I should be dead.
Bullet to the brain…
Heart attack or stroke…
Not every addict is hooked on drugs or alcohol.
Demons seek to exploit and prey on our vulnerabilities.
My vice was money, amplified by debt.
I began chasing in 2005.
I used credit to make a single large purchase…a purchase I planned to pay off over a longer period of time through disciplined monthly payments.
But the weight of the debt immediately consumed me. My OCD became fixated on it. I wanted out. But I was fresh out of college, making less than $30K a year. I had no quick fix.
So I thought, well, during college I had some luck gambling on sports here and there…perhaps that could generate some additional income…?
Soon after I began placing wagers in an online sportsbook.
The sportsbook then became my gateway to the online casino. If you wanted fast money, it was a great fix.
But as fast as it ran up, it ran back down.
I started with debit and then moved to credit.
When I exhausted traditional credit (ie, Visa/MasterCard) I used store credit (Home Depot, Lowe’s). In times of desperation, I would buy $500 gift cards on store credit and sell them via Craigslist for $400 cash (sometimes $350)…
I was quite literally an addict standing on the corner at Home Depot shaking with nervous anticipation, waiting to hand off the card and get my fix. Sometimes I took the cash from that transaction and went straight to the casino.
But why allow it to go this far, and for so long…?
Well, I didn’t always lose…the devil was always clever about baiting me deeper into bondage…
There were times when I accumulated thousands in winnings. Once over $42,000 in an online casino with an initial deposit of probably less than $100…
…but I gave it back. All of it. And then some.
It was devastating. The shame. The weight. My mind tormenting me. The what if’s…all I wanted was to rid myself of this debt monster and when given the prime opportunity, I couldn’t break the addiction…
This ugly cycle repeated itself until July 2011 when God intervened in my life. It was a wake up call I could not ignore. I quit cold turkey the next day. That’s also when I began blogging (setback2comeback.com) and sharing my journey with the world.
In the years that followed, I turned back to a familiar friend, the stock market. I had toyed with it in years prior, but never got too intimately involved because my fast money habit always came from the casino…
But I made a promise to The Lord that I intended to keep, and so I refused to go back to my usual fix, and instead I conveniently justified the creation of a new one…one more “acceptable”, on the up and up…
From pennies, to start ups, to biotech and then ultimately options of all shapes and sizes I went in big, and I lost big over several years…
And I learned the intricacies of the market… For those unaware, it’s a pit of evil manipulation. It’s ugly. And the reality is that your small change (I mean no offense by this) will never have a say in the outcome of anything…
Thankfully, I gave up the stock market for good several years ago. It wasn’t easy, because I loved trying to figure it out and stay ahead of the curve. I felt some sort of superior identity in it. And that was deeply unhealthy. Trading became an obsession almost overnight. It consumed my thoughts and robbed me of focus and sleep.
The losses that I accumulated trading still haunt me.
Every tax season, I see a $3,000 credit applied for my short term capital loss carryover – the balance began around $160,000 and it is now down to $145,580 (see photo below).
I can’t begin to estimate the total amount I lost gambling in casinos/sportsbooks/etc prior to 2011 as I don’t have any record of it. It was significant. I’m sure between 2005-2011 it was close to another $100K there (maybe more)….
Meaning, when coupled with my verified stock market losses, I dropped over a quarter million dollars to these demons over a little more than a decade.
Imagine what could be done with $250,000…?
I believe the devil wanted me dead.
To push me to a breaking point under the weight of such heavy debt that I took my own life (if the stress alone didn’t kill me first).
But God was writing a different story.
A story of redemption.
Not by my strength, but by His.
All I ever needed to do was let go and put my life in His Hands…
…and that’s what I’m doing here today, as I’ve done with virtually every other facet of my life in recent years, I’m turning it up a notch…disclosing it all.
I fear the judgment of no man.
I trust God.
He is my chain breaker and my way maker.
And He has blessed me beyond what I can fathom.
Yes, I still carry this debt thorn in my flesh. But I am stronger for it because I now rely on God. He makes me full…
…and He has done so with an amazing abundance of blessings in my life. My wife and children are gifts of which I am truly unworthy. PRICELESS gifts that I would have never received if the devil had his wish.
God is still on the throne.
And He will always be the Victor.
Let go and choose Him.
You are never too far gone.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 KJV)