It’s a question shouted in many homes around the world as the phone rings endlessly, waiting for someone to pause what they are doing and take the time to answer it. I know that was true for my family growing up!
Nearly two years ago I found myself being asked that same question, but in a totally different context.
What was I answering? Great question!
It was a call but not one received via phone. The call came from the man upstairs and from what I could understand at the time, He was asking me to BE more. Sounds straight forward right? I thought so and figured that it should be a fairly easy call to complete. Do a little reading, be intentional about some personal and spiritual growth and I can tick the box to say I have been faithful in answering the call.
I should have known better.
It was during one of my quiet times that the challenge came, I had missed the point. His call to BE more wasn’t something to achieve and tick off, He was asking me to take a journey. It’s a journey that at the moment has no clear end in sight, but it does have a very clear and defined purpose and that’s enough for me. It’s a purpose that I am passionate about and I would love to share it with you, so grab a coffee, tea or whatever other drink you fancy and settle in. Let me share with you what A Fathers House has to do with the call to BE more, why it means something to me, and why I believe it should matter to you as well.
But before we start I really should introduce myself. My name is Bryce and I live in what we like to call God’s own, New Zealand. I consider being born and raised in this beautiful country to be an absolute privilege. As a nation, we have been blessed with clean air, water, and plentiful food supplies. Things that at times are all to easy to take for granted.
Another thing I am grateful for is the family I was born into. My parents first met in Auckland and fell quickly in love. Marriage followed and after some years, thoughts turned to starting a family. I was the first to come along and four years later my sister joined me. Four years seemed to work well for my parents and so four years after I gained a sister, we both welcomed a brother into our family.
My siblings and I all attended a Christian school for our primary school years before moving onto secondary school. Church was a big part of our lives. Early on we learned that serving was a big part of who we were as a family. I had a natural inclination towards the technical side of things from a very young age and this continued at Church. I was often hanging around the men and women who ran the sound and overhead projector, looking to help wherever I could. I’m sure I must have been frustrating at times! However, they were generous with their time and mentored me in the operation of the equipment, and how to serve with a great attitude.
It was through the same Church that I met my wife. The full story I’ll save for another day but it’s a good one! We married in 2004 with the thought that in five years or so we would start our own family. In 2011 our family of two became a family of three as my wife gave birth to our son.
It’s true when people say that nothing can prepare you for the change that comes with having your first child. My wife’s pregnancy was routine but it was a different story when it came time to give birth. His head was slightly larger than normal which required some medical intervention during the birthing. He arrived safely however and it was such a special moment being able to meet him and hold him for the first time. Getting stuck however caused some long-lasting effects for my wife who was unable to sit or lie comfortably for several months. The learning curve for new parents is always steep with plenty of highs and lows, and we were no exception. Sleep was hard to come by and combined with my shift work, daily life began to be a struggle.
Being male, talking about feelings is not something we do well as a general rule. I look back and see that clearly in my own life, and I see that now in others around me. How I wish could go back and knock some sense into myself.
The only way I knew how to fix the situation was to try and do more. Instead of asking others for help and support I just tried to do it all on my own. While others may have seen a family that was functioning and serving in the Church well, I knew the truth. There was a sense of loneliness that was creeping in, and with no one to open up to and share honestly with, it only got worse. In wanting to protect and support my wife, I wrongly decided that what she needed to see was a man of strength in the house who had it all figured out. Sharing my vulnerabilities and worries would only make her worry and make our life tougher, so I stayed silent.
Every vessel has a maximum amount of pressure that it can contain before it needs to release some, or it explodes. Humans are no different. The pressure that I was under was immense. I was struggling to cope inside while making it look all cool, calm and collected on the outside.
Standing in the garage at home, I remember the thought first entering my head. I wonder if a drank a little more, whether there would be some release from this pain and pressure.
Now I had never been a big drinker. I didn’t have my first drink until after I had left high school and was in the workforce. It was a beer while on a work trip and I didn’t think much of it at the time, in fact, I don’t think I even finished it! Over time I tried different varieties of alcohol. Rum or bourbon with coke became a favourite that was enjoyed with increasing frequency. I enjoyed the little buzz that it gave me but never had more than two.
As I stood in the garage listening to my wife try and settle our son again, I wondered if having that buzz a little more often would help me cope a little more. I knew that my emotions were starting to show and that I was getting short with my wife and grumpy with my son. If I could take the raw edge off and mellow out a bit, that would be good for everyone, right?
Looking back now it is plain to see what flawed thinking this was. But at the time I was basing everything off my natural instincts. My daily devotional life was non-existent. I certainly believed in God and knew that Jesus was my personal Savior. I just didn’t invite Him into my daily decision making or bother trying to seek His advice. If I did reach out, it was only to ask that He intervened in whatever our current situation was.
And so it started. I would pick up a box of 12 ready to drink (RTD’s) bourbon and cokes and take them home and place them in the garage. Most days I would pop out there and have one, maybe two and just knock the edge off after work. It soon got to the point of being a daily reliance. Knowing that my wife wouldn’t be happy about this, I made sure that now and again I would have one in the house to show her that I was drinking, but in moderation. She never knew the hiding places that I had in the garage where I would sneak an extra drink or two.
The buzz made me feel relaxed and gave me a new sense of confidence and self-assurance. I felt that I was a better person when I had a few onboard. More patient with our son and able to keep going the extra mile for my wife. I started to believe that without alcohol my ability to function at that level would disappear. The problem was that I couldn’t keep pilling on the weight, due to the high sugar content, and it was becoming expensive.
All the warning signs were there but when you are in the middle of it, seeing the problem for what it is and the solution, becomes almost impossible on your own.
I convinced myself that stopping wasn’t an option, so began to look at other options. The ratio of bourbon to coke in my homemade drinks started to change, but I was careful no one saw by how much. When my wife questioned me, I lied and brushed it off as nothing to worry about. I started purchasing bottles of various spirits and stashing them under the seats in my car. I would park up not far from home, load up with some swigs and then head home with the buzz already on-board, ready to face whatever challenges were at home.
This became the norm for years. My body became accustomed to the alcohol and it started taking larger quantities to achieve the same feeling. Can you see where this is going? I knew that it wasn’t right, but I was scared that if I stopped, I wouldn’t be able to cope. Scared that I would lose the ability to go beyond my feelings and continue to be who I thought everyone else needed me to be.
Our second child arrived and life’s demands stepped up another notch, and so did the drinking. My wife knew something was wrong and she tried to talk to me on a number of occasions. But again I would lie and kept reassuring her that things were ok. I knew that they weren’t though. I was up to half a bottle of spirits a day some days and it was getting hard to hide the costs and the effects. Deep down I knew that God was trying to get my attention, yet I stubbornly refused.
The thing with refusing to listen to Him is that you often have to get to the place of submission the hard way.
One day I was at work and I was developing a strong pain in my chest. I had drunk a lot the previous day. I knew that alcohol was likely the cause of my issues, but I was starting to get quite concerned. By lunchtime, the pain had only increased so I left work and headed to the local Accident and Emergency clinic. I got there an explained my symptoms. The nurse took my blood pressure and was concerned enough to say that I needed to get to the hospital. They wouldn’t let me drive so I had to ring my wife. I explained to her what they had said and ask her to come and pick me up.
My wife picked me after leaving the kids with their Granna. I knew then that I was going to have to come clean. It is one of the worst days of my life and hers as well. As we walked into the hospital, I was finally honest with her. The look on her face and the tears are something that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Over the next few days in the hospital, nurses and doctors ran tests to check my overall health. They knew I needed help and encouraged me to accept their offer of assistance. My pride wouldn’t allow me so I assured them that I was fine and would be able to stop drinking. I convinced my wife that together we could do this, but it was going to be best to keep it to ourselves. Against her better judgment, and to protect me, she agreed and we went home to make some plans on how to move forward.
Even this scare wasn’t enough and it wasn’t long before I was back to my old ways of coping. The lies and deception increased as I fought to keep up appearances and project a life that was all held together. There were times when my wife would find one of my stashes and again I would lie and promise. Anything to keep others from knowing the real truth. My life had become one big charade and one that I was desperate to hold onto. The fear of being found out and losing everything important to me only served to fuel the addiction.
One day my wife found another bottle and confronted me about it. I confessed and promised to get help. I rang my Pastor and a couple of friends and told them what had been going on. We agreed to make a plan to support me and I also headed to the Doctors to get some advice. Even this wasn’t enough and by now I suspect God had also had enough.
As so it was that one Sunday morning about a week later I was at Church, and I was drunk. I was setting up some bouncy castles for the kids to play on after church. They were leftover from my daughter’s birthday party the day before. I popped out to buy some more alcohol during this time and had drunk way too much way too fast. As my wife approached after church she could tell something was wrong. Unable to stand properly I crumbled to the drive, embarrassed and ashamed. In tears, she fetched a good friend of mine. He picked me up and led me away from where others could see me.
As I sat talking with my friend, I knew that I was ready to finally give over control. I was done with running away from God. Instead, I would run to Him and see if what He promised was real. I promised Him that no matter what it took, I wanted to be free and that I wanted His will in my life. As my friend prayed with me I surrendered my will to His and committed to doing whatever it took.
The days that followed were some of the hardest I have ever gone through. Hard because I was finally having to face up to the pain and betrayal I had inflicted on some of the people that I loved most dearly. Seeing the pain in my wife’s eyes and hearing her voice the hurt I had caused was painful, but necessary for us both. We will be forever grateful that we were surrounded by love and support from our Church and a couple of close family members and friends during this time. It was their love and support for us that helped us journey this together.
The person that is due all praise and glory in this situation though is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. From that day in the car park when I surrendered all to Him, God has been faithful to heal and restore both me and my family. There have been no cravings or desire from that day forth to drink. That for me is a miracle!
So where does A Fathers House fit into all of this? Well, the one big lesson that I have learned is that when He asks me to do something, ignoring or saying no is not a good idea!
One day during one of our quiet times, I felt him suggest that we needed a little Father and son project to work on.
“Great!” I said, “what do you have in mind?”
Through the weeks that followed He slowly revealed the idea of A Fathers House. A place to take what I would learn from and about Him and share it with others. Knowing that I am not a writer, He is asking me to get out of comfort zone and trust Him. His promise is that the right person at the right time will read these words. He will take it from there.
And that is where you come in. I mentioned at the start that I would share with you why I think this should matter to you as well. The call to BE more is not just a call on my life, I believe its a call on a generation of Men. It’s a call to grow our character and our faith. To be men of integrity and to BE more for those around us.
It’s a big call and one that is going to be a real test of my trust and faith in Him as something like this scares me a little if I’m honest. The thoughts of “what will people think” and “will this make a difference to anyone” exist. But in my heart, I know that none of that matters. All he asks is for my obedience, he’ll take care of the rest.
So I invite you to join me on the journey. I have no idea where it’s going to take us, but I’m excited and expectant to see what He does. Follow us on one of our social platforms to stay up to date with what we are up to and see some of the behind-the-scenes content. You’ll also be the first to know when a new post is up, so go ahead and click that like or subscribe button. Don’t be shy about reaching out and making contact. We’d love to hear from you and hear what God is doing in your life!
Let the journey begin!