By Bradley C. Fite
Mighty Oaks Warrior Program
Instructor and Team Leader
I grew up outside of Detroit, Michigan, in a wonderful and loving Christian home. For seventeen years I claimed my parents’ faith as my own, but as soon as I left the shelter of their home and joined the Marines, it became nothing more than something they believed. I had all the knowledge of being a Christian but no more. I deployed in 2010 to Marjah, Afghanistan, as an attachment to RCT 7. We deployed specifically as a Personnel Security Detachment and were charged with the protection and care of the newly appointment Mayor of Marjah. Routine patrols, combative protective operations, and the overall seizing and protection of a crumbled city became my daily life. My knowledge of a just God diminished quickly while living in the midst of and experiencing war in Afghanistan. I vividly remember scanning the war-torn terrain in Marjah while on operations and questioning God’s unfathomable love and divine justice. How could a just and loving God allow this to happen? How could a good God just sit back and let war consume an entire nation and destroy so many of his most beloved creations? I decided I was done believing in this God.
On July 20, 2010, we were mounted in our MRAP and preparing to head back to our FOB in Central Marjah. Every time we were mounted in the trucks I was the turret gunner manning the .50 caliber machine gun while my closest brother, Corporal Julio Vargas, was set in the backseat as our dismount. Moments before we set off on the route home, the convoy was halted and our vehicle commander radioed up to the lead vehicle that Julio and I were switching places. We were both qualified and competent in either position, so the switch was within protocol, and no one thought twice about it. I unstrapped my harness, and Julio threw it on and fastened it in over his shoulders. He hopped up into the turret; I took my seat in the back after I locked him in; and we radioed in that we were good to go.
I woke up out of a coma nearly three weeks later in Landstuhl, Germany, paralyzed, afraid, and completely confused.
I learned that our vehicle was hit by a 160-pound IED that turned the massive truck upside down. My spine was broken in two: the bottom half pierced into my stomach, while the top half tore into my left lung, causing lung failure. My left rib cage was shattered, sending bone fragments throughout my insides. The greatest injury of all though, was that Julio was killed instantly, in my place.
My body would heal, miraculously, despite all the odds, but my mind and heart continued to deteriorate down a path towards complete destruction.
I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the solution was, what else… drugs. “Give him so many drugs because sick people need drugs.” Every morning I got out of bed and took my numbing concoction of methadone, Percocet, and oxycodone. I washed those delicious treats down with whatever other various pills that I had to have. It wasn’t long before I was an addict, though I would never have admitted it. I lived my fading life from pill to pill. Nothing mattered to me anymore, especially not my life.
I started a pattern of making choices that drove my promising life into the ground. I went from having everything I could have ever imagined, to being alone, eventually homeless and sleeping in my car. It was my own fault, truthfully. I can see now that I didn’t lose anything; I threw it away in a fit hopelessness driven by my poor personal choices.
In the beginning of my recovery, I needed medications, but after a while, I just wanted them. I craved them. I knew all the right responses to my doctors when I went to my pain-management and medication-refill appointments. I knew exactly what I had to do to get more drugs. After a few years of appointments and medication refills, the hospital began sending all my prescriptions to my doorstep without even seeing if I still needed them.
I became accustomed to being on drugs. It became normal for me. I stopped noticing the life-altering effects and simply accepted my life as it was. I told myself I was a survivor, and these drugs were just a part of my survival now. I began using my PTSD diagnosis as an excuse for my drug addiction. It was my ultimate crutch. My friends and family were noticing major changes in me, but I refused to acknowledge them. I started becoming angry toward anyone who told me that I was acting differently. My life was quickly spiraling out of control, and I blamed everything and everyone around me. All I could see was my own selfishly motivated desires, and the big picture was impossible to focus on. Truthfully, there was no big-picture, because I felt as though I was going to be dead in a short matter of time anyways. The worse my life got, the more I depended on my medications and addictions to solve my problems.
I was doing things that were so abnormal to the man I used to be. I was married, and I took vows to support and love my wife, but as soon as she started telling me that I was different and that I should probably dial back on my meds, my love for her turned to resentment. I blamed her for whatever I could. I convinced myself that I was incapable of love and that the love my wife had for me wasn’t really love at all. If she truly loved me she would understand that I need these drugs. Why would she try and take that from me?
My drugs were deceitful, but I loved them, and I believed they were the only things that wanted to help me. I cut off everyone who meant anything to me and isolated myself to my own depressing misery. I felt nothing. I was an emotionless monster. I was a monster, in every sense of the word. I was dangerous. I was unpredictable. I was enraged. I was suicidal. I was broken, utterly and completely broken. My promising career as a Marine was stripped away. My family was lost. My heart was deemed worthless. My life was purposeless and my identity was gone.
I lived not even really wanting to live. I put what fleeting energy I had left into false and temporary pleasures. After divorcing my wife in 2013 I began working in the entertainment industry. I had some incredible opportunities to work alongside of big names on big budget projects. I walked some red carpets while dressed to the nines in fancy suits—but it was never enough for me; I wanted more. I wanted to be rich. I wanted to be famous. I wanted those things so that I could prove to myself that I wasn’t worthless. My drug usage continued to worsen and I began selling my drugs to make ends meet. My addictions intensified while my craving for approval from women became a drug of its own kind. Through all of this my broken heart remained broken and my adamant refusal to admit it remained even more.
In November of 2013, after my fourth failed suicide attempt, I flushed every drug I had down the toilet and swore to never touch them again. I made a decision to clean up my act and attempt to once again figure out my life. I still wanted nothing to do with God, but I did for the first time in years want to live and be a better person. So, I did just that—I cleaned up my act, sobered up, got out and away from the life I was living, and even started going to a church. I got back together with my wife, and we had our first child, a son, Brixton Matthew Fite.
I wore the mask of recovery well. I seemed like I had my life back and everyone around me praised me with approval for healing and fixing my life the way I did.
The mask I wore was deceitfully and masterfully convincing. My heart was not healed in the least bit. One month after my son was born, my wife caught me once again in relationships with women outside our marriage. She left, again, but this time she took our son.
Back in 2011, I had been invited to attend the Mighty Oaks Warrior Program: FIGHT CLUB. At the time, I rejected any form of “healing” so I swiftly disregarded their invitation. In an effort to appear willing I filled out the application and received acceptance into their program. Needless to say, I did not attend Fight Club in 2011, instead I blocked their numbers and sent their emails to my junk folder. I didn’t hear back from them again…
Five days after my wife left, I received the most divinely appointed email from Mighty Oaks telling me that I was accepted into the upcoming week-long Fight Club at Sky Rose Ranch. To say I was confused is an understatement; I had no idea where this email came from, but I went with it.
I showed up in January of 2015 not knowing that in a matter of days my life would be wholly transformed through the unconditional love of Christ. On the third day of a grueling six-day process an instructor came before us in utter transparency and taught a class on Purity. I remember thinking, “Oh great, I’m about to get a glorified sex talk.” I could not have been more wrong. My perspective was altered and I began to see the lifestyle patterns that I created for what they were: a direct result of an unprotected heart and unguarded mind. I allowed little lies to be heard and accepted as truth, which in turn created disastrous and chaotic reproductions.
That week I gave my broken heart to Christ and in an instant, I was made new and whole. My life was radically changed.
Living a pure life is so much more than abstaining from sexual sins. It is adamantly abstaining from anything that stands in the way of you and God. We as Christ followers have an unbridled enemy that wants nothing more than to “…Steal, kill and destroy… (John 10:10)” the precious gifts that our Lord and Father has given to us. He wants to pervert the good things that God has so graciously given us. Satan is a tactical and manipulative force that is extraordinarily precise in his attacks. These attacks are not preventable, but they are resistible. Christ has told us in His perfect Word to prepare for the attacks of the enemy, and to guard our hearts and minds. He has provided for us the equipment and armor necessary to fend off the attacks of the enemy.
In the fight for a pure life we must be on guard and prepared to withstand the sure coming attacks. We must daily put on the full armor of God.
I will be the first to admit that this is much easier said than done. In my daily life, I must be vigilant and on guard just as I would be on post protecting my FOB from an enemy attack in Afghanistan. My mind and my heart must remain protected. Like I said above, our enemy is a very tactical enemy. I like to think of him as a Combat Hunter because he is such a master of setting and reading patterns. Though he cannot control my mind or make me do anything, what he most certainly can do is corrupt, pervert, and manipulate situations that can affect my behaviors. My enemy knows and targets my weaknesses. This is why I must train my eyes to seek what the Lord desires me to see in the way in which HE intended me to see them (Psalm 101:3), vigilantly guard my mind while taking every thought into captivity (II Cor. 10:5), and honor my God with my body for it is the Temple of His Holy Ghost (I Cor. 6:18-20).
The first part of John 10:10 tells us that our enemy is here to steal, kill, and destroy, but the second part of that verse tells us why our Savior has come and that is so that we might have life and live it abundantly. Our Lord and Savior came down to this broken world to give us, a broken people, His most prized creations, life everlasting. Our enemy wants to steal that life by perverting the gifts graciously bestowed upon us all. The fight for purity is the fight for life; the fight for the life of love and blessings given to us at the brutal cost of our Savior’s earthly life. We have been called to purity. We have been called to fight to remain pure until the day we are made holy, standing face to face with Christ. We have been called to fight to withstand and eliminate everything impure that stands in between us and our Father above.
This is the fight for purity and I will fight, ‘til the death.