Impact StoriesLife-changing stories of hope, healing and wholeness
Not many of us see ourselves fully as the beloved of God. It is typically a struggle to accept the fact that we are children of a loving God. For most of my 44 years, I did not. Rather, I was convinced that God had cursed me.
At the age of three, my parents divorced. Soon after, my mom and I moved in with her parents. My grandfather provided a strongly religious and structured environment, but life was a struggle financially and growing up without a father was like having an open wound. I became an angry kid. Then, my grandpa died when I was seven, and the anger and isolation intensified.
When I was 12, I ran away and lived in the woods near my neighborhood. It was in this situation that I began to steal and use alcohol, recognizing that it held a certain power. That power enabled me to feel okay… by not feeling at all.
The very notion of God crumbled. I had a spirituality, but it just couldn’t make sense of what happened in my life. So, as a teenager and young adult, I constructed alternative practices to counter and spite God. I ran away, but this time emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Rock bands, alcohol and drug use and abuse, homelessness, and hook-ups became my pattern and resulted in arrests and jail time.
The irony of these brutal years was that my heartfelt dreams were those of family, stability, and peace. These dreams led to my first real attempt at recovery. I achieved 90 days sober, got into a business deal, started a new relationship, moved to a different state. But, “IF NOTHING CHANGES, NOTHING CHANGES!” It happened all over again. The spiral was in place, and it brought a lost job, a broken relationship, homelessness, and a ramped-up drug life. Through all this I kept talking to that crumbled God I had formed in my mind. And I always felt a deep and painful shame. I began to pray and fear death. Then, I began to pray and hope for death.
Perhaps it was this spiritual low that enabled me to begin climbing out. I was admitted to a 12 Step recovery house, where I would begin yet another rehab. It was here that I took part in an ISP retreat, and it was on this weekend that I began to feel connected to God and had a spiritual experience. The themes of mercy and forgiveness opened a door through which I could see and walk to a God who loved me. This realization became key. Despite a relapse, this power of a God who loves me enabled me to walk away from meth, money, and a warm bed and go back to a recovery house that re-enforced the image of a God who loves me, a God who could heal the deepest wounds and broken relationships.
Today I am sober and clean and it’s not because of me — I owe it all to God. I am slowly working at repairing and restoring relationships with my sons; I am close to my mother and I recognize a loving stepfather who has been a strong model whom I am beginning to follow into manhood. I am in the process of finishing my schooling and am employed full-time as a Biomedical Equipment Technician. I continue to try to enlarge my spiritual life, for I know therein lies to the secret to my sobriety, choosing to live under the blessing rather than the curse.
You can read more about our alumni participants who have experienced life-changing hope, healing, and wholeness, in our book, Stories of Hope.