coming out of hiding

The fourteenth-century mystic Julian of Norwich said, “Our courteous Lord does not want his servants to despair because they fall often and grievously; for our falling does not hinder him in loving us.”

My life depends on this being true.   The past nearly three years have been for me a predominately dark time with only intermittent rays of light.   I have fallen often and grievously, putting to test Julian’s theory in the most grandiose ways.   I have scars to prove it.

Nearly three years ago to the day I relapsed.    A nightmare I thought I left behind, and from which I thought I was healed, rushed back into my life like a hurricane.   There are many reasons why but the root of them all is a slow, steady, progressive disconnect from God.   As a pastor and recovery minister I got consumed with doing the work and forgot how to be with God and others.   I let my guard down.   I got lazy.   And without a regular support group for myself (as opposed to one I was always leading) to belong to I had no idea just how unprepared I was for whatever storms might come.

I still play that night over and over in my head when I reached for my phone and searched for things I hadn’t looked for in years.  I play it back slowly at times, thinking that maybe this time I’ll make the right decision and I’ll wake up as though it were all a bad dream.

But that never happens.  We addicts love our non-reality though, don’t we?   What quickly became my reality was a downward spiral from a momentary relapse to full on addiction.   Looking back, I see how I could have stopped the slide had I reached out to someone for help.   But my shame over what I had done, coupled with the responsibility I felt towards the church I pastored and the recovery ministry I helped launch paralyzed me.   So I slithered away into the night.

This is the first time I’ve written about this.  If you’ve followed this blog in the past and gleaned something from my writing about recovery, I want to take this moment to apologize to you.   And not just to you, but countless others.  I let down a lot of people.  My family, my church, my friends and a community that trusted me.   And while I don’t expect this post to fix any of that, and personal amends are yet to be made, I needed to bring all of this to the light because it’s the only way I can continue to recover.

I also needed to share that this week marks my 10th week sober.

I’ve been embarrassed by that for too long.   In my head I made up stories that people probably expect I should be much farther along than I am.  And to be honest, I wanted them to think that.  I am good at putting on the imposter persona which looks sober and clean for my audience.    But the truth is the past couple years have been full of starts and stops, gains and losses.   I’ve fallen grievously and hurt myself and others.  There were many long dark days where I was convinced that death was my best option.

I’m so grateful that in those darkest moments God showed up with skin on and reminded me that I was not forgotten or alone.   These men and women showed me love when I didn’t love myself.   From a couple I knew only through Facebook opening their home to me when I was homeless.   A friend I hadn’t seen in years gave me a van when I was carless.   A 12 step group opened their arms to me and encouraged me to keep coming back.   A recovery preacher in Knoxville who I kept listening to online.  A girlfriend who stood beside me through the peaks and valleys.    These and others gave me hope when I felt hopeless.

Today I am not ashamed that I am 10 weeks sober but grateful that I am alive to share that I am on the road to recovery.   It’s important to me to come out of hiding and share where I am with you.   I’m tired of living behind a mask.   I’m an addict in recovery and I’m making progress.   And today I am choosing to embrace the truth that God loves me completely for who I am today and not some future version of me with more sobriety.

While my falls have been many and grievous, I will not wallow in them.  I reject the lie of the enemy which has whispered to me over the last few years, “You’ve squandered all of your Father’s blessings because you relapsed, divorced, or washed out of ministry.”    Rather, I choose to believe that my Father has long been standing at the door watching for me and comes running towards me with every start.  Because of who he is, I believe the best is yet to come.  20141204-Snyder-GodSeesYou

Thank you for taking a moment to read this.

Grace and peace,






18 thoughts on “coming out of hiding”

  1. Chad, thanks for sharing what you’re dealing with. Congratulations on your sobriety. I can’t remember what we’ve gotten into fights about over the past few months but I’m sorry for being a stumbling block in your journey.

  2. Chad,

    I have just finished reading your post and it certianly reminds me of my dark days of immoral living. Being unfaithful, a liar, a cheat, a thief, an abuser, and many other words could be used to describe my old way of living. But the Lord came down to rescue me in my most darkest times. He did not withhold His grace and mercy, and gave me a new life and identity in Jesus Christ. Chad, our identity, as you well know, is in Jesus Christ because of His finished work. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6). This is our new identity Chad, “crucified with him”. For what purpose? That we should no longer be “slaves to sin”.

    “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’ (John 8:36) It is the gospel that gives us the abliity to “turn to God” from idols. Notie this passage: “because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5) The gospel came to them not only in word but also “with power” in the Holy Spirit. Chad I know as a pastor you are aware of these things but I simply want to remind you brother. So the gospel came them with power and Holy Spirit conviction. And as we see from verse (9) what the power of the gospel did in them, “for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thesalonians 5:9)

    When the gospel came “with power” it enabled the Thessalonians to “turn to God” from “idols” to serve Him. And this is what we all need to be doing, reminding ourselves of our true identity and what the gospel has done in us and for us. Looking to Jesus and His work on the cross allows us to be humbled, in awe of such great love, fills us with thankfulness and keeps us full so we are not intersted in chasin those idols that promised so much but only deliverd, sorrow, hopelessness, anxiety, emptiness, lonliness, and many more could be added. Chad, continue to take a fresh look at the gospel daily and you will be renewed you and a renewed ministry. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24)


  3. Chad, I’m glad to know how you’re doing. We didn’t know where you were or what was happening with you. You’ll be in our prayers on this journey…
    You are loved.

  4. Chad,

    Thank you for continuing to share. I’m heading into year 6 of being forgiven, free and transformed from the inside out. By the grace of God, I’ll never let my guard down or become complacent in pursuing the Lord’s heart…daily…through His Word, prayer and power of the Holy Spirit.

    I’ve become more self-aware than ever. Anytime I start to struggle with needing approval or feedback to feel valued and useful, I slow down and press into Jesus even more. I’m praying you will also recognize anytime you are desiring something outside of Christ to fill you. Only His Presence will satisfy your heart.

    In His Sweet Mercy,

  5. Hi Chad. I just wanted to say I had been following you and Amy since 2012 when I found out about my husbands struggles. I didn’t hear much from any blogs for a while and wondered?? I have to admit, my heart just broke when I read you divorced and relapsed! ….but I’m glad to hear you are still on the journey! When I think about all the things wrong in the world (us, others, the enemy, etc) I am reminded that these days are short, very short and The Lord does still love us (no matter what). He wants to rerun and find us after His heart. We can never be perfected in this human ,earthly state….but we have to keep in the race, it’s the only way. I’m not saying this to you, but to myself!

    ….you don’t have to answer this, but do you still see your children?

    …and please know you are in my prayers!!

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