Life Before Jesus
by Stephen Smiley
I was born and raised in southern California. My dad was raised in a Christian home and my mom was raised in an atheist home. Apparently, my Dad was a biker who built Harley Davidson motorcycles as a hobby, and was kind of drifting away from God at the time. Somehow, he managed to meet my Mom at a party one night and the two of them got together in the back of his car on the side of a road, and that night I was conceived.
My mom did consider aborting me. She had received poor medical advice and other opinions from friends and family suggesting an abortion was needed. Somehow my grandmother (my dad’s mom) intervened through prayer and Mom decided not to give up and had me.
My parents decided to do the right thing and get married, but had no idea how hard it would be to raise a child, much less in a home that was divided with two people with two different lives. They did try however to do their best but it was short lived. I think it lasted about a year or so before they filed for divorce. It’s hard to figure all this stuff out from hearing each of their versions of the story and it was such a long time ago. The short version is that my dad worked a lot driving a truck and was gone and my mom was lonely and she hooked up with a friend of his, who eventually became my step-dad.
So, to the best of my knowledge, I can remember back to about four years old and my mom marrying my new step-dad, and the two of them raising me. My dad would get me on weekends from time to time and my mom would ask me to collect his child support, and I hated that! I never knew until in my late thirty’s how hurt my dad was over all this. I never got to know him in a real father-son relationship. I think he remarried another four times. Both my parents loved me the best they could and I never doubted that in my early years of growing up and even my step-dad did his best to raise me in this dysfunctional situation.
My grandparents and aunts and uncles on both sides loved me very much. On Mom’s side they were atheists and Dad’s side Christians. Needless to say they both had very different ways of showing love and ways to raise kids. As I share these things regarding my parents and family I want to be clear that I love them, and they love me and I have the greatest respect for them. As you will see, I put everyone through so much pain and suffering as I grew up due to my selfish and poor choices in life.
My mom and step-dad were alcoholics and drug addicts. But, they worked hard and provided us with a nice home and spoiled me rotten. We were able to do fun things like go to the lake, river, sand dunes, etc… I played baseball and did great in school. As far as my welfare was concerned, my mom took the best of care of me in her own way. All of my parents were at all of my games and were active in my life even in the midst of dysfunction.
As I said before, alcohol and drug use was a daily thing in our home. My mom who didn’t believe in God used to pray to God that I would never grow up to be liked my grandparents, because they loved God. As I write this, I am doing my best to recall these events and give more of a broad stroke of my life and not every detail, or it would be way too long!
When I refer to my parents, I am now referring to my mom and step-dad. Mom stayed home to raise me and he worked at the Gas Co. They also owned a business on the side that took a lot of extra time to run. They would drink whiskey and water, smoke pot, and snort cocaine daily. I am thinking back to when I was four and they were on a bowling team in which they bowled every Thursday night. Some nights my grandpa would babysit me and we would watch The Bionic Woman and eat Three Musketeer bars! He loved classical music and he loved to hear me sing Christmas carols and would record me on his reel to reel Hi Fi stereo system. Other nights, My Nonnie, would babysit me. These are my mom’s parents, who also were divorced. Anyway, one Thursday night about 2 am my parents were picking me up from Nonnie’s house and they were very drunk as they were every Thursday night. They wanted me to learn how to tie my shoes after waking me up. So that night in the wee hours I learned how to tie my shoes. Another time I remember sitting on my step-dad’s lap steering the car while driving down the freeway, my mom hanging her head out the window puking her guts out all over the side of the car, and the smell of vomit filling the air. I will never forget that smell!
Their abuse of alcohol and drugs affected their behavior terribly and they would physically fight each other all the time, and often when we got home after Thursday night bowling. One night after we arrived home they got in a fight and I remember him slamming Mom’s head with the car door over and over. They would literally beat each other with anything they could get a hold of. Another time I was asleep in my room and the house was shaking and they were yelling and BOOM they came through my bedroom door and crashed into my Lego Police Station I had just built and it took me forever to build it! Another time, I could hear my Mom screaming for help and I was so scared that my legs were numb and I couldn’t walk, so I grabbed the carpet with my fingers and pulled myself out of my room and down the hall to their room to try and help her. I saw him hitting and kicking her over and over and I was crying yelling at him to stop. Finally he did.
It turns out that it wasn’t his entire fault, as my mom had a really bad temper and real short fuse. The two of them together was a recipe for disaster. They would get so drunk and fight and then wake me up and drag me out of bed, with their alcohol breath and tell me how much they loved me and they were so sorry and wanted me to choose who I wanted to live with, because they were calling it quits. Each of them was also cheating on each other. Anyway, I spent many nights crying out to God to help them and make them stop and that went on until I was 14, when they divorced.
During those early years, he had lots of pornographic magazines around the house and my Mom thought it would be good if I looked at them to understand the human body better. Needless to say, I was exposed to porn by age seven and by age ten totally addicted and a slave to masturbation. On top of that I began smoking, drinking, doing drugs, and finally sex, by age 13. A girl at school offered to trade me some Van Halen posters if I would have sex with her. Man, I thought I had hit the jackpot; I was basically getting paid to have sex. By this time of course, MTV was on every morning before school and Motley Cure was singing Shout at the Devil and they were my heroes. I wanted to grow up to be a professional baseball player in the early years, but now I wanted to be a rock star and live the life that went with it.
By age 14 I went from an honor student and the most popular kid in school, to failing 9th grade, smoking pot every day, totally depressed, dropping LSD all the time, then on to snorting cocaine, and finally methamphetamine. I was completely strung out on meth by age 15, flunking out of school, and ditching class most of the time anyway. Mom would drive me to school and I would turn around and walk home or over to a friend’s house and party. One day my mom came home and told me I could stay home and be a bum now, because she just dropped me out of school. She was hoping to get my attention and cause me to re-think my life a bit but it didn’t. I thought to myself “you are the best Mom ever.” No more school!!!!
Well my life went even further downhill from there. My drug addiction had taken over my life and I couldn’t get enough. I would tell Mom I was going to the store or wherever and I would be right back. She wouldn’t see me again for days, sometimes weeks! Meth was my god and I would do anything for it. I would stay gone until I ran out, tired, hungry, and dirty; I would come home and sneak in the house and crash out. Mom spent countless nights driving through the city looking for me, going everywhere to everyone I knew, trying to finding her wayward son. I did this to her over and over and over again and was making her crazy.
Also during that time my step-dad was gone so I was the man of the house and I did what I wanted and put my mom in her place and made her fear me. It’s hard to think of everything all in perfect order, so please forgive me if I go back and forth in the timelines. Before the running away started, I told my mom that she better let me party at home with my friends or else I would take to the streets. She said that she would rather me be at home safe and party there with all my friends, than on the streets. My girlfriend was 24 and I was 14 and Mom was good with it. She even came to watch all my baseball game and the other coaches and parents were furious! I could tell you story after story of crazy things in my life during those years, but will only tell a few for sake of boring you.
Be sure to come back and reading Part Two tomorrow.
Bio :: Stephen lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife April. He is serves as a youth pastor at Coastline Christian Fellowship. From time to time he also has the opportunity to preach to the church congregation. You can find these sermons here.