By Andrew Nutt, student ‘08-’10
When I arrived at the Ranch as a student in 2008, I was a troubled young man, battling demons of addiction and insecurity. I reluctantly agreed to attend a residential “treatment” program after a sort of rock bottom, including legal repercussions for my substance abuse issues. I can clearly remember feeling super annoyed my first evening at the Ranch. Everybody was so friendly, happy, and genuinely interested in who I was, and for some reason it rubbed me the wrong way. In hindsight I can’t help but wonder if my irritability was caused by the evil and darkness in my heart at conflict with the love and light in my new environment.
During my tenure at Christian Encounter I experienced many struggles. I struggled to feel comfortable in my own skin as my mind cleared from years of pollutants. I struggled wrestling with my identity and learning who I really was. I struggled with identifying toxic influences in my personal life, establishing healthy boundaries, and letting people go. These were very real, painful experiences that were extremely challenging to navigate. It was a sincere battle with myself.
I can’t honestly say that my personal battles were over after leaving the Ranch, or that it was some sort of long-term saving grace. I still had much growing to do, as I will for the rest of my time on this earth. But my stay at the Ranch was a huge stepping stone on my path of learning to love others and myself, and letting the good Lord love me.
Now, many years down the road, I am a blessed man with a loving wife and two young children. My family and I live in the small mountain town of Pollock Pines, CA, where I grew up. I have a fulfilling career as a firefighter with the US Forest Service, and love what I do very much. I have continued to grow and learn, and have become a student of personal development. My wife and I make every effort to provide for our children the same environment that I had at the Ranch; one full of love, honesty, and the security that comes with living your life putting Jesus first.
I will always be grateful for my time at the Ranch and will forever remember the many evenings spent at the dock fishing, contemplating life, and enjoying God’s company.