My name is Zachary Bib. I’m a lifelong Delaware resident. I was born in North Wilmington. I’m the youngest of five kids. I have three older brothers and an older sister, and I’m from an environment of abuse.
It was a chaotic place to say the least but we tried to make the best of it. I always sought my dad’s approval. I didn’t know how that affected me until years later. I tried to do the way he taught me: to work hard, work hard. Family was everything. Everybody else was strangers.
My dad and Mom divorced when I was age 7 1/2, and I remember him leaving and never returning. I split time with them. My older brothers were spending a lot of time in the street in drug addiction early on. I remember first going down there and was scared to come out of the house.
It’s amazing what we get used to over time, and what we’re attracted to for acceptance. I was drawn to like-minded people and like-minded experiences. So I ran to the street. Around age 11 I picked up my first arrest charge. I’ll never forget my dad coming down to get me.
I had this overwhelming voice inside of me seeking his approval, and I never really got it except in strange ways. So I’m like, “Are you going to yell at me now?” And I remember him calmly, calmly, and sternly, looking at me and saying, “Good, now you’re like the rest of them.” It was a shame-based message. I didn’t realize how it affected my self-worth or self-esteem, but my behavior immediately changed. I didn’t cut grass or shovel snow any more.
I was 11 years old when I started selling drugs. My brother, Jeremy, got sentenced to five years for armed robbery when I was 14, and I basically used that as an excuse to throw my life away. I just didn’t care anymore. Rebellious.
It was normal around the people I ran with in my neighborhood. It was accepted. Matter of fact, it was worshipped. You know, hurt people hurt people.
I didn’t see the consequences of my actions spiritually or in my environment until years later. As a result, I’ve been through many Cognitive Behavior Therapy programs in the State of Delaware. I’ve been in juvenile justice. I’ve been in Gander Hill prison. I’ve been in the CREST Program for convicted drug abusers.
By this time I was I was no longer selling drugs. I had been consuming prescription opioids for a long time, buying them on the street, and then going to the methadone clinic. I did methadone for about three years and Suboxone and Xanax. Always took other drugs with it. So I weighed about 145 pounds and woke up one day in Christiana Hospital.
My brother, Jeremy, by then had had a long stint in Narcotics Anonymous and ironically showed me the road to recovery. He was sitting at the end of my bed. I had such an overwhelming feeling of shame that I couldn’t even look him in the eye when he was talking to me. He said, “The doctor was in here. You died twice. They brought you back to life.” I had seizures from benzodiazepine withdrawal.
Waking up in the hospital was not strange to me. It wasn’t odd, it was normal. I lost my girlfriend, Ashley, and my dad in active addiction. I woke up next to people who were dead next to me. My mom’s best friend’s daughter, who I was dating, died. It felt like God reached down and grabbed for me, but missed. I was ready to go, you know, but He had other plans for me.
As soon as I got out of the hospital I got high again. My parole officer, Officer Denunzio, an Angel dressed in the probation and parole uniform, arrested me and he took me to Gander Hill prison. I’d been there many times. Back then the prisons didn’t put you on medication or treat your drug problems with another drug. You went to the infirmary and you withdrew there.
I came out of the cell and a guy I knew from the street who was noticeably high shouted, “Hey, Zach Bibb.” Right then I did something different. I made a decision to turn my life around. By the grace of God I survived. It took every bit of it to get me to surrender when I was 29 years and 10 months old.
It took 6 1/2 years for me to realize, and for God to show me, that it was Him who spun me around and put me in myself. The recovery literature talks about having an eternal shift, about being broken, the blessing of brokenness, that you have to be broken for the light to get in. God had started working in my life. He had taken the desire to use drugs away from me long before I asked Him to, so that He could work on me with a lot of other things.
I was classified go into the Crest Program at Gateway Foundation. There I met another Angel, counselor Dave Williams. He utilized my experiences to help mold and reshape my mind and what I believed about myself. One guy I was in treatment with named Adam Centers turned out to be instrumental later on in my life. Before I left, he gave me one suggestion: to visit my dad’s grave on home pass.
I left there and went to live in the court-mandated Oxford House. Back then it was a long term abstinence based program. You couldn’t even smoke there. But it was very effective for me, and I took that man’s suggestion. I’ll never forget how demonstrative he was when I said, “Now I’m good, I’m nine months sober.” He was like, “No, you’re not good.” He got honest with me and told me the truth. I couldn’t see it but I made the decision to go to my father’s grave.
I remember my mom taking me to Gracelawn Cemetery. I was very confident in myself until we pulled in and I began to fall apart. I remember opening the door to get out. I couldn’t walk. I crawled to my dad’s headstone and sobbed for probably 30 minutes. I had no idea why I was sobbing. That’s how strong denial is. Years later I remember what it felt like. I took my brother to the grave and he had a similar reaction. He couldn’t hold himself together.
I went to Oxford House but my behaviors dominated me. I ran right back to work. My identity from my father, and from my experience in the world, was that somehow if I earned enough money, or did enough, that I would be substantiated. In our literature, we learn it’s an outside-in concept and it doesn’t work for the void in my soul. So I did that and I was successful.
About 6 1/2 years in recovery, I had everything you could want according to the world. I had a job making 120 grand that year. I had a work truck, a company car, and I traveled with my family. I was looked at as an influential person, not just in my family, but with people that wanted to be in recovery. I had no idea how little I really had.
God often speaks to people in a language they can understand. Our 12-step work says, “I came to believe in a power greater than myself who restored me to sanity.” Then it says, “I made a decision with God’s help to turn my will and my life over to the care of God.” As I understand, where your life and your will are depends on where you’re at spiritually because it’s not really my life, it’s His. He’s gracing me and even my experience is grace, even the pain.
Around this time I went with Curtis Centers and we did an alumni meeting. He was struggling. And I knew what he was struggling with. I knew it intimately. He was around me. I was in fellowship, and he reached out for help one day. I will never forget, I was sitting in a diner, and I was working, and I had the guys with me, and it was a rainy day. He reached out to me for help. And just like guys normally do, we don’t talk about what’s really going on. We say, “We need to get together.” And without hesitation, I said, “No, it’ll have to be another time.”
That time was the time because I got the call the next day. He had checked out – he overdosed. It affected me. I was dating my wife at the time and she had been inviting me to this church called The Journey. I said that the church would burn down if I go there. I had been in recovery long enough to know that relapse starts long before I pick up a substance. My behaviors weren’t sitting right with my spirit, and God spoke to me. Not audibly, but through circumstances, and things happened in an ordered sequence that are unexplainable any other way.
She said to me, “They’ve got a recovery group at the church.” And I said, “God, I’m coming.” I remember how crazy I felt. Not when I reached out to the guy in recovery, that was normal to me. I felt confident there and prideful. I could help people there. When I walked into The Journey, it was overwhelming to me how powerful the atmosphere was, not just in worship, but the authenticity of people’s joy.
I didn’t verbalize it until later, but I used to stand up and to feel comfortable, I would ridicule people on how they presented themselves, and discount their joy. I didn’t realize that was the enemy presence in me it. What recovery had taught me was God had worked through my stubbornness and my pride, and He had taught me through a program that if I was uncomfortable, I needed to continue to go. If I wanted to grow, I needed to continue to go.
I walked in to the recovery meeting at the church and they were arguing about whose group it was. I’ve always said that God will pull you in in an intuitive manner, a sneaky manner. I’ll never forget sitting there and thinking, “These dudes don’t know what they suffer from. I said, “It’s God’s group.” I had known that much. It’s a God-given program of recovery and I remember having thought, “Well, you can help these people”. And that’s how God used me and my pride.
If you’ve never been to a baptism weekend at a church, you need to go, because it’s unbelievable. I remember walking in and saying, “I’m going to go public with my faith. I think I’m getting baptized today.” When my son was born, my only son, I never forced baptism on him, or forced beliefs on him. At the time he had been attending church with me for about three or four months.
My son’s kind of funny; he’s smug and acts like he don’t care. He says, “I think I’m getting baptized, too.” We got baptized together at The Journey and you know, people have faith stories or talk about when they got saved, and they remember the moment of salvation. It wasn’t like that for me. It was not like that for me.
Growing up, I was taught religion about Catholicism. We weren’t even Easter and Christmas Catholics. We worshiped pain in my house. I projected that onto my Heavenly Father at an early age. I couldn’t meet my dad’s expectations. He was brutal, and I used to sit in Catholic Church and be like, “Man, I don’t belong here.” I knew God was real, but I just wasn’t good enough. And that stuck with me for so long, you know. But I finally felt good enough. I’ve got something to offer.
God didn’t ask my permission when he lit me on fire. He didn’t say, “Hey, are you ready to give your life away?” It says in the Word, the highest position in the Kingdom of God is to be a slave to service. I had this inclination to start serving.
About a year after going to home group, God laid on my heart that people were dying at an extreme rate in my state. I had been a taker for many years and a tool of destruction. So now that I was restored, God saw fit that I was prepared to shoulder some things that maybe somebody else couldn’t do.
I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how we were going to do it. We met on the back porch of my house: a bunch of members from home group, and people that have been through Teen Challenge and other Christian programs, people that have been through shorter term treatments, and people that never went to treatment.
We came up with the mission that God has us on today: to build a long term residential recovery program free to residents of the State of Delaware. Through COVID we started sending out literature and meeting needs in the recovery community. We were bridging gaps in the faith Community and in churches, and we were doing community events.
It’s not a coincidence that the Trinity of Recovery is unity, service and recovery. Coming together is of God, uniting despite our differences because we’re all mind, body and spirit. Jesus Christ came to save the world, not to condemn the world. He didn’t come to save some of us. He came to save all of us, and he actually sat with the worst kind of people. The self-righteous people, He got irritated by their questions but He did come for them also.
I never dreamed in a million years that my life would consist of giving it away every day, and that I would have the understanding I have today. That I would be submitted to communicating with God through the Holy Spirit, through belief in Jesus Christ, to be a student and disciple, and that recovery would evolve to such a simple program for me. Recovery is simply the vehicle to a relationship with God through Jesus. We call it a relationship with God through steps and principles. That’s just semantics. That’s language. Without the sacrifice on the cross we would have to earn our way back.
if you heard just this little bit of my story I have a tremendous amount that wasn’t said. But if you fellowship with me, you will hear it whenever it’s needed. What I’m telling you is that without forgiveness, without unconditional love, you can never earn your way into heaven. And the Bible says we get to experience heaven on earth and for eternity and it’s a free gift. So is recovery.
I love you guys and I wish we had longer, but I’m sure we’ll talk again.
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