My name is Jonathan; I’m twenty four years old and grew up outside of Birmingham, AL. I considered myself to have a pretty normal and happy childhood, growing up with a loving mother and plenty of friends. I was active in the youth group in my early teenage years and became a Christian when I was 13. Unfortunately, as I entered into high school I began wandering away from my faith. Instead I chose to follow negative influences and a mischievous curiosity. This combined with an inability to say “No” to others and trying to be liked by everybody, led me to being arrested 3 times before I had even graduated. Despite all of my trouble, I managed to maintain my grades and received a full scholarship to the University of Alabama. I started my freshman year of college in a new town with new friends, hoping that things would be different. Of course, I couldn’t run away from the problems that were inside of me. After a couple of years of college, I dropped out completely. My drug use had eventually taken over my ability to put a mask on for everybody else. I acted like everything was fine, when deep down I was miserable and depressed. I moved back home with very little direction and no motivation to do anything with my life.
It wasn’t long before I ran into an old friend, who then introduced me to heroin. I had done plenty of drugs but this was different. I realized I had just started something that was too powerful for me to control but I didn’t care. I willingly gave my addiction everything I could. This downward spiral lasted four years. In September of 2009 I overdosed while driving through downtown Birmingham. I ran a red light, crashed into two parked cars, onto a sidewalk, and into a hospital. Looking back this incident perfectly describes the loving nature of God. He allowed me to recklessly live my life, but when I crashed I was exactly where I needed to be. Shortly after this incident, I found myself heading to Teen Challenge.
I would like to be able to say this was my happy ending but it wasn’t that easy. Seven months into the program I decided to leave early. I was a good student but became impatient and convinced I could do things on my own: “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability…” – Deuteronomy 8:17-18.
It wasn’t long before relying on my own efforts failed. I relapsed and my life was even worse than before. This time I knew the answer but continued to try and run away from God. The week I was originally supposed to graduate was when I was trying to come back into the program. This broke my stubbornness; I thank God for His patience to pick me up to let me try again. I entered Teen Challenge again with no court cases just a strong realization that living as an addict made life hardly worth living at all. My second time seemed much more difficult but the blessings have been great. I just returned from an Alabama Teen Challenge mission trip to Portugal and I am beginning to explore options to finish school and hopefully pursue a career in music ministry. My relationship with my family has been restored, and I have a peace and joy that only comes from learning to accept the gift of grace from God, not tirelessly trying to make myself feel worthy. I’m not completely sure of what the future may hold, but I am confident that He who began a good work in me will see it through unto completion (Phil. 1:6)!
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