I started drinking at age 17. I drank for 30 years, until three years ago.
My life just spun out of control, because I couldn’t deal with the reasons I started drinking in the first place. I was sexually abused as a child; I had a dysfunctional family ... many different problems. That’s the reason I drank: to cover up the pain. But it never solved the problems.
When I finally quit drinking and came to Jesus three years ago, I didn’t know what to do with my life. It was really hard trying to be a Christian, yet not being able to deal with my problems. So my problems came to a full head because I no longer had that drink to cover them up. I was still a baby Christian, so I didn’t have enough faith yet to know God’s character and be able to rely on him.
I had come to Christ through friends at Central Christian Church. There was something inside me that wanted what they had. The feelings of love and comfort were overwhelming. I got saved, I got baptized and I started on my journey. It just all made sense.
But I still wasn’t dealing with my drinking, depression, anxiety, problems with jobs. I didn’t know I could go to God with these things. Basically I was a dry drunk for three years. I was still going to church and still praying to God, but I didn’t understand enough about what God could do.
I have a bachelor’s degree in human services, but I had been out of work a long time. Then I got a job as a day coordinator in the Women’s Crisis Center here. I taught one of the classes in the New Dawn program. I could tell by the things that I was teaching that I needed this. And now I can see just as clear as day that it was all part of God’s plan for me. He needed me to see what I was missing.
There was a lot of stress in the job, and I couldn’t handle it, so I quit in April 2006. And things just never recovered from there.
I think I knew the moment I quit that I needed to start the recovery program here, but I fought against it. But other jobs didn’t pan out, and God let me get to a desperate position. I lost everything I had and became homeless. I came really close to relapsing and drinking again, and that’s when I really knew I was in trouble. So I came to the Rescue Mission in September. I think God put all of those things in place for me to be able to come here. Through that brokenness and weakness, He could work. Before that, I had too much pride.
I never felt judged or criticized here. I just felt a lot of warmth, and open arms. There’s never been a day since I’ve been here that God hasn’t shared something special with me. Every single class, every single meeting, every single group I’ve been in, God has spoken to me. There was never a wasted moment. I tell people coming in, “You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to ask God for it.” I was hungry, and God fed me.
I don’t think the public knows just how phenomenal this program is ... what a gem they have here in Rockford. Other programs around the country charge, sometimes an arm and a leg. This program is free. Now if that’s not God, tell me what is.
What’s ahead for me? A happy, healthy, sober life, walking with God. Having Him as the center of my life.
Long term, I could see myself turning around and working with recovering women. I don’t know exactly in what capacity, but I see myself bringing up others. Because I kind of do that here. They call me Mom.
I am so happy that this has happened to me. I may be 50 years old, and maybe the first half-century of my life didn’t go so well. But I’ve got the next 50 years for God. And that’s going to rock!
-- as told to Jim Killam