SUMMARY: Becoming truly honest with yourself, and others over an extended period is another step toward freedom, restoration, and reconciliation in the face of addiction as a man. In this series of Resolute Podcasts, Vince Miller is joined by Joel Carlson, one man who is moving from addiction in his life toward freedom in Christ. Hear the stories of his life as he guided us through steps to freedom. In this episode, Joel suggests that honesty is something everyone else knows we need but ourselves, and often the path to honesty is a long path of rebuilding the trust that has deteriorated with others.
Vince: So guys, this is Resolute, and the Resolute Podcast. Where we make men better. I am Vince Miller, your host today. And we’re in a series entitled, “Moving From Addiction to Freedom.” And today, we’re discussing the topic of, “Honesty.”
Well, welcome back to the program. If this is your very first time tuning in, well thank you for joining us. Resolute exists to make men better because we know men today face unique challenges in their quest for Godly manhood. Therefore, we desire to help men grow by providing them with a spiritual game plan. One that will launch them toward being better men, fathers, husbands, and leaders. Because we believe that when you make one man better, everybody gets better.
For more information on our program, you’ve just got to go to beresolute.org and check out all of our resources. We especially have great resources for a men’s small group. If you have an existing men’s small group, you have to check out our small group resources. We have videos and handbooks to lead that group time for you if you’re looking for it. Or if you know a Pastor who’s looking to build their men’s ministry, you need to pass us along to them. Please check it out, along with all the other resources we have there. And now gentlemen, let’s dive in.
Well, today I’m joined again by Joel Carlson. He’s a good friend of mine that I built a relationship with over the last – I’d say 3 years or so. Joel has been figuring out how to move from addiction to restoration and recovery and freedom in his own life. And today he’s with us one more time, sharing with us on the topic of honesty – and what it looks like to become truly honest with yourself and others over an extended period of time. And that is just one step toward freedom. Joel, welcome back to the program.
Joel: Thanks, Vince, great to be here today.
Vince: So you’ve said a phrase that really moved me. And it was this phrase – I can’t, he can, and I’m going to let him. And I just thought those words were so powerful as you were making a move from addiction, toward freedom, redemption, and restoration in your own life. And today we’re talking about the attribute of honesty and admittance, and how this played an active role in you moving from addiction toward restoration. Can you tell us how difficult it was for you to be honest about your addiction? And what the feeling was like when you became honest about who you really were, Joel?
Joel: Yeah, and you know Vince – the key to the “I can’t” component of this is – step 1, from AA. Which we admitted we were powerless over alcohol, and that our lives had become unmanageable. And last time we talked about the powerlessness – to get to that point though, you have to be honest and admit about – how you are powerless, in what areas of life you are powerless, and how you can move forward from that. But it starts really with the honesty piece there.
And the problem that I ran into, is that my life was filled with deception. Because at the core of me – even as a kid and into adulthood, was insecurity. I thought I never measured up. I thought my friends were better looking. They got the – the better-looking girlfriends. They had the more athletic skills. I never thought I measured up. So I was highly insecure. And the danger of being insecure and wanting to be better – is sometimes you have to lie and be dishonest and deceptive, to make people think you’re better than maybe what you actually are.
And that was really who I became, going into adulthood. Even though I had a successful business practice, even though I had a great family, wonderful kids – all the things that I really should’ve been so grateful about – it was never enough to me. So I had to make myself look better than I even was.
Vince: Okay, so what I’m hearing from you then Joel is that sometimes we live behind this huge shadow of deception that we have built up for ourselves, out of this own sense – out of our own sense of insecurity. And I – it sounds like – to me, that this is not just true for you. It’s probably true for me. It’s probably true for every man. We live behind a shadow of deception that we have built for ourselves. So tell me, what did that look like for you? I mean I would assume that this must’ve gotten built up in some way in your own life, behind your own security. How did you build up this deceptive, dishonest way of life?
Joel: My life took a really unfortunate turn when I was not very responsible in my own personal financial status. And then in my business, when the stock markets collapsed, my business really started to suffer from that. And so I needed to find ways in which to redeem my finances, and I did it in a very unethical, illegal way. And as I was doing that, I drove myself deeper and deeper into my addiction of drinking. Found myself sitting at the bars in mid-afternoon on a weekday.
And the only way in which I could make myself feel better for all of the negativity that I was doing, was to build myself up through a series of lies, a series of crazy stories. To make me look good – to really take me out of reality, put me into a state of delusion which – honestly was a very wonderful place to be at that time. It was really the only place I thought I was safe. I would sit at the bars day after day. And I’d tell people a lot of stories of my life. A lot of my journey and, and – but I would do it in a very prideful way.
For instance, I’m a big golf fan. I love the game of golf. I, I used to play a lot. And one of my greatest experiences was the day that I shot a 68 at Augusta National, where the Master’s is played. Just an incredible round of golf of 68. And later on that day, I called one of my best friends – you know, the actress Jennifer Aniston. She’s been one of my best friends for years. And – and I told her all about that. And she was so excited. And the neat thing for me is to be able to play golf at all these places because I had all these millions and millions of dollars in my bank account.
But let’s pause there for a second. Those 3 things are a series of lies that I told people at the bar during the day. Absolutely not true. I’m a hack of a golfer. I don’t have any celebrity friends – and I certainly didn’t have millions of dollars in the bank. But I told those lies just to make me look good. Now those are big, silly, dumb things that I did. But it really gets back to the core of who I was. The only way I could see myself getting through each day was to build myself up to be a person that I simply wasn’t. If I had just been honest with who I was. Not just to other people, but just to myself. I think my life could’ve taken a different turn at that time.
Vince: So I – I hear you tell this story, and I’m actually really moved by it, Joel. Because what I hear is a man who was struggling with his own insecurity – and in an effort to try to build himself up, manufactured stories that were really untruths. They were deceptions that you allowed yourself to tell so that you could just feel a little bit better about yourself.
And I think that there are guys out there on the other end of this – of this podcast, listening to it going, “Yeah, I probably have many of those same insecurities.” I know, Joel – that I have those same insecurities too. We have this desire to embellish stories, to manufacture untruths. To make ourselves feel a little bit better sometimes. And unfortunately, we get in a pattern of doing that. To kinda stroke the emotional ego a little bit.
But you’re telling us – however, on the other hand – you have to move through that deception toward brutal honesty, right? And we have to get really honest with ourselves. And the words that come to mind for me are John 8, verse 32. “Then you will know the truth. And the truth will set you free.” You must’ve had a moment that you started getting honest with yourself, and you started experiencing that freedom. Tell us about that a little bit.
Joel: The one thing that was so crucial to my honesty – getting back on track, was when I was able to admit to my father – who was one of my greatest supporters in my recovery. And say those words to him, “I am an alcoholic.” When my dad heard those words come out of my mouth, his response was not of sadness or of anger. His response was of joy. Because what he had been doing for so long, was sitting on the sidelines, knowing exactly that I was an alcoholic, but there was nothing he could do about it until I admitted to him, “Yes dad, I am an alcoholic.” And I think that’s a real powerful point there, is that – sometimes I think we give our family and our friends not as much credit for knowing us as well as they do.
Joel: And I think – as I’ve learned in speaking with them over the years here – is that they knew all along that the stories I was told were not true. They knew that my behavior was very deceptive. But I thought that I was railroading them, and – within reality, they knew it all along. But they couldn’t do anything about it. They needed me to get to the point where I could recognize that I had been this way.
Joel: And when I was able to first admit that I was an alcoholic, that was a huge turning point – recognizing that people still accepted me for who I am. They loved me for who I am. But most importantly, they were so thrilled that I was finally being honest about my situation, and they loved me even more because of the honesty. Even if it’s a fault or a character flaw, at least I was being honest with them. And then we can move forward and work on it from there.
Vince: Yeah. And I would assume that it took a while for your believe-ability to grow, right? Like everybody didn’t just accept your honesty right away, right?
Joel: That’s – that’s the most frustrating thing about being in recovery. And I’m 45 months sober, as of now. And getting close to 4 years of sobriety. And sobriety is not just from staying away from alcohol.
Joel: Sobriety is being a man of character, and changing who I want to be. And doing that on a daily basis.
Joel: And the most frustrating thing for me, and the one thing I’ve learned – is that honesty was probably my largest character flaw, as to who I was. And it is the most difficult thing to recover from, as far as other people believing me. And today, I still am talking to people and sharing with them my journey. Telling them what’s going on in my life today. And I know that they still question – is Joel really telling the truth today? Because that dishonesty from the past runs so deep in their lives, that they can’t forget about, “Wow, he was deceptive in the past, what makes it different today?”
I really feel is my challenge to me, and to others that maybe struggle with the honesty component – recognize that the things you say today are going to have lingering effects down the road. And the last thing you want is to have your believe-ability questioned by others.
Vince: Okay, so I – I want to end there. Because I think that’s such a powerful, powerful, actionable Joel. I, I – I think what you’re getting at here is that – sobriety isn’t just about the things that we have to stop doing. It’s about the new legacy that we’re going to have to build out of the damage that has been done to our character. And that the character work goes deeper and farther than actually stopping the drinking – or whatever sin we’re engaged in. That defeating sin, and repetitive sin over and over again – has a lot to do with the character inside of a man.
So guys, if you’re out there today – I hope that you hear this message. That the self-deception that you live in has lingering effects on your life. Lingering effects on your character, and how other people view you. But know this, John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Well, gentlemen, that’s the show. Again, Joel – thank you for being with us.
Joel: Thank you, Vince, great to be here again.
Vince: So as we close, I want to remind you that none of this would be possible without you, your prayers, your financial support, and your encouragement – are always what keep us going, guys. So thank you so much. If you want to give a donation on our website, we would love to have you do that. Just head to beresolute.org. Click the word “store,” and then “donate,” right there. You can give 1 time or monthly, even small gifts matter a lot.
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You can do this right on our website, or reach out to me personally at [email protected] Well, I hope you have enjoyed this podcast. But like I always say, please know that the time that we spent today together – is worthless, unless you choose to act on it. So do something today, by getting off the bench and into the game. And I will see you right back here next time, on another episode of the Resolute Podcast.
Vince Miller is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to speak to men’s audiences and has a deep passion for mentorship and God’s Word. He has authored ten books and small group content for men. He is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Reach out to him today if you need a men’s speaker or content for your men’s small groups.