The following is my personal Christian testimony of how God brought me inner healing from addiction, selfishness, and fear through His love, unending grace, and mercy. My hope is that it will show someone the deep healing and freedom that can be found through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
My childhood was a good one. I grew up in a country home, with an older sister and two loving parents. Financially we struggled at times, but my parents made sure we always had everything we needed. It was a very loving home, and both of my parents worked tirelessly to care for our family.
I grew up in a small Methodist Church in Danbury, NC. (Snow Hill UMC) My mom was very active in the church. She taught Sunday School and worked with our Vacation Bible School. I attended church every Sunday, and a lot of Wednesdays as well. My father didn’t attend often. He didn’t attend church regularly because he worked a lot, and he did not like crowds. He had a real fear of being around a large group of people. However, he believed in God and lived his life according to Jesus’ teachings. I can’t think of a man who lived a more honest, caring and Christ-like life.
I was a standout athlete, and an honor student my entire childhood. I never really got into trouble. College was mostly the same, I was a good student and stayed physically active. I attended a local church when school was in session, and my home church when I visited home. The years flew by, and soon it was time to enter the “real” world.
In early 2015, I endured a back injury while playing basketball. I went up to shoot a layup, and another player undercut me. This caused me to fall to the court violently, with my entire body weight collapsing on my lower back. I had my back checked out by a doctor, who informed me there were some hairline fractures in the lumbar region. He explained these would be painful for a few months, but if I cared for my back properly and did not overexert myself; it should heal without issue. After the diagnosis, the doctor prescribed me pain pills for my back injury. I had never taken narcotics before, and they affected me immediately. Yes, they helped with the pain, but I also became addicted to them rather quickly. I found that I was taking more than prescribed for a dose and more doses than I was prescribed. I was consuming drugs daily; I needed them to function.
I remember hearing stories about people wanting to quit, but they couldn’t. I never knew that this was true until I lived it myself.
When my prescription ran empty, I began getting them from friends, or whoever would sell them to me. All this time, I was maintaining a good job and being a loving, supportive husband and father. I was keeping up with “life,” and no one had any idea of my crippling addiction.
If I went to long without taking something, I would begin to feel sick. It’s such a vicious cycle that cannot be broken by oneself. Being the kind of person who thought I never needed help, I thought I could quit on my own. I tried to quit on my own, cold turkey. I called out sick with the flu to work, and spent the next three days at home vomiting, sweating, shaking and feeling sicker than I ever had before. I went back to work clean and feeling in control again. I knew I could put this behind me and move forward in my life.
Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of dental work over the years. I take great care of my teeth; my dentist said most of my issues are due to bad genetics. My dad had poor teeth, and my mom has issues with hers constantly as well. I went to see my dentist because of a persistent toothache that would not subside. He recommended a root canal, which he performed.
The root canal was unsuccessful, and it had to be re-treated. The second root canal also failed, and my dentist recommended an apicoectomy. An apicoectomy is essentially a reverse root canal. The dentist enters the tooth from the gum side to attempt to reach any areas that a traditional root canal couldn’t remedy. In a stroke of horrible luck, this also was unsuccessful, and my dentist informed me the only remaining option was to extract the tooth and install an implant.
I begrudgingly agreed because I didn’t want to lose the tooth at a young age, I didn’t want it to show when I smiled, and I had already spent so much money. I didn’t want it to be for naught at this point, so we moved forward with the implant.
After the apicoectomy and subsequent abscess, my doctor prescribed pain medication. I was in an immense amount of pain that I couldn’t alleviate by any other means.
I knew that I shouldn’t take them, that I was an addict and it would be dangerous. I finally gave in because I was in so much pain that I couldn’t eat or sleep. I told myself that I would just take them until the implant was complete. Of course, that isn’t what happened. I became hooked again, and I kept taking them at the same rate as before the surgery.
Here I was again, back in the grips of addiction. The devil had a hold on me, and I couldn’t shake him loose. This again went on for a while without anyone knowing except me. Not only was my addiction controlling me, but hiding this dark secret from my wife, mother and everyone else in my life was eating away at my soul. I began taking other substances as well to get me through the day. I couldn’t function normally; I had to feel different.
My world began to blur, some days I couldn’t tell you what time I went to bed or even what exactly I did that day. Then one day it all came crashing down. My job at the time was as a property manager. I was the manager of over 100 rental homes, dozens of multi-family homes, five commercial properties and multiple apartment communities. It was a very stressful and demanding job that I had to work 10 hours a day just to keep pace. This was an incredibly stressful period in my life.
I was working a lot, even doing work at home via computer or by telephone. Even when I was home, I didn’t feel like I was “there.” I felt like I was cheating my wife, and certainly my infant son, of time they deserved with me. My job was really wearing on me, and I couldn’t convince the company to hire an assistant to help me. Every other manager in the company had an assistant; I believe my own work ethic kept them from hiring some additional help. They thought I could handle it because I always had up to that point
One day in September 2015, I took some items and credit cards from a resident. I have no memory of doing this, but I did it. The proof was there- I had done something that I still can’t believe I was capable of. I’ve never taken from anyone before or since. I was in such a drug-induced fog that I couldn’t remember where I was or what I did. Drugs are powerful, controlling, insidious and of the devil.
I was not this person; how did this happen?! I spoke with my superior as we parted ways. We talked at length, as she told me of her faith in love in me. She asked me to get help and move forward with my life. I am very grateful for the relationship I had with her. I believe she was placed in my life at that time for a reason. I knew that legal ramifications were on the horizon, but I also knew that I had to get myself in order first. (God was in control here as well.
The situation turned out better than I could have imagined.) When I arrived home that evening, I told my wife everything. As you can imagine, it was not a pleasant conversation. She was surprised, angry and disappointed. All her feelings were valid and to be expected. I had these same emotions about what had happened. It obviously strained our marriage, but she never gave up on me. She knew what kind of person I truly am; she fell in love with that man. I love her more than she will ever know, and her strength and resiliency is unlike any I’ve ever seen.
Coincidentally, my wife is friends with the director of a local recovery facility. I checked into the facility two days later. The first few days were miserable as I endured detox. A large portion of those early days are foggy, but I do vividly remember how excruciating it was. I would not wish it on anyone, but it was necessary to get to the other side. As my mind and body recovered, I began to learn from the facilities teachers, directors, doctors and assistants. All of them were in recovery and the experiences they spoke about resonated with me.
They were all intelligent, caring and helpful people. They weren’t “bad” people, and they began to help me realize I wasn’t either. I think whatever the situation or experience if someone has lived it, it carries much more weight. Formal education on a subject is great, but the real-life experience is invaluable.
I began reading my Bible again and praying. I began to pray for God to work in my life, bring me closer to Him and to forgive me for the things I had done. I also prayed for peace and acceptance for whatever awaited me outside the walls of the recovery center.
I completed the in-patient program and returned home to my family and begin the process of rebuilding relationships, finding employment and finding a church to call home.
In my early recovery, I attended many recovery meetings. I also organized and chaired meetings on a weekly basis. These groups taught me valuable tools and principles that I use today, and a lot of those same principles can be found in the Bible. (Hope, surrender, acceptance, honesty, faith, tolerance, patience, humility and service to name a few.)
Shortly after that, I was taken into custody and subsequently released on bail a few hours later for what had occurred during my using days. I now had to navigate through the court system while awaiting the outcome. I had no idea what to expect, or what to do; I had never been in a situation like this. As we attempted to move forward in our lives, my wife and I visited various churches in search of a place we could call home.
We found our home at Piedmont Chapel(PC)! Piedmont Chapel changed my life from the beginning, and it hasn’t stopped since. When I first walked through the doors at PC, I felt love, acceptance and the presence of God. We knew immediately this was the place for our family. We started attending on a regular basis and began to form relationships with other members of the Churchmjb
The Pastor spoke about a class at PC called “Team Orientation.” The class was an introduction to joining a service team at PC, how to get involved and why we serve others.
I immediately signed up for the class. I realized at this point that I needed to get out there and help other people without expecting reciprocation. I also signed up for a Men’s Small group where I formed closer, more meaningful relationships with the men in my church. As we grew closer and more open, I told my story. To my disbelief, these men didn’t shun me, judge me or tell me I wasn’t worthy. Instead, they hugged me, prayed for me and told me how strong I was for getting help and growing in my relationship with Jesus Christ.
They all assured me I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Some of them even had similar stories to my own. I was shocked at their reactions because of how other people in my life had treated me. Many family members and friends shamed me, shunned me and said things to and about me that I won’t repeat. Why didn’t the members of my church react this way, why didn’t they tell me I was a sinner, and I wasn’t worthy of God’s love? They didn’t do that because that isn’t the teachings of God, and that’s not how he instructs us to treat our brothers and sisters. ( 1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and loves God.”)
My past isn’t a life sentence, nor is it what defines me or who I am today. My past is merely part of my story of redemption. (2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new Creation: the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”) Pastor Noah began to talk to me on a regular basis, and we formed a relationship that I hold dear. He encourages me and has told me he’s proud of me for where I am in my life today.
Pastor Noah loves to preach about how no one is ever too far gone or done too many bad things for God to give up on you. What a blessing, how great our God is! Even when I gave up on myself and didn’t believe in myself, God never quit. He is a relentless, persistent God who loves and believes in all His children. I knew that PC was a true Church of God. The people love each other, accept everyone and believe that all people can find new life in Christ.
Piedmont Chapel’s motto is “A Church for all People.” The people of PC live this motto. My first job in service was to greet and park people in the parking lot. It seems like a small, meaningless task, but I believe that nothing that is done in the name of God is small. Anything and everything that is done for the glory of God is good and right. You just never know what a smile and a wave might mean to someone who is attending church for the first time or going through a difficult time in their life
Over time, I became more involved in service at various levels. I discovered that when I served, I felt better. I always remind myself of when I first began attending PC and how nervous I was at how people would react if they learned of my past. After this, I remind myself of the love and acceptance I was greeted with when I first stepped in the door. I feel honored that every week the team and I get to be the hands and feet of Jesus and show His love and acceptance to everyone who attends PC. It’s true that by serving others, we serve God because we are doing His work. I’ve also found that I get way more out of serving than I could ever give.
For the last 1.5 years, I have led the Friday night set up a team at PC. Since we are a mobile church, we set up the entire church every Friday evening and pack up everything each Sunday afternoon. It’s a lot of work, but so rewarding. Specifically, I lead the set up of the children’s ministry. Each Friday evening from approximately 6-9 PM our team turns a High School into a church and sets the stage for Sunday! I also serve as an usher, parking attendant, Assistant in Team Orientation classes, greet new guests and as the general “fix-it” guy for anything around PC that Pastor Noah or Pastor Mitch need assistance with.
One June 25, 2017, I made one of the biggest and best decisions of my life when I was baptized at Piedmont Chapel!
To me, this marked an end and a beginning. My public baptism declared the washing away of my sins and an end to my old ways, and the beginning of my new life in Christ with God as my Lord and Savior. What a wonderful God we serve! We can’t earn His love or grace; God freely gives this to us if we accept Him into our life. If I really think about that and what it means, I become extremely humbled and grateful.
When the world turns it’s back on you, and even if you turn your back on yourself, God never does, and He never will. I serve every week, and I will continue to do so because the service is for the glory of God, because I truly enjoy doing it and because I believe anything that we do in the name of God is good and pleasing to Him.
This is my personal testimony of how Jesus Christ cleansed me, changed me and gave me new life and freedom in Him. Life still happens. I’m human, and I still have days where I get frustrated, exhausted, scared and anxious. The difference today is I have faith, and a relationship with God that I know can get me through anything. (Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”) The small window in my life that caused so much pain and chaos is not something that I am proud of, nor am I ashamed. My relationship with God doesn’t allow me to be ashamed of it anymore.
Jesus already took the weight and pain of my sins, long ago. If I continued to beat myself up or feel ashamed, I would be committing a great disservice to Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. He suffered so I don’t have to, and so I can move forward in my relationship with Him. I don’t openly talk about my past with anyone unless they ask me about it, or if I feel called to share because it may help someone.
I believe everything that happens in our life is for a reason. On many occasions, these reasons are not immediately recognized, if ever. I am comforted by the fact that everything is part of God’s greater plan, and for His greater good. (Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.”)
I have told my testimony in Churches, hospitals, a prison, recovery centers and in small groups. If just one person who hears my testimony can find hope, peace and a relationship with Jesus; then I will have done my job of spreading the gospel.
In Christ, Jack
Why is it so difficult for our educators and society, in general, to understand that love and respect for one another taught from a young age can solve much of the world's hostility and social problems!
"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov 22:6).
Love is the answer!
True loyalty springs from the heart and is wrapped in love. It is often in our most private moments that true loyalty, or the lack of it, is made known.
Reaching the world with the message of Jesus
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Samuel L Mills
PO Box 4456
Maryville, TN 37802