In April of 2020, I graduated from a year-long discipleship program called Next Step for Life; this was the first time in seven years I had completed a rehabilitation program successfully without quitting or being kicked out.
Before this, I had been in countless jails, programs, halfway houses, and institutions fighting this curse called addiction that was meant to kill me.
Although the sacrifice was tough, I had finally received that graduation certificate I had never dreamt of holding. I honestly said to myself many times that year, "there's no way, I can't do it, or I wasn't going to make it."
Just when I had about convinced myself, I remembered the promise God made me several years back. I felt him say he would "restore all things if I would trust in him and submit my life to his will. But most of all, to be still and wait." That was almost impossible for me, but deep down, I believed him.
I, like many others, grew up in a home that was plagued by alcoholism and drug addiction. Along with that came physical abuse, a state of emotional deterioration, and severe mental health issues. As a result, I began drinking and using drugs at a young age to escape my reality.
Over time, I started to rebel against my parents, acting out in school and becoming involved with gang activity; this ultimately led me to juvenile foster homes, then boot camp for sixteen months.
After being released from boot camp, I met my daughter's mother in Nashville at a concert. She lived on the other side of the state. I saw this as an opportunity to pack up and run from my dysfunctional family and traumatic childhood. I did exactly that.
I went on to be married for ten years, had a beautiful daughter, and had a successful career. Yet, I had to ask myself, why was I still running?
I remember my mother-in-law telling me that if I continued to keep all these doors locked in my past, they would open up one day, and no matter how strong I thought I was, I would not be able to deal. That is exactly what came to be and all too soon.
I did not believe in God during this time, and I was an atheist. Then the day she warned me about came to pass, and I had no foundation in my life to fall back on. So I fell into a world of pain and despair, where darkness consumed my life.
I remember being comfortable with it; sadly, the darkness had become my security blanket. It was my warmth, and I loved it. I wanted no one around me, and when they were, I purposely pushed them away physically or verbally.
Needless to say, I had lost my marriage, custody of my daughter, and all I tried so hard to build up in the past ten years. But I was okay, only because I ended up right where I wanted to be. All alone, and nobody could hurt me.
It didn't take long before I engaged in criminal activity to fund my drug addiction. Every time I was caught and locked up, once released, I ended up right back in jail shortly after. This lifestyle led me to living under a bridge where all hope of restoration was gone.
After seeing this and what I had become, I gave up and wanted no more of what this life had to offer. Every time I used drugs, it became a hopeful aspiration that this would be the last time and this life of hell would soon be over.
After countless overdoses and even death, I found myself cursing a God I claimed to not believe in. Time and time again, after waking up, I would beg him and ask him to leave me alone and let me go. God must have been listening, but I was not prepared for his answer.
Instead of giving up on me... He comforted me, he loved me, and he pursued me! It was as if the heavens above opened up, and he came like a roaring wind.
Now I know that he allowed destruction to fall upon my flesh so that I may be saved in the day of the Spirit; that is exactly what happened and was the only way I was going to listen. By coming to the end of myself.
That day, I gave my life to Christ, but in the years to come continued to struggle with staying clean without relapsing. I acknowledge that I have failed many times, but I always get back up and press on to the calling of the Most High.
I have learned that somewhere in that failure is where I was taught the most and where I gained most of my strength. I can say for sure that God was always faithfully there to pick me up every time. I could not believe I was still alive and I had actually completed a program.
Sadly, it was only several months after completion that I became dependent on suboxone to help manage my life and for me to get by. Months later, I noticed I was becoming numb again.
My using started hindering my relationships, and I didn't care for things as I once had. But most of all, my addiction hindered my newfound relationship with God, which no longer co-existed as it once had. How is this so?
The medical experts and therapist said this would be the best thing for me. But if so, why was I feeling the same primitive measures of destructive patterns that had once destroyed my life?
Along with my personal battle, the program I had just graduated from and had been furloughed out to by the court never turned in my progress or completion to the state, and I had three warrants out for my arrest.
Hold up... Were these not the same people telling me that if I would trust God and do all I can, he would fulfill his promise, and I would see restoration in my life? How could this be?
Once again, I felt defeated and wanted to give up. Where are you, God? Although I felt as if I didn't stand a chance, I wasn't about to give up now after all I had been through. Honestly, I had no other choice but to trust God.
So I stayed faithful in the small things and prepared myself for the many rounds I would fight in trying to come off the suboxone. It was the toughest thing I ever had to do in my life! I felt like I had finally come face to face with a giant that I could not defeat.
That was my problem! The battle was never in (me); it was in God. After acknowledging that, I gave it all to God and tried my best to stand my ground.
A fight it was! I remember sitting on the toilet in the bathroom with a towel wrapped around my mouth, screaming out in anguish as loud as I could.
Then Something happened! Something that hadn't happened while I was incarcerated, or in all the rehabilitation or discipleship programs, or even while I was at the altar crying out to God.
For the first time in my life, I had seen the divinity of Christ, and I saw it in the midst of my battle. I can proudly say that I am still free from addiction today.
Regarding my legal cases, I decided to hire a lawyer. He could clearly see where I stood on this matter and acted as if he felt my concern, but no matter how much I offered him, he said, "I would still have to go to jail and do some time."
Once again, I felt defeated. But I vaguely remembered what someone had once said to me, "trust in God and his promise no matter what." To be completely honest, I believed in the reality of what was happening, and everything I had built was once more at risk.
Although I wanted to give up, I kept doing what I could and remained faithful in the small things. One day at work, I got the idea to email my story about what was going on to all the state administrators I could reach.
I hoped that just one ear would listen and reach out regarding my situation. Once again, I was not prepared for what was to come. My email reached an individual who I can say genuinely cared.
She then forwarded the same email to a lady that was the head of the department of corrections, a department I spent the last six years of my life answering to. Without hesitation, I truly believed God had placed those women in my path to fulfill His promise to me.
Today, all my charges have been dismissed. For the first time since I was sixteen years old, I am no longer bound to the state.
I am happily married to my best friend and currently looking to buy our first house. I will soon have full custody of my daughter with hopes of another child on the way.
I am now living a life I never thought or imagined was possible. Through all the ups and downs, I can say I have seen the sovereignty of God and that all things good or bad work out for those that love him and walk accordingly to his will.
With all this, I have learned that the more monumental the battle is, the sweeter taste of victory. That victory solely comes by the hand of God alone, and you, like myself, can always trust in his Word and the promise he has given you.
Written by: Michael Lynn Pittman
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