Dear Zack

To say life has completely changed since 2014 would be a vast understatement. I was a 26 year-old coke head, an alcoholic, a thief, a liar, severely depressed, selfish, suicidal, and I had burned every bridge. I had been fired from 17 different jobs and spent most afternoons in bed - just waiting for the hangover to ease up a little, so I could go party again.

I had a great childhood, went to church, knew the Bible, went to a Christian university, joined a fraternity, and always walked around with a smile. My nickname was "Party." Hurting people was never my intention...I just wanted to have fun. People would always jokingly ask if I ever went a day without cocaine or really didn't seem like a problem to me. 

Time passed, and people began to notice my shaky hands. I couldn't even hold a glass of water without spilling it. I had to get drunk just to feel normal. Then I had to drink more to find my smile. I wrecked every relationship with every girl I tried to date, I started stealing things to help pay for my cocaine habit, cops and detectives were starting to visit my house, and it seemed like every friend had disappeared. It never once occurred to me that perhaps I had a problem. Everything just went dark in my soul, and I didn't know why.

On September 29, 2014, I began writing suicide letters. Everything felt numb. The hangover was unbearable that day, and I began to weep uncontrollable tears. I had been contemplating suicide for several months, but kept finding reasons to keep going. My every hope and aspiration had completely vanished, and I knew this would be my last day. After writing personal letters to my family members and a few close friends, I wrote a letter to myself…just in case.

Here’s that letter:

September 29th, 2014
Dear Zack,
If by some miracle you are reading this…it means a miracle has really occurred. You were really going to do it. You had said your goodbyes, and it was time. But something happened. Something changed in your heart. Maybe it was someone. Maybe it was God. Whatever it was, I am so glad you have another chance to smile, another chance to spread the good news, another chance to hug your dog, another chance to be crazy, another chance to make someone laugh, another chance to sing, another chance to feel everything around you, another chance to love and be loved! What a great joy that must be.
Now, there’s a chance that someone else is reading this. Whoever you are, it is my hope that you keep this letter forever. Use it to remind yourself that in times of great despair, to confide in God, your family, and your friends. I chose to hold everything in. It was a choice that became habit over the course of time. This was my choice.
Life is not a game, love is not a game, friendships are forever, forgiveness is forever, love is unconditional, and happiness is unconditional. These things I know to be true. Hold on to these truths. You will waiver, you will stumble, and sometimes you will fall. Enjoy the fall. Seriously. Soak it all in. I was in a free fall for the last 7 years. I knew I was falling, but it became so normal that I started smiling again, I could feel the wind in my hair, the rush of adrenaline, the excitement of the uncertainty, and I eventually forgot that one day, I’d hit the ground. Well…here we are. The impact wasn’t at all like you’d imagine. Some people think that when you fall from such great heights, the impact will kill you instantly. Nothing happens instantly. While I’m speaking somewhat metaphorically, I literally hit the ground about a month ago. I am 26 years old. Seems like nothing to the average person, but it was long enough to hurt. It was long enough to conclude that I’m not getting up again. It was long enough to hope that someone would come along and rescue me. It feels like being stuck in the snow on a mountain with no food, water, or protection from the elements. You can hear the search party calling for you, but you can’t cry for help because you don’t have the energy. You know any moment could be your last, so you try not to close your eyes.
This was a great ride. I regret jumping. I wish I had never jumped. I don’t even remember jumping. Maybe I was pushed. Maybe I lost my balance. We will never know when the free fall began, but it was a long time ago. I’ve just now hit the bottom & taken my last breath of air. God gave me more than I wanted, more than I needed, and I am eternally grateful.
May the love of God be ever present in your life. My hope is that you find appreciation for everything, an acceptance for that which you do not understand, and I want you to learn to ask for help when you need it.

If you just read that letter (and you’re not totally crying your face off like I am), you can see that I had completely decided to kill myself. It was just over. BUT, you can also see that I was clinging to something – otherwise, I wouldn’t have written any of that. Looking back, it’s very clear that God was in the middle of that storm. He picked me up on that day, and He still holds me today.

I remember the weight of those cold tears streaming down my face as I struggled to breathe. I rolled out of bed and fell to my knees. Deep down, I still knew God existed. My soul knew there would be an eternal price to pay if I killed myself that day. So I cried out a final prayer, in total desperation. It was more of an internal throat was too heavy to say audible words. In my heart, I asked for a miracle.

Immediately, a peaceful presence entered the darkness of my bedroom. I felt compelled to grab my Bible, and it fell open to Matthew 11:28.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

I knew Jesus was with me. He was right there kneeling beside me, picking up the broken pieces of my life. In that very moment, I surrendered everything to Him. My entire body was consumed with chills, and I just knew. There are no words for the peace and hope that surrounded my heart that day - I still carry it today. It's a quiet confidence that Jesus is with me. That He loves me. That everything will be ok. That life is worth it - even though it doesn't always make sense. That I can give every worry and burden to Him, because He cares for me.

I've been clean and sober since that day. September 29, 2014.

It hasn't been easy. I went to AA meetings every single night for a year. I still go sometimes. Jesus is the cornerstone of my life. He's my hope, and He's my joy. He gave me a new identity, and today, I walk in total freedom from addiction, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. My past is forgiven, and I'm walking into eternity.

God is in the middle of everything, whether I choose to see it or not. The craziest part is that I’m truly grateful for all of it – especially the rough stuff. I now have a passion and a purpose in life, and I will continue fighting every day, because I love this life of freedom.

If you’re struggling with a similar darkness in your life, it’s honestly ok. But don’t you dare give up. My sobriety means everything to me, and I would not trade it for anything. If you'd like help, reach out anytime.

Thank you so much for your love and support. I gave up everything to run this non-profit and share this hope with the world.

Please click here if you'd like to support this mission.

Jesus is the real deal, and He's transforming lives every single day. To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen!

-Zack Gudzan


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