“Music Monday” Blink 182’s song about suicide is also filled with hope

Adam’s song is filled with hope in the last paragraph of lyrics. So many young people stop short of committing suicide and they think more of the hope the future can offer. Take a look at the story below of someone who gave life another chance after he had actually shot himself in a failed suicide attempt.

Last paragraph of lyrics from “Adam’s song:
I never conquered, rarely came
Tomorrow holds such better days
Days when I can still feel alive
When I can’t wait to get outside
The world is wide, the time goes by
The tour is over, I’d survived
I can’t wait till I get home
To pass the time in my room alone

Spend It Any Way You Like

by Greg Hartman

Jim Centifanto parked his motorcycle and walked into the Florida woods. He loaded the 12-gauge shotgun he had borrowed and took a deep breath. Holding the shotgun’s barrel in his left hand, he pressed its muzzle into his stomach. Leaning forward, he pulled the trigger with his right hand.

The blast threw him off his feet and left a gaping, fist-sized hole on the left side of his abdomen. Dropping the gun, Jim staggered back to his motorcycle, rode to his mother’s house four miles away, and passed out on her front steps.

Four days later, as he was waking up from a coma, he heard a voice speak to him. “I saved you for a reason,” the voice said. Centifanto looked around, startled. The room was empty.

Centifanto’s father had taught him and his brothers and sisters to respond to problems with violence. Lawrence Centifanto, a career Marine, married his wife, Ysolina, while he was serving in Panama. Soon after Jim was born, his father went to Korea for three years, then to Vietnam for another three years. Centifanto was 6 before he knew his father.

Lawrence Centifanto sent all his money home for the six long years he was at war. He asked his wife to save it up for him, and expected to return home to a sizable nest egg. Instead, she moved her family from New York to Florida and put herself through medical school.

“I’m not sure if he loved my mother,” Jim said, “but I know she didn’t love him. She only married him to get her American citizenship and an education.”

Centifanto’s excitement at meeting his father quickly turned into horror when his father discovered what had happened to his money. He made his children sit on the sofa and watch as he beat and choked their mother.

Living with his father, Centifanto said, was like living with an unpredictable volcano. Lawrence Centifanto viciously beat his wife and children at the slightest provocation or for no reason at all. One time, he tore an earring out of his daughter’s ear. Another time, after being out of town for a month, he pulled up in his driveway and saw Jim pull aside the curtains to look out the front window, excited to see his father. Lawrence responded to his son’s enthusiastic greeting with a savage beating. “He told me I could have gotten dirt on the curtains,” Centifanto said.

Finally, when Centifanto was 9, his mother divorced her husband. Ysolina Centifanto’s solution to her ex-husband’s brutal discipline was to avoid disciplining her children at all. “We went from one end of the scale to the other. She said, ‘This will never happen to us again,’ and she let my brothers and I run totally wild. We did anything we wanted.”

Within a year, Centifanto was expelled from the Catholic school he had been attending and joined a gang with his brother. He began using and dealing drugs.

One day the vice president of Centifanto’s gang, Bobby Hicks, showed up at the gang’s hangout with a short haircut and wearing a suit and tie. “We thought he was going to court,” Centifanto said. “You know, when you have to see a judge you dress up nice and hope maybe he’ll be more lenient. That’s what we thought Bobby was doing.”

Instead, Hicks threw his fellow gang members a curve. “I just got born again!” he announced.

“He could have said, ‘I just went to the moon,’ for as much as we understood him,” Centifanto said. “We just laughed and said, ‘You did what?'”

But when Hicks started preaching at his friends, the gang’s leader stopped laughing and provoked Centifanto to fight Hicks.

“Bobby was 20 — six years older than me,” Centifanto said, “and he weighed about 250 pounds. I’d seen what he did to other guys. I whipped him with a bullwhip and chased him down the street; I totally humiliated him in front of everyone. The day before, he would have killed me. But this time, he wouldn’t fight. I didn’t know what made him act so weird.”

Centifanto soon forgot his former friend’s odd behavior as he sank deeper into his world of drinking and drugs. “I stayed stoned all the time, 24 hours a day,” he said. “I’d take enough drugs at night to keep me stoned until I woke up, then start over again.”

In 1970, when Centifanto was 15, his girlfriend broke up with him. “She was the closest thing to love I had in my life,” he said. “I hated life, just hated it. No one loved me and when she rejected me, too, I couldn’t take it.” He borrowed a shotgun and shot himself in the stomach. Incredibly, he lived.

“I was in a coma for four days,” Centifanto said. “No one expected me to live; they couldn’t believe I’d even managed to ride my bike to my mother’s house.”

Soon after Centifanto awoke from his coma, his mother announced she had had it with him and sent him to live with his father in Chicago. Within a year, his stepmother kicked him out, too. He was 17.

Centifanto got a job at a steel mill and lived with Terry, a co-worker, and his parents. Terry and his father worked at the steel mill with Centifanto. After work, the three of them got drunk almost every night. Then Terry’s mother surprised them all one day: She announced that she had become a Christian.

“She used to try to talk with me about Christ for hours,” Centifanto said, “even though I was usually drunk. I accidentally walked in on her one night and she was praying, just weeping and asking God to have mercy on me. Everyone else had rejected me, and she didn’t have any benefit from trying to reach me. But here she was praying for me. I just couldn’t understand it.”

About two months later, Centifanto joined the Marines, and found he made a good soldier. “I went in there full of bitterness and violence, and they said, ‘Here’s a gun. We like it if you want to hate and kill.'” But peace of mind still eluded him. His drinking continued unabated, landing him in the hospital twice and almost destroying his kidneys.

Two years later, Centifanto was stationed in Hawaii. One night while his platoon was on maneuvers, a soldier from another unit struck up a conversation with him.

“He told me about what Jesus had done for him,” Centifanto said, “and I just started weeping uncontrollably. I could see he’d been where I was and I wanted what he had.” Centifanto asked the man if he could go to church with him, and the man agreed to pick Centifanto up at his barracks the next Sunday morning.

But Centifanto had neglected to get his name, and when he didn’t show up, Centifanto was desperate. Finally, about two months later, Centifanto ran into him again. “I shook him and yelled at him: ‘You said you’d take me to church! You better show up this time!'” Centifanto said with a chuckle. He got the man’s name — Donald Taylor — and eagerly awaited the next Sunday.

Taylor showed up as promised this time, and took Centifanto to church. “I was mad at Don because I thought he told Eugene Stober, the pastor, about me,” Centifanto said. “Every single word that came out of his mouth was about me and my sin.

“When I was 14 and Bobby Hicks got saved, I didn’t understand what he was talking about. I heard God speak to me after I shot myself, but I didn’t listen to that, either. And Terry’s mom explained the gospel to me, but it still didn’t stop me from sinning.

“We have to come to the end of ourselves before we realize how desperately we are in need. I was at the end of myself this time. I was so ripe for the gospel. This time it was different; this time the ring of truth was going through my heart.”

Centifanto began attending church with Taylor. A month later, while supervising the armory guard, he read a magazine article about the end of the world and panicked. “I was convinced Jesus was coming back — tomorrow!” he said. He left his post — a court-martial offense — and hurried to the church. Finding Pastor Stober, he begged him to tell him how to get saved.

Eugene Stober led Centifanto in prayer. That night, Aug. 17, 1974, in Oahu, Hawaii, when he was 19 years old, Jim Centifanto asked Jesus Christ to forgive his sin and be his Lord and Savior.

When they were finished praying, Pastor Stober handed Centifanto a quarter. Confused, he took it. “That’s what salvation is like: a free gift,” Stober said. “And that quarter is just like your life, too: You’re free to spend it any way you like, but you can only spend it once.”

“That’s when what had just happened really hit me,” Centifanto said. “It was like scales fell from my eyes. All the hate and bitterness, the way I hated myself and everyone else and hated life so much — it left me; it was all gone, just like that.”

Centifanto returned to the base, expecting to face a court-martial. To his surprise, his commander said, “Well, don’t let it happen again,” and dismissed him. When he awoke the next morning, he received another surprise: His desire for drugs and alcohol was gone, never to return.

Today Jim Centifanto and his wife and four children are missionaries in Guatemala. “The minute I got saved I started witnessing to everything that moved,” he said. “I could never see any way to live after that but in service to God. When Pastor Stober handed me that quarter, God changed my life forever. He really did change my heart and make me a new creation.”

Copyright © 2006 Greg Hartman. Used with permission.
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