Hope in Good Things to Come

Images by  Kati Ellis

Images by Kati Ellis

I was taken from my home by two transporters and put on a small plane from Nashville to Georgia. They drove me far, far into the mountains. It might not have appeared like it on the outside, but inside I was hysterical. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Where were they taking me? Why couldn’t I bring anything with me?

They brought me to a cabin in the middle of the woods, stripped me of my clothes, searched me, threw me some new clothes and a backpacking pack, and we were off again. Deeper and deeper into the mountains. We finally came to a stop and got out of the car so deep in the mountains I had no perception of where the main road was anymore. We walked off the small gravel road and down into a clearing where there were more people.

This was my new family. A group of 9 girls. All drug addicts. And all pretty freaking crazy.

Sending me to a wilderness therapy program was my family’s last shot at saving my life. My behavior at home had become unbearable. I had become powerless over my addiction. I was in and out of juvi. I was kicked out of every school my parents tried to put me in. I was trying to escape the pain of my childhood in a dangerous way. I had been so consumed with a life that was so far from God, I couldn’t feel His light.  

I don’t think I could have overcome my addiction without this experience. I was completely removed from the environment I was struggling in. I was stripped of all distractions and left to myself and the Lord. I wore the same cargo pants and yellow t-shirt every day. I woke up and did the same thing every day. Breakdown camp and hike. We hiked all day every day. I didn’t see a bathroom, shower or mirror for almost three months. I took “showers” in the river with freezing mountain water. My bathroom was a hole in the ground behind a tree. We didn’t even have matches to make a fire. Everything we needed was there in the woods. I could make a fire with two sticks faster than most people could with lighter fluid.

I can remember having times where I felt so alone. I literally cried nonstop for the first five days. Just a constant flow of tears. I couldn’t believe my life had gotten to this point. I felt so much shame and guilt. There was no way of avoiding it. How could I? I was alone with my thoughts all day, everyday. But then, eventually, there were times when I felt so close to God that His love became undeniable to me.

Images by  Kati Ellis

Images by Kati Ellis

After being in the mountains for three weeks, I started to get comfortable there. I would end the day on my back, staring at the stars, and feeling overwhelmed by the beauty and the power of His creation. This time of reconnection with the Lord gave me an opportunity to change. To become a new person. I felt hope knowing that I could change. That I didn’t have to be the same person I was before.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV).

It has been ten years since I was sent to the wilderness treatment program. I have been sober ever since. My relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ has been my anchor through it all. I will admit, it has not been easy. I have struggled with equally debilitating weaknesses and have had to plea on my knees for the Lord’s grace.

I don’t get to live in the woods anymore. I am in the world and surrounded by daily distractions. They are everywhere and sometimes feel all consuming. I have had to create a type of wilderness in my day-to-day life to be able to connect with the Lord and escape the world. For me, that is prayer.

Every day my mind is racing with all the things I have to do and get done. I am constantly on the go or sitting at home on my phone. There isn’t much during the day that invites me to remember God and to see His hand. Prayer is a time for me to remember Him. It’s a time of mediation and for my mind to find peace. When I am praying, I am focused on the Lord and His love. It’s a time out from real life. It helps me feel more connected to God, which ultimately helps me feel more connected with myself. Prayer is my wilderness and in it I feel hope. A hope that can only be found in the Savior.

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope” (Psalms 16:9, KJV).

Jesus Christ is the High Priest of Good Things To Come (Hebrews 9:11). There is nothing in this life that I can’t face with Jesus Christ by my side. In the world, there is so much darkness and fear, but with Christ as my light, there is always hope for a better day. Every pain and sorrow can be conquered by His infinite love and understanding.

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
— John 16:33, KJV

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anne parks armistead

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