Prior to February 26th, 2011, I had never thought about doors. I just used them. It’s hard to know how many doors that I walked through over my lifetime. All sorts of doors; big and small; glass and wood; interesting and average. I walked in and out of countless numbers of doors and never gave them a second thought. But all that changed on that one day when I came face to face with a new door. A door I have never seen before. A door I had never heard about before.
You see, doors take new meaning when you encounter one that is so incredibly different from anything you have experienced before. This door was so different. It was huge and made of thick blue steel. And it was loud. But what made this door so different was that you couldn’t open or close this door. Doors that you can’t open or close will get your attention. I will never forget the sound of that huge steel door slamming shut behind me. The piercing sound was so distinctive and different that it sent shivers down my spine. Once that motorized door banged shut, I was locked in, and there was nothing I could do about it; no matter what. I had no control.
As I walked through that door and it locked behind me, I just entered a new place. I understood that this new place would forever change me. I knew my life would never be the same. This new place was worlds away from my normal. It was so different, I might as well been on a different planet. Welcome to Rock Bottom. That door I walked through lead to Federal Prison in Three Rivers TX. It was my first day of an eighteen month prison sentence I had to serve.
My emotions were red-lined because this experience was so foreign to me. Prior to this, I had never been in trouble before and certainly never seen the inside of a jail, not to mention a federal prison. So I had a terrifyingly type of nervousness swelling up inside of my stomach. It took everything I had to just not pass out. In high school, I played sports and experienced butterflies. I went to law school and endured the Socratic method of teaching. This is where a professor calls you out at random and asks you to stand while engaging you in rapid fire questioning and debate. This method of teaching causes your nerves to jump around in your guts. And as a person in the communications business as a speaker, I was used to have to tame my nerves. So I have had nervousness before. But at Rock Bottom, I was introduced to nerves I never knew before. These jitters were of a different kind. How in the world was I going to make it through this?
My entire time of my first days in prison, I kept having the same thought. How could I screw up my life so bad that I ended up here at Rock Bottom? I was on a journey. A wild roller-coaster journey to Rock Bottom and it was both exciting and terrifying at the same time. But then something crazy happened. God showed up. And I have come to learn that when God shows up, all bets are off. He can take the most negative experiences and turn them into something positive. He can take the most troubling times and do something great with them. He can take Rock Bottom and turn it into a most beautiful place. And that’s what happened to me. God took my Rock Bottom and made it into Beautiful Rock Bottom. And now begins walking through a new door. And that is opening this door to share what I have learned, what I have experienced, and what God has done in my life. And my prayer is that it just may help somebody. So here we go…