“Your Life Does Not Belong to You.”

Most of my life I lived like a Pleasure Seeking Missile.

I lived and roamed this Earth for one reason and one reason only: to have fun.

Life was a party.

Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll we used to say.

I was a product of America in the 1960s and 70s — and Proud of It.

But then God threw me some Curve Balls.

I cannot hit the curve ball.

First I discovered I was addicted. And when I called a friend and asked him what I needed to do: he came to get me.

He came from “The Left Coast” (California) all the way to the East Coast of the United States to fetch me.

To “Fetch me Home” he said.

Then he started to drive me west back toward California.

I was a captive in his car.

For two days I told him my story: Party after everlasting Party until the pain set in and I discovered I was jobless, alone and addicted.

Then he told me his story and it had a Happy Ending.

I had heard of Happy Endings, of course. I had seen a lot of Walt Disney Movies as a kid.

But try as I might I couldn’t think of another close friend of mine that had a “happy ending.” A few were already dead. And unhappily too.

So at the end of Day Three driving west on the vast expanses of the Middle of America my friend said to me, “Did It Ever Occur To You,” and I thought: “Here It Comes” ….

“That Your Life Does Not Belong To You.”

“No,” I said, “Of course not. Who ELSE would my life belong to? I am the master of my fate, ” I said. “I am the King of The World.”

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I thought I was this guy…..

And he said, “That’s where you are wrong. God is going to change everything about you.”

And I said, “But I don’t want God to change everything about me. I am fine.”

And he said, “That’s why I found you drunk, on the 26th floor of a building, as you contemplated taking cocaine or heroin or jumping…”

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I was really more like this guy….

He had me there.  That is not a party I’d wish on anyone.

He continued: “Do you really think God, you remember God, Right? Do you think God made the highest life form on Earth, the Human Being, just so he could destroy himself with sex, booze and drugs?”

I ventured a very slow and pensive “No.”

So on day four or five we got to Oklahoma and he checked me into a drug and alcohol rehab program.

But he didn’t leave me alone. He stayed with me in the cold December of a part of Oklahoma that looked a lot like the Moon. I could not get away. There was no place to go and I had no way to get there.

So I went through weeks of drug and alcohol rehab.

And then he introduced me to one single prayer.

It goes like this:

God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!

He introduced this prayer to me by getting us both on our knees.

He said, this prayer, said daily on his knees, had saved his miserable life.

And he said, once he started to do God’s Will and not his own, everything else in life fell into place and got WAY BETTER.

And that’s what’s happened to me.

When I left rehab he sat me down and started reflecting on our time together by saying, “When you are sitting in my chair….”

A month later he had a stroke.

And now some years later I am sitting in his chair and trying to convey to another human being that:

“Your Life Does Not Belong To You.”

My life now belongs to God, to my lovely bride who is a survivor of misery and near death, to our daughter and grand daughter, to all our family and extended family, and that includes all people in recovery or suffering from addiction plus a huge church community. Actually my life belongs to two Church Communities: one Vietnamese and One American.

I play on both teams!

My wife and I are totally devoted to the Will of God: and we have a lot of friends running on the same energy and compass.

Nobody knows how much time we have. All we know is this: we work for God and Others and we work to do His Will and not our own.

Each day is a gift to us and we try to live it just that way: one day at a time. We don’t worry about the future. We do what we are told and what works for us and countless others.

And we have no need to “party.”

Because my next Party could be my last. And then I’d end up standing before my Maker saying: “I gave your gift back.”

I have no desire to give back to God my train wreck life. He gave to me a wonderful gift called sobriety. And I have no notion of giving that gift back today.

Because my New Life is too Good to throw away.

And He has plenty for me to do!






Folks interested in Alcoholics Anonymous will recognize the prayer used here as “The Third Step Prayer.” It comes from Chapter 5 of  The Big Book:

“We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn.

We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: “God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!” We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.

We found it very desirable to take this spiritual step with an understanding person, such as our wife, best friend or spiritual adviser. But it is better to meet God alone than with one who might misunderstand. The wording was, of course, quite optional so long as we expressed the idea, voicing it without reservation. This was only a beginning, though if honestly and humbly made, an effect, sometimes a very great one, was felt at once.

Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning….”

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“John is on a spiritual path but he’s no saint….” “It’s about becoming a better person every day….”

Experts say it matters little what we follow while seeking  God — as long as we keep seeking Him and His will for us…..


May nothing disturb you.

May nothing astonish you.

Everything passes.

God does not go away.


can attain anything.

He who has God within,

does not lack anything.

God is everything!*

Above prayer by St. Teresa of Avila is usually called “Nade de Turbe”




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We recommend Bishop Robert Barron’s book “To Light a Fire on The Earth.”

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We recommend the book “Holy Spirit” By Edward Leen. It changed my life. It can change yours too.

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Saint Francis de Sales is very helpful…. You were once devoted to drugs and rock and roll? You could be devoted to better things…..


De Caussade wrote a book on how we might live….

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“Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence” by de Caussade — the goal is total dependence upon God.

“Pain and suffering are the touchstones of spiritual growth.”

– Henri Nouwen

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Fr. Henri Nouwen

“Turns out I needed the Church a lot more than the Church needed me.”

Fr. George recommended: “Go, eat the Body of Christ, and listen to the Word.”

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My Vietnamese Father, Peter said, “Be a beacon. You have to be a beacon.”


Cha Chuc suggested I try to learn to “Listen with your heart.”



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2 Responses to ““Your Life Does Not Belong to You.””

  1. nuke Says:

    I’ve always enjoyed your writing John. And now, I’ve discovered we have something else in common, AA.

    God Bless you my friend.

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