“As my drug use stopped, I realized that my problem wasn’t just drugs and alcohol. What was really missing was a real relationship with Jesus Christ.” – Jared Sullivan
“With the police right outside, there was no hiding what had happened,” said Jared Sullivan. “I’d wrecked my truck in front of our house after driving home drunk. My mother-in-law was at the house, and my daughter was about one year old at the time. It was so embarrassing for my family to witness that scene. I knew I needed to do something about my drug and alcohol use, but I didn’t know how.
“My prodigal journey began when I was a senior in high school. I kept my alcohol and drug use hidden from my parents and Christian friends. As I continued through college, my heart was further away from the Lord than I ever thought it could be. Immersed in a lifestyle of partying, my life was going nowhere.
“I met my wife, Leigh Anne, in a bar in Oklahoma, and we married several years later. My partying continued after we moved to Dallas, and I began my career. Networking and being social were all part of my job, so drinking almost seemed like a ‘must’ to me. I’d go out at night, get drunk, and come home ready to pick a fight with Leigh Anne. It was a terrible cycle.
“I tried synthetic marijuana for the first time when I was on a business trip to San Antonio. That one experiment turned into a five-year struggle I kept hidden from my wife. Sometimes I thought that I could fix the addiction on my own, only to find myself staying up late at night to get high or sneaking around to hide the drugs. Finally, Leigh Anne caught me using drugs and confronted me. At that point, we had two young kids at home, and she needed to protect them. She gave me an ultimatum – either stop using drugs or you have to leave the house. It was time to either get help or get out.
“Somehow, I was able to stop using drugs immediately, and I haven’t fallen back into it. As my drug use stopped, I realized that my problem wasn’t just drugs and alcohol. What was really missing was a relationship with Jesus Christ. There was nothing in my life that resembled the Lord at the time. I knew I needed His help.
“My mother-in-law heard about re|engage* at Watermark, and we decided to go. We both wanted to make our marriage work, and neither of us wanted to parent our kids separately. Through re|engage, we started to see that my alcohol and drug addiction was really a symptom of greater sin: pride and my need to please others. I feel like God put our leaders, Clark and Candy Lauderdale, in our path so they could speak bluntly and tell me what was missing from our family. What I was desperately in need of was a relationship with Christ. “Since taking part in re|engage, both Leigh Anne and I are following the Lord, and our marriage is in a much better place.
"We are surrounded by people who love God and love us enough to point us back to Him when we need it. Whatever sacrifice of time I make to spend time with men who hold me accountable in Christ is worth the effort. It has really helped me take God’s Word seriously and be hopeful for what the Lord has for myself and for our family.
“Before following Christ, our marriage was based on feelings. If we were happy or not fighting, that meant we had a good marriage. Now we both understand that we don’t have the capacity to love each other without looking to the Lord. The biggest change is the grace and forgiveness my wife and I give to one another. I finally have the biblical knowledge and relational tools to swallow my pride, ask for forgiveness when I’m wrong, and extend grace when it is needed. That dynamic between Leigh Anne and myself really carries over to our kids, too.
“As we started serving as leaders in re|engage, it was humbling to see God using our past hurts and experiences to care for others and the struggles they go through. Leigh Anne and I are going through many of the same struggles as the people we serve. The difference, sometimes, is that we’ve learned to pull Christ into our conflicts and look to His Word as we work through fights and disagreements. “I would often wish I could talk to the guys who knew me years ago, so I could tell them I’ve been transformed by Christ. I’m not the same person! I never really thought I’d get that opportunity, but the Lord answered that prayer recently. A friend I used to party with in college actually lives near us. He and his wife were noticing a change in our marriage and began to ask about it. Now my friend and his wife are involved in re|engage like we are, and they are pursuing oneness in marriage. It’s great to be able to tell people that I’m still a fun-loving guy, but I’m different from who I was before. God’s redemption made all the difference.”
* Whether your marriage needs to be reignited or is in need of complete resurrection, re|engage is a safe place for couples to move toward oneness through stories of grace, teaching, and small groups. See marriagehelp.org.