Saved by Grace"A relationship with Christ is only one prayer away."
When I tell my story, I always like to emphasize three words: lost, surrender, redemption. My story and life began as a mess, but today God has turned my mess into His message. Second Corinthians 5:17 says this: “Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come” (GNT). I love that verse. It’s the basis of my testimony. For much of my life, I lived in self-destruct mode. I had no regard for my life; this reality was marked by depression, substance abuse and a life of chaos.
As a child, I grew up in a home terrorized by addiction and substance abuse. Early in my childhood, I was exposed to alcohol and drug use and the chaos of both. It was clear addiction was a family disease; I have lost numerous family members to deaths related to addiction and unfortunately, addiction was a disposition that was passed along to me. That being the case, I started drinking and drugging at the early age of five years old. Drinking seemed so innocent and it began as something I thought was fun. Growing up around alcohol, drinking and partying was not something I perceived as out of the ordinary. So as a child, I drank when I could and became rather fond of the feeling of being drunk. The feeling took me out of myself and made all my problems and chaos go away. This became a snowball effect. As I grew older, my substance abuse grew more and more destructive. By the time I reached high school, I was drinking at home, at school, with family, friends and even in isolation. I was eventually expelled from high school. At this point, it was hard to achieve 24 hours sober, and if I did, the withdrawals were horrible. What came next was utter chaos.
After finally graduating from high school, I became fully consumed with drugs and alcohol. I was physically and mentally dependent on the use of substances and would do whatever it took to maintain my addictions. I was living life chasing my next fix. I was powerless to drugs and alcohol, and my life became unmanageable. In those days, I experienced car accidents, overdoses, suicide attempts, homelessness and numerous arrests. Aside from all the destruction, I began losing everyone close to me. I lost jobs, my apartment, relationships, vehicles, family and my self-respect. In all honesty, I couldn’t stand myself. I was lost.
Living a life powerless to a chemical brought me to my lowest point. I had reached rock bottom. I had warrants for my arrest, no place to lay my head, not a penny to my name and found myself doing anything to support my own self-destruction. Something had to change. I knew I had two options: continue to follow a path that would ultimately leave me dead or in prison, or surrender and choose life. In a moment of desperation, I prayed, “If there is a God, please intervene in my life!” I cried out for help in a moment of complete abandon. I finally surrendered, so the next step for me was checking into a drug rehabilitation center. I detoxed at a medical treatment facility and then landed at a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center. At this facility, through counseling, self-reflection journals, chapel services, prayer and recovery groups, I was ready to fully surrender my life to God through faith in Jesus Christ. I knelt one morning at the altar and said to God, “I surrender my all.” I started believing in God’s power of redemption.
Fast forward to my life today and God proves His faithfulness. I’m still sober, which is nothing short of a miracle. God continues to heal hurts and hang-ups, which drove me to self-medicate in the first place. God has restored so much, from bringing loved ones back into my life through forgiveness to helping me make amends for the wreckage of my past. God has redeemed my life and blessed me that I might be a blessing to others. He has given my life a purpose: to carry the message of hope in Christ to a world that needs it. In spite of my struggles, God has seen fit to use me as messenger of His gospel, and to reflect His holiness. I come back to those three words: lost, surrender, redemption. May my life be a testimony that no one is too lost for God to find them, surrender is the path to freedom, and redemption comes from Jesus Christ, who is our personal savior. I pray you know the freedom that comes from Christ, and if not, know this: a relationship with Christ is only one prayer away.