22 Jul 2021

CGN Podcast – Episode 4: Addiction, Compulsivity, & Sin (with guest Bob Ucci)


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Hello, everybody, welcome to another episode of the church of god network podcast. My name is Daniel Russo. I’m board chairman of church guide network. And on today’s episode, I’m going to be sitting down with Bob Ucci. Bob Ucci is a longtime friend. In fact, he’s known me since I was three years old, so about as long term of a friend as I could possibly have. He’s an addiction counselor, at least a retired addiction counselor and has a lot of experience and on the topic we’re about to discuss today and that topic is addiction compulsivity and sin in the Christian life. Bob, I’m gonna get him to talk about his professional background, I’m gonna get him to talk about his personal experience on the subject and of course, his professional experience and his insight into addiction and compulsivity and how it relates to really every person, not just your cliche examples of an alcoholic or someone who’s abusing substances, of course, they fall into this category as well. Really, we’re going to talk today about the universality of addiction and compulsivity in the human experience. We hope you get a lot of value out of today’s episode, and we hope you enjoy. Well. Thanks for joining us, Bob. I appreciate you being on the podcast. I was thinking about this the other day, we actually have known each other quite a long time. Where were you? Were you in Westchester when my family first moved up?

Yeah. Yeah. So you’ve, you’ve known me since I was three years old Yorktown when your family moved to New York? Yeah,

that’s wild. So for everyone listening, Bob and I are members of the same congregation in New York. We’ve known each other for a long time. One of the reasons why he’s on this podcast is we tend to have not only him and I but in my father, the different people in the congregation tend to have these conversations related specifically to addiction, compulsivity, sin, things of that nature, because they’re the right within Bob’s wheelhouse. And I thought it was good that we have him on the podcast and talk about this topic, because I actually don’t hear this talked about much at all in the Church of God. But I don’t know if you were able to listen to it. But we featured a sermon by Rick Stafford, just after we launched about addiction. And he’s a minister in LCG. And it was actually quite good. So if you haven’t been able to listen to that, I highly recommend it. Yeah, I hadn’t heard that. Yeah. But again, welcome. Bob, would you mind giving us a little bit about your professional background?

I worked since 1988. In the field of addiction. I started out as a actually, somebody heard me speak someplace and invited me to send my resume to a program, United hospital, which I didn’t do. And then he called me again. And he ended up I was in plumbers, electricians. Pretty cool because things got stolen. And my dad was a business station, Oh, you don’t jump the line for family. So he called me in the middle of the summer, actually, beginning somewhere, I wasn’t working. And he had no credentials. I went down there. And I worked with him. And he really liked it. Three years later, I was director. And then I ended up working for 10 years, we probably had, we had what was considered the best day we had permanent Westchester we had this full service, we had a GED track, their life skills track to get a lot of people in outpatient treatment, inpatient treatment in prison. And we had a woman from BOCES, who taught them how to write resumes, to actually help them fill in these gaps in some way that was productive. We also had, at a time when nobody had to some company donated six computers. So the patients would come when I opened up and seven in the morning, want to go on computer, I didn’t have a computer in my office where computers in Rome, they could use and they were learning how to write resumes on. So it was it was a really unique program. And it wasn’t we had a family of origin case. And we had an abusive, intimate with the only trauma track in the county. So we got a lot of people who came to us who could not get sober because when they got sober, they started become, you know, open. They felt frightened and vulnerable and relapse, finally, taking away somebody’s dominant defense mechanism, which is their drinking and drugging. After walking, they can feel awful like little children and their loss. And we knew that, you know, there were a lot of people who did not get sober if their primary trauma or family of origin issue wasn’t addressed. And that was an educational process. And then it was an experiential process that was like a six month process with them. So I did that for 10 years. And then I got recruited at Columbia, New York Presbyterian, by Dr. straytner, and we opened up the only program in the country of its kind. It was an amenity, June, attracting nothing but celebrities with five billionaires in the first year. We had we had everybody we had You come Saturday Night Live, we had Academy Award winners, we had good doctors, patented famous procedure, a very prolific procedures. So it was there for 20, almost 24 years, and I retired in January. So that’s how I got into it was something that I just, you know, out of my own experience in the past, I was interested in addiction, and had my own, you know, personal experience with it. And it has some skills that could be useful that I’ve learned along the way. And I enjoyed it. And it was it was a good field to be in for a while you’re going to feel that you make a living there.

So you did one on one counseling as well as group sessions, right?

Yeah, I taught for eight years through both places. And I took group therapies and I’m equipped dynamics. I taught relapse prevention, psychoanalytic Institute, Marcus co taught over at Nyack hospital, Rockland Council, division of alcohol and substance abuse bunch of places. And yeah, I did individual counseling, which is fine, but I loved group counseling. And that was my forte, I really was, I could get people very invested. interested, I could find out where people were at and kind of meet him there. And I was always kind of validated for the fact that I could, you know, take 15 unruly patients to get to sit, take notes, and then come back the next day on time. They’re like that, I think was just about it’s a different thing generic. Anybody could have done it just had to have the right approach to them. Sure, get engaged and yet had a really, no, the biggest problem is a lot of people underestimate how bright in a creative people who have substance use. So first of all, we got to be creative, to get the drug of choice every day, to make excuses. So to avoid the people that love them when people are responsible to and they’re pretty smart. And when you kind of interest them. And I would I would teach them about the neurophysiology of addiction and make it real simple. I had a great teacher that has saved my life, Dr. Paul D’Amico. So I would teach him about that, and they understand the disease. And an interesting piece was family, around a family program as well. And the family program hosts two nights a week and parents. Another treat was Sunday is actually the parents were furious. Every time the person said, I’m going to stop. They bought into it and then the person didn’t stop. And it was so betrayed and let down and disappointed. And when I talked to him again on the blackboard, I do know, Blackboard back neurophysiology. One man said to me, this was on the retreat. These are the very wealthy movers and shakers in the country. And one man said to me, Well, you mean, my son really meant to stop? He meant that I said, Yeah. I said, when your son starts, you wanted to throw up. And you know, now he’s got a conflict between boys head wants to do is want to use anymore. And his body which is now has cellular craving, and demands a substance to put the fire up the spawn side of a neurological storm. He called it to

Calls to mind Romans seven in a very literal way. Paul talking about the things he knows he doesn’t want to do. He does. And I know you, um, you hinted about your, your own personal experience with addiction. Would you mind getting into that a little bit?

Yeah, I mean, I was using substances, probably from 12 or 13. Not regularly, but by Thomas 50, you know, smoking pot every day, you know, and then it got to hard drugs. later on. I went to California 60s, the de Ashbury and, and it was all over the country of Boston and San Francisco and Berkeley. And it became, you know, part of who I was, it was like, you know, my, my purpose every day was to get my substance and, and I had some real problems. I’ve been in a coma for 10 days, or she was the County Medical Center. I think that was 1976 or something. And I remember a doctor sitting across from me, and I guess I came in 2018. I came in at the same time, somebody else that in here come out of his coma, my parents are outside. And this neurologist sits now and he says, You know, I want to read your levels, from the blood tests that they took when I came in, and they were very high and there were certainly a toxic levels. He said, You know, you came in another kid came with you that night, he died. And you did, and you’re very lucky, because you really should be dead because your levels were so high of certain narcotics and stuff. And he was, I could tell he was really well intentioned. He was a very nice man. He was talking to me. He was sincere. I was like, he’s talking to the person next to me right in my head. So I had that experience through the overdose once Three times in nine days, I will come to three different hospitals. And then January 4 1987, I’m hard headed. I hit a bottom. My union was bringing me Upstate. And of course, if you take me to a hospital, I’m going to bring what I think it would be my pocket. Every time we stopped to take some of it ended the overdose in the car, 10 minutes from community General Hospital and Solon County. And they saved my life again. This time I woke up and I had Dr. D’Amico, who was a genius. He wrote the book, massive Miss with simple solutions. He made five films about addiction. He was a wonderful guy, he was a genius. fact, you know, his rehab, his hospital, people came from all over the country to go there. And he didn’t care how sick I was, when I was in bed. I was there months, but he made them will be around a wheelchair for two weeks to go to his lectures. And his lectures were fascinating. After that I went to every Friday him and I met, and I go sit in his lecture. It’s nice to bring people to them. But he’s still in my opinion, is still the example for cutting edge. Treatment for addiction. He was so far ahead of his time. That book massiveness was simple solution, the bumps, every single viewpoint on addiction is fraudulent, and explains that he breaks it down, so a five year old can understand it. And he was a very charismatic guy, and, and he, of course, ran afoul of all the orthodoxy because he was outspoken about it. He had very strong moral opinions. He had a church in his home. He didn’t believe that, you know, like he get women, you know, that had five, six abortions, and he said, Oh, you know, this is immoral. And the hospital got very upset about that. And this is back in 1987. But he made so much money for the hospital. But they did everything they could distributed. So they got blackballed out in the field. And he taught for a while, and then he got Parkinson’s disease. And about nine years ago, he called me up and I went up to his house, and all these people from the Scandinavian countries of Finland, Norway and Sweden. And he had sent me his new research. And apparently they had implemented his, you know, paradigm for treatment all throughout these countries. And there’s a whole string of rehabs that were based on his model and this model, to the many walks in the door, every interaction is therapeutic. To the day you left, and very successful. I was really happy to see he was really happy that his information which had been disseminated over the world had really be used to create a model. Like the program he created. He had a detox and rehab. It was in high school and once for nine days. And in that time, I got sick and I’ve ever been in my life. I lost 24 pounds in two and a half weeks, I was only 36 pounds. And I was I didn’t sleep. And I tell people this is not a record anybody’s been in prison can tell you to come off methadone you’ll see from once I see 57 days, issue very word because as 38 my blood pressure would get very high and I was still working out most of my life. And they said the one night, they said we’re going to give you some medication, you go to sleep and I forget, when I went to Korea, I thought well, because I wake up I’d be up all night. When your brain is spinning all day.

And you can’t sleep you it’s just the difficult the patients process rather difficult. But before that I had an experience with I’ll tell you about in a minute, but it gave me a ton of medication. And I would want to take but and I want my room 11 o’clock they will meet in a wheelchair. And I was always in a room by myself because I couldn’t put them with people because I’d be up all night. And I fell asleep. And I woke up and was like blacking out. Oh, wow. I thought I slept through the night. So I got myself out with myself out. The nurse was right outside my door. And it was like I think it’s five in the morning. It was 1120 I slept for 20 minutes. ish. And that’s the way my sleep came back. 20 minutes, a half an hour 45 minutes. What I did a year sober when I was living somewhere else was out of the hospital for a long time out of the rear. I started walking with the track I’d go to the track and Yonkers. I like I’d fall asleep for an hour to live in o’clock. Then I go to the track, say 12 or one and I’d walk around the track. Winter summer I didn’t care what it was I work hard in the winter. I started jogging around it. I start running around and I say working out at home and come back get another I was just getting two three hours sleep a night back to work in the Union I was in which was rigorous work and I was doing okay. I’m now gotten really great shape from that. And I also understood for me, the key to not sleeping at night was in rehab was not to sit there and think I should be sleeping I should be sleeping. I said to myself, I’m never going to get another office. opportunity to spend this much time rebuilding myself making myself what I really want to do. So they brought my guitar up. My brother went to work all the books that I wanted to read, I read every, every author, everyone to read. And I was the only patient in the rehab rehab of 75 patients. And they had a new addition on and it was 100 patients was a big place for the Yorktown and the serenity Hill. Okay, Japanese bought it, you’re going to country code analysis to wreck. But I would go into the I was only patient they let go into the day room. Even though tonight. It gave me permission. They really in there. And I go in you either read or play my guitar or I would watch Ben Casey, but every night I had stuff to do.

Is that were you, is that were you were exposed to the church?

Actually, the church when I got out of there, a friend of mine, who I got, I helped getting treatment he was in my union. Some people said would you help them out and I said I can’t get him sober. But I’ll bring the meetings but we sent him to arms acres or someplace. And he said to me one day, we’re going to meetings together. He said, Do you have any spiritual literature it’s a broad kind of category, but it looks so much stuff I found. I had no idea how it got there. No idea came out of fears, Mystery of the ages. So I didn’t read it. I just handed it to him. I said try this out George. And about a week later. You can’t because you notice us said hoping in mind but uh, highlighted some things and open the book. And you’d highlight in launch. Man was made for relationship with his creator. I say getting my book back I took and I started reading. And then I started I spoke to Steve both I call different you know the church I got different ministers and I began to converse with them and then invited me to come to church and that was that was it but long before I ever did that. I watched Mr. Armstrong in 1969 probably 68-69 Okay, go rented in California to watch him on Sunday nights. And I was fascinated by I know he’s talking about I liked when he talked about revelation You the one of the but I was absolutely fascinated. There’s something very charismatic and compelling about him actually listening to him. So that’s interesting. Actually,

I won’t get to it. Now I have a quote by Carl Jung I want to run past you which is very similar to that little snippet for mystery of the ages. But for people who are listening or watching or watching and wondering. You know, maybe they’re listening and going well, I’m not addicted to narcotics or alcohol or substances of any sort. How does this apply to me? I mean, you and I have talked about this a bunch we talked about it in at church quite a bit. But can you explain sort of the or talk about the universality of addiction and compulsivity and how that works?

The crisis in our country, I went into our country’s compulsivity. I don’t care what it is, we’re compulsive people. It could be your iPhone, it could be the internet. It could be alcohol, it could be daily, it could be pornography. And the best example I can give this one it really hit me was many years ago when one of my kids was graduated from high school. I drove by the school I totally see what’s going on. It was one of those last days of school. When you say goodbye to people, it’s a couple of hours. And kids were coming out hundreds of kids were coming out every kid had his head down and was looking at his cell phone. And I thought wow, what is so important that on this last day of school, and not more involved with their friends, what was called president was calling what was going on it was important. And it’s also it’s also

it could be right anger responses to people. I mean, it’s the whole I’d imagine the you talk about pretty much

people have degree to be a need to be right that’s compulsivity. Yep, workaholism is a compulsivity, these relationships is a million different ways. Yeah,

I think the average person maybe doesn’t view those things compulsivity or an addiction because it doesn’t know harmful. Yeah, it doesn’t literally kill you. Right. And and I think maybe the, because one of the common experiences in addiction is also hitting hitting bottom right. And so I think a lot of those those compulsive knees or addictions probably do result in hitting bottom at some point, it’s maybe it’s a social interaction or your family starts to fall apart or you have a relationship with a child that sours or a spouse that gets worse. And I don’t know if people see those moments as bottom, they just maybe see them as well. That’s what happens in marriage or something or maybe they they brush it off in the church, rather than seeing it as part of a continuum of addiction and compulsivity and sin. I mean, that’s, that’s the root of it.

Well, you know, I guess you know, the interesting piece about it is that I think most people have some compulsivity you know, recognize as such They call these to call the old days, the codependent, the wife, spouse, parents, brothers sister, Dr. Cort, the CO alcoholic, because they had a lot of the attitudes and behaviors. And the difference between, you know, an alcoholic and the wife of an alcoholic is the wife the alcohol. You know, she believes she can fix her husband, she’s gonna be fine. But of course, she’s given up so much of her life. And so much of her consciousness has been taken up by concerns where, you know, we bring the money home for the paycheck, and they get into al anon. And they have a very different way of working the same 12 steps, the same small steps except the word outpost taking this step one, we admitted we were powerless over alcohol or drugs. That’s the first step. The first step is we’ve been to a power. So the alcohol, what happens to them is very slow process going through the steps because it’s not life threatening. But boy, it ruins their lives. I’ve seen, I’ve seen people, I saw a lot of people in my private practice. And I’ve seen people marry an alcoholic three times, despite it being a treatment and knowing better, it’s just, it’s mystification. They just wait on this person loves me, he’s different, you know, then it gets behind the wheel of the car drinking, and they say, well, maybe shouldn’t be driving. And he doesn’t pay any attention to that. And a couple of those, and a few months later, he’s saying, Well, what do you think? And they finally say, might be a problem? Is this feel familiar? The quote reification repeating a pattern over and over again.

And it’s it seems like so so many of these addictive or compulsive dynamics show themselves in the family dynamic that, you know, you might have maybe one person is abusing substances, but but let’s say there isn’t. I mean, I know people who I know, again, this isn’t, it might be confusing to some people that to say it in this way, but people who are addicted to, or they always react with jealousy in a relationship, or they’re always fearful that the person they’re with is going to leave them because they’ve experienced abandonment. Growing up, those are I don’t know if they fall into an addictive category, but they’re there ways that our minds are wired to go to a certain place. And it just seems like the the full spectrum of addiction is much wider than people realize. And I liked the point you brought up about how the, the members very often the members of a household where there is someone who is addicted to a substance have are just as much addicts just to different

things. Well, you know, it’s very much systems theory. And it’s so exact, it’s hilarious. You get an alcoholic to get now caught husband’s and alcohol, the wife’s codependent, they got three kids and you will find the same exact roles in that family. We have to have a family heroes an overachiever to have a mascot who’s always getting in trouble. And it’s all to distract each one of them from the conflict that’s going on between mom and dad that may have been brought about long before the alcoholism. But that’s why Bradshaw’s work was so incredibly on target in the 80s is Phil healing the shame that binds us it’s a wonderful film this book that hook is terrific

highly recommend to anyone listening john Bradshaw pretty much my life pretty much any anything by by john Bradshaw it, I mean it. I don’t know if I if I spoke with you after but I was on a actually a church guide network trip and happened to bring healing the shame. And and read that in in thought, because a lot of his work is around family dynamics. And I thought, well, you know, like,

Am I

really shame based? I don’t feel like I am I have I mean, we’ve talked I that I consider myself an addict in a number of different ways that might not be substances, but I fully see myself through that lens. And I think most people should. But I remember reading the book, and realizing that I actually absolutely was shame based in a number of areas and you don’t until someone puts the language and the verbiage behind explaining dynamics, you just you just don’t see it. Well, that

was the thing that patients like most. Because, for me, I did a whole thing on shame and family dynamics. We do that four weeks. And I would kind of explain to them that book. Take these words shame and guilt. And we’re going to give a new definition guilt is I made a mistake. I did something wrong. I didn’t do something I should have done. That’s about your behavior. Shame is an inherently flawed mistake. It’s more about your very big. It’s a feeling of inadequacy. And all that and I met john Bradshaw and I trained with him for a while and everybody I’ve ever met that I admired in the field says the same thing. The core of addiction is a sense of shame. And it starts long before you have any control over you get cin, from your primary caregivers mom, dad, your corporation, your brother’s sister or you can get it from you can get from your church. I went to church as a kid, and every Sunday was fire and brimstone at nine years old today. The Hill Never gonna make it. You get it from your peers. You get it from a variety of places.

And it’s so common and and correct me if I’m wrong but like, you don’t have to be a you know, there are a lot of people who who struggle very consistently with self esteem issues or self loathing I consider myself to not be someone who falls in that category by I have recognized that I absolutely still am shame based. And you could also be shame based in certain areas. Yeah, not others, correct.

Yeah. You know, what I found really interesting. Here, I’m working at this rehab. And every I mean, we had we had, I won’t mention names, but we had the head of largest oil producing country in the world. And he was underneath the prince. And we had we had, you know, Princess, and we had Moroccan princesses, and we had a lot of different people. We had people just under heads of state. We had people, we had a man who came who was picked for cabinet position by Bush, we got a guy who was one of the nicest gentlemen ever made was seven years old. He was an alcoholic, but he did not drink before three o’clock. So he struggled, is running the largest corporation American mentioned, because he not only was but he was a billionaire, and the day man, he’s on the board of three hospitals. My boss said to me, Bob, this is your patient. And on this unit, they’re only five beds there. And there are big screen TVs and all that stuff and call me chefs. And so half the patients for mine, on any given day plus had other patients. And he says if this doesn’t work out, he said, We’re screwed, not going to hang you out the truck. So this guy met him. Really nice man. And I find that he’s a billionaire. And he’s on all these boards. He’s been ahead of other big companies. And it was so interesting to talk about she. And one day, he got this was his birthday this month. And he got weird eight tracks. And you know, the DVD players, they’re on you and he could play it in your room. He had an eight track. This is like 2001 and a track two. So put the table they want to show something I was going home at four o’clock wanting to see this. And it was every well known political leader. Both parties. wishing him Happy birthday, we assisted Happy birthday. So sad and happy birthday song. So the last one was George W. Bush Happy Birthday song. So. So I’m walking out. And I said was pretty impressive. And I got my car and I said, Well, I got to go back and talk to him. So I said, because I thought you know what, I know this guy. I know how successful it is. First of all, he’s a wonderful gentleman. I understand. And he came from nothing he made, he made his money. Nobody gave it to him. And he’s what I call it dynamic, assertive he leads because he’s smarter than most people. You want to call him this but but the point is, you grew up in a family where his father was an addict from World War Two never got an amputee and he never had a childhood, he his brother. He said, I come home and my mom would say, your father sleeping at four o’clock in the afternoon. So go back out and play you know, so you never is a parentified child that come back you have to look at it’s a tape and I go back and I psychiatry question. What motivated you to show me that particular video? It looks to me and I said was it you wanted me to know who you were? And he looked at me and you get a big set. He goes you know, you’re absolutely right. And I said, Well, I know you know it’s not only do I know who you are. I know that you’re pretty genuine, authentic person who is underneath it is a great person. But I don’t think you know that yet because you needed to impress me with that. You know that he and I go month I worked with my new old stuff about him. But he still had that button in him that said wait a min, I want to know how important I am. And I said that’s a shame but he understood me correctly after that I treated is a couple of his sons. And they all went to Wharton Business School in Yale. But you know, I treat his wife they’re really really I he gave me a very educational viewpoint on people who are successful because when we started getting my thought we’re gonna get a bunch of the title people you know who are going to be very arrogant they weren’t they just weren’t he wasn’t. It’s like that had everything you could possibly want everything. Arms over the world. You know as final as summer marks me which kind of made me very envious I said Is there anything that you you regret in your life? He said I regret that I don’t have another 100 million dollars leave my children. Yet 16 grew kids at that time. So the

the amazing thing too is you touch on the you wanted me he wanted you to know who he was, you know the that all the success still hadn’t satiated that pride in anymore I live in the more I encounter things and the more I find parts of myself that I don’t like, the more it all comes back to pride and it sounds trite because I think everyone says it but I remember a sermon from from Gary Petty, but I listened to a while ago. And he mentioned that we all every person is obviously dates back to Satan and his rebelling. But as a as a as a as an outgrowth of that every person or human being thinks they are a god, small, small g God. And every thing that hits against that pride, right that that knocks you down that insulates you to make them feel lesser goes against the pride of this God and a God can’t be anything less than perfect. So it’s all these things we do, to try to, you know, build up our own. build up our pride, or i think that i think that we’re better whatever it is comparing ourselves to others, whatever the thing is, I mean, I’ve realized that about, about myself, how much I, my how much my emotional state depends on how well, I think I’m doing, and that’s an illusion. And so college guy wants

to know, as Scott called it, the god sized hole. And that’s the thing that I always see that not how successful and you got to talk about Carl Jung you call young correspond with Bill Wilson. He quoted I believe it was the psalm where he talked about the heart, the deer, deer thing for fake a water. So the alcohol thirst for relationship with God is something so we have to work in the world who, you know, got sober for a while and relapse and Paul Young had the decency to go and said to him, you know, okay, what do we do now? He still I can’t help enrolling was crystal, you know, we need to get help. psychiatric minor world. He said, I’ve seen out for walks like you don’t feel the hopeless variety. I can’t help you to sit you never ever seen anything like me? Well, the Korean said no, I didn’t say that said I can’t help you. What you need is a vital spiritual experience. And I keep bringing it up. And that person was the eventual founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, right? No, no, no, no rolling was a member, a member of Dr. Bob juby. And another guy, I forgot who is for original, but Dylan Bob. And Rowan was a friend of Libby who help people get sober and then relapse later died. And Rowan came contact with a he stayed sober for a while but he never really engaged in the principles and never really had any long term sobriety. But he was he was a member in the early days. Economy. He was very, very wealthy in his own way.

I remember reading that story very recently, like those that exact story, and I guess they they cited it as Yeah, like an early an early story that that links Jung to Alcoholics Anonymous in some way. I assumed it was the founder, but I guess not the quote, I actually have, which, which is a great time to read it. So it’s from young regarding one of his patients, I’m assuming is the same person is, yeah, he’s craving for alcohol was the equivalent of the spiritual thirst, of our being, of our being for wholeness expressed as the union with God. So that’s it. I feel like a lot of people even in the church or God, ministers that I that I respect have have recognized that. All sin right addiction, propulsive in sin in general, all sin. And all the different things we yearn for that aren’t God, are our attempt at creating a pale substitute for that godson toll in us?

I realized that many years ago, that I did look, I was I was in Scientology in the 60s, I certainly took a lot of acid, that I was looking for that connection somehow. And it’s not brought about but there’s just not going to find any of those places. It doesn’t exist that way. Doesn’t happen that way.

The amazing thing that I heard too, was that that hole that God sized hole in each one of us, is actually never going to be filled until we’re serving until we’re spirit and that’s a that’s a powerful recognition and revelation of sorts, but it’s also I want to say scary, but it’s like it’s just there’s nothing you could do. Right? It’s about I think it’s built that way because it’s made to have us continually yearn for God, and struggle against that part of ourselves that like to make sure that we’re trying to fill that hole with with God and other things until we die. And then we’re fine with that wholeness is only achieved when we’re resurrected.

I always think of people’s when they talk about all the great men of the Bible who were pilgrims, you know, foreigners. It was like, you know, they got a shoe that was never going to fit them. And my kids got older they said you know, this life is not gonna fit just it’s not going to be what you think it is not going to fit. And I’m very tired to 72 up it’s not going to fit that empty space. You can say to you, you can you know, there’s some things that will take away some of it but to distract you The things of this world, you know, you get to a point when you get to these old design where you really stop desiring anything, but your relationship with God because there’s God, not God, and everything else is not God. And it’s not fulfilling and it’s not going to last. And it’s not. There’s things God could give us. There were good, certain institutions and stuff, but as far as you know, fiddling with it with the successful, wealthy people. I mean, let’s say they’re chasing it, some of them just, you know, like the doctor, these two doctors that had a very fancy procedure, they just kind of fell into builder geniuses. But they, you know, they do all the things that those people do, you know, now you’re, in a competitive race have more of everything, you know, you’re both placing prints in this, that other thing? It’s very rare person doesn’t get drawn into that.

Yeah, we seem to have this I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We seem to have this preoccupation with happiness, or, or feeling a certain way. And if the last decade of my life, which is really like the first decade of adulthood, for me, has taught me anything is that that’s a ridiculous goal to shoot for this, this idea that you’re just constantly happy and nothing’s wrong is we have this illusion of how life is supposed to be. And, you know, I think much of the compulsivity and addiction and trying to navigate this world it results in those different things, whether it is addictions to substances, or to the idea of finding a spouse, I know I, I see that phenomenon a lot amongst young people in the church that there’s this over focus on finding a spouse and marriage is great, like it’s a godly institution. But anything that that we put as a substitute, or even just not even as a substitute, but we are action show we put in a higher position in the hierarchies in our pursuit of God is problematic and, and life is just, life is exhausting, and super tough. And it’s in it’s gonna, it’s worse if we’re involved in all these destructive addictions, where we’re trying to find substitutes for that God sized hole. But even if we are following God, by and large day in and day out, we’re not promised it’s going to be easy. And it’s, I think my dad said the other day, it says, pick up your cross and follow me. You don’t, you don’t get hurt, the cross doesn’t get removed.

You know what Scott Peck, he did his books, his life’s difficult. Later on, he says licensures love small problems, I think. And you have to remember where we came from ontologically poop. I grew up in the 50s on fairy tales. She always had a happy ending. I mean, that was that was the benchmark and all it was nonsense. So most people, he asked him what they want to say they want to be happy. And so that was some permanent emotional state you can crave and hold on to and keep with you on a regular basis, every day all day. And that’s just so ridiculous. It’s not possible. And if you you know, I always think about think it’s a six in Proverbs with Solomon says suffering opens the heart. Your suffering has a purpose and makes us more understanding, more compassionate, which are closer to others, we can be there for others suffering. You know, it’s like, that’s one of the problems with Alcoholics Anonymous, as they say, happy, joyous and free. And it’s almost like I call it toxic positivity. It’s, you know, that’s an illusion, you know, and it’s silly. No, life is up as ups and downs. It’s a struggle a lot of time. Because this is not God’s world. This is Satan’s world, he spreads the power the air. And this is not the way it is supposed to be now, but it wasn’t the way it was intended.

Yeah, and also just for people listening, Scott pack, the road less traveled and other books have, by him highly recommend those I listened to people of the lie different drum roll fantastic not too long ago, a very impactful book. Yeah, the interesting thing, too, is, is when when you’re in those states, where you’re at a down point in life, for whatever reason, whether it’s something happened as a tragedy, whether it’s just you know, I guess cyclical or hormonal, maybe whatever it is, you at least I feel like if you take a step back and think about what’s going on in your own mind, at least I’ve come to the conclusion how mentally and emotionally weak I am in terms of the all the things that that that motivate that come out when you’re in those states. I’ve been trying to fast. Once a month, Jonathan really gave that message A while back about the spirits, various spiritual tools and you mentioned fasting so I’ve been trying to do that and even something as small as taking away food for a day. You puts you in a certain mental state, and it brings certain things to light, which is, which is interesting. But when you get a major crisis in your life or a depressive state, you know, I’ve realized how much a lot of what motivates me is this fear that I won’t get something I think I want.

But you know what? The most profound statement ever heard, came eight years ago from a going off, folks and moms were afraid of not getting what we want, losing what we have. Yeah, that’s the core self centered fear. That’s the core of everything, that fear.

And it’s and it’s, I think that’s why I mean, scripture is replete with the admonitions to focus on the kingdom to not lose anything else before before God. Because I do I mean, I’m not necessarily someone who has a lot of fears that go around in his head often, but I, but they’re sometimes like, depending on what’s going on in life, you fear of losing a loved one or a situation or, by and large with me, it’s not getting something that I want. And I’ve come to intellectually at least understand that as long as I’m pursuing my conversion relationship with God, all things work together for good. So even though I might be going through something terrible, or maybe a bad events going to happen to me or my family in my life, God very well could be using that to get me or the other people in my life to where we need to be character wise, that that might be the catalyst that changes who we are, to help us be that stone that he needs to fit a very specific place in His Kingdom. And that’s a

sermon on James Carroll joy when folded diverse mutations, that really was very helpful. Because, you know, I’ve always thought, that recovery, that God doesn’t waste a step. And often, my plan, and his plan are very different, but his plan works out better. And it just takes me a while to accept it to see it. You know, but I look at it that way that this is for, you know, some growth and change in me that God sees that needs to happen, I don’t really see it. First of all, I don’t have a choice, a choice in it, I can resist All I want to do, I’m just gonna be miserable. I need to surrender to that process. let myself, you know, fully engage in it. But that’s not an easy thing to do. Letting go.

No, I was I was just talking to someone about death phenomenon. I know intellectually, that that is what is called for, I think I’ve experienced moments like that. But it is super difficult. I’m still working on that surrender to God aspect of things. I do not pretend to know exactly what that entails, or how to do it. Um, but I think like you said, part of it is that recognition that his plan is the one that works out for the best, not ours, because a lot of it for me as well, I have these things that I want in my life, right? And maybe they’re not even, they’re not even bad things. They’re not materialistic. They’re just things that I that I want. And I feel like they’re good to want. But I often try to take a step back and go well, if I don’t get that, but I’m still going through the process of conversion. And God gets me where he needs me to be at the end. That’s a win what what makes me what makes me what makes me think that the thing that I want is going to do more to make me happy than what God wants for me. That’s that that’s that odd dynamic, where we think the thing and it goes back to that feeling. I think that the inherent beliefs of the subconscious belief that we’re all Gods is that we think we know what’s going to bring us happiness more than God does. It’s firmly ingrained in who we are. And that’s a big part of what we need to be shedding is the idea that we know best we know what’s going to make us happy. Why isn’t God giving me x thing?

Yeah, if we can maintain some kind of you know, certainty and control over things. It feels great but the reality is really powerless over everything. I’m not powerless over this my reaction to things is sometimes I’m even powerless over that.

Yeah, I was just gonna say it’s it’s an odd feeling to feel like you’re not even really in control yourself. And we and I mean we’re, we are accountable when we sin, we’re accountable when we screw up but to think that we’re a bunch of beings that have complete on unfettered ability to just exercise what we think is right or wrong is not accurate. You know, the science doesn’t bear it out. The scripture isn’t buried out Romans doesn’t bear it out the example of David, it’s, it’s this, like, the lack of control is one of the pillar the fundamental things in Scripture is that you don’t have control you barely have control yourself. And very often you don’t, that’s why you need me. God speaking obviously.

Well, you know, so it’s interesting to me because we we need some kind of certainty need to wake up and realize that tomorrow’s gonna be today, you know, the roads and I know Ready to deal with, you know, the second human needs seems to be unpredictability, slash variety with some certainty. Yeah, one of the bad addictions is doing the same thing over and over and over and over expecting different results. But you’re in a rut, and you get used to that rut. And after a while, it’s just an endurance process, you just endure in life, you’re not living down. So, you know, variety is nice, but I think a long time ago, I figured out that the end of the game is not happiness, it’s not about happens. If I judge myself on my mood, I’m going to be miserable. I’m not I’m not happy to I’m not ecstatic this week period. I mean, I think God gives us peace it gives the Holy Spirit is inside understanding. We start to realize you know, what? We’re faced what’s unrealistic, what’s realistic? And you know, I’ve had I’ve had I had that break through the hospital and experience that was very cathartic. And the problem with anything that’s what you might call spiritual awakening is once you’ve had one you want to have other ones Yeah. And I don’t want to go through the process of getting near death to have good experience Yeah,

I can I can identify with that maybe not having a near death experiences, but you have those experiences where you go, man, I’d really like to learn this. And I’d really like to not make an irrevocable mistake to learn it. I’d like to learn it from God in His mercy, not because my life is forever different. Now. You know what I mean?

I mean, guy again, your lowest point when I was in the hospital, and I couldn’t move my right side. So the other night, I was like, I saw a flashlight like, Oh, they knew something was wrong. I was living by myself as a hospitalist and they came in, they knew they will be downstairs and prayed and yours next next morning. I said, God, they’re going to die. So please help me and within a day, an experience that was for me completely. Because while I was in hospital, very physically sick lose 24 pounds in two weeks, you can’t eat the feeding tube, all that stuff. My eyes on focus, I couldn’t read to see them that stuff. The brainstorm like crazy. every bone in your body aches. Um, it was like somebody. I remember it was tough, man. It is every bit of fear in my body, my spirit. through that. I didn’t get physical. It was like, a tremendous says reissued. Well, Steve knew I knew I was going to be okay. I never knew I was going to be okay. I said, as a kid. Yeah. And I thought, well, I’m gonna be okay. I know. And as soon as a doctor didn’t see that a doctor, he took a lot of time out for me. He said to me, You can see my counsel, she was wanting to fit in better. I said, No, so feel terrible. I said, but all the fear, that psychological fears going, what I feel now is sensory assurance, and I’m going to be fine. So I didn’t find it, you hit the lottery? And they said, No. And he said, Well, I said, No, because first of all, I saw myself leaving here, walking out of here, which was what I insist they let me do I want to be whichever. And I find that up, walk out into the vein to the next place. But that to me, was some kind of psychic experience that was changed and and attributed to God. It wasn’t a church thing. And that’s, that’s a lesson. Yeah,

that’s it. That’s an amazing thing. Because I think the what I’ve come to realize is that the faith God talks about is that kind of faith, the faith that is going to be okay, like that, in the end, God has your best interests in mind in that and as long as we’re pursuing that, the best outcome will happen that God will bring us where we need to be. It’s not that we have faith that this outcome we want is going to happen as long as we just have enough faith that outcome is going to happen. It’s I think it’s the faith in God’s process that as long as we go through this, even if we keep failing and failing and failing, but keep getting back up and going through the process of conversion, that that you will be fine even if maybe some of those failures lead to a very big thing like a divorce or death or whatever it is, or you know, physical impairment as a result of something that the faith of Yeah, I know, I screwed up. Like, I know that I can’t do this on my own. I know I have work to do with God. And that if I just keep at it, it’ll be okay. In the end it would it but it’s, it’s, I was thinking about this the other day, it’s odd because many of the things we put in that God size hole are things that give us very intense Temporary reprieve from the stresses or whatever is going on in our minds in our lives very big, you know, serotonin boost whatever it is that that is powerful. And I’ll get you through or It’s that thing that whenever you’re either stressed or bored, it’s just the default thing you you go into. Or it’s the thing you’re constantly searching for because that you think that’s going to make you whole, when in reality, the the true things that lead to the piece that you talk about is a relationship with God. But that doesn’t offer the intense, immediate serotonin boost. It’s like this long term learned peace and contentment, which until you do it for a long time and learn these are things that it’s not, it’s not necessarily there. And I think because people look for these intense emotional experiences, sometimes that can be challenging.

Yeah, there’s no quick fix. It’s kind of a slow process. And that, you know, that was me, what was that experience, what the process was still still last weeks and weeks and months. And the other thing was, I just started my life. Every problem I had, I had a lot of my driver’s license for five years, never got a DWI. Court driver, and the IRS asked me for years underneath a taxes, every one of those things, was corrected in miraculous ways in which the motor vehicle bureau can license you up to five years. Now, you know, permanent paid big final lap, it gave me a conditional license. And he said, You’re not eligible for a license for at least a year to extend or get a license in the mail. I’m trying to be honest, I go back to more of your question, you submit his license as a regular license. And I spent an hour looking for this and what the IRS turned up, because I hadn’t filed tax returns in six or seven years. That’s a contract because I worked for plumbing and rolling and had been taking out more money than was needed. So I got back. The IRS has has a rule, they’ll go back three years, three months and three weeks, they owe you anything after that they have to pay. They said, well, figures theory title 250 $500 was an overpayment of taxes, but you’re not going to get anything 81 and 82. Cuz I still have more money coming. So I expect to owe them money. They owe me money, they’ve actually got a good check in the mail. Yeah, it was just it was just that kind of thing all the way along. I needed that I was so broken and so shattered and pieces, everything challenge. I mean, you know, there’s a thing called state dependent learning, which means that when you learn something in particular state, it could be intoxication, it could be high enough to be high all the time. It’s just a different biochemical process with memory in your brain. When you learn that, the state you learn it and you can’t access that information, assuring that state I had a mechanic. I’ve seen it many times with people who are really good at something that sober month in the hospital, you get out guys a crackerjack mechanic, so you won’t replace them rock, he calls me goes Bob, I don’t know where to turn to reach to the right or left to learn that, or service to life or for a while, fix everything from airplanes to feed, the learning all in this process of drinking, drinking every day. And I’ll tell you what, if you gave him a drink on that day, when he said he didn’t know whether to turn the register left or right, he’d be able to give notice. Because that biochemical Keith, that memory, is that substance connected with that mindset. That’s what state dependent learning. And I began to realize that a lot of things I could not access, there were a lot of things. I mean, there were a lot of deficiencies, short term memory loss, a lot of things such as sleep problems, and little by little a lot of feedback, but soon within this day, I always had a great time with it. I make it myself. Ever we write it down after every numbered day later. Oh, it’s let’s see. It’s Tuesday. June 10 11 o’clock, I’ll put down you know, Tuesday, June 11, at 10 o’clock I do all the time. It’s just it’s part of them just because there’s other areas that are realizing you Sosa’s freedoms, I did not have long to consequences, but most of them. I take pretty good care of myself. Most of them are. But this is a reversible improvement. That’s the good news. Anybody that’s addiction will get better at this stuff. We can help.

Yeah, along along those lines. Maybe for people maybe the last thing we could talk about For people who maybe like we talked about don’t have an addiction to a substance, but maybe they do have destructive addictions or compulsivity in their life. Are there things that they could be on the lookout for in terms of I know, we’ve talked about things like, you know, addiction is the removal of the space between impulse and action, I remember, if that’s the correct phrase,

so impulse action, and the alcoholic or addict does not have the ability to interrupt that. So he doesn’t have the power of choice, he goes right from impulse to action.

So are there along those lines, like someone who has an addiction or compulsivity toward anger? Who doesn’t have that, that thought, that moment of thought between the impulse to be angry and the expression of it? Are there things people can look for in themselves when they’re trying to be introspective? Or they’re being reflective, that can help them identify these things in their life?

I think if yes, was that what are the things that bother me most that I do to myself or other people? Is first you have beginning of any problems, awareness, you have to have your own words, to inspire women up again. And I think what happens is as you spot it, then it gets to the point where you’re actually able to realize I’m about to do that. And now you have the power to intervene then maybe one time out of 10 you can do that. But I think the st. So what are the behaviors that are troubling me, or other people that I love around me? You know, I’m being told about this also process addictions and things like that. And that’s probably where there’s some kind of compulsive behavior, something going on. It’s not life enhancing right from it’s not, you know, solidifying your relationships. There’s really no tearing you down. So quick, quick summary.

Well, thanks, Bob. Appreciate your time today. It’s always fascinating to talk with you. And it’s also always very helpful personally, regardless of what I’m going through at the time. So yeah, just think Thank you for coming on. I appreciate your insight.

About the Author

Daniel Russo is a lifelong New Yorker and currently resides in Albany, New York. He currently works as the Manager of Business Operations at Parent to Parent of NYS. He previously worked at the Empire