Your Gifts Allowed Michael to Overcome many Obstacles
“I’ve never finished anything,” shares Michael. “I’ve spent 30 years battling addiction, mistreating women and hating myself. Beforecoming to the Mission, I tried to overdose. I woke up thinking, ‘I can’t even kill myself.’ I decided then something had to change, rather someone had to change—me. I never imagined I would complete a life-recovery program, accept Christ and complete a marathon.”
Growing Up Too Fast
Michael, the youngest of eight kids, was raised by a single mom. He grew up in the in the same church his mom attended for 50 years. On the other hand, his father loved to gamble and “had a thing for women.” Over the years, the vast differences between his mom and his dad would create internal conflict for Michael.
“I started working at age 15 to support my son,” says Michael, “But I also wanted to get away from my environment so I joined the Marines at 18.” While in the service Michael’s life was exposed to a world that included drugs, alcohol and prostitutes. Soon, he was consumed with the desire for money, drugs and sex.
“I got married when I was 19,” shares Michael. “She was older, had one child and came from a successful family. It’s hard to believe now, but we never divorced. We were together for the first 15 years, had one son, but we’ve been apart the last 15 years.”
“After eight years in the Marines, they asked me to leave,” says Michael. “I realized I wasn’t living up to everyone’s expectations of me. My mom loved me no matter what, but I started drinking and using drugs on a regular basis. I gave up on myself.”
Michael bounced back and forth between being clean and using drugs. In 1992, he went through a recovery program and afterwards decided not to go back home to his wife and son. “I blamed myself for her struggles and figured she’d be better off without me,” shares Michael.
Over the next few years Michael tried different jobs but addiction reared its ugly head again. “Despite still being married, I met someone and fell in love,” shares Michael. “We were together for nine years. I struggled with addiction, spent time in jail, but even at my worst, she stood by me. She was 35 when she miscarried our first child. We both wanted a baby. Two years later, seven months into her pregnancy, she died during childbirth. Our little girl, Mia, born premature, spent several months in the hospital then came home. When she was seven months old, she died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. No matter how hard I prayed, I wasn’t sure God was listening. After all I had done, I wondered how He could love someone like me.”
Michael felt hopeless. In 2007, he violated his probation and went to prison. He lost everything. He kept repeating the same cycle—get out of jail, stay clean, relapse…repeat.
“After prison I met someone and moved to Tennessee with her. She had been clean for eight years, but then she started using. It put her life in a tailspin. Her family moved her away and I had nowhere to go. When trying to kill myself didn’t work, I started calling treatment centers, which led me to the Nashville Rescue Mission. Coming here was the best decision I ever made. I wanted to know what was wrong with me. I discovered God could change me and make me a new person.”
A turning moment came when Michael heard a speaker ask, “When are you going to stop letting pride stand in the way of seeing God?” In that moment, Michael surrendered his life to Jesus.
Learning to Love Myself
“There are so many things I learned about myself and God while in the program,” shares Michael. “I learned how God desires us to love our wife as He loves the church. I came to realize I was broken and that in the midst of nothing, I had everything. I saw ‘real’ volunteers—folks who loved me when I didn’t love myself. Several volunteers God placed in my path led to my running and eventually completing a marathon. I never would have been able to accomplish that on my own.”
“I came to see God’s grace, even in the smallest of things,” says Michael. “Honestly, I don’t deserve to be here. I can’t remember how many people I’ve hurt. But through God’s amazing grace, I learned if I ever wanted to change, I had to turn my heart over to Jesus. I’m so glad God brought me to the Nashville Rescue Mission. I walk differently today than I did yesterday. In fact, I’m not just walking, I’m running.”