Ex-wife, sister, daughter, mother, manager, CPS, CNA, volunteer, church member; addict.
Call me what you will… I’ve heard it all.
I am a redeemed child of God.
Genesis 50:20 tells us, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now done, the saving of many lives.”
I’ve been out of prison for a year and a half now…
I’ve been off the streets, in church, at work, with my children, volunteering, a client of a sober living program… for over a year. If you’re anything like me; if you’ve dug in the couch for the almost $4 it takes to hit the drive-thru at Walgreens, if you’ve tried to use broken paraphernalia out of pure desperation, if you’ve felt that every single pore in your body was cramping at the same time; you know that this is no small accomplishment.
I’m not telling you this to brag on myself because I can’t tell you how many times I tried by myself. I tried for my family, my kids, my sober friends that were trying their hardest to influence me either by holding their hands out or washing them of me completely.
I tried… I really did.
One day I stopped trying.
I had known for years that asking Jesus to TAKE my addiction from me was an option. But I never asked Him… because I wanted it.
How was I supposed to find comfort without my substances?
How would the laundry ever get done, or how would I tolerate conversations with people if I wasn’t high?
I needed my addiction.
I had control over it. I administered it. I purchased it. I worked for it; it was mine. But it also owned me. I found my identity in it.
“Hi, my name is Lawren, I’m an addict.”
In Greene Co. jail in 2018; I was done. You’ll hear people say they cried out! They screamed to the Heavens!
That’s great! But I did not. I went to the altar, put my dead down and folded my hands over the back of my neck and said, “Jesus… I can’t do this anymore. I DON’T WANT TO USE AGAIN! I DON’T EVER WANT TO FEEL HIGH AGAIN! I DON’T WANT TO EVER COME DOWN AGAIN! I WANT MY CHILDREN TO MEET A NEW MOTHER! I WANT TO BE A NEW PERSON! NOT ANYBODY THAT IVE EVER BEEN AGAIN! I BELIEVE IN YOU! PLEASE! TAKE IT FROM ME COMPLETELY. THE DESIRE, THE CRIMINAL THINKING, THE DISHONESTY WITH MYSELF AND OTHERS… MAKE ME NEW! YOU ARE MY LORD AND SAVIOR AND YOU’VE GOT THIS, I DON’T. I CAN’T, YOU CAN. I GIVE UP. PLEASE DO THIS FOR ME NOW, AND THEN HELP ME GET UP AND CONTINUE IT ON MY OWN.”
I had a court date scheduled a couple of days later. I dressed in my best state-issued stripes and had somebody braid my hair for me and I waited… they never came for me.
A couple of days later, I flipped my Bible open and decided to read the book of Haggai. It was short, and I wanted to mark it off my list in an attempt to read every book in the Bible while incarcerated.
I read, “From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid. Give careful thought!”
My body is a temple. I’d asked to be made new. The Lord had laid a new foundation for my existence and awoken me to my purpose.
It was only after the guards called me to court two days late, I decided to wipe the story I’d made up and tell them the truth about my crimes, and received a concurrent charge to my already received felony and sentenced to prison; that I realized THIS was November 24th… the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month.
I thanked God and the judge for my newly received sentence and went to prison.
A year later I wrote to New Beginnings Sanctuary from my cell in Chillicothe Correctional Center and asked to be considered for placement within the program.
I received a call days later and was granted permission to home plan to NBS in Springfield, MO; my hometown.
On May 17th, the prison guards practically had to pry me away from the confining grounds of CCC… away from safety, structure, and all the sober friends I had made throughout the last year.
How would I return home to Springfield and stay sober? How would I not let my children down? How would I not soon become homeless again? I wanted to stay.
Nancy Hall picked me up from the Greyhound Station and brought me back to the NBS office. I was nervous, quiet… didn’t know when I was allowed to speak or move, or if I’d be trusted to turn a corner by myself. Before too long, she brought me to my new home and I still remember thinking, “This place is too good for me. I’m glad I don’t have too much to re-pack when I get kicked out.”
That night, I was introduced to the Redemption service at the Well.
I looked around during worship and cried. Here was a building full of sinners, addicts, broken, beaten, sick… with their hands lifted towards Jesus because it’s what they WANTED to do.
He was there. I could feel Him.
From there, guys… to be honest; I fully submitted. If you ask me how I did it, or what worked for me… I’ll tell you, FULL SUBMISSION, every time.
I.DID. WHAT. I. WAS. TOLD!
I still do what I’m told. I surround myself with POSITIVE people who are GOOD influences. If they offer me guidance, I consider it and usually accept it.
I’ve also been put into positions where people come to me for guidance. It took TIME. WORK. EFFORT. And I built trust.
B U I L T trust.
After learning and practicing the beauty of submission… not only do I do what I’m told, I tell people what to do because I’m a trusted member of more than one leadership team. I give people strong SUGGESTIONS, not instructions.
If I’ve learned one thing through the church and the program, it’s that we have free will. You have free will.
I do what I’m told because I choose to.
People do what they’re told when I suggest (or they don’t); by choice.
I chose Jesus… sobriety… instruction…
What will you choose?