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I love this guy
Nice to see another young man doing some introspection early on, Alex Cleberg is a twenty year old laid back cat that I see going far in life because of the work God has already begun for my new friend and brother in Christ. Alex has been here for about three weeks, and I’ve seen a huge difference from the guy who walked in to the bright one who now walks this campus. “I love being here,” he says, “The combination of people and atmosphere, the professional help.” Finding the right group of friends has been a recurring problem for Alex throughout his life, but being here is a brand new chance and a new direction. “Everyone is really friendly here, they’re ready to accept you for who you are no matter what.” Just in the first month Alex feels like his whole life has changed. Bold statement to say the least however, Alex has backed it faithfully by his actions of seeking as much as he can get already being baptized, and being open to others in sharing his own story which can be very hard for people these days. It was never easy for me. “I came here to find out why I was using,” he says, “who I was and who I am capable of being.”
Alex grew up in Minnesota for nearly all of his adolescence in a Christian home and things were pretty standard. When his parents divorced that’s around the time Alex started smoking cigarettes, pot, and drinking. “I wasn’t doing it every day, but it was definitely a lifestyle.” Yet at the same time his parents split Alex began a growing involvement with his church, every summer his church orchestrated mission trips to different places all over the world. “I’ve always ran into homeless people on missions,” he says, “I kinda knew in some way something would happen to tie my life to theirs.” Alex saw God and felt His presence on the mission trips. When he came back home to the same friends he felt it was hard to stand up for his faith and so he would fall back into the same routines. This pattern continued all the way through high school and by junior year he needed to leave for a fresh start. Sounds good in theory, best laid plans are of mice and men.
Living in California with his Aunt and Uncle Alex had his chance to start over. Unfortunately, Alex didn’t feel like he could make connections with anyone but the other young lost souls in his school and his viscous circle repeated itself for another chain in the link. To top his unusual routine, Alex still maintained a church life only to live a double life amongst his friends. When graduation rolled around Alex was convinced the issue was the people he chose to call friends, so a new move and a new start was the solution. Alex enlisted into the Navy, “It felt like my only option,” he says, “my parents were proud of me.” His parents remarried and attended his boot camp graduation; Alex was off to air traffic control school and the future was bright and for the first time in years he was sober and maintaining faith in God. Living on base, Alex made friends. A habit of forming bonds with the lost crept back into his life, and in a short amount of time he was caught for underage drinking. The future career was gone in an instant. Refusing treatment Alex went AWOL and things went from bad to worse. “When I was kicked out I stopped believing in God,” he says, “I considered myself an Atheist.” Alex thought doing any kind of drug in order to be happy was the only option at this point; coke, pills, even bath salts. What he failed to realize is it only furthered his depression. “I overdosed a few times,” Alex told me a time where he had taken a handful of pills from a woman who was released from a mental ward, and as he and his friends stopped to get gas Alex went inside to buy cigarettes. Handing the clerk money Alex fell straight back and began having a seizure.
Things got a little better from then on, living and working with his dad in North Dakota on cite as an electrician Alex escaped from hard drug use, but there was still drinking and marijuana which can be just as threatening. Alex’s heart was still bleeding (figuratively) and he desperately searched for a way to fix it. He only knew a few ways. “I thought,” he says, “the last time I was happy was back in Cali.” So he moved back with his Aunt and Uncle until he landed a job and lived with a friend. “Life was alright, but I was still depressed and suicidal.” Alex could not cope with the guilt he bore for ruining the future he could have had with Navy. The day he lost his job he took a cocktail of prescription drugs and drank enough vodka to black out. “There was nothing left,” he said, “I didn’t plan on waking up.” Walking through life in a state of unconscious action the first thing Alex remembered about that night was a nasty car accident that should’ve taken his and a friend’s life or at least seriously injured them, but they both were fine ultimately. “I smashed into a parked car a block away from where I lived,” he recalled, “my friend wasn’t wearing his seat belt so he should’ve flown through the windshield, the car I hit rocketed across the lawn taking out a palm tree. He went to the hospital and I went to the police station.” He was released that same night. In the morning he called his Uncle telling him it was time he sought help.
For a week he stayed with his relatives until he found the Orange County Rescue mission. His first meeting was scheduled on October third, but showing up for a tour on the 25th of September he was able to fill in for a meeting that didn’t show up. Alex entered the Mission on the 30th only five days later and days before he was even scheduled to meet and discuss his entry. “I can feel God is going to do something huge, and He won’t stop.” Alex said as elated as his soft spoken voice can be. Every day he is learning how to be patient and learning to leave the future in God’s hands. “I can’t wait to see who I am going to be if this is only three weeks then imagine how I will be at the end of a year.” He understands there will be good and bad times ahead just like there will be for any of us, student of the Mission or not, but he has no fear. This is Alex Cleberg’s story.