William Paul Young, author of “The Shack,” joins Kurt Wallace in a series of interviews to discuss aspects of the book that has sold over 18 million copies worldwide.
In part 4 of this interview, “Freedom from self deception,” Paul talks about addiction and suicide. He describes letting go of control and becoming willing to ask for help.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: This is a next in a series of conversations with William Paul Young, author of The Shack. To hear more, please see the links below.
You brought up addiction and what that has been like. I believe that this is, for me, a very, very deep issue. I actually have 27 years as a recovering alcoholic, and this means a lot to me, talking about addiction openly. I’ve never done it before. This is the first time I’m doing this publicly. But in that, someone who has an addiction as I did, I was in prison. I was unable to be released from that. I didn’t believe I had a problem. And then one day, I hit a bottom. And I started to become part of a journey and a conversation with others. And that conversation has never stopped. And that conversation frees me and that’s, when I read your book, that’s my life.
William Paul Young: Yeah. And you said something absolutely profound and significant, and it’s easy to slip by it. You used the word “others,” because we’re not designed to do this by ourselves, and as long as we are maintaining our isolation and our non-relational independence, we have not hit the bottom yet.
You know, I walked the edge of suicide. Suicide is not hitting the bottom. Suicide is refusing to hit the bottom — it is to run away from actually owning who we are and what you’ve done. And hitting the bottom is when you stop pointing fingers anywhere else, and you own this. And you let go of control. And one of the ways you let go of control is you let someone else in. I’m not just talking about God. I’m talking about another human being. And we’re designed in such a way that we cannot do this by ourselves. I believe we are made in the image of a God who’s never done anything by Himself. There’s always been three persons. There’s always been a relational reality that God functions within, in terms of God’s very own character and nature, and so, part of my letting go, when everything blew up on me, part of the let go of control was I opened the yellow pages, and I looked under counseling, and I started with the A’s, and I ran into a counseling service that started with A that jumped out of the page at me. And they had a byline specializing in “sexual abuse history”, because that’s part of my great sadness. And I called them up and said, “I need to make an appointment.” And I sat there, the intake was done, and the guy says, “I think I got the right guy for you.” And he puts me in front of a man, who became my counselor, who became my friend, Scott Mitchell, and for the first time in my life I said these words, “Can you help me?”
And part of letting go meant that I no longer was going to assume in my heart that I was smarter than the person that was sitting across from me, because that was part of my whole defensive mechanism of control, and Scott says to me, the first day, when I said, “My life’s over, and can you help me?” He said, “Yeah, but it’s going to take like a year and a half.” And I said, “Well, I’m in.” He said, “Everybody says they’re in. He says, but after a couple of months, they’ll feel a little bit more in control, and they’ll feel better about themselves in that sense of self-deception, and then they’ll bail.” And I said to him, “If I can’t find some healing from my own heart, I’m done. I’m done. I have no other option, so I’m not leaving until you tell me I’m done, because I don’t even trust myself to know when that’s…I’m done trying to self-justify myself into some position of control in order to stay safe.” And that really became the building block of trying to walk my way through this and as much we would like to be fixed, you know, have the right tail that makes this transformation a piece of cake.
We’re too incredibly crafted as created beings and plus, we’re in an expanding universe in terms of our soul. It’s not that simple. I mean, the truth is simple, because it has to work for children. And how we’re bent and broken is unique to us as human beings, and how God unwinds that, let me tell you, I think AA is a gift of God to humanity. One of many. But, it arises out of a desire to help human beings deal with the prisons that they’re stuck in, especially around alcohol or drug addiction and now pornography and other elements of really coercive addictional issues. I’m grateful, every day, for folks like that.