A Window of Hope
Jeremiah 31:3,4: I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness. I will build you up again, and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel!
I was a hopeless drug addict for 19 long years, and an immoral person for an even longer time. I grew up shy, lonely and insecure, looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. Way down deep inside I felt worthless, unlovable, incapable and unimportant. It was as if there was something missing in my life, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it...
That drove me to do my best in school. Being very diligent, I was a consistent honor student. That won the approval of my family, especially my mother, as well as people in general. For a while that worked to make me feel good about myself. At the young age of 15, I became deeply infatuated with a boy in school. And I discovered that having a relationship with the opposite sex made me feel a whole lot better about myself. At a very early age, I traded my purity and self-respect for all the foolish promises of puppy love. When that relationship ended, I was filled with guilt, shame and self-loathing.
Undoubtedly an easy prey for drugs! With drugs I found ready acceptance into a group of druggies who felt as badly about themselves as I felt about me. My relationship with my family, especially my parents, became untenable. Because of drugs and in order to spite my mother I landed in an early marriage with another drug user whom I hardly even knew, much less loved. After only ten months, I ended that marriage unconscionably.
I sank deeper and deeper into drugs as I wove in and out of immoral relationships. I descended into the depths of horror and depravity that is rightly associated with drug addiction. Much of what I did was motivated by my insatiable hunger for drugs: the illicit relationships, the lies, the betrayals, the ploys, the deceptions, the manipulations, and all the other shades of wickedness that I am capable of. I tried many times to stop using drugs, but drugs had become a cruel master to whom I was hopelessly chained, an evil god who demanded the sacrifice of my soul, my integrity, my children and family, my future, time, money, everything! It was out to destroy me.
I hit rock bottom when violent fights between me and my live-in partner, the father of my two younger children who was also a drug user, became the order of any day. We were fighting all the time, violently, anywhere and everywhere. He would hit my head against the dashboard of the car while he was driving. He would threaten to commit suicide, or kill me, or ram the car against a wall with the kids in the back.
In deep and utter despair, one afternoon, I cried out to God like never before. I was a wreck! Deep inside I sensed that in order for me to be free from drugs, I would have to give up my relationship with the father of my 2 younger children with whom I had lived for 9 years. But I didn't want my 2 younger children to grow up without a father.. It was bad enough that my oldest son had to suffer from my break-up with his father who was also a drug user and who died a drug-related death not long after we broke up. Was I now going to let the same thing happen to my 2 youngest? Yet my partner and I were both on the brink of insanity, not far from killing or being killed by the other.
I was all torn up inside, and it was then that God did something I will never forget. In His mercy and grace, Jesus, that afternoon made His presence very palpable to me. He caused me to know in my spirit that He was alive, that He heard my cry and He cared for me, and that everything was going to be alright. In the deep darkness that I was in, it was as if He opened a window of hope..I remember thinking: God is alive! There is hope for me! There's another side to life that is possible for me!
Jesus gave me the reason I sorely needed to be able to go to whatever length it would take for me to overcome my addiction. And mine must have been very stubborn and very entrenched that I had to be arrested for illegal possession of drugs. I was detained for two days in Camp Crame, and then transferred to Makati jail where I stayed for 5 days. After jail I was moved to Bicutan drug rehab, and after 6 months there I stayed 19 months in a rehab in the US. While in rehab in the US I made the decision to end my relationship with the father of my two younger children.
When I came back to the Philippines after rehab, I was a much better person all around. But there was still something not quite right inside of me. I felt as if I had been sleeping for 19 years, had three children while I was asleep, never really had the good sense to work and earn a living. Then suddenly I was awake with no one to depend on for my needs and my children's needs. I was a recovering addict and a single parent at the same time.
I had a lot of fear and insecurity, and I turned to different things to calm my fear and give me security: job, relationships with the opposite sex, things, money, people's approval and all the wrong things. God? Well, I went to mass regularly and received Holy Communion quite often. But I didn't have a personal relationship with Him. I didn't know Him. I had a concept of God that was so distorted and so different from the One I later came to know, the One I love and worship to this day and will continue to worship through eternity.
In August 3, 1992, while I was working in a drug rehab in Antipolo, I made the most important decision that has turned my life around. I asked Jesus to be my Savior and Lord.
Ironically, soon after that, the drug rehab where I was working, and to which I held on as the anchor of my sobriety, closed down. In my disillusionment I got myself in another relationship with another drug user. Naturally, I ended up using again and I was heading for the very same hell from where I once so desperately cried out to God. I was miserable and the misery did not let up until I repented of my immorality.
I realize now that up until then I believed that for as long as I stayed away from drugs, I could pretty much make life work, despite my immorality. Was I mistaken! God seemed to be telling me then: "Cant you see that the life you have been arranging isn't working for you? None of your human solutions, none of your human devices, can ever achieve for you what only I, your God and Creator, can do for you." I knew then that what I needed to do was to surrender completely to God. And that's what I did, and life has never been the same.
Promptly I broke away from that ungodly relationship. I wanted so much to know God so I read and studied the Bible. I joined what CCF then called a cell group , this was a small group of believers who shared my desire to know Jesus and to follow Him. I sought the counsel of people who were mature in the faith. I attended seminars and retreats, read books by Christian authors, and listened to Christian music. I volunteered for ministry in CCF. I spent my time seeking God.
Truly God is good all the time! It has been 19 years since I started my recovery, I have been completely drug-free for 15 years. I have come to terms with the truth that my wholeness, my happiness, does not depend on any particular person or thing but on God Himself. Where there was emptiness there now is the fullness that comes from knowing, loving and obeying God.
My relationship with my family of origin has been restored. I have regained the trust and respect of my family and friends. My three children were emotionally damaged as a result of my neglect and my gross failure at loving them in the past. Their healing and restoration are now in progress, although that might not be obvious at a quick glance.
Life has become an exciting journey and adventure with meaning and purpose. God gave me opportunities to speak in conferences on drug abuse and rehabilitation abroad where I didn't hesitate to speak about the important role that Jesus played in my recovery
I have committed my life to knowing Jesus and making Him known to others. Almost 8 years ago God used me and a CCF brother to start Precious Hope Ministry. Our mission is to glorify God by making substance dependents and their families committed followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We envisioned the establishment of a Christian recovery community. Penuel House started operations last April 19, 2007. Praise God for that!
My life is far from perfect. I continue to have problems. But God has taught me this valuable lesson: that problems and affliction are oftentimes the ground where I discover still something more of God's wondrous beauty and perfect love. From there springs boundless joy.
All glory and honor to God Almighty!
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