I’d like to say this is one of those stories where a guy gets saved and from then on his life is perfect. But until I let God break me down and change me, my life had gradually been falling apart.
I became a Christian five years ago, when I was 24. I knew it was real, and I changed in quite a few ways. I’d go to church and to a Bible study one night a week. But then on other nights, I’d go out with people I knew before, and I would party and drink and get high.
This went on for a couple of years until it started to bug me. I sensed God saying to me, “You’ve gotta stop, or bad things will come of this. I knew in my spirit it was time to stop drinking and smoking pot. I made a half-hearted attempt, but at this point I was very addicted.
I was living a dual life. Deep down, I knew I loved God. But I was living for the devil. When you sow bad things, you reap bad things. The Lord was just trying to warn me of that.
I’d been living with my grandpa, but we had a bad fight and he threw me out. I spent one night at the Rockford Rescue Mission, then moved to an apartment where my grandpa had agreed to pay one month’s rent for me. I had no furniture, and the place became a filthy mess. I’d found a job ... but I was still getting high all the time.
I had given up on church. I thought, “It’s just me and God. I don’t need them.” I think really it was this: When you’re not living a life for the Lord, you don’t want to be around people who are. You feel convicted. You see the hypocrisy in yourself. It’s like a big mirror and you just don’t want to deal with it.
I ran into a girl I’d known a few years earlier. She was married now, and she and her husband saw the place I was living and offered me a room. They said they’d help me save some money and get off drugs. I accepted their offer, but I secretly kept using.
I also got a strong feeling that bad things were going to happen to me. It’s like God was saying, “The hedge of protection is gone. I’m going to give you over to this. It’s gonna get bad. You’d better watch out.”
Meantime, I got hurt at work. I’d been working long hours, getting high after work and not sleeping much at night, so I wasn’t thinking too clearly. I was moving stuff from a dock to a truck, and didn’t notice there was no dock plate to bridge that gap. I fell right through, and took a big chunk out of my shin. It was a bloody mess, but I thought if I went to the hospital they’d drug test me and I’d get fired. So I let it go. Finally I had to ask my boss for some time off because I couldn’t even stand on it.
This was the start of two months of things getting worse and worse. I was training to be a truck driver, but for some reason I could not figure out how to back up the truck. Just about anybody can learn to do this with practice, but even after days of trying I just couldn’t do it.
Then I had a nasty flare-up of colitis. I ended up in the hospital, and then off work for a month. That gave me a lot of free time to smoke pot.
A storm blew down a huge tree branch and it destroyed my car. So I had to get another one. I was paying $400 a month for my medicine ... and then I found out I hadn’t been at my job long enough to get medical leave. So I had five weeks of no income.
And finally, the couple I was living with told me I had to leave. They were trying to adopt a foster child, but my being there was a roadblock.
So I had nowhere to go. I was completely cut off from my family and my church family. I could have called somebody there, but I wouldn’t.
I knew about the Mission from that other time, so I decided to drive down there ... after I got high. I talked to a counselor, filled out a form and they told me I could stay up to 90 days. I told them I didn’t have a drug problem. I still had a job, I had a car and there was no rent. So I thought, “I’ll stay here for 90 days. It’s gonna stink, but I’ll save some money for a down payment on a place, and I’ll just start over.” And I wasn’t going to give up getting high.
Then, I failed a random drug test at work, and lost my job. I applied for another job in Indiana, as a truck driver, and got tentatively accepted into the training program. The Mission staffers were so proud of me when I left. I hadn’t told them about the drugs. They’d thought I was just a guy down on his luck, and now that was changing for me. I felt bad, because it was all a lie.
The new job required a drug test. I’d been clean for 23 days. I’d bought a couple of over-the-counter drug tests and passed. But when I took the real one, I failed. And that was the end of that.
I knew it was God, saying “I’m not going to let you get away with this.” And at that point, I finally said, “I give up. I cannot lead the devil’s lifestyle and get the blessings of the Lord. I need help.”
I called a counselor at the Mission and told him everything. He said, “Why don’t you come back and get into our drug program? And in September 2006 I checked myself into the New Day Program. And that’s when I started living my life for the Lord.
My advice to anyone struggling with drugs or other addictions is, tell people. Don’t worry about the shame. If people are going to reject you for telling, you don’t want them around anyway. It was such a relief to come out to everybody and say, “I’m an addict. I am messed up.”
I finished the Life Recovery Program and moved out of the Mission and into a house in September 2007. Today my life is pretty amazing. I’m going to Rock Valley College and pursuing a nursing degree, and I have a job on campus, too.
The Mission gave me a safe environment to get well. I didn’t have to go to work. The craziness of my life completely stopped. It’s all about Jesus. They are clear that there’s no recovery without Jesus.
Before, Jesus was my Savior. And that’s all I wanted Him for. I didn’t want to go to hell. Now he’s my Lord and Savior. When you obey Him, the relationship changes completely. Before, I thought he was out to get me, and enjoyed seeing my pain.
Now I know him so much better. He took no joy in my suffering. It hurt him. He’s my Father. But He’s a good Father in that he’s not going to bless you if you’re living in rebellion. If He allowed anything to hurt me, it was only so that I could learn to not sow into the enemy’s kingdom.
-- as told to Jim Killam