Turning from atheism to faith in Jesus Christ is incredibly difficult and involves much soul-searching, as does turning from an addiction to alcohol to a life of sobriety. But country star Walker Hayes was able to not only do both, but maintain both his faith and sobriety when, in 2018, he lost his seventh child and almost lost his wife.
Hayes spoke about that to Fox News, telling the outlet that a uterine rupture meant his daughter Oakleigh Klover died shortly after birth and almost killed his wike Laney, but that his friend who led him to Christ, Craig Allen Cooper, helped him stay sober and stay faithful.
Speaking on that, Hayes said, “I have no idea how I stayed sober through the loss of our seventh child. But I had a best friend named Craig who really, really allowed the Lord through him to love on me through some nasty, nasty stuff. And I’m talking about stuff where most people would be drawn away from me, you know?”
As background, Hayes met Cooper in 2014 after Hayes’ wife, Laney, insisted they attend a church service. Hayes was, at the time, both an atheist and deeply addicted to alcohol, an addiction made all the worse by his being dropped by his music label.
Despite the circumstances, Hayes and Cooper gradually became friends and closer, with Cooper even giving the Hayes family a minivan after theirs was repossessed when Hayes was at rock bottom.
Speaking about that, Hayes said, “I have nothing going on musically. I’m an alcoholic. I’m great at pushing people away. And then so here comes this guy named Craig, who was drawn nearer to me. And it was quite confusing. You know, there were a lot of times when I was like, ‘What’s this dude’s deal? Like, why does he love us so much? Like, why does he keep feeding us food? Why is he giving me a minivan? Why is he encouraging me? Why isn’t he like everybody else?‘”
He then noted how powerful and evident Cooper’s faith was, telling Fox News, “In the long run, I honestly found out he’s just as broken as me, but he just knows Jesus. He needs Jesus. Every morning he wakes up, he needs Jesus, and Jesus is a light through him. And then, it was an awareness. I began to look in the mirror and just look at simple things.”
He later added, speaking about Cooper, “I’m not ashamed to say Craig and I are brothers. I mean, we are. As far as I’m concerned, we’re family members. We work together. We’ve written a book together.”
Continuing, Hayes explained how he gradually came to see Jesus as what he needed to make him a better man and husband, saying, “Like, I want to love my wife so bad. Every morning I wake up, and I want to love my wife. By lunchtime, my actions have not all shown that I love my wife. And so when you do that daily, and you go — I mean, I consider myself a pretty capable guy. I can withstand Nashville. I can finish a song in a day, but I can’t not screw up. I can’t not hurt the ones I love. What’s the answer to that? Well, there’s this dude named Jesus who never did that, and he died on the cross to absorb all that stupid stuff I do by lunchtime just with my wife. You know what I mean? And he saves me from myself and makes me right with God. That’s kind of what happened to me.”
He then explained how he got sober, telling Fox News Digital, “I’m eight years sober this October. I woke up one day when I was working at Costco. I was working at Costco from 4 to 11 and then writing and then playing shows. And man, it caught up to me. And honestly, I had been drinking since I was probably like 13. I woke up one Saturday, and I just felt like I was going to die. I felt like physically if I did one more day, something was wrong. And so I stopped, and then one day turned into two and then two turned into a week. And then a week turned into a month. And then I did the whole high on sobriety thing and got into working out and stuff. Kind of traded a bad addiction for some good ones. But then the good ones, they become bad also, so I went through that process.”
That eventually came to a head when his daughter died, with Hayes going to a bar but not buying a drink, then heading back home and realizing how he needed to change to be a better father and husband. But, by staying sober and remaining committed to his faith, something Cooper helped him with, Hayes was able to get his life back on track and pointed in a much better direction.
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