Q&A with Nikki DiFiore
By Bri Rainey
Matt DiFiore leads the Recovery Through Christ ministry at ccdelco and has been doing so for the past decade. Meeting every Thursday night, he comes to find common ground and grace with Christians who are either former addicts or still struggling with addictions. What they share is a history of drug and alcohol abuse. What draws them together now is a passion to live a life that honors God by completely surrendering to Him daily.
But how do such drastic transformations occur, and how do people get vulnerable enough to share their deepest, darkest secrets with each other in order to heal?
I was excited to have the opportunity to sit down with Matt’s wife, Nikki, and pick her brain about such questions. Since Nikki is now the mother of five beautiful children and the wife of a successful businessman, I was determined to learn how she and Matt went from a couple that abused alcohol and dismissed the idea of God to living a life together they could’ve never dreamed of apart from His merciful work in their lives.
Before I could ask the first question though, Nikki poured her heart out to me about the spiritual discipline of submission, saying, “That’s where I’m at, always. You have to be sold out. You’ve got to fully surrender or you’re not gonna make it. It’s true.”
So that was the key. Submission. It may sound like a dirty word to some —like the synonym for submission could be slavery. But slavery to God? I needed to know what that might look like in the face of a culture so obsessed with immediate gratification and independence.
So I dove in:
Q: Let’s start at the beginning. How would you describe your formative years?
I was raised in a dysfunctional family like most people. Dad was an alcoholic, abusive to my mom. Drugs, alcohol, all that stuff was around.
I was also sexually abused, and my mom and dad got divorced when I was 11. By the time I was 19, I got my own apartment because I had to get away. I was always partying because I didn’t know how to deal with the emotional stuff; my mom didn’t know how to help me. I went through therapy, and they put me on drugs, which was just a downward spiral so I took myself off them. You know, you feel like you’re trapped because you’re drinking and drugging on the illegal side. Then you ask professionals for help, and they also want to medicate you. You feel like there is no way out. I was lost.
Q: When did you meet Matt?
When I was 24, I met Matt. I didn’t even like Matt when I met him; he was the type of guy that I would never give the time of day to. We were friends for a while, and then we got together. He was into partying so when I met him we did more of that together, and it was completely toxic. I got a DUI and lost my license for a bit. He went to jail for a few months, and we broke up.
During that time, I got into Herbalife, which is a health and nutrition business, and that’s what actually brought me to the Lord. There was this one lady named Brenda who stood out from all the rest at Herbalife, and she was amazing. It was because she lived it; she wasn’t just telling me about Jesus. She lived for Jesus, and I saw that in her.
Q: How did your life begin to change then?
I kind of got on track at that point because I got into health. I quit drinking and smoking. I was just on a mission toward health.
But then Matt got out of jail. We got back together, but I was really different while he was kind of still the same. I had given my life to Jesus, but I didn’t know what to do from there. I would try to read my Bible, and it wouldn’t make sense. I didn’t really
get it. Matt and I started living together at that time too; he would try to get it together for me, but it never lasted. He was still a mess.
So one day, I went to church, and what got me was the kids over on the left-hand side of the room. They were worshiping Jesus. I really never saw anyone worship Jesus before, let alone teenagers. I realized that I had prayed a prayer, but I didn’t really know God personally. I thought He was some guy hanging on a cross. I thought, who are these people worshipping? I want to know who this Jesus is because these people know something I don’t know. That was it. I started seeking God with all my heart.
Q: Did Matt notice a change in you, and, if so, how was he affected by it?
A couple weeks later, Matt really saw a difference in me and how excited I was about God so he agreed to go to church. He was still a heavy drinker, but I suggested that he go to the men’s group on Monday night. So one night, he showed up there half drunk. He was always half drunk. And all these guys just loved him, and they were like, “Yo, dude! Come on in.” He was so taken aback. He said to me, “They didn’t kick me out. They just told me how much Jesus loves me, and they were like, we love you dude.” It changed his whole life.
Q: What did that mean for your relationship?
We both totally surrendered in submission to God. I remember the day Matt surrendered completely; he was on his knees in the bedroom crying. He never drank again. We decided we wanted to get married because I knew at that point that I couldn’t live with him any more. I said I would move out until our wedding day. We went in for a meeting with Pastor Bob, and he said, “Well, why don’t you guys come back here in two days. Come get married; I’ll marry you right here in my office.”
I remember sitting and thinking, “Lord, are you sure this is what you want me to do?” But I knew I just had to take this step of faith, and I was like, “Alright, I’m doing this!” So two days later, we got married. Before Matt and I knew God, we thought marriage was just a piece of paper or a ring. We didn’t fully understand the covenant between a man and a woman and God, but the peace that came over us was overwhelming. We stepped out of the church building, and the Holy Spirit fell on us. We literally sat in our car and wept for an hour. Just us and Jesus.
Q: What would you say to someone who is struggling to surrender now?
The meaning of the word “saved” is “healed, delivered, set free, made whole, and protected.” Don’t look back. It’s not about methods, and it’s not about good works. For years, I believed the lie that I couldn’t be intimate with anyone because of my past, not even God. I was so lost for so long, and I was grabbing on to everything. You grab on to psychology, you grab on to illicit drugs, you grab on to whatever you can to get yourself out of that pit.
You have to put God’s Word above everything no matter what your experience in life has been. You have to submit to it. To let the Holy Spirit renew your mind while reading His Word and let the living Word transform you by His grace.
It’s what He says that’s true. So if He says that you are free, you’re free. If He says it is finished, it’s finished. If He says pray, pray. If He says get married, get married. It’s an intimate relationship with your Father, the One who created you! I’ve tried everything, and Jesus is the only answer. He is everything that He says He is. Just keep saying it and believing it, and you’ll see transformation too.