A few weeks ago we heard from a guy that we worked with years ago. He was one of the first people to stay in our Safe House, he graduated from a recovery program, and started work with our Jobs Program. However, it didn’t take long for him to run back to the people and places he was most familiar with and his relapse began.
We’d hear from him periodically and he always tried to convince us things were going ok. But they weren’t and we could tell. Last week he reached out to us and said he was desperate and needed help. We drove him to put in an application at a program out of town and he was told the waiting list was going to be 4-5 weeks. We asked some people to pray for him and the waiting list.
He got a call over the weekend and they told him he could come today. That’s 5 days on the waiting list and not 5 weeks. Amazing.
So, today we met him at our office and made the drive back to the recovery program and dropped him off to begin his 4 months of treatment. He was anxious. He was mad at himself for being back in this situation. He talked a lot on the drive about being done and never going back to using again. That’s pretty normal for folks in his situation.
He repeatedly said, “I hate it. I don’t know why I keep doing it. I hate it.”
And that’s something for us to remember about addiction and addicts. They usually do hate what they’re doing. It’s not something they enjoy or want for their lives. It’s not something they’re flippant about.
It’s something they hate. It’s something that brings guilt and shame into their lives. And that’s part of the reason they run back to it. Because it’s an escape. Escape from the pain. Escape from the misery. Escape from the shame. Escape from the depression and anxiety.
We talked a lot about those things on the way. We talked about mental healthcare and therapy when he graduates. We talked about surrounding himself with healthy people. We talked about having a plan in place.
And we let him know that we’d be right here waiting for him when he graduates again, ready to walk with him through that process.
Because second, third, and fourth chances are often what it takes.
We wanted to share another “Never Alone” story with you. Wilkes became part of our lives in the fall of 2013 and it’s been amazing to see what all God has done in his life this past year.
My name is Wilkes, and this is how Urban Purpose has stood beside me during probably the hardest trial I’ve encountered in life. I grew up in the city of Jackson, Tennessee. I was your average kid who played sports, was involved in church, and made good grades in school. College was a turning point in my life. I had everything paid for through academic and athletic scholarships. One would think I’d have been content with the way things were going, but along with new freedoms and new scenery came new friends. I began to associate with the wrong crowd and started putting myself in situations that molded my way of thinking and my behaviors. Slowly, I started to experiment with “recreational” drugs. To me they were harmless, but as time passed I began using harder drugs. Due to certain circumstances I lost my scholarships to the university I attended and moved back home, taking my drug habits with me. Over the next 7 to 8 years my addiction got worse. I tried several different short term rehabs in Tennessee but was still not ready to change. As a last ditch effort I came to Alabama to try and change my life in a year long program, and it was here that I met Mark Jenkins and Jim McFarland from Urban Purpose. When I started this program they came and spoke with me about the services that Urban Purpose offers. They continued to visit with me as I got further along in the program. About four months into it, I made some bad choices and was kicked out of this program. Seeing as I had already exhausted my options with my parents if something like this happened, I called Mark and they came directly to me to help me figure out what I was going to do. They made no judgments about the choice I made that resulted in me getting kicked out; they were there only to help me with a plan of action. Urban Purpose took me to another recovery mission here in Birmingham to wait out 30 days before I could re-enter the same year long program. They met with me a couple of times to discuss the terms of their sponsorship back into this program. Eventually I was able to get back into it with their help. I’ve been here for almost a year now and have turned my life around by the grace of God and with the assistance of Urban Purpose and those affiliated with them. Since I’ve been back in this program, Urban Purpose began to help me make plans for what I would do when I got out. They set me up with an interview, and I was able to get the job at an electrical company where I have the opportunity to start a career. I’ve also gotten a vehicle which is a major help to someone like me coming out of this program with nothing. I came to Alabama scared and on my own, but with Urban Purpose I am never alone.
The people we have the opportunity to work with come from all different backgrounds. We’ve worked with people that were living in homeless shelters, housing projects, double-wides, under bridges, and in nice homes in the suburbs. Some of them graduated from high school, some of them dropped out, some got their GED, some didn’t make it out of elementary school, and some got scholarships to go to college. They all carry different baggage from past decisions and circumstances. They battle different addictions and wrestle with a variety of mental health issues. Some of them don’t have a relationship with their family, some of them don’t know who their dad is, some of them wish they didn’t know who their dad is, and some of them have loving parents that we’ve had the opportunity to walk with while their child struggles along this journey.
And while so much of what each person brings to the table is different, so much of it is exactly the same. They’re all lonely. They all feel isolated. And they all struggle to cope with the myriad of issues and emotions that come from this loneliness.
So, while many of us can’t sympathize with a lot of what these folks are struggling with, we can sympathize with their loneliness. We may never have battled addiction, been in trouble beyond a speeding ticket, or wondered where we were going to sleep each night. But all of us have experienced times of intense loneliness in our lives. We’ve felt isolated and alone. We’ve wondered if anyone cared about or understood what we were going through. And we’ve all longed to have people walk with us through our struggles.
This is something that God has been teaching us a lot about lately. For a long time we thought we understood what it meant to invest in and build relationships with the people we’re working with. Lately we’re beginning to understand just how much deeper the issue of loneliness truly is in the lives of those we work with.
This is why the theme of our year-end campaign is Never Alone. It’s something we can all resonate with and it’s something we can all fight for in the lives of those we’re called to love. We wanted to tell you some of the stories of those we’ve worked with and how God has led us to walk with them over the years. But we also want you to pray with us and for us as we continue to grow in our understanding of how much further we need to go in surrounding those God has put in our lives with gospel-centered intentional community. You can click here to read a few stories of people we’ve worked with over the years. We’ll also be posting some new stories here on the blog in the coming weeks. Thanks so much for all of your prayers and support. We hope you all have a great Christmas.
Check out our new video that truly captures what Urban Purpose is really about. Our aim is to stand beside people through the ups and downs of life, and to let them know that they do not have to be alone.
Learn more about how we stand besides people by visiting our website: http://www.urbanpurpose.org/neveralone