telling me that I needed to surrender. She would come by daily to check on me, and most of the time she would even invite me to her home to eat or would somehow bring leftovers almost nightly. I can't begin to convey how important her visits were. I had not yet gotten my food stamps, and food was nice. By taking that worry off of me, she offered me a huge relief that's almost unexplainable. She would also pick me up and take me to do my laundry. I remember one time when she picked me up and took me to a thrift store called Deseret Industries, which is the Mormon church's version of Goodwill or the Salvation Army. She spent almost the entire day getting me free clothes and bedding. I had only one change of clothes when I was released because I had been arrested in Seattle and then taken to Utah, where my charges had been filed. What a bold and God-loving person she was. I believed that she didn't have a clue about what I was going through, that she couldn't know how much God had been humbling me over the previous several months. Boy, was I wrong. God had chosen her to be the person to help place and keep me on the right track.
When you have nowhere else to turn and you least expect it, God will appear there. He can appear in the smile of a child or as a passerby on the street. My mentor took me under her wing and showed me what love is supposed to be like in a family. She was of humble means, but she never missed a chance to feed me a meal, nor did she ever neglect to pick me up for Bible study or any church activity. She truly led by her example of what a walk with Christ looks like. But all she kept saying to me was, "Son, surrender."
I was not totally clear on what she meant by that until one night when she came by and played a song called "Surrender" by Janis Freeman. This song was written during the recovery of an addict who was from the same area in Utah. I remember as plain as day the feelings I had when she played this song. Tears began to run down my face, and then I began sobbing uncontrollably. I was weeping. I couldn't believe that those words were being sung by an angel who, like myself, had once fallen from grace and now was being used by God himself, telling me to surrender all to God.
The song "Surrender" is copyrighted and available for you to download for free—courtesy of the artist, Janis Freeman—on our website, http://heavenlyoaksretreat.com. I placed the song there for readers to hear so that it could help set the tone for the rest of the book. This entire book could be about certain people and the roles they have played in my life, but it is not about me and my life; it's about you and your life. It's about how God awaits your call. It's about how, if you simply ask, it will simply be given to you. I had never been able to understand that concept until recently: God's desire is for your dreams of happiness and success to be fulfilled.
It's like when you see your son hit his first home run or watch your daughter graduate with honors from college or make the winning shot in overtime. It's a feeling unlike anything other. When you feel so good about something, it warms you up inside. That's the feeling I want you to try to feel when you read that we were created to bring joy unto God. He delights in our seeking him, and he finds pleasure in our success. So if we were created to bring him joy, how do we go about doing that? It's simply in the way we choose to seek him in anything that we do, and that's done by including him in everything we do.
It's my goal that after you read this book, you will be better than when you began and will have healed from the most dangerous disease on this earth, addiction. But most important, it's my prayer that you begin the most intimate relationship available to mankind, that involving the love of the heavenly father. It is my prayer that you will begin this relationship that is so long overdue. Words can't express and tears can't measure the love that is awaiting you from the god of all things created.
Look around you—everything you see has been created by him simply for your enjoyment. Pets were made for your comfort, and mountains, lakes, streams, oceans—all of these things were made by him for you. If that doesn't blow your mind, then nothing will. So please begin this book with the following prayer, which I feel will help you set the tone. I do encourage you to set the book down from time to time and plead with God, praying for his presence to be with you.
God, I thank you for the chance you have given me And my family to be a part of this book, I Surrender All. It truly has shown me that you will enter people's lives as far as they will let you in, right down to even whispering to them in that still, small voice what to say and when to say it. Father, in reading this book and praying this prayer, I have made the first step necessary to getting better. God, I ask you to please allow me to feel your presence now. Let me know what I have come to learn, which is that you are real and that you're an amazing god who is so anxiously awaiting my cry for your help. God, show me how simple life is supposed to be. Show me how to identify you, and most of all, God, please send down angels to take from me all of my worries. Please, by your power, fulfill the promise that if I will take on the blood of your son, Jesus Christ, I will be healed. I ask that it be recorded in heaven and that this promise will come true for me. I do not doubt you, Lord God, nor do I worry about the promise's truthfulness. I call upon you as Moses called upon you to deliver his people from bondage. God, please deliver me from bondage—the bondage of drugs and earthly things this life has to offer. I know I am not Moses, but I am your child, and you love me just as much as you loved Moses. Please deliver me. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.
After a brief stint in the army, I found myself with an addiction to pills. It started out with a simple knee surgery that went bad when I was in my mid to late twenties, and it turned into a full-blown addiction in less than a year. I would take ten to twenty pills a day—Lortab, Lorcet 10/650, Xanax, and Soma—and tell myself it was okay because they were legal. These were medicines prescribed by my doctor. I had had two knee surgeries, and all I had to do was show the scar to get a prescription. It just so happens that I was in the wrong doctor's office at the right time. Then they weren't enough. In fact, they became gateway drugs to my drugs of choice—meth and cocaine.
It's so important that you understand that I wasn't looking for an addiction at all. I had two beautiful children and was a full-time student along with my then wife. We were trying to live the American dream, get educated, and begin our lives together. Our wedding was held in a Mormon temple, and I was trying to live what I thought was a Christian life. But I was truly suffering from this knee injury. It seemed that all my days consisted of was physical therapy and classes.
Once I started taking the pills, I really liked them. They took my mind off of the more serious issues, like bills and studies, but just like that, what I was taking wasn't enough. I wanted to get higher. I was a full-blown addict. I have been in several programs, from faith-based to in-your-face-based, and have found very little success. I actually had no problem getting sober. The problem was living the life that followed. That's what I really struggled with. Nothing worked for me. In one program, I was classified as having a polysubstance dependency, which means that I was unable to function without some kind of drug in my system.
Accepting the Unacceptable
I was raised in the South, and believe it or not, most of the raising was right. My mother came from a very large and close family that is unlike any other I have ever been around. The brothers and sisters loved each other amazingly and, as a result, loved their nephews and nieces as if they were their own children. So when I tell you they were close, I mean that I had uncles who were like fathers to me and aunts who were like mothers. I had my favorite ones, but altogether they were amazing, each and every one of them. In fact, I learned the value of work not from my father but from my uncle Joe. He taught me that honesty and hard work would get me anywhere I wanted to go in life. We worked together every summer, and when I was only twenty-one, we were partners in an asphalt-paving company until his death only one year after we had opened our doors.
So, unlike a lot of addicts, I didn't have a distant family, especially not on my mom's side. My father's family, though, was larger and didn't come close to comparing to my mom's family. I still to this day have aunts and uncles on my father's side that I have never met. In the pages to follow, you will get to know a lot about my life and the way I was raised. You will read things I have never shared with anyone. Knowing that my mother's family consisted of what you would call gypsies or travelers—you know, the guys who knock on your door asking about paving your driveway with leftover asphalt—will help you understand that because I was the one who used the drugs, I had to accept the consequences no matter what. I had always felt different, but nothing prepared me for the realization of how different I truly was. I wasn't raised to use drugs. Never in my entire childhood did any of my friends offer me drugs or use drugs, to my knowledge. None of us seemed destined to be addicts when we grew up.
All of my childhood friends were as normal as could be. I don't know if any of them have experienced the pain of addiction that I have or the sorrow and regret that comes along with it. I was baptized as a Latter-day Saint, also known as a Mormon. My mother converted to Mormonism before I was even born. I attended all the church meetings, starting with the primary level, then the priesthood, then a two-year mission, and finally marriage in the temple—twice. For those of you who are not Mormons, being married in the temple is the most coveted practice of the church because doing so, Mormons believe, seals the spouses as a family for all time and eternity. Marrying in the temple is an honor for practicing Mormons. At the time, I knew who God was but had never had that personal relationship that I needed. I am not slamming the way I was raised; I am merely pointing out that I had never had Christ in my corner of life.
Later in the book, I mention that I blame my addiction on my lack of a relationship with God. There is proof of this in my experience: every time I relapsed or got high was a time that I didn't have Christ in my life. It came about so suddenly, that falling away from the light. First, you stop kneeling when you pray, and then you stop praying altogether. In the way I was raised, people were taught to respect God by kneeling. Therefore, I have always chosen to kneel when I pray because I want God to know that I am in complete submission to him, that I love him so much that I bow at his feet. But when you eventually stop praying altogether, you find yourself being in the wrong mix of things. Let me try to explain. If you're used to doing things a certain way, like I was—which was taking everything to God in prayer and living a life with God in it—and all of a sudden you lose that lifestyle, things seem to lose their value to you, and before you know it, you're lying to people, testing the waters that you shouldn't even be near. I hope the five steps in this book will inspire you to gain and to maintain that personal relationship with your savior.
My Approach to Identifying Your God
The first step, identifying your god, is so important. I want to share a story with you. I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, to run two transmission centers for the largest transmission company in the world. I had just made a score of a drug called ice—it was the best score I had made on the island—and was entering day seventeen of a bender. A bender is a stretch of consecutive days that a user is "up" while using methamphetamines. It's like bending a piece of metal until it reaches its breaking point. In other words, I was beginning day seventeen of no sleep. Having battled drugs for the previous ten years, I had gone off the deep end yet again. I was forty years old and going through another crisis in my life. I was on marriage number five, this one to a twenty-year-old prostitute, and job number four for that year. I was making upwards of one hundred thousand dollars a year but didn't have enough money to buy food.
This particular morning, as I prepared my morning blast (a method of shooting up), I was surprised to wake up in the back of an ambulance. Frantically searching for a familiar face, I was dismayed that I could not find my wife anywhere. I found out later that she was in the parking lot trying to score more drugs. Anyway, I remember coming to in the back of the ambulance and seeing the fear in the EMT's eyes as she speedily worked on me. Her fear made me even more afraid.
Excerpted from I Surrender All by JOHN FURR Copyright © 2011 by John Furr. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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