Tristan Todd: Finding God's Amazing Grace
By Kara Lavengood Pogue
The 700 Club
Original Air Date: October 19, 2010
“I looked down the train track and I saw a white light. Then I heard the horn of the train, and all I could see was that light. I wanted to die. I thought, ‘This is it.’”
Thirty-two-year-old Tristan Todd thought he had the solution to his troubles… park on the tracks and wait for the train to end his life.
At one time, it looked like Tristan had it all. He was a high school principal, a beautiful wife and a beautiful home.
“Here I am, the youngest high school principal of the state and an upstanding person in the community,” he tells The 700 Club.
There was just one problem. His wife loved the country-club lifestyle and he couldn’t afford it. He started gambling to try to make more money. After four years of marriage, he and his wife divorced. Tristan was depressed and financially ruined, but he tried to keep up appearances.
“I stayed and kept the house in the country club. Here I am now with a four-bedroom house. And it’s only me.”
Eventually, Tristan found a renter, which helped pay the bills. When the new tenant offered him marijuana, Tristan decided to give it a try. He’d never even smoked a cigarette before.
"I was looking for a solution externally, something from the outside to take away my problems. I thought that I had found the solution with drugs.”
Before long, he tried cocaine.
“I snorted like a couple of lines in my nose. I remember that feeling of euphoria. The high that I felt... all of a sudden the gambling problems, the marital problems... everything disappeared. But it was only a brief moment.”
From snorting cocaine to smoking crack cocaine—sneaking hits all day at his school.
“I didn’t want to interact with anyone. I didn’t want to go to school, I didn’t want to see kids, all I wanted to do was get a paycheck and go get more crack.”
He spent all his money on drugs and was forced to move in with his parents.
“I saw no way out of the financial distress. I was embarrassed about the way that I handled the marriage. And truthfully, I just wanted to die."
That’s when Tristan decided to end his life.
“I wrote that suicide letter and I laid it on the bed. I hugged my parents, and they cooked breakfast for me that morning never knowing what was going to take place a few hours later."
After saying goodbye to his parents, Tristan parked his car on a rural train track and waited.
“I remember feeling really worried about whether or not I was going to go to heaven or hell. I remember that train coming and it hit the side of my vehicle, I remember the loudest impact.”
The next thing he remembers is a voice from someone on the rescue team.
“I thought for sure I’d be dead. I was angry, because I didn’t die. I was in intensive care for four days with two collapsed lungs and my ear was severed, almost coming off, and I had broken ribs.”
Tristan’s parents met him at the hospital. They’d found his suicide note, but decided to keep his secret.
“I led a life of denial. I had survived the train wreck, but yet I wanted to keep my job. I knew that I couldn’t come out and say, ‘Well, I’ve got a crack problem. It’ll be okay in a few days, I’ll be back at work.’”
Tristan returned to his job at the school, but there were whispers that he’d actually tried to kill himself. He changed schools, trying to escape the rumors. But he couldn’t out-run his addiction.
“I prayed in the height of my addiction, ‘Please, show me how to live my life without drugs. Even though, Lord, I don’t think there’s a way, please show me a sign.’”
That sign came in a most unusual way. Tristan had taken up piano lessons. His teacher held her student recital at her church. Tristan was supposed to play "Amazing Grace".
“I started to play it, and I looked at the congregation and said, ‘Folks, I can’t play this song today.’ I stopped playing and I went out the back door of the church. I said, ‘Lord, I need help, and I need it now.’ I think it was God’s time saying, ‘Now’s your time.’”
Tristan checked himself into a rehab center. He was done living the charade. He wanted a real relationship with God.
“That’s when I felt that God had humbled me and that God had saved me. That was God’s time for me to get the help that I needed to get. I knew that I was given another chance at life. God saved me from tragedy, devastation, destruction…”
Today, Tristan is drug-free and his depression is gone. He’s also studying to become a nurse. He’s amazed at how God changed his life.
“The difference is today, in my relationship with Christ versus when it was before, is that I’m a stronger Christian because I have faith. I can live my life each day, acknowledge the past, live in the present, and look forward to tomorrow.”
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