Dylan Butler: Surrendering to God’s Will
Ho ho ho! Meet CORE’s own Dylan Butler! In keeping with this festive season, we’ll ask the Reader to overlook his slight stature and raised ears, and see that Dylan looks very much like the rest of us. According to local lore, Dylan is reputed to be a valued holiday helper who works hard all year behind the scenes. As manager of our Falcon House, Dylan keeps watch over everybody and takes note if they are naughty or nice. And his sense of humor keeps us jolly as Christmas approaches!
Nevertheless, our grumpy Editorial Board has expressed concerns about featuring someone who bears resemblance to a certain Elf on a Shelf. We at CORE legally disclaim any similarity in appearance. Dylan’s story and all characters and incidents portrayed herein are real. No identification with persons or characters who are either injection-molded or otherwise constructed from manmade materials is intended or should be inferred.
Besides, we’re really fond of Dylan, who’s like a little brother. And don’t let his fresh-faced looks fool you. Although he’s our youngest house manager in recent memory, Dylan genuinely possesses wisdom and knowledge beyond his years. He loves God, is well-acquainted with Scripture, and knows the AA Big Book backwards and forwards. We’re really quite proud of him (even if we like to goof with him!)
Moreover, listening to his testimony, we see that his journey to recovery well illustrates the old proverb: furious activity is no substitute for understanding. His was full of activity, to be sure, but his breakthroughs came when he slowed down enough to think and get his bearings. His flashes of insight ultimately led him to make the right decisions and recover.
To start with, how bad did things get for Dylan? He was a would-be civil engineer who dropped out of college, twice, because he was unable to manage his own life. He experienced periods of homelessness, and his family feared not only for his personal safety, but also for his very life. Recalling one poignant event, Dylan with difficulty spoke about his relieved mother bursting into tears upon discovering that he was still alive. So, things were bad, and Dylan knew it. But deep inside, Dylan wanted a new life. He simply didn’t know how to accomplish it.
Like we said above, Dylan had some important insights along the way. To him, they were personal epiphanies that culminated in his decision to turn his will and life over to the care of God. The first is that he was powerless over alcohol and drugs, and the second is that he needed God’s help. The third and most important epiphany is that asking God to do what Dylan wanted was pure hubris. It put the cart before the horse and wouldn’t work. Dylan realized that his place was to submit to God’s will. Only then would God work through him to accomplish His purposes.
This crucial, missing ingredient came to Dylan during his last stint at rehab. By this time, he’d been to sober living three times, and he was on his fourth round of rehab. He’d been doing an outward appearance of the 12 Steps, too. In reality, Dylan was still living his own way – not God’s. While in rehab, Dylan was praying for a fellow friend and addict, asking God to help her find happiness by surrendering to Him. Whereupon, lightning struck:
In that moment, I didn’t hear it audibly or see the clouds open up, but I had the clearest, most profound thought. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was the most straight and crystal clear thought I’ve ever had. And that thought was “Is that not what I’ve been telling YOU this whole time?” It was God. Like He was telling me, I’m just going to give this one to you. I’m throwing you the bone; just take it.
His experience was so compelling that Dylan began to act upon it immediately. Today, Dylan works the Steps with renewed devotion, and he sees his surrender to God as the great turning point toward real recovery.
Additionally, while awaiting release from rehab, Dylan’s counselor offered some pointed advice, saying, “You’re going to Branson, Missouri, when you leave here. Check out their website. It’s called CORE.” Dylan acquiesced and arrived to CORE in June 2019. While already familiar with the AA recovery program, his initial impression of CORE was pleasant surprise. He told us, “I’d never seen the Cycle of Addiction before. It sold me whole-heartedly on what’s happening here.” He also identified several program features that aided his recovery:
CORE gave me the tools and the resources, and the time, I needed. There’s enough structure here to keep me out of trouble, but not so much so that I feel restrained or uncomfortable. There’s balance. And it’s not cookie cutter; I was handled according to my own character defects and personality traits. The community is probably the most important. The people you decide to do recovery with are some of the most important decisions you will make coming to CORE.
Dylan’s conduct in the one-year program was exemplary, in all respects. His personal map for recovery, he says, is still found in the 12 Steps:
I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I’m not worried about fighting those things anymore. I still fight real life problems every day, but I have a path to manage those. I still make mistakes, but the great thing is, that somehow I’ve tapped into a Higher Power, process, and way of living. However you want to call it, there’s a method for this in the Steps. I can sit down and ask, am I doing it, right now? [Whereupon, Dylan cites the relevant Steps, one by one] It’s a design for living that works.
The best part of recovery, he says, is that his family relationships have been restored. His mom, in particular, no longer sees him as a little boy. She talks to him as an adult and they share meaningful conversations together.
Upon commencing, Dylan decided to stay longer and help newcomers. He interviewed for our Second Mile benevolent group, and was accepted. He also received a new assignment – to become the assistant house manager at our Seahawk House on Lake Tanycomo. A year later, our program manager Kevin Hunt asked him to take over as house manager at another CORE facility, the Falcon House in Hollister. Both positions have afforded opportunities for learning and growth, but the best part of leading a CORE residence for Dylan is seeing newcomers open up to him and seek help. He also feels thrilled for everyone who commences the program.
We at CORE are so happy for Dylan, and also for his family. The final, 12th Step of the recovery program is to pay it forward. Dylan has been entrusted with a special duty, to be at the place where he is of maximum helpfulness to others. We are grateful and gladly accept all the help he offers within the CORE program. The life of one saved is worth more than their weight in gold. Frequent contact with newcomers and each other is the bright spot of our life – our passion and purpose.
Also, we’ll take up the matter of going back to college with Dylan after the holidays.