“I had to strive to try to get the attention from my parents and try to be the best one in the family.” Jacob remembers, “And so, a lot of my identity growing up was based off of my ability to perform in sports and to be the best person, to be the best athlete I could.”
Jacob was the youngest of four children. He grew up in a competitive environment and his Catholic upbringing shaped his view of God.
Jacob continues, “I would say that I was a very religious person, so I felt like that I had to be the best person that I could possibly all the time. So that way that I would gain God’s approval and gain God’s attention and gain His love.”
Attending a private school with his three older siblings provided Jacob an early opportunity to join the party scene.
Looking back Jacob recalls, “My needs for attention and my need to stand out all the time, transitioned right into the party life and that became the next way that I was getting attention from people was just partying as much as I possibly could.”
Jacob gained popularity and he still excelled in sports and school. His appearance on the outside however, was in direct opposition to what he was feeling on the inside.
“The more popularity you get, the more that you need. The more drugs that I used, the more drugs that I actually needed to try to fill that void.” Jacob reflects on his past, “I constantly tried to be something and be somebody that I wasn’t. And so, as I tried to gain that love and that attention and fill that void in my life, I continuously lost myself even more and more in that process.”
His performance in sports landed him a golf scholarship to a nearby college.
“I knew that at the college golf level that I was going to drug tests and it was going to be much stricter on my behavior and the partying,” says Jacob. “So I actually did really well for the first couple of months. I was giving a really good effort try to be better and try to take advantage of the opportunity to go to college.”
Despite his efforts, Jacob got drunk at a party and used marijuana.
Jacob looks back at this tough time, “I very much remember sitting in my dorm room that afternoon having to call my parents and tell them that I had just failed a drug test in college for smoking weed, knowing that they weren’t able to send their kids to college. And knowing that it was such a blessing and such a privilege for me to go to college. And that was – that was a really, really hard moment for me to do that.”
His drug and alcohol use cost him two college scholarships. He left school and pursued mixed martial arts fighting, where he again found success and attention.
“I had a lot of recognition for being a fighter and it was – that was my identity. And it helped fill that void for the need for attention all the time. And it helped fill that-that void in my heart and – but there was still,” Jacob pauses, “I can remember many nights, even after winning a fight and being successful the way that I thought I should be and doing the things that I thought that I should, many restless nights lying in bed of just that feeling of hopelessness and that feeling of depression and not knowing why I felt that way.”
His introduction to pain medication began legally with prescriptions for numerous injuries and surgeries but it soon took over his life.
“I was physically very much addicted to it, but also mentally addicted to it as well. All of those – all that feeling of depression and fear and anxiety that have developed and throughout my life, it would relieve those feelings.” Jacob continues, “Whenever I was doing pain medicine, I felt like I was invincible and I didn’t, – I wasn’t fearful and I wasn’t depressed, and I wasn’t scared.”
As the drug use escalated, Jacob lost his job and his home, he moved in with his drug dealer and started working for him.
“I had gotten down to about 119 pounds, which was really, really skinny. I was really physically in a bad spot there.” States Jacob, “It was destroying me as a person on the inside to where the fear and the- the, um, pressure, everything in life, it became too much. I no longer could handle it, even despite the pain medicine.”
After being awake for two weeks straight, Jacob sneaked into his parents shed and slept there for three days. When his parents discovered him, they took him to Home of Grace, a Christian based recovery program. Jacob was still going through withdrawls from drugs when he experienced his first taste of God’s love.
“I got woke up one afternoon and there was about 30 guys had come into my room, 30 other clients in a couple of the staff members,” said Jacob, “They had all gathered in my room and they all started to lay their hands on me, and they began to pray for me, and that was a very profound moment for me because I couldn’t understand why all of these people were in my room. I was in the lowest of the low point of my life at that point and I had nothing to offer.”
He began his journey to freedom with loving Christians who showed him who Jesus is, it all clicked one night in chapel.
Jacob remembers, “The pastor that was there preaching, he gave an altar call after he-he did his sermon.
And I knew that I needed to get up from that – from my seat that night and make my way to the alter. And I needed to get down on my knees and-and give my life to Christ. And that’s exactly what I did. And I got up and I barely made my way up there. I was still very physically sick, and I got down on my knees and I hit my knees and I just told God that, "God, if you can use my life, use it. I’m done. I’m defeated." I knew that God has saved my soul in that moment. And I knew that I no longer had to fight anymore. I didn’t have to fight to gain the love and the gain to attention from God, that God just loved me for the person that I was.”
Jacob’s life changed quickly, after completing time at heartland men’s recovery program, he went on to get his degree in biblical studies. He now preaches at recovery centers across the country and spreads his hope in Jesus whereever he can.
“I get to live and have abundant life today being a true follower of Jesus. And Jesus is, to me, the perfect example of how we’re to live our lives, how we are to humbly lay down our lives every single day.” Jacob’s love for Christ is evident, “My goal and desire is to be an effective participant in the Church of God. And that’s given me the blessing and the privilege to be able to-to speak and preach all over the United States at different recovery centers to-to men and women that are going through the same things that I was going through. And to really show them that, you know, that there’s a hope and there’s a future and that they could, you know, that God wants to do the same thing in their life that God has done in my life.”
The 700 Club