Crossover lessons have meanings for us all

Published 1:29 am Saturday, October 29, 2011

Walt Merrell, Covington County’s district attorney, repeated himself Friday afternoon.

He was addressing a crowd in the chapel at Crossover Ministry in Opp that included U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, local law enforcement, and current class members at the addiction recovery ministry.

“But for a few decisions, any of us could be here as a client today,” he said.

It’s a message he’s shared many times in his work with addiction recovery, made more important to him because disease has affected his own family.

Later, as Crossover Ministry board member Dr. Josh Driver led a tour, he said flatly, “We make the clients make up their beds every day. We don’t want to be too hard, but we want to help them learn discipline.”

He didn’t add this, but the implication was clear: Little things count, and self-discipline adds up.

Their comments reminded me, for about the millionth time, how fortunate my brothers and I were to be born to our parents. God bless our sweet mother, who gave birth to three children as strong-willed as their father. And God bless our daddy for never – OK, rarely – letting us bend that will.

We were allowed to make decisions perhaps earlier than our peers, but we were warned up front that we had to stick with those decisions. Want to sign up for scouts? Fine, but you have to stick with it all year. Sports or band? Same deal. Don’t want to study? Fine, just know there are consequences for bad grades.

Collectively, the three of us have made plenty of bad decisions, some worse than others. But we were never allowed to escape the consequences, and that, I believe, greatly reduced the number of bad decisions we made.

When I was offered a promotion in my first job out of college that involved moving to another part of the state, my co-workers immediately asked me if I had called my daddy yet.

There was no need, I explained, as I already knew what he’d say: “It’s your decision. We support you whatever you decide, just make sure you do your best at whatever you decide to do.”

In that case, I think he was a little disappointed that I made the decision without consulting him. Didn’t matter: I already told you what he said.


Walt was right. We are none of us immune from addiction. Think about it, and there aren’t many families who haven’t been touched by it, mine included.

But learning to make disciplined choices goes a long way toward making better decisions. Here’s to the lessons of Crossover that have meaning for us all.