Hitting Rock Bottom Joe Kissack’s Journey
Joe Kissack seemingly had it all. He had power, wealth and a loving family. He managed the domestic sales and marketing efforts for dozens of television shows and movies, including Seinfeld. But Kissack eventually hit rock bottom when he was hospitalized for his addictions and suicidal depression. Risen interviewed Kissack five years ago, and we talked about his faith journey and the transformation he underwent.
Kissack opens up about how his faith went from an obligation to an actual transformation.
“After I hit rock bottom. My surrender, in a moment, was cowardly. I just wanted out of the pain. And the surrender by the way was, ‘Please just let me die.’ This was the night before I went into rehab; everything changed for me that night in an instantaneous and binary moment where I became a different person from the inside out. I had no idea what had happened. I didn’t know anyone this had happened to. I knew I had changed because it manifested itself very obviously to me. The addiction and compulsions I had were instantly taken from me. The thing that twisted in my stomach every day as I got out of bed worried about doom and gloom…was gone. The lump in my throat was gone. And I knew it; I could feel it. I was like, ‘What is this? How is this even possible?’ Then it showed up in other places. One of the other things that happened was I used to love to swear. We would have swearing contests to see if we could do an entire paragraph with just swear words and see if it could make sense. That was my creative, back then. How silly is that? And I didn’t do that anymore; it was gone. And it wasn’t me. I wasn’t like, ‘Okay, I’m not going go swear anymore.’ It just didn’t come out of me anymore.”
“ Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:9-11
Kissack shares about the changes he made in his life because of the transformation.
“I was very excited because I was filled with this unbelievable peace and joy. It was confusing because it didn’t make any sense for me to feel this way because I was getting ready to check into the cuckoo’s nest. I thought, ‘How can I be filled with this peace? My life is a wreck…’ After this, everything changed for me; from wanting to serve people, to obeying the traffic laws. It was very strange…I just thought it was weird and I didn’t understand what it was until I started going to Buckhead Church, which is part of North Point-this is almost 10 years ago- and Andy Stanley did this one message where he talked about the Holy Spirit. And he talked bout this thing called the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And he talked about people that he had counseled that had serious issues and then when they had an experience like this, they quit drinking, they didn’t go to the same places, they didn’t hang out with the same people, they quit smoking, they quit this, they quit that…and I was sitting in the front row thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy is reading the email of my brain.’ And it clicked, ‘Was that an indwelling of the Holy Spirit?’ That’s what it had to be, there was no other explanation for it. Then I wanted to know everything I could find out about God. Everything. And The Purpose Driven Life as the first book I picked up. I just yes to that and that is when I quit working and started to get really healthy. I ended up joining that church, and within that I found a group of men, and within that I found ways to go deeper and deeper and deeper into my faith.”
Be transformed. When we ask Christ into our lives, we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to overcome sin, addiction and temptation. God never intended for us to walk this life alone. Instead, he has given us power through the Holy Spirit and fellowship with other believers.
Get connected. Whether it is getting involved in a ministry at church, finding a small group, or meeting with an accountability partner, our relationship with Christ grows deeper when we surround ourselves with other believers. Allow yourself to be open to new friendship and share your life with others. Remember that God has given you a story and he wants to use you to help others grow in their faith too.
Help others. You might have a friend or family member that is struggling with addiction, depression or another harmful behavior. Meet with them. Let them know that you are there for them. Offer to meet with a pastor or counselor with them. It also helps to be accountable to a friend or group of people. Encourage them to seek accountability. Commit to praying for them that God would strengthen them through the process and that they would turn to God.
To read our entire interview with Joe Kissack, click here.
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