God Delivers Singer Ashley Cleveland from Addiction
By Audra Smith Haney
The 700 Club
CBN.com -Three-time Grammy Award winner, Ashley Cleveland, has built a critically acclaimed career as a singer and songwriter. But, her latest project isn’t set to music. Instead, her book “Little Black Sheep” finds it’s setting in the darkest corners of Ashley’s personal life.
When Ashley was in Kindergarten, her parents divorced.
“When my father left, their last altercation was over something I had done, just mischief,” Ashley said, “and when he left, he never came back.”
Although she grew up attending church, Ashley’s view of God brought her no comfort.
“My view of God was that He was fairly distant,” Ashley said, “that He was also extremely performance oriented.”
In her teens, Ashley tried to bury her insecurities with rebellion.
“I was drawn to a certain amount of risk and danger,” Ashley said. “I thought, ‘you know, I’m not really interested in being good, but I can be excellent at being bad.’”
Eventually, alcohol started to appeal to Ashley.
“I do not remember my first drink, but I clearly remember the feeling,” Ashley said, “Because so much of the –the fearfulness and awkwardness that I felt just about the way that I was, both outwardly and inwardly, disappeared.”
By her mid-twenties, Ashley was a full-fledged alcoholic and drug user.
“I would manage it for a little while, and then eventually, inevitably, you know, I would go way too far and the dominoes would begin falling very quickly in the wrong direction,” Ashley said. “And then, the cycle would start all over, because I did not have any tools of recovery. And at that time, I had no idea who God was.”
Ashley’s lifestyle came to a halt when she was 24 years old.
“I tried to sort of cobble together some kind of a, you know, a sobriety, But I still had horrible slips. I knew that I could do damage to the fetus….and all the fears that I had about what God might think of me, how He might react to me, were very present for me.”
Nine months later, Ashley delivered a perfectly healthy baby girl.
“There are moments of encounter with God that are so palpable and deep to me where the very molecules of the air change,” Ashley said. “And I’m lying in that recovery room--and, you know, it was like the spirit of the Lord inhabited that room and He pulled back this invisible curtain and said to me, I am not who you think I am. And I thought, boy, no kidding. But in that moment, I knew one thing, and that one thing changed everything. I knew that He loved me. That was really the beginning of faith for me.”
Little by little, as a single mother, Ashley’s life was rebuilt. She finally confronted her addictions with the help of treatment centers, 12-step programs, and her new faith. Although her journey was marked with years of defeat, Ashley says God gave her the one ingredient she needed to keep moving forward.
“To me, the first thing that happened that really is the foundation of everything was the willingness that I asked for, God gave me,” Ashley said. “And it wasn’t just a willingness to give Him the drink. It was a willingness to not be in charge of my own life. Not once did I lose that initial feeling that I had in the hospital that there was a God, that He knew my name, and that He loved me.
Today, Ashley has been sober for over 15 years. She is married to guitarist Kenny Greenberg and has three children. She says she hopes her book and life story inspire those who feel too broken to be loved.
“What I would say to you or anybody else is come to Jesus,” Ashley said. “I’m just saying come to Christ, because if you come to Christ, really, you can’t come and not be changed.”
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