“I Ain’t Much, Baby—But I’m All I’ve Got”

sin of ommission

Pixabay-HomelessDon’t be so certain you’ll never change.

When I was in college the one thing I was absolutely sure of was that I would always be into sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. And, for me, atheism.

The booze and drugs led to disaster after disaster, heartache after heartache, and finally catastrophe. I came close to dying a couple of times.

After being on the floor, thinking I’d never get back up, the thought dawned on me, “I’ve just been doing everything wrong.”

“I’ve got to quit drinking,” was my next thought. Every problem I ever had came when I was drinking or some ramification of my drinking.

It Just Takes Five Minutes

So I quit, and in just a few days my girlfriend, a social worker from Wisconsin, handed me a book written by an ex-alcoholic, “I Ain’t Much, Baby–But I’m All I’ve Got.”

“Since you’re quitting drinking,” she said, “Here’s a book by an ex-alcoholic that might help you.”

I pushed it aside but she said, “Just read this quote on the title page.”

I read it:

“Turn the corner into a more beautiful life, five minutes at a time.”

“It just takes five minutes,” she said.

Five minutes? I could handle that. So I took the book to my shabby, destitute, furnished room painted a sickening, deep aqua blue from the leftover outdoor paint with the broken bed, the dilapidated chair and the battered dresser missing two knobs and started to read it.

(The author Jess Lair, Ph.D. Psychology, originally wrote the book for his students but it was so popular he rewrote it for publication).

Well, it changed my life. I was enthralled by his story of how a high-powered ad man just gave up everything—his drinking, his ad agency, his possessions, and moved his wife and five kids into an old farmhouse that rented for $60 dollars a month, and went back to school and became a teacher.

Discovering God

But there was a little paragraph on the first page of the next chapter which would change my very foundations. He said most alcoholics and drug abusers become atheists because they think the whole world revolves around them, to meet their desires. When they stop abusing, they often start believing there is something vast at the center of everything and we are all orbiting around it like planets around the sun. That something is God.

I blinked. I looked away. I thought. I put the book down and paced around the scuffed wooden floor of my room. I looked at the windows with the dirty, broken Venetian blinds, but there was radiant Miami Beach sunshine streaming in.

“That makes sense. That sounds right. That sounds like me,” I thought. I blinked again, “I believe. I believe in God now. Okay, so I believe. I’m always changing my beliefs day to day, so now I believe in God. I’ll try this ‘philosophy’ and see how it goes.’”

I didn’t realize it then, but this new belief would never change, but only strengthen. It would take me to places I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams.

Twenty-five years later it would take me to Jesus Christ and the Holy Roman Catholic Church where I would find what I was always seeking:  truth, meaning, and purpose. And I would be blessed with joy in the good, hope for all eternity, and “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

You Can Change Your Life

There might be a book, or a quote, or a caring person out there who can change your life.

If it can happen to a no-good bum like me, it can happen to anybody.

You might be an all-good bum or an all-good wonderful person, but maybe you know deep down inside that something is missing, something important.

It might not be drinking and drugging that’s messing you up, it might be your job or your lifestyle or your hateful attitude.

It’s worth a shot. Aren’t you getting sick and tired of always being sick and tired?

You can read the first 5 pages of his utterly amazing story right here for free:http://www.amazon.com/Aint-Much-Baby-But-All-Ive/dp/034546821X


I would just like to add a disclaimer. I don’t endorse the self-actualization gospel of the book mentioned in the article. It worked for me at the time—30 years ago—but even in AA they teach that we need a “higher power” to accomplish anything; we can’t do it with our own power—our own power has put us in the dump we’re in now.

My main point in mentioning the book was a paragraph in it had made me believe in God. For a lifelong atheist that was a big first step. The book might be great help to anyone whose life is a wreck from making wrong decisions; but as are all sources of knowledge, this book contains a part of the truth. The Catholic Church, as I and other members know, contains the whole truth. “The Catholic Church didn’t just write doctrine and claim that it was the truth; it searched for the truth and wrote it as doctrine”.

Our greatest source for change and healing is with Jesus and his Church. He can give us the grace to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. With the power of the sacraments, we can deal with anything. Many other sources can help, but the power of God is our greatest resource.

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4 thoughts on ““I Ain’t Much, Baby—But I’m All I’ve Got””

  1. Birgit Atherton Jones

    Beautiful! I am amazed at the goodness of God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. They are alive and well in you, Jamey!

    “Turn the corner into a more beautiful life, five minutes at a time.” That phrase rings true for all of us, no matter where we are in our individual lives. I’ve learned a bit about this during this past Lenten season. Amen and Alleluia!

    1. Well, I still remained a “dry drunk”—not drinking, but full of anger and resentments, wrecking much of the good that came my way. Years later I would go to AA to help me with this. Finally I went to CC (the Catholic Church) to help me with everything, to give me “life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

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