But I Didn't Give Up

But I Didn't Give Up

Zack Gudzan

 

Where has the time gone!? I guess that’s life…the older we get, the faster time seems to fly. Let’s see if I can even recall all the things that happened this year: 

  • First and foremost, I didn’t take a drink or do any drugs this year. That in itself is a miracle. There were a few times when I wanted to drink and a couple of times when I NEEDED to drink. But I didn’t do it, and I’m so thankful.
  • My best friend got married, and I got to be in the wedding. Sober. I got to be a real friend.
  • I worked really, really hard and showed up for work every day. (Again, if you know my past…another miracle haha)
  • I paid off my truck and got a new one.
  • Fitness finally became a real priority. I got stronger and faster than I’ve ever been.
  • My beard grew a lot.
  • Depression didn’t defeat me.
  • My knees hit the ground every single day in praise and adoration of the Lord.
  • I went to the Masters by myself and had an awesome time.
  • Finally started going to concerts again. Music is a huge part of my life, and I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to go to shows sober. This year, I saw Blink 182, A Day to Remember, Mumford and Sons, The Lone Bellow, Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Saosin, The Early November, James Bay, Band of Horses, Circa Survive, Schoolboy Q, Copeland, and more.
  • Fell in love with the mountains in North Carolina. Got into hiking with my dog and just exploring everything that’s out there. 

 

Oh, and I started a nonprofit, found my purpose in life, got really tight with God, and left my full-time job. Just a basic year, right?

What I didn’t mention up there is the tears I cried, the people I hurt, the 2 months I stopped seeking help and tried to do sobriety on my own, the time I bought a bottle of Woodford Reserve and almost drank it, the inner battle I’ve fought every day with Satan, the times stealing crossed my mind, the middle fingers in traffic, the lust in my heart, and the times of great uncertainty and crippling fear.

BUT I DIDN’T GIVE UP.

Straight up, this has been the best year of my entire life. I didn’t do anything perfectly – not even close. But I’m getting better. I’m making progress. I don’t have any money, yet I somehow started a business. I battle major depression, yet I found my peace and happiness. Fear knocks on my door, yet I have faith. I’m an alcoholic, yet I didn’t drink. I’ve learned that life is made up moments. Moments define us. When I do the right thing in the moment – when I show up for work even though I’m depressed, when I throw away the bottle of liquor I bought, when I forgive my enemies, when I ask forgiveness, when I exercise my faith, when I smile at a stranger, when I stay up late working instead of watching football, when I walk my dog instead of take a nap, when I pray – it all adds up to the big picture of life.

As 2017 (quickly) approaches, I encourage you to aim high. Set goals – literally write them down. If you achieve all of your goals, you’re not aiming high enough. Love yourself, smile at strangers, hit the gym, hug your dog, pay your bills and be thankful you have things to pay for, have faith, do the uncomfortable things, and you will undoubtedly have an incredible 2017.

Above all else, I encourage you to make prayer a priority in your life. Scratch that...make prayer THE priority in your life. I mean hit your knees every morning and every night. Prayer is my secret weapon, and I don’t mind sharing it. I truly believe prayer can move mountains – it already has in my own life.

Thank you for all of your support, kindness, encouragement, and love. I’ll be working very hard to grow CLTIVATE in 2017, and I’ll need your help. A ton of you have asked how you can help, and that’s what I’m working to answer. If you see a need or have an idea, jump in. Be on the lookout for a lot more details soon. Much love!

-Zack Gudzan | Founder, CLTIVATE

Let’s start now. Comment below with your biggest goal for 2017 – even if it’s crazy!

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Faith is risky

Faith is risky

Zack Gudzan
Things are getting very, very real. On December 23rd, I'll be leaving my full-time job, and literally jumping into God's arms. As you might imagine, I'm starting to get terrified - mostly because I don't have all the answers yet. But that's faith, man. Faith is risky. That being said, I decided to list the pros and cons of a life with God vs. the 9-5 life. 

Doesn't seem so crazy now, does it? I'm actually really glad I took the time to list all of that, because now I'm even more certain. There's just no way I can ignore this pull on my heart.

Ok, but what about money? Let’s be real…I make $54,000 as it is. Every month, I’m worried about rent. Every day, I’m checking my bank account. If I want to have fun, it means skipping a couple of meals. Is that living? I’d rather take the risk of being happy and having unlimited potential.

(Just to be clear, I will not be taking a salary in 2017. My expenses and bills will be structured into the CLTIVATE budget, but that’s it.) I certainly don’t have all the answers, but God does, and that’s enough for me.

Idk man…it just makes sense in my heart. I serve a God with a 100% success rate, so I’m gonna go with this. If I fail, I fail – but at least I won’t have to wonder “what if”. Sure, fear and anxiety creep in every day, but I know those feelings and thoughts aren’t from God.

If you’d like support this movement:

You can contribute here.

A donation of any amount gets a free CLTIVATE shirt in the mail. (Just please consider that cost is $8.95 + shipping.)

You can share about CLTIVATE on Facebook.

The average person has 1,000 Facebook friends. Imagine sharing CLTIVATE with 1,000 new people? Surely it will touch someone. (Btw I totally made that number up, but it seems about right.)

You can Follow and repost something on Instagram.

For whatever reason, our Instagram is blowing up. Probably because Instagram is way cooler than Facebook ;)

Orrr you can buy a shirt and wear it a lot.

 

Much Love,

Zack Gudzan | Founder, CLTIVATE

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Holy Crap I Just Quit My Job

Holy Crap I Just Quit My Job

Zack Gudzan

I'm quitting my full-time job, so that I can pursue CLTIVATE with all of my heart. It sure is scary, but I'm trusting in God. There's a pull on my heart that I just can't ignore. 

Zack Gudzan's Resignation Letter. Taking a leap of faith to pursue my nonprofit with all of my heart.

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This Is My "Why"

This Is My "Why"

Zack Gudzan

This is my "why" from Zack Gudzan on Vimeo.

Everything was fine. I had a new job, enough money to do what I wanted, and plenty of friends. People knew me as a dude who just really liked to party. My weekends always started on Thursday nights…I never understood why people waited until Friday to celebrate. It was my third week on the new job, and I was really itching to go party. So I did. I got blackout, per usual - probably went to 3 bars, smoked a pack of Marlboro Lights, and drove home. I didn’t wake up until late Friday afternoon…I missed work, had several missed phone calls, and a miserable hangover.

Long story short, I got fired. This wasn’t the first time I had been fired, but it was the first time I had nowhere to turn. I had nothing. I spent my entire paycheck on partying the week before, I had already sold my furniture for cash, and I had already borrowed money from friends.

To me, the only logical option was to start stealing. So, I hopped in my truck and started scoping out some nearby neighborhoods. It was the middle of the day, so I knew most people were probably at work. I noticed a box on someone’s porch, parked my truck on the street, looked around to make sure no one was watching, pulled out my phone and pretended to be on a call, walked up to their door, took the box, and drove away. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even feel bad about it – I was excited to get home and see what was in there!

That day stands out in my mind as the real turning point for me, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Things went south. My morals, my attitude, my relationships, my work ethic, my desire to live – it all faded in a hurry. I stole like that for the entire summer. If something was valuable, I’d sell it. If it wasn’t, I’d throw it away. 

It’s pretty tough to even put this in writing. I was such a terrible human being. Even 2+ years into sobriety, it’s hard to shake those feelings of regret, sorrow, and shame. A big part of my recovery involves “making amends” to others, wherever possible. That’s the real challenge, in this context, because I honestly don’t even know who I stole from – I don’t know how to make things right.

Luckily, God has started to show me how...

I initially started hand-delivering CLTIVATE orders just to save some money on shipping. If an order came in from anywhere in Charlotte, it made sense for me to just hop in my truck and drop it off. It’s so bizarre, but I realized I legitimately enjoy doing that. And now I know why:

With every package I leave at your door, I’m replacing something I stole. I get chills every time an order comes in, because it’s another opportunity to clear away the wreckage of my past. CLTIVATE has grown to a point where I can certainly focus my time on other things – delivering packages myself is just not a sustainable practice. But guess what? I don’t care. I’m going to keep doing it, because it’s so freaking cool, and I owe this world a lifetime of service.

CLTIVATE Blog - Zack Gudzan

God is such a great Redeemer, isn’t He!? Just two years ago, I was stealing boxes from front porches in broad daylight, and now I’m literally leaving boxes on porches by night. So when you see me driving around on Instagram, that’s what I’m doing. This is my “why”. Sobriety has shown me a life I never knew was possible, and CLTIVATE is my way of giving back.

Whether you’re in Charlotte or somewhere else, I’d love to send you something. By all means, overwhelm me with orders. This is a total God thing, and I’d love for you to be part of it!

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him shall be condemned. Psalm 34:22

-Zack Gudzan | Founder, CLTIVATE

***You can keep up with me on Insta: @zgudzan and @cltivate :)

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It's a God Thing

It's a God Thing

Zack Gudzan

CLTIVATE Blog - Zack Gudzan

Full disclosure: I have no idea what I’m doing – I started a business once…it failed. I’ve been fired from so many jobs it’s not even funny. In fact, the only job I haven’t been fired from is the one I have now – in sobriety…go figure. So what is it that makes me so sure that I should start a non-profit from scratch? How am I so confident? What makes me think CLTIVATE will be any different? Why am I so motivated? (Currently sitting at Amelie’s Bakery in NODA – it’s 11:28pm on a Wednesday, already worked 8 hours at my full-time job, sat in traffic, let my dog out, hit the gym, made dinner, and now I’m here…why do I care so much about CLTIVATE?)

During the months, weeks, and days before I got sober, I was a wreck. The question I kept asking myself was, “what’s the point?” Every time I tried to do “right”, it backfired. Partying and getting blackout was the only solution – I was free to be myself, and if you didn’t like it, that was your problem. I’ll tell you more about those dark times over the next few weeks, but in case you need a point of reference, here’s what my last day looked like before sobriety.

I’ve said this before…I truly believe that my past is my greatest asset. All those “mistakes”, getting fired from jobs, wrecked relationships, wrecked vehicles (I totaled my Volvo in Mississippi on New Year’s Day in 2011…learned how to hitch hike that day), and selfish actions…they all add up to who I am today. If I could go back in time, I’d do it all again! The peace and certainty that I have today are a direct result of my past.

In two years of sobriety, I haven’t had a single easy day. Some days I want to drink, some days I’m depressed, some days I don’t want to get out of bed, some days I’m full of resentment, and other days I’m just sad. But I know what to do now: Pray. Every day that I’ve hit my knees, I’ve stayed sober, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence at all. There’s a special kind of clarity that I get from God, and that’s how I know what’s right. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t – and that’s how I live my life today. This whole CLTIVATE thing…the idea, the mission, the support it’s receiving, and how quickly it’s growing…it’s right. For 28 years, I’ve been searching for my purpose, and now I know: my purpose in life is to use my past to help others. My purpose is CLTIVATE.

There’s a peace that transcends all understanding, and it follows me everywhere I go in sobriety. There’s a certainty in my being, and a passion for being alive. I see colors now, I think kind thoughts, I pray for others, and I am driven. I have a purpose. In summary: It’s a God thing.

CLTIVATE Blog - It's a God Thing

If you’re reading this and you’re in recovery, please keep it up. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray. Eventually, it’s going to click, and everything will make sense. I certainly don’t have everything figured out, but God does, and that’s good enough for me. If you’re reading this and you have something else going on in your life (we all do), I hope you can find peace in the fact that you’re going through this time for a reason. If you’d like to share your story, we’d love it! We’re going to start featuring people’s stories every single day on Instagram. If you feel led to get involved with CLTIVATE, let me know, and please buy a shirt or donate to help out! There’s a very big (and slightly terrifying) announcement coming up in November, and I’m going to need all the help I can get!  

Much Love,

Zack

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Dear Zack

Dear Zack

Zack Gudzan
Dear Zack - Zack Gudzan Blog - The Fight

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