Glenn: Darryl and Tracy Strawberry, the authors of a book called The Imperfect Marriage, the founders of Strawberry Ministries, are with us. Hi guys, how are you?
Tracy: Good. How are you, Glenn?
Glenn: Very good.
Glenn: I was in Tampa when you were bottoming out, and you weren’t a good guy by any stretch of the imagination. What was it, ten years ago that you turned your life around?
Darryl: About 12 years ago.
Glenn: Twelve years ago?
Darryl: Yeah, 12 years ago.
Glenn How long have you guys been married?
Tracy: We’ve been married eight years.
Glenn: Eight years. I saw an interview with you guys, and at the end of the interview, they kind of joked about the book and said a couple of, you know, junkies, what are they going to know? And I thought to myself when I saw that, if the marriage is good, you know everything there is to know, because you came out of it. So let’s start at the bottom first and then how you guys got together and then how it turned around, because you were at the top, and what happened?
Darryl: Well, we all screwed up, you know, as people inside. I think we have so many different issues in our lives growing up, we never deal with them, and they start from childhood. Mine was affected in my childhood. My dad was raised an alcoholic, and, you know, he beat me and said I’d never amount to nothing.
So I became a great baseball player, so everybody thought well, just because you’ve become a great baseball player, you should be happy, but inside, you know, inside I was dying inside, you know? The issues inside were real, and I could never overcome and never could get it out of my head when I was running around the bases, you know, hitting home runs, and winning championships that I was nothing.
Glenn: Isn’t it amazing how…because I kind of felt the same way. I mean, I didn’t have your kind of success, but you think it’s the next mountain that you’re going to climb that’s going to give you that peace. At least I did. You feel like okay, well, I’m empty inside, I don’t feel like it, but if I can just get that next whatever it is, and eventually it becomes the next high, then I’ll be okay.
Darryl: Well, it’s the next way to escape, you know, to feel good, to cope with life, regardless of the circumstance. When you have low self-esteem, and you don’t believe in yourself as a man, not a baseball player. You know, I believed in myself as a baseball player, but who am I as a man?
Glenn: Explain the difference.
Darryl: I think being a baseball player, I knew because I could step on the field, I could be the best on the field. I had confidence in that, but I didn’t have the love and the compassion to understand what it is to be a man, how to raise your family, how to be a good father, how to be a good husband. That was never there for me.
I never got the pat on the back when I came home from Little League. It was just me. I came home, and my mom gave me the hugs and the love and support, but deep down inside I didn’t get that from a father, and it made it very difficult. It made it very empty inside, because I was accumulating a lot of great things in life, but I never was getting to the point of what it is to be a man to feel good about myself. I think that’s the part that a lot of us missed, the hugs.
Glenn: It’s really hard. My dad, I mean, I can’t say this. I don’t want to throw my dad under the bus, but I learned work from my dad, and so I don’t know how to be a good husband. Instinctively have to work at it…you know what I mean? Have to really, really work at it, don’t know how to be a good dad…I just have to really work at it. And most of it is just believing, just coming to a place to where you’re like you’re good.
I mean, I had an epiphany this weekend. I was cuddling with my son, and he’s ten now, and we were just joking. We were in church together, and he grabbed my hand, and he held my hand. And he was rubbing my hand. And I thought to myself, I don’t ever remember doing this to my dad. I don’t ever remember holding my dad’s hand. And I thought victory, victory. I am a good dad. You know what I mean?
Glenn: I just crossed a hurdle that I hadn’t done before. Your lowest point, when you knew I can’t do this anymore?
Darryl: Well, I think my lowest point was when I stuck a needle in my arm to shoot heroin. I think that was the lowest point that I probably could ever get to.
Glenn: You knew it?
Darryl: I knew it. I knew from there that I crossed over onto the other side once I stuck a needle in my arm and shot heroin. I mean, I was always using crack, and I was always using cocaine, but I really stepped to that level, and I knew I was, you know, coming into the place of being a full junkie now. And I knew right then and there with Tracy in my life too at the time, and we’re boyfriend/girlfriend, I knew right there I had a serious problem. I knew for myself inside I wasn’t going to get better. I knew it was going to get worse before I got better.
Glenn: Tell me your story.
Tracy: Well, when I signed over custody of my children, that was my pivotal moment. That was my time. Who does that, you know? I’m this woman who’s raised in a home with love and wonderful parents. I have support. I have encouragement. I have love at home. I don’t have a story that I can grab hold of and say this is why I am the way I am. I don’t have an excuse, and I’m not…please don’t misunderstand me, because those things are very serious, but what is wrong with me? I must really be screwed up to have turned out like this in the midst of addiction. How does that happen?
Glenn: How far down did you go?
Tracy: I went down very far. I went down very far. I was in places I never thought I would go, just doing things I never thought I would do. These are things that I didn’t even know from this life. I didn’t see these things at home. I was not trained up in this way, if you will. I didn’t have a disposition for this lifestyle. I had a very deep emptiness inside. I’m lost. I don’t know what this life is about. I was chasing excitement, always had to be entertained on a very high level. Just wanted to see the world, I didn’t have any focus. I didn’t have any self-discipline within me. I didn’t embrace the way I was raised.
Glenn: How did you two meet? I mean, you’re a nightmare waiting to happen.
Tracy: We sure were.
Darryl: We’re a good nightmare. It was a great nightmare waiting to happen. It’s the strangest things of how people meet, and we met at a Narcotics Anonymous convention. Tracy had just had one year clean, and I just came back from a five-day binge smoking crack. And there we were talking about getting together, and how was this going to work? You know, there’s the sickness of a person that’s still inside which I had, and she had the wellness going on inside of her.
I told her from the beginning, I said you do not want to get involved with me. I am dangerous. I clearly told her that from the beginning. I said I am very dangerous, because I went through two marriages and kids and a family like a tornado because I was selfish, self-centered, and it was about me. I want what I want, and that’s just the way it was.
Glenn: Did you tell her that kind of as a hey, you were warned?
Darryl: Yes. She said I didn’t give her the details.
Tracy: Yeah, he left out the details. But I knew because I came from that lifestyle. When Darryl and I came together, when people, I believe, hopeless people like us come together, there is this fear of judgment. There is this fear of nonacceptance.
You so desperately want to be loved and want to be accepted, especially living the life that you’ve lived and the grand mistakes that we have made, so we had this component where we could relate. We could relate so much to one another that we fell in love with this nonjudgmental relational component, but we were very toxic. We had a strong desire to want to love, but we were not equipped to love. We could not love each other no matter how much we wanted to love each other.
Glenn: So what happened?
Darryl: A lot.
Tracy We had to get well.
Darryl: It was a lot of things that happened. Tracy was coming, kicking down drug houses’ doors, pulling me out of them.
Glenn: You [Tracy] maintained your sobriety?
Tracy: I did, and one day I came to that realization, I can’t do this anymore. I’m losing myself in the midst of this and being so codependent. I’m trying to save him. When you are working harder at someone’s life and someone else’s faith and someone else’s responsibility and their sobriety, and you are working at their responsibilities more than they are, it’s not working.
Glenn: Right. Being an alcoholic, and I’m sure you guys are the same way, the minute some celebrity dies from an overdose or something, that’s when my phone rings, and everybody’s like hey, can you get on and talk about…? And the question is always the same thing, what could we have done to save them? Nothing.
Tracy: If they don’t want to be saved—
Glenn: You can’t save them, and that’s really hard for people to understand and families to understand. There’s nothing you can do.
Glenn: Nothing you can do. Okay, back in just a second with more of the climbing the way out now. Back in a minute.
Glenn: All right, so you get together. You are working hard to try to keep him sober. He’s not working hard.
Glenn: What happens?
Tracy: He’s not participating, so I let him go. I let him go. People cannot change people, and we can love, and we can lead, but I had to let him go, and I had to focus on myself, and I had to get myself grounded. I had enough issues of my own, and that’s what happens. If I’m running after him, I can’t deal with myself, and I am continuing not only to hurt myself…our decisions hurt so many people. The consequences blanket so many people. It does not just hurt ourselves.
Glenn: So let me go back here, because let’s say that people…because I know there are people who are watching, and, you know, their kids, their loved ones or somebody is involved in anything from just alcoholism to heroin, and they don’t know how to relate to that. They don’t know want to do, and they feel like I can’t abandon, you know? It’s my husband or it’s my wife or it’s my daughter. It’s somebody. I can’t just abandon them. Explain if you can…maybe I’ll start with you, Darryl. When she said…because it was actually, didn’t it start with sex, no more sex for you?
Tracy: Yes, that’s when I was getting strong in my faith and strong in the word of God, and I just had a conviction.
Glenn: And that’s the first time anybody had ever said no to you, isn’t it?
Darryl: That’s the first time, yeah. That’s the first time I ever really had been cut off and said no to.
Glenn: On anything.
Darryl: Yes. Most of the time, you know, especially people that live, you know, in the high-profile life, celebrity life, no one ever tells you no. They’ve got the buffers around everybody—yes, you can do this, you can go here, and knowing that they have all these problems and just enabling them and killing them inside. And before you know it, one of them OD’d, and they’re dead, you know, because no one has ever told you no.
So when Tracy told me no that we weren’t having sex anymore, I said I’m outta here, and she said I think that’s what you need to do. I didn’t know if we would get back together, but that was a defining moment in my life because then I knew I had a problem, you know? I knew it wasn’t her. I had to look at me, and so I had to go away, and I had to go away for the next six months. It was just me and God. I went and got with God, and I got serious, you know, about my relationship.
Glenn: What was it about that time or that event that made you? Because you had been in…both of you guys had been in much worse scenarios than hey, not hooking up. I mean, what was it about that time?
Darryl: That time was the time that I picked up the word of God, and I got into the Bible, and I wanted nothing else. I wanted nothing else to do with the world anymore. I had been there, seen that, rich, famous. I didn’t want anything else to do with that anymore. And from that point there, I got serious. I didn’t have anything, but I had the word, and all I did was study. And all I did was read, and all I did was cry. And I let God really do, you know, a purging inside of me, because it’s an inside job, Glenn. Everybody on the outside looks great, but the insides are dead inside, and the insides are empty. I filled my insides with women, money, homes, cars, drugs, alcohol. It was never enough. It brought me to an empty place. It brought me to my knees.
Until I got the transformation, which is being changed…there’s a heart change that has to come about, and there is a mindset change that has to come about for you to be transformed. People don’t change their heart. They don’t change their mindset. That’s why they can never walk into the abundance of life and understand the real purpose, and I didn’t do that until I studied the word of God.
Glenn: Did somebody teach you this or did you just pick up the Bible?
Darryl: I picked it up. I finally picked it up and read it for myself.
Glenn: First time?
Darryl: People tell you to read it. Yeah, you know, and you read it. If you read it, you’ll get the revelation. And I finally went there for myself, and I picked it up, and I go oh my God.
Glenn: Yeah, I’ll tell you, I think if that Bible was just called, you know, Steve’s book of helpful hints, everybody would read it, and they would all say this is the most incredible book, but because it’s the Bible, because it comes with all of the trappings of religion and everything else—forget about the religion. Just listen to the words. It truly is remarkable. You think you know it. You don’t know it.
Darryl: Incredible, I mean, it’s a deliverance in it. I think people don’t get to the point of reading and studying the Bible because they’re afraid. Because you know what it does, Glenn? It challenges you to change, and that’s what we need in America. We need change. People won’t change. They want to stay the same inside. It’s not what you look like on the outside. A lot of us walk around on the outside, and we look great as ever, but our insides are polluted, toxic, and we can never get to the point of understanding the purpose of—
Glenn: I said to somebody the other day, we were talking about politics, and I’ve had a big turning point in my life. I’ve had a couple of them. One is my alcoholism and sobering up and my baptism, but in the last two years I had a health scare, and for a while there I thought I had just a few years to live as a functioning human being. That changes you. That really changes you and focuses you on what it is.
And somebody said to me the other day Glenn, you’re going to start doing all these other things, you know, but you’re going to forget about politics. I said politics, there is no change in that. That is us drinking. That’s us saying they’re going to change it for us. The problems all come…all of society…you can’t blame it on Hollywood. We’re consuming it. You can’t blame it on Washington. We voted for them. It’s all in here. If we don’t change this, it doesn’t work.
Tracy: We have to become accountable as human beings. The nation is made up of people, and this nation will change. We are a godless society. We have lost our fear of the Lord. We want what we want. We chase after things. When we decide to stand for God and bring God back and faith back into this country, and we take responsibility for our lives, we take responsibility for our marriages, and we get this thing called marriage right…when a marriage breaks down, our children break down, an individual breaks down, a nation breaks down.
We have to take responsibility for our lives, our decisions, what we’re doing, and if each individual would take responsibility, would embrace faith, put God at the center and deal with their issues, this nation would change.
Glenn: In the book you guys talk about the differences between men and women, you know? I think this is true. You talked a little bit about Tracy didn’t want a diamond. She didn’t want roses, and you talk about how I got it. I finally get it. All he wants me to say is thank you for taking care of things. Explain that, because it’s a really simple thing that I think, you know, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, yada, yada, yada. This in one page tells the real important difference.
Darryl: Yeah, I think a lot of times people get caught up in the fact of stuff. Stuff is going to make me feel great, and it doesn’t, you know, because Glenn, I had everything that a man could want. What good does it do for a man to gain the whole world, but I was losing my soul? It was my soul that I really wanted. And Tracy never was the person that wanted stuff to complete her, you know?
Most women run around, and they want their husband to buy them this. They want to look like this and that and that. And she was so simple, you know? She was so simple. That’s what I loved about her because she took me shopping at Walmart, and I was like ah! I’d never been there before in my life. I said this is great, you know, finally a simple place.
Tracy: We lost everything. We were living in my parents’ basement.
Glenn: My kids took me to Target one time, and I was like—
Tracy: We have to learn how to budget. It’s called responsibility.
Glenn: It’s like this is the greatest store ever. That’s great.
Darryl: You know, that was part of what I loved about her, that, because it was real. It wasn’t the fancy…didn’t have to go to the fancy stores, the fancy restaurant, just really simple stuff. Let’s live the simple life and let’s live it for purpose, and let’s live it for loving God and not be consumed.
Glenn: That is the opposite of what the world teaches right now.
Tracy: That’s right. We have to look at the inner soul. This is a soul thing. This is a character issue. We need to learn to love people from the inside out, especially your partner. Talking about marriage, and I love it when they laugh, oh, these two crazy people came together. These two crazy people have done the work. We dive in deep, and we get into real stuff in this book. This isn’t a Cinderella fairytale, impossible thing to achieve. We’re talking about addiction and losing everything and adulteries and getting past deep betrayals and hurts that we bring into marriage.
There’s nothing wrong with marriage. God created marriage, and anything that He creates is great and wonderful when we do it His way. The people bring in the problems. The people bring in the issues, and when we don’t deal with those issues…that whole book is a journey of dealing with those things and how you overcome and how you can love God, put God in the center first, even if you’re a person like me who just did not want anything to do with God. I was so angry at God, and don’t talk to me about God. It’s a journey. It’s a journey.
Glenn: Last night, I had a guy who survived Auschwitz. He sat right there. He said the same thing. I was angry at God. Where was God? And then we finished the show, and he spent 20 minutes talking to me about how great God is and how He fills you, and He’s there the whole time, even in the absolute worst place.
Tracy: That’s right.
Glenn: All right, when we come back, I just want to talk to you a little bit about getting past anger, because I think that we are a country that is starting to now look for vengeance and give it to me and you owe it to me and all of these really bad things. I think there’s some people that say, you know, when I talk about reconciliation, that’s not going to work. None of that stuff is going to work. I don’t know if they really connect with the difference between reconciliation and winning. Winning is not a good thing. Maybe we can talk about anger when we come back in just a minute.
Glenn : So as the world goes more and more into an angry place, I believe that we need to find…kind of like Finding Nemo, find your happy place, find your happy place. You have to find a happy place, because that’s where the power comes from, and that’s where peace comes from.
Glenn: On a broad scale, this is what’s happening. Everybody is being ratcheted up. They’re more and more angry at political parties, at their boss, at whatever, whatever, the bank. They’re more and more disconnected from in here, and it’s happening in our…I mean, boy, you start to add real financial troubles. Our families and our marriages are so weak right now. We are headed for the Titanic as a society. Advice?
Darryl: Well yes, we are. There is no restoration. You have to have restoration and be restored inside to a whole person to be free from all of that, because that means when you become free inside, none of this exists anyway. It doesn’t matter, you know? We get too consumed with it, and we lose ourselves in it. And we think it’s all important, but in the end it really doesn’t matter. I think too many people are wrapped up in only knowing earthly things.
I think what happened, you know, for me is to be restored. My mind got changed. Then I became a person of principle and purpose, and I became Kingdom minded. I’m not earthly minded. I just live here. I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do here. I need to do what I need to do for God here, and I need to cross over to the other side. And there’s strength, and there’s power in that. There is greatness in that. There is love in that. There’s peace in that, and there’s no confusion in that. God is not of confusion. People are.
Tracy: We have to do it God’s way, and like I was saying before, we’ve lost our fear of the Lord. We don’t understand the consequences of our actions and our anger. The opposite of anger, like you were talking about, is peace, and in Christ, there is a peace that surpasses all understanding that is above and beyond this world. The way we treat one another creates this hostile…to be angry is to be a hostile, to be hostile from the inside out.
There is a cleansing that has to take place through forgiveness, which people don’t understand. It’s not saying that everything’s okay, and it’s not always reconciliation, but it’s a character issue. We have a character issue on the inside, and we have these character defects. We hear that word all the time, this hot button, which is any character that doesn’t align with Christ, which is peace, love, kindness, gentleness, discipline, self-control. We’ve lost that. And on the other side, there’s malice. There’s hostility. There’s a whole list of these things when we don’t have this power that comes in and changes us from the inside out.
I was taught to see character, not color. I was taught to see character, not culture. I was taught to see character. This is a character issue from the inside out. Anger spawns from that because vision can create, but character sustains. And we hurt each other.
Glenn: Society is not pushing character.
Tracy: They’re not. This is a character issue—color, culture.
Darryl: Color, success, you know? That’s what they push, you know, push you to be successful, and if you’re successful, then you’re somebody, you know? But it doesn’t change your character because you’re successful.
Glenn: You don’t have any memorabilia up at your house or very little, do you?
Darryl: No, because it’s not who I am. I’m not tied to that. That’s the problem in our society, identity. America, we need to wake up. We have the wrong identity. We have the identity of being successful and having the riches, and I have everything. I have the notoriety, and I’m free. You’re not free. That’s the wrong identity. You’re wearing the wrong identity here. Our identity needs to be in Christ and what our purpose is here for. Our purpose is here to serve God and to love others and help the lost and bring the lost to salvation.
Glenn: It depends on how we take it. We could tear each other apart or we could accept this as a really good thing, and I’m hoping that we accept it as a good thing. There’s a great humbling coming. There is a great humbling coming, because only when you’re humble can you actually do what you guys have done.
Darryl: Right. It becomes, Glenn, it becomes not about you. It becomes about Him. When He comes into your life, when Jesus comes into your life, it becomes about Him, His work, and doing His work only.
Glenn: Okay, the name of the book is The Imperfect Marriage, two unlikely people. I’m telling you, the Lord is the best at taking lemons and making lemonade. The alcoholics, we’re going to rule the world. But if you’re looking for some help, some understanding, and a place to start, this might be exactly the thing for you. Thank you guys, and the best of luck.
Darryl: Thanks. Thanks for having us.
Tracy: Thank you. Thanks for having us.