New Year, New Choices, New Life

Whatís a guy who had a great childhood, a solid upbringing, and caring parents doing at the Union Gospel Mission? Well, today Iím a fulltime employee working as a carpenter in maintenance, but thatís not the whole story.

I made a lot of choices that led me here for the first time. Like drinking all day, every day, except when I was at work. Keeping a job wasnít the problem; staying sober was my challenge. I got one DUI after another, and I spent some time in jail because of my choice to drink and drive. I chose to keep on drinking and being an irresponsible parent after my wife gave birth to our daughter. My wife made the same choice, and we lost little Kristen to CPS when she was only two. Iíve never seen her again.

Finally, in 2001 I chose to divorce my wife, leave home, and camp out in a tent. After I made that choice to be homeless, I got too cold living outside, and I wanted a warm place to stay.

I was just looking for a resting point so I could get back on my feet and find another job. The Mission had welcomed me in the past for meals and showers; now I needed a bed. I didnít even know they had a rehab program for people like me.

Thankfully, I got into the Missionís program, and it helped me, but I still thought of it as just a stepping-stone to get my life going again. I even accepted Christ and got baptized in the river, but I donít think I fully grasped what Jesus had done and will do for me.

So I made another bad choice. I left the Mission too soon, before I was ready to be on my own. That choice left me open to a lot of temptations, and I fell hard. I started drinking again, I got sent back to jail, and then I lived with a woman for a year. Everything Iíd struggled with before- the heavy drinking, the domestic disputes- it was all happening again.

I had a tough choice to make, but it was the right one this time. I went back to the Mission, and I got involved in the new rehabilitation program. I learned a lot about Godís grace and truth and what I had to do to make a drastic turnaround. By the time I graduated from the program, I was a different person.

What was different the second time? My desires and my thinking process changed. My goals changed. I know Iíll still have bumps to get over, but I also know I have another way of dealing with them: God and His Word- my reference manual. And this time, Iím choosing to have the fellowship and support of other Christians that I need to stay on track.

After graduation, something surprising happened. The right choices I made led to a new fulltime job, in the Missionís maintenance department. I love doing carpentry; it makes me feel specially connected to Jesus. Heís everything to me now, and Heís the center of my life.

So as I head into the new year, I truly have a new life to look forward to. Iím in a healthy relationship with a wonderful woman. Iíve moved out of the Missionís transitional housing and into a home of my own. Iíve made a decision -a good choice- to work here and set a good example for other guys in the program. I feel like Iím serving the Lord here and letting Christ work through me.

My dream is to teach homeless men new skills through our internship program. I want them to learn what I know, following Christís example: how to build a solid life on a strong foundation.