The price of admission

IMG_0506If you have ever been to the deli counter of a grocery store or visited your local D.M.V. (Department of Motor Vehicles), you have – no doubt – had to take a ticket with a number on it.  This number is used to determine who is “next” in line.   The longer the line, the more important the number is to the holder.   Nobody likes to wait in a line, particularly a long one.   However, having a number and being treated like one are two different experiences.

Last year, I entered the doors of a local establishment and was given a number.   In fact, to this day – I still remember it.


For me, this number was not merely a number.   In fact, for three months of my life – it became my identity.   Not only was I identified by a number but it is safe to say I was treated like one.   Being treated like a number tends to be the experience of anyone who finds themselves incarcerated.

I have been called a lot of things in my life even respectable titles like “Dad,” or “Coach,” or “Christian.”   One title I never thought I’d have attributed to me was that of “inmate.”   One minute, I’m in a court room trying to plead my case to a family court judge.  The next minute I am handcuffed and in custody.  I may be guilty of a lot of things but no one will ever find me guilty of living a dull life.

Throughout the difficulties of life there are many among us who have found themselves associated with a title they never desired or expected:

  • Divorcee
  • Addict
  • Adulterer
  • Cancer patient
  • Widow
  • Inmate
  • Amputee
  • Handicapped
  • Orphan
  • Barren

Each title listed above automatically grants admission into a group one never wants to be a part of.   No little boy wants to be an inmate when he grows up.   No one at the marriage altar looks forward to the day they can serve divorce papers to their spouse.   No child, at any age, is prepared for living life without a parent.   The soldier who marches patriotically into enemy territory does not expect to come home without a leg.   It is safe to say that nobody wants to be a member of any of these painful groups.

But then life happens.

Unplanned tragedies.   Poor choices.   Moral failures.   Unwanted situations.    Experimenting turned into addiction.   Smoking turned into cancer.   Diving into the lake turned into paralysis.   Friendship turned into an affair.   Suddenly, we all find ourselves in a group we never want to be involved with, whether we are the perpetrator, the victim or the innocent families of either.

Years ago, a close friend of mine had been diagnosed with cancer.  After chemotherapy, radiation, dietary changes and prayer, she eventually found herself in the fortunate category of survivor and was invited to join a local support group.   This group was unique and had two prerequisites for entry:

  1. You had to have cancer in your past medical history.
  2. It had to be completely removed or in remission.   In other words, you had to be given “tabula rasa” – a clean slate.

Like it or not, we are all part of a group – even if it’s not one you want to be in.   In fact, you are not alone.  The biblical characters that came before you had membership in their own painful groups.   Consider…

  • Because of the sin of Cain,  he and his family became “restless wanderers.”  There are many out there today who relate to the feelings of excommunication because of their past behavior.
  • Abraham & Sarah were in the “Parenting 101” group.  Though they longed to be parents, they did not expect it to begin at age 100.   Had it been up to them, the parenting group they wanted to join would have started 25 years before this one.
  • Mary was in the unplanned pregnancy group, a scandalous membership – especially for her in the day and age she lived in.
  • King David was a member (if not the President) of a number of terrible groups; adulterers anonymous, murderers-R-Us & the absentee dad group.
  • Countless women (Michal, Anna, Hannah, etc.) knew the shame of barrenness and no woman of child-bearing age in that culture wanted to be in that group.
  • Mephibosheth understood the difficulty of being in a handicapped group, especially in a world that did not have such convenient inventions like crutches, wheelchairs or walkers.
  • Joseph, Peter and Paul (to name a few) understood the stigma of having a record, even if their crimes were not considered heinous.
  • The woman at the well (John 4) knew her membership was secure in the immoral group she was in.   Sadly, so did the rest of the village.

What group are you in?   Are you there because of your selfishness or from the selfishness of others?   How have you viewed your membership?   If you’re like most people, you complain about the group God assigned you.   Humanly speaking, it makes sense.   Who really WANTS to be in a group known for losing a spouse?   Who would choose to be a part of a group that’s missing a limb or handicapped in some way?   Can anyone really be proud that they’re part of an anonymous group whether it be for alcohol, gambling or sex?   The adjective “anonymous” reveals our shame.   Most of us, if we are honest, want to be a part of the young, healthy, wealthy, no-regret groups and sadly those groups are small in number and few and far between – if they even exist at all.   For the rest of us, we are part of a group that is difficult to admit to and even harder to attend.

My friend with cancer told me something interesting, months after being part of the cancer survivor support group.  “Rod,” she said, “before cancer, I would not have been invited to join a group like this, but now that I have had it and survived, I’m able to encourage others who are afflicted in a way I never could have before.”   Her cancer, she realized, was not just about her.   She wasn’t in this group as a victim of a Divine punishment or as a result of a bad habit but rather as a representative of love and encouragement for those similarly impacted who desperately needed some help and hope from someone who truly understood their plight.

A few weeks ago I had an appointment in a local cafe with one of the waitresses.   She had contacted my company looking for some health insurance and it was my job to meet with her and determine her eligibility.   Before I could provide her with a quote, I had to ask a few personal questions.   These basic questions, unexpectedly, began to peel back an onion of pain in her life.   She was hesitant.   She seemed uncomfortable.  There was clearly something in her past that she did not want me to know.   Instinctively, I knew what it was.   A few more questions later and she finally felt comfortable to reveal her “group” – she had been incarcerated and that experience put her in a position that has made it very difficult to get back on her feet.   As we met, there seemed to be a great chasm between our two worlds.   She was a struggling waitress barely able to make ends meet.  I appeared to be successful insurance salesman dressed in my professional business attire.    Little did she know that a year ago I too was incarcerated.   Little did she know that I too had come out of jail – virtually homeless.  Little did she know that I understand what it is like to rebuild a life, wrestle with the stigma of being in jail and struggle on a core level emotionally, relationally and financially because of the life-changing experience.   As the conversation continued, I could literally feel her shame.   She had just admitted an extremely personal and embarrassing fact about her past to someone she thought may judge her for it.   After my quote was finished and my work with her was done, I sat in the cafe for a few minutes and waited for my opportunity.   This poor girl needed to know that she was not alone.   I had to tell her that she was not the only one who was a part of this shameful group.   She came back to my table and I asked her to sit down again.   She assumed it was insurance related.  It was not.  It was time to bring some healing to her frightened soul.  On my phone I pulled up a picture of myself – from my past.   She recognized the image and immediately realized the implication.  The picture was of my mug shot, my membership into her shameful group.   Without words, she knew what I was saying.   She understood that I understood.   Her mouth dropped.   Her entire demeanor changed.  A enormous sense of relief came over her entire body.   She was not in the presence of some super successful insurance never-made-any-mistake-in-his-life salesman.  She was sitting next to an ex-con brother who understood not just her chains but her shames.   She was overwhelmed with emotion and let out two words that seemed to sum up her relief,

“NO S@%T!”

We laughed, shared some stories and moved on with our day.   The group we were a part of was now no longer a group of shame but one of encouragement and hope.   That’s the beauty of the group experience.  For many, it is the first time you come to realize: “I AM NOT ALONE.”  It does not condone the reason you joined it – it merely validates your current membership in it.   Once you’re in, it doesn’t matter how or why you got there.  What really matters is how you are growing personally and helping those in the room with you.   Some people need you.  You will need others.  If you are open about your presence in the group and lift the veil of shame long enough to admit you are a card-carrying member, much good can be done in the midst of it, for you and others.

What group are you in?   A group of adulterers or the ones victimized by it?   Is your group filled with parents who lost a child or ones who can not conceive one?   Perhaps your group is filled with members struggling with a physical pain?   Or a mental disorder?  Whether you are a burned out Pastor or a used up prostitute, there is a group for you.   Whether you are a recovering pornographer or a former Pharisee, there are others out there who relate to your past and situation and desperately need to hear your story.    It’s hard to join a group associated with a painful past.   It’s even harder to live without the support of others who understand it.

When the Apostle Paul was writing a letter to the church in Corinthians, he addressed, indirectly, the reason why we need groups like this.   If you have been through “hell and back,” and wonder why certain things happened to you – perhaps this perspective will help.   Maybe it was never just about you.   Maybe you went through it simply to help another struggling soul get through it as well.

“Praise be to the God… the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Embrace your group.    Share your story.    Comfort others.    Repeat.

“What are you here for?”

untitledIf there were one question that was most commonly asked to someone in jail, it was this one, “What are you here for?”

Correction officers asked this directly to inmates.  Inmates frequently asked it to each other.  Guards, inmates, prison workers – everyone wanted to know what you did to get there.  They knew there was a background to the story and many wanted to hear it.  After all, no one ends up in jail accidently.

Every inmate is there for a reason.   Some, as you can imagine, committed pretty heinous crimes.   Others were in for less violent reasons.  The crimes varied across the board.  For example:

  • I slept thirty feet away from Mr. Johnson, a quiet, elderly man serving a life sentence for a double homicide.
  • One man, named Paul, I met while doing some work in the Maximum Security wing.  He was an enormous man with an award-winning smile and fantastic personality.  On the few occasions that we spoke, he was a very engaging conversationalist.  He was there for raping his three-year-old niece.
  • A twenty-year-old named Chris was there after kidnapping a ninety-year-old woman during a botched armed robbery.   Chris and I spoke every night.  That is, until he attempted to assault me when I refused to give him a piece of candy.
  • One of my cellmates was there after his sophisticated shoplifting ring at Walmart was finally busted.
  • Another cellmate (I had six overall) named Andrew, a truck driver, had failed to pay a speeding ticket seven years ago.
  • One guy was locked up for cursing at the Judge during his hearing.
  • Many men I met were there for manufacturing Meth, a rampant problem in Lexington County (SC), where I was detained.
  • As I mentioned in a previous blog post, hundreds were there for their failure to pay child support.
  • Public drunkenness, simple possession, resisting arrest, DUI, driving under suspension, driving without a license, trespassing – the list of charges was as long as it was varied.

Some, like myself, were taken into custody immediately after a court hearing.  Others were arrested at work.  Several were taken from their beds.  One was detained right from the shower.   It was fascinating to hear their stories and the background of events that led to them being in jail.

And while I listened to literally hundreds of stories, two thoughts constantly came to mind.

The first was the level of transparency each man possessed while sharing his particular story.   As they were telling their version of events, most did not sugarcoat the offense but instead provided details I would have no way of knowing – details that could not be shared if they weren’t telling the truth and details that would not help “spin” their story more positively in their favor.   I was impressed with their candor.

And their candor got me thinking.

Why are we not (usually) this transparent in free life?  Why do we not share at this level with our families?   Why do we not talk this openly around the water cooler at work?  What keeps us from providing such damning details about our previous lives to those in our current social circles?   What is it about the truth of our past that forces most of us to want to live a present lie or pretend it never happened?

I think the simple answer is… relationship.

If we actually shared (out-loud) the things we have done or thought about doing – we’d have no friends.  No one, we think, could hear about our past and still want to be in the same room with us.   What I have done (fill in the blank) is so bad/so wrong/so dirty/so deviant (etc.) that no decent human being could hear it, let alone relate to my actions.   If they knew I think about such things (or gasp – did such things), it would certainly affect my current relational status.

So, we keep quiet and force our painful past (or current thoughts) to endure years of solitary confinement.   We keep the demons locked up behind a freshly painted door and hope that their screams will not be heard by those on the other side.   They can kick, scratch or yell all they want but as long as we keep that door closed, we’ll be fine.   This is what we tell ourselves in the free world.   Keeping the door to our past closed, I have come to realize, puts us free people in even greater bondage than those I met in jail.

Jail is one place where the demons come out.   It is where the past torments the present.  And in the darkness of a place like that – it has a way of doing what the free world cannot – level the playing field.   In the free world, I can hide my past deeds or current thoughts and blend in rather nicely in the environment I’m in.   In jail, I cannot.   I might be in for jaywalking and you might be in for disturbing the peace but the point is – we are both still in.  Our very presence there points to an embarrassing reality.   And because incarceration is such a public event, your private deeds are no longer private.   This, I think, is why I saw such refreshing transparency in there.   It’s easier to talk about your wrongdoings in the midst of other wrongdoers.  Is someone there going to judge you because you committed a crime?   Can someone in jail look down on you for being incarcerated?   Your offense may be different but you’re both there for a reason and therefore you share a common bond that few on the outside can understand.

This leads me to the second thought that hit me as these men were sharing transparently with me.  Why isn’t this same question (“What are you here for?”) asked in more often… in Church?

Our normal answers to this question reveal more about our propensity to deceive than we care to admit:

  • “I’ve heard great things about this church and wanted to check it out.”
  • “I like the music.”
  • “The sermons are always challenging.”
  • “They have great programs for the kids.”
  • “It’s close to home.”

Is there some truth to all these answers?   Sure.  But does it really address the true reason why we go to church?   Is it really about the music?   Or the youth programs?   Or even the sermon?

When I walk into a hospital, there is no shame in telling everyone I meet that I have a broken bone.   In fact, I’ll even show it to you if it means you’ll fix it.  And I’ll tell you how it happened and how it feels in the moment and answer any question you ask without shame or embarrassment that I’m there.

When I walk into a doctor’s office, I don’t feel any temptation to hide my flu-like symptoms.   I’ll sneeze my head off and blow my nose like a trumpet without a second thought because I’m sick.  I know I’m sick.  You know I’m sick.  The doctor knows I’m sick and the sooner I’m honest about every last symptom – the sooner I’m walking out of there a healed man.

For some reason, though – we do not view our soul sickness the same way.   Our mind could be corrupted, our heart could be deceitful, our tongue could be forked and our hands covered in blood – and we would still have trouble admitting why we are really in church.   What if we heard the following answers to the same question, “What are you here for?”

  • I’m a functional alcoholic and desperately need help.
  • I fight with my spouse every night and I don’t know what to do.
  • I am addicted to pornography and I obviously cannot stop on my own.
  • I need help forgiving my parents for something that happened years ago.
  • I am the victim of domestic abuse and am looking for a safe place to heal.
  • I am divorced and very lonely most nights.   I need a supportive community.
  • I am struggling financially and want to know what the Bible says about money.

What would happen to our communities if church was THE place where these real life needs were talked about from the pulpit?  Even better, what if the members of the church were equipped to handle visitors walking in with real life issues like these?

Recently, I attended a local church that addressed some real life issues from the pulpit.  The series was called “The Bible’s Biggest Problems” and I was impressed that the Pastor was tackling some of these taboo subjects head on.   The Sunday I was there the topic was “Homosexuality.”  Could there be a more divisive topic than this one today?   Click here to see for yourself how this particular Pastor handled it.   In my opinion, it was refreshing.

The truth is, we ALL have a past and we are all called to use that past to help others.     A recovering alcoholic can empathize with and help those who struggle with that addiction.   Only someone who has buried a child can understand the devastating pain of a grieving parent.  Whether you are a survivor of rape, a person with a criminal domestic violence charge or the woman who experienced a miscarriage – your painful past can help someone else’s current painful present.

This is why the Apostle Paul reminds us that the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (II Corinthians 1:3-4)

Church wasn’t meant to be a country club to go to on Sundays before lunch.   It’s not designed to be a place where you can drink some coffee, meet up with friends, enjoy a rock concert and hear a humorous motivational talk.  It is THE place where the spiritually sick can find, in the Person of Christ, their cure.   And God puts people with a past in positions of comfort and encouragement – for those walking into the building – looking for help and hope.

What’s in your past?   Have you received the comfort of God yet?   If so, pass it on.   There are those sitting next to you (in your family/at work/at the gym/in the pew) who need to know that their past deeds or present struggles can be redeemed.

After all, it’s what they’re really here for.

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Hitting “Rock Bottom”

Whenever you hear the phrase “rock bottom”, it is usually describing someone’s imploding personal life.  It implies that they are at their lowest possible level or at the absolute bottom in their circumstances.  The unfortunate soul who is struggling would most likely agree they have never been so low.  In regards to their situation you will sometimes hear them say something like, “It can’t get any worse.”  To them, it is truly rock bottom.  Those nearest them always know it could be worse.  Even much worse.  Oftentimes, their situation does get worse before it ever starts to improve.

Rock bottom varies from person to person.  For some, rock bottom could be reached with the death of a loved one.  For another it may be the loss of a job or the loss of a relationship or the loss of health or wealth.   It could come as a result of a tragic accident or even the betrayal of a friend or lover.  Some end up at rock bottom because of an addiction.  Others hit bedrock because of their pride.

Anyone can find themselves at rock bottom.  It does not seem to be a respecter of age, gender, social status or race.  Whether you are a sitting President or a pastor, teacher, student, coach, athlete, Mom, rock star, actor, musician, politician, college student, solider, CEO, janitor or reality TV star – you are not immune to rock bottom status.  For some, the journey is a slow downward spiral to the pit.  For others, it happens in an instant.  Life is fragile like that.

Of all the places one can be on earth, rock bottom may be the saddest.  While there, the struggler often feels helpless and hopeless. There is relatively little light at the end of their dark tunnel and any light they see is usually just an oncoming train.  It is in that lonely place that you ultimately learn who really loves you… who your true friends are.  Sadly, you often realize you have fewer friends than you first thought.  Not many people enjoy rock bottom company.

Most describe their time at rock bottom as the worst experience of their life.  Others claim it was the best thing that has ever happened to them.  Some have used their time at rock bottom to catapult them to heights they could never have reached otherwise.   Life, it seems, is full of paradoxes.  Sometimes, you have to go down before you can go up.  Sometimes, before you can get rich you have to experience poverty.  It is for this reason that hitting rock bottom may be a blessing in disguise.

What I find fascinating about rock bottom is how people handle their time there differently.  You could deliver the same devastating blow to three different people and get three completely different responses.  Rock bottom, for one, can utterly defeat them.  Crippled by their situation, they never fully recover from the experience.  For someone else, their pride is concreted and they refuse to admit anything, especially defeat.  For yet another, they humbly embrace the temporary defeat and it eventually becomes the catalyst needed to change their life forever.    

We have no shortage of rock bottom stories in our culture.  All I have to do is mention a name and you can instantly recall their rock bottom experience; Bill Clinton, Michael Vick, Martha Stewart, Tiger Woods, Jerry Sandusky, Bernie Madoff, OJ Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, etc.  It seems that another celebrity is added to the list every week in the evening news.   Each person reached their rock bottom in different ways.  Some committed crimes. Some broke vows.  A few struggle with addiction.  While occasionally some are victims of another’s selfishness, most are there through self-inflicted wounds.   Whether they are behind bars or walking free, they all have had to wrestle with their rock bottom status.  I have had a few of my own rock bottom experiences. They were simultaneously the best and worst experiences of my life.  Maybe you have had yours?   Or maybe yours is yet to come.  Whether your rock bottom experience is forced upon you or you invited it in – the important thing is how you respond to it and how you learn from it.  Just because you are at the bottom does not mean you have to stay there.  

The other week I was sitting in church singing the popular hymn, Amazing Grace.  I was reflecting on the powerful words and my broken past:

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.   I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

Written by John Newton, a former slave owner turned Pastor, I had read about his immoral past and rock bottom experience.  His story and life are remarkable.  If God can redeem a man like that, He can redeem any man – even me.  Like Newton, I have not lived a perfect life.  I have made a lot of mistakes and I have hurt a lot of people in the process.  There are days when I feel like the word “wretch” would be a compliment. 

As I sat in church, singing the hymn and marveling at God’s grace towards me – I glanced to my left to see an older gentlemen sitting a few seats away.   In his mid 60’s, he sat alone.  What caught my attention was his attire.  He was wearing blue jeans with an NFL jersey, obviously in support of his favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles.  What struck me was the name on the back of his jersey, “Vick.”   With over 50 players to choose from, this man’s favorite was Michael Vick, mentioned above.  By all accounts, Vick is an extremely talented player.  He is also an extremely controversial one.  In 2007, he was convicted of animal cruelty in an illegal interstate dog fighting ring and spent almost 2 years in prison for his crimes. Not only did he lose his lucrative position as an NFL Quarterback as well as numerous product endorsements, he was also ordered to pay back over $20 million dollars to the Atlanta Falcons for a breach of contract.   On top of the financial losses, he lost his overall popularity and good name, a price more valuable than wealth (Proverbs 22:1). To say Vick was at rock bottom would be an understatement.  One day he is soaring as a Falcon.  The next day he’s a grounded jail-bird. 

To animal lovers, he is hated – even five years later.  To football fans, he is still loved – in spite of his past.  For all of us, it makes for interesting conversation around the water cooler at work. What do we do with someone who fell to the bottom and has tried to do everything he can to climb back on top?  Do we villain-ize someone for their past?  I mean, don’t we all have a past too – even if it’s not as egregious?  Must he still be shunned today for yesterday’s poor choices?  Have we not all made poor choices at some point, even if we were adults when we made them? Vick served his time and is paying off the debt with his dime.  Isn’t that what is required for restoration?  Or do we believe the popular mantra that “A leopard can’t change his spots?”  Most of us, deep down, do not want to believe that.  If Michael Vick can’t change his spots, then what makes us think we can change ours?    

For the record, I like dogs.  I’m pro-animal.  I don’t own a fur anything.  But I’m also pro-grace and pro-second chances, particularly with someone who wants it.  Too many professional athletes are poor role models.  The Old Michael Vick would have been in that category.  But how many pro-athletes try to reverse their past and redeem their mistakes?  How many try to correct their wrongs and promote the cause they once worked so hard to destroy?   I’m not condoning Michael Vick’s past or trying to minimize the crimes he perpetrated.  But, I do applaud the time he spent and the time he spends trying to change not only his image but the evil industry he once profited from.   

Near the end of his prison term, Michael Vick’s representatives approached the Human Society of the United States (HSUS) to see how Michael might be used to help their cause.  Initially, they were very skeptical of his involvement, for obvious reasons.  When asked why they didn’t choose a different celebrity to help combat this problem, they replied, “Michael Vick was a role model for many young people, and he lost everything because of what he did to dogs. His story is the strongest possible example of why dog fighting is a dead-end. Just as former drug addicts are able to reach people struggling with addiction, former dogfighters are some of the most effective voices against this crime. We realized the potential that Vick has to reach at-risk youth and pull them out of the quicksand of animal fighting…we decided that shunning Vick forever would do no good for any animal.  He has expressed his remorse and his desire to help more animals than he harmed by being an advocate for the humane treatment of animals.  Vick paid $1 million for the care and rehabilitation of the dogs at Bad Newz Kennels. Now he contributes his time and his voice to attacking the problem by reaching out to inner-city youth.”

THAT is the beauty of being at rock bottom for whatever reason you are there.  Even if your foolish choices brought you there, you can make better decisions in the future to pick yourself up and put you in a position to help others.  You can actually do more good than you ever did harm, if you can get the help you need and get on the right track. Michael Vick, as controversial as his past is, may be the best voice out there to speak against dog-fighting and animal cruelty.

Disagree with me?  Then rip the book of Romans out of your Bible.  While you are at it, remove 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and the letter to Philemon as well.   Why?  Because those 13 books of the New Testament were written by someone who (before he hit rock bottom) was actively trying to kill Christians.  Before the Apostle Paul was a Bible writing, Christianity promoting, Jesus loving disciple, he was known as Saul – a massive persecutor of the Church and known executioner of Christians.  God didn’t show grace because of Paul’s past.  He showed grace in spite of Paul’s past.  But isn’t that who grace is for?  People who don’t deserve it?  Grace has the power to change any man.  This is what Newton was talking about in the aforementioned hymn, “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.  How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.”

God can use squeaky clean people to speak His squeaky clean truth.  But most of the time, He calls sinners to talk to other sinners about the dangers of sin.  Who else is more credible to speak on such a topic?  The best person to reach a prostitute is a former prostitute.  The most qualified person to reach a murderer is someone who understands what it’s like to hide a body.  The most credible person to reach a thief is the one who used to pick your pocket.

Have you been to rock bottom yet?   What did you learn on your way down?   What did you do to get back up?  Who have you been able to help as a result of your experience?  You are now uniquely equipped in a way you never were before.  How are you using your new platform to help those on their way down or those who are having trouble getting back up?

Love him or hate him, Michael Vick is showing all of us how to hit rock bottom and get back up again.  How many future dogs will be saved because of his fall from grace?     

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – II Corinthians 1:3-4

“Things are tough all over, But I’ve got good news
When you get down to nothin’, You’ve got nothin’ to lose
Anyway, rock bottom, Is good solid ground
And a dead end street, Is just a place to turn around”  

– Rock Bottom song, Wynonna Judd