I am 27 years old and I’m the youngest of three kids. I have a brother who is five years older than me. He is on the severe autism spectrum. At age 32, his developmental level is that of a toddler. Our sister moved out of the house when I was just three years old and she was 16.
I was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and raised most of my life in nearby Batesville. By the age of five I had tried methamphetamine for the first time, after a kid at school brought it with him from home. At the time I had no earthly idea what it was. He described it as “ice,” which turned me away from having a willingness to try it. But then he described it as “candy,” so I tried it. I didn’t like the taste. I guess after awhile I subconsciously noticed some effects, but at that time, I had no idea that it was in anyway going to effect how I felt or thought.
Whatever sensation it gave me, I didn’t know that what I was feeling was anything more than natural. However, after school I do remember my mother looking at me when she picked me up, asking “Have you taken something?” I didn’t really know what she meant by that, but that did make me think back to what the kid gave me at school.
That same year at school, the same kid also influenced me to experiment sexually. I’d like to point out this kid was the same age as me.
At home I dealt with an abusive father. He wasn’t home most of the time, and when he was home, he was extremely unstable. He was all forms of abusive toward my mother, and verbally and physically abusive to my brother and me.
I have memories of him pushing my mother down the stairs while she tried to carry groceries up; then he and his friend laughed at her. I have memories of him locking me in a room while he tortured my mother with a knife. I can still remember very vividly standing on the other side of that door and beating on it, begging him to stop, even begging and praying to God for him to stop — but nothing worked.
When I was seven years old, my father attempted to murder my mother, brother and me. He failed and went to prison. At that point, my family was broken. I began to exhibit a lot of my father’s traits. I would verbally and physically abuse my mother if I didn’t get my way. I would not take care of my responsibilities and I would manipulate people. I was forced to go to counseling, where I refused to accept help. When I was 14 years old, my father died of a heart attack in prison.
After my father’s funeral, I tried marijuana for the first time. I had no memory of trying the meth as a young child. I’m not sure if I blocked it out because of everything my father had put us all through or because of ulterior motives, but I imagine the former.
I moved out of my mother’s house and in with my sister at the age of 14, so I could get closer to crowds of people who had marijuana. My addiction grew from marijuana to alcohol to cigarettes to pills to acid, and anything else I could get my hands on. At 17 I had a falling out with my sister and brother-in-law, and I had to move back home with my mother. At that point, my previous problems were amplified by my addiction.
The year I turned 18, I was in jail several times. By age 19, my mother had filed an order of protection against me. I was homeless and in and out of jail several more times before I turned 21. I began using meth occasionally, keeping it from my family, who had agreed to help me get my own apartment, as long as I got a job and took over the bills.
Quite the opposite took place. I began to use meth regularly at my apartment and experienced spiritual warfare. I was not in a close relationship with Christ at this time, but I was a believer, and the enemy didn’t like that. Pretty quickly my family found out that I was on meth. I never got a job, so before long, the electricity was turned off. But there I was in my dark house getting high.
It wasn’t long before I was back into an in-and-out-of-jail cycle. Soon I lost my apartment and was forced to go to rehab. I immediately left rehab and returned to getting high and manipulating my family. That didn’t last long though. I was quickly back in jail and somehow got blessed with another chance to go to rehab. However, I still wasn’t ready for it. So, once again, I left rehab and returned to the same mess.
At this point, most of my charges had consisted of criminal trespassing, public intoxication, violating an order of protection and possession of drug paraphernalia. Again. I went to jail. This time there were no more chances at rehab. I was about 24 years old and all my charges were misdemeanors. I had been on misdemeanor probation and had my final strike. I had done a couple three-month sentences and a six-month sentence, but this time I received a one-year sentence in the county jail.
After my year was up, I got out. A few months later, my family once again helped me get housing with the same agreement that I get a job and take over the bills. This didn’t happen before and it didn’t happen this time either. I was right back into the drugs and other forms of rebellion.
In 1 Samuel 15:23, it says, “For rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,he has rejected you as king.”
SomehowI managed to stay out of jail for almost a year, and I kept my apartment for about six months. In that apartment I began to shoot up meth. After losing the apartment, I was homeless for about three months before being caught for my first
Class D felony, possession of less than 2 grams of methamphetamine. I did three months in a 6×8-foot cell, 23 hours a day. After three months I got offered probation. I lied and used my sister’s address as a probation address, which was not where I was going because I was not allowed there. Believe it or not, just seven days later I was picked up on my second Class D felony for possession of less than 2 grams of meth, but this time there was no probation option.
I had a spiritual breakthrough upon this second arrest. I was in tears and the officers who arrested me bowed their heads as I prayed and cried out to my God. For the next three days in my jail cell I continued to cry out to God and shout, attempting to make my flesh a sacrifice pleasing to my Lord. I verbalized my thoughts and cried out to my God emotionally. I shouted at the devil. I cried to my Lord. I began to meditate and undergo a spiritual awakening of sorts. Coming to terms with the reality that there was no changing just one thing — but instead I knew I needed to change everything. I told God that I knew this.
I was finally ready. Thoughts became words, words became actions, such as taking the first offer the prosecuting attorney gave me. I had done wrong, I had done so much wrong, I just wanted to change! In the past, I tried to get a better offer for my sentence, so I could get back to the same mess! This time, I agreed to take my first offer — whatever it was. They offered me a year, though I could have gotten six months. So, I took that year! I needed time to work on myself.
I was sentenced to RCF, a regional correctional facility with a therapeutic community. I took mandatory classes two hours a day, five days a week. They were led by CITS. In this atmosphere I learned to separate myself from negative thinking. The majority of the residents were only willing to see bad in the good. Mocking classes that had actual therapeutic value. I distanced myself from these people. I read my Bible and I read my Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. In the program, I became an expeditor, a resident who helps the guards maintain structure. Expeditors hold other residents accountable to the rules. In the community we also had residential sponsors, which were by no means real sponsors, as almost none of us had a year of sobriety. However, I worked my way into becoming a sponsor and then, eventually, the spokesman for all the sponsors. I managed to read the entire Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous while at RCF. My family could see my growth and recovery through the letters I wrote them. My mother dropped the protection order against me. My sister came to visit me multiple times, and my mother and niece even came to see me once.
Oftentimes, in RCF, I would get hit with waves of sadness because of the memories of what I had put my family and myself through.
I found a Bible verse I really, really like. It’s John 17:23 and in that verse it summarizes that God loves you and me as much as he loves Jesus.
That realization helped me get through a lot of sad times.
Upon leaving the RCF Osceola unit, I paroled out to Phoenix Recovery Center in Springdale, Arkansas. It’s a halfway house that has two separate entities under the same roof. The Returning Home Center and TCIY.
The Returning Home Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to repairing lives and restoring families. TCIY is a mental health service that provides counseling.
Phoenix Recovery Center truly is a gem that God has revealed to me. I mean, seriously, how many halfway houses can be found that have in-house counselors and an organization with people who are working just to help troubled adults restore their lives!
Upon completing the three-month program, I got hired as a staff member at the Phoenix Recovery Center, which truly is a blessing! Before leaving RCF I was telling myself and other staff members and residents that, once I got out, I was going to find a job in treatment and recovery — even if I have to start as a janitor or cook at a rehab. Lo and behold, God guided me to a halfway house that helped me and where I’m able to help others as a staff member, others who have lived through experiences similar to mine. I will soon be two years clean and have been a member of the support staff of Phoenix Recovery Center since February 2020! God is good!
Sometimes I almost wonder if God has a sense of humor, not because he blessed me and blessed me and blessed me, but because He also made me a janitor at my second job. I’m a janitor at a poultry plant, making $14 an hour, which is a pretty comfortable job to be making that much money!
When I went for my janitor interview, the supervisor asked me “Why should I give you this job? I’ve got a handful of other people here who have been working here for five, six or more years. What makes you so special? You’ve barely been with us for 60 days.”
I told him he should hire me because I believe in accountability. I believe in being humble and I believe in following my last directive. I also know that it’s not necessarily about doing what I see as right, but rather about doing what the company sees as right. Again, I repeated that I believe in accountability! Later that day I found out that I got the job along with one other person who had been working there for 16 years!
I believe it’s vital for us to be stronger than our strongest excuses. Accountability is a righteous and caring word. Snitching is the criminal version of the word accountability. They both hold the same meaning but one is taken with a twist as if it holds wrongful values. There is no such thing as snitching. The correct term is accountability. Embracing accountability allows us to take God’s justice and make it shine.
I would like to ask all of you to please work harder on yourself than any job that may pertain to you.
“Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you work hard on your job you can make a living, but if you work hard on yourself, you’ll make a fortune . . . income seldom exceeds personal development.” –Jim Rohn
One of my favorite characteristics of God is His love.
1 John 4:7–8 says:
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
When you or I feel loved, we are actually feeling a connection to God. Not the Son, not the Father, not the Holy Spirit but God (the three are one and He is three) and in that moment we are in a way in contact with the One who created the heavens and the earth.
“…and the world will be convinced that you have sent me [Jesus], for they will see that you love each one of them with the same passionate love that you have for me [Jesus].” —John 17:23