With Father’s Day upon us, my heart is heavy. So many families are hurting this year because a parent, sibling, or child is missing because of addiction.
It was that way in Jonathan’s family. Growing up, he had freedom to do whatever he wanted while his mom was at work. But in junior high, stolen cigarette butts became marijuana and he began to drink. He said it gave him a false sense of confidence, allowing him to not care what others thought of him anymore.
Then Jonathan was introduced to a man who was supposed to be a good influence on him but instead, he introduced Jonathan to meth.
But Jonathan’s real problem with meth started when he met a girl who asked if he knew where to find the drug. That’s when he started using it more regularly.
A year and a half into what became an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship, Jonathan hit a new low. Searching for answers, he went to a bluff over-looking the Pacific Ocean and began to pray. He told God how empty he felt and how desperate he was for love, acceptance and purpose. And in that moment, he felt God’s presence, love and acceptance. But when he went back to his girlfriend, she convinced him the experience wasn’t real.
Within the next year, Jonathan would be arrested three times—for being drunk in public, for driving under the influence, and for possession of meth. But he continued to use drugs and his life continued to spiral down.
Jonathan desperately wanted a new life but no matter what, he couldn’t break away from the drugs. “My life was so wrapped up in using that I had no idea who I was,” he said. “No job, no money. Nobody wanted anything to do with me. I felt completely useless.”
But Jonathan had a mom who prayed and never forgot what God is capable of. She recommended he go to Teen Challenge, and this time, he reluctantly agreed and asked the court if he could go there instead of jail. That’s when his life truly began to turn around.
Within a few hours of arriving at the Teen Challenge center, he felt a weight lifted off. “I remember feeling loved and accepted. I remember feeling like I was home.” Perhaps for the first time, he felt like he could rest. Then within only a couple of weeks, he encountered the Holy Spirit in a fresh way during chapel and everything changed.
Shortly after, Jonathan remembers deciding, “I was just going to say ‘yes’ to God. Whatever he has for me, I’m just going to continue to say ‘yes.’” While at Teen Challenge, Jonathan met Elizabeth. After graduation, they started talking, texting, then he asked her out. Marrying Elizabeth and becoming step-dad to her two children seemed so natural; Jonathan could see God’s hand at work in all their lives. And then their family grew with the joyous birth of a new baby!
This Father’s Day, Jonathan gets to be a dad to his beautiful children! Because of you.
But so many others still need help. This Father’s Day, you can support those who are working to break free from addiction but sending a generous donation to Teen Challenge.