My story starts in the same way as one of those made-for-TV-movies depicting the group of alcoholics and addicts sitting in an AA meeting, circled up in the basement of a church somewhere drinking black coffee.
Hi, my name is Christine, and I was a heroin addict.
Now, if you know anything about the typical treatment of addiction through these 12-step programs (Alcoholics Anonymous being the most well-known), then I should be identifying as an addict right now. According to these programs no matter how long we are drug free, we are always addicts. I am always Christine, addict. As if the label has been stitched to the back of my soul like the tag on a t-shirt.
My story is a little different. Actually, it's pretty radically different. There is nothing of the addict in me now, praise the Lord, and I will not be identified as one. But before I really get into it I want to make one thing very clear, I don't have all the answers for you.
I have The Answer.
His name is Jesus, and He is the way, the truth, and the life. It is only through that life that true and lasting freedom from addictions can be found. I know that's a bold statement. Well, His love makes me bold. I can state this with perfect confidence because I have lived it, and I continue to live it, being recreated in His image more and more each day. More of Him, less of me.
I was the gifted child from the good home who grew into the troubled and rebellious teenager. I was raised Catholic—church every Sunday, CCD, from baptism all the way to conformation. At face value we were a "good catholic family" but I never really got the feeling that my parents were particularly religious. As a child it was just something I had to do, it was boring and never really meant anything to me. By the time I was a teenager I completely hated it.
During this period in my life I started to do all of the typical rebellious teenager stuff, experimenting with drugs, defying my parents, skipping school. My parents, my school, they didn't know what to do with me. I began seeing what became a long string of different therapists, was diagnosed with a number of mental health issues, and pumped full of psych meds in an attempt to “fix” my brokenness. This brokenness, I'm sure some of you would recognize it, was like a hole in the center of my chest, and I was unable to find true happiness or satisfaction. I was numb and hypersensitive at the same time. Flawed. Imperfect. Alone. I tried to end my own life and was hospitalized. I would get a little better, spiral downward, and start all over again.
I ran around like a crazy women in my early twenties, using any person or drug I could find that would “make it ok”. I was convinced that the next relationship, the next high, the right combination of place, time, and pills would finally fill the hole. Relief from the darkness. This entire time I knew I was on the wrong path but I just didn't care, the pain I felt overrode all that. I just wanted the pain to stop. I just wanted something, anything, to really satisfy me.
And then I found heroin. I thought it was my answer. It satisfied me...until it didn't anymore. This drug completely destroyed my life, it took everything from me. My family, my dignity, my self-worth, my home, my freedom, the lives of my friends. I could no longer recognize myself when I dared to look into a mirror. I did horrible things and had horrible things done to me. My childhood best friend overdosed and died on her grandmother's front steps. It didn't stop me. It didn't even scare me. Nothing could. I was considered a hopeless case, the lowest of the low, living in a constant state of desperation.
On Easter Sunday three years ago, I was in a program that brought us to church every Sunday and for the first time I actually enjoyed myself in a church. It was unlike any I had ever been to, full of life and music and joy. I wanted to learn more and while I was there I did. I wish I could say I got out of that program and stayed clean but it didn't happen like that. I got out and stayed clean for a little while, but eventually that little voice started back up in my head again “Come on you are doing so well, you can handle it, you deserve it, it will make you feel better”. This time out was much worse. I ended up homeless and in jail.
Being in jail was my hitting rock bottom. My dad made me stay in there for a few days to teach me a lesson before bailing me out and it was the scariest, most degrading thing I've ever been through. I got home and was just not ok, serious major depression. I again tried to take my own life. I was in the hospital for almost three weeks. I came home and I stayed clean, but I was very depressed. I started to work with a great therapist and began to get marginally better.
Then my aunt Lisa asked me to come to new church with her to see the teen challenge women speak. It was like the church I visited when I was in the program, but better, my family was there and people reached out to me. I didn't realize it then, but God was calling me. I kept coming back and my life was changed forever. It sounds dramatic, and I guess it is, but it's also true.
Every Sunday I showed up, a little less fearful, a little more joyful. I raised my voice in the sanctuary full of worshippers and felt my soul soar in a way that no drug had ever done, could ever hope to do. Slowly, surely, God began to change my heart, and I couldn't get enough. I threw myself into the study of His word and was astonished to find all of the answers I had been searching for! The ache, the solution, it's all in there, laid out like map for us to follow. For so long I had tried to 'find a way to fix it' under my own power. To think my way to a solution to my hurt. But the road map is there, written in the blood of Jesus. When I learned to train my eyes on Him, His truths, His love, His power, the rest just fell in behind Him.
Miraculous. I don't speak of miracles lightly. I speak of them not because I've heard about them or read about them. I've experienced them.
The satisfaction that I was constantly searching for has been found in Jesus Christ. To be free from the slavery that is addiction is a blessing beyond measure. Because that is what I was - a slave in very real chains. You hear the words "Jesus saves" or "being saved" so often that they just become words. But Jesus literally, actually saved my life in a very concrete, factual way.
I was a walking dead person and Jesus raised me to life.
When I gave my life to Christ, the desire to use drugs was literally lifted from my body, it's just gone, that in and of itself is a miracle, but he has done and continues to do so much more for me. I am not even remotely the same person I was two years ago, or even one year ago. He has taken me from a broken, ashamed, hopeless drug addict and has turned me into a whole, happy, loving woman. He brought me and my husband Drew together. My mental health issues have become completely manageable without any kind of medication, and they continue to improve every day. I have a beautiful family that I love with all of my heart.
Jesus did this for me; I am forgiven. I could never truly explain to you what those three words mean to me. But they are true. I am forgiven, I am washed clean, made new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: "therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!" These are not just words from an old book. This happened to me. I am a completely new person. I don't have to walk around with that pain and shame anymore. That hole in my chest is gone.
Because of Jesus Christ, I am Christine, and I'm free.
You may remember Christine from our Christmas "Traditions of Faith" series here, and her gorgeous free print. She is one of those people you feel an automatic kinship with, and our team has quickly fallen in love with both her and her work.Connect with Christine on Instagram @thehipsterhousewife, on etsy here, and read more of her faith filled experiences on her blog here.