On the night of October 23, 2006, I cried out for help and was turned down to enter the gates of the Gospel Rescue Mission due to not having an open bed for me. I said, “You don’t understand, I don’t want to be out here on the streets. I am tired and I need help.” She responded, “I understand, but there is no room for you here and you will need to call back in the morning.” I had become broken, full of shame, guilt, and doubt. I had become an alcoholic and an addict, homeless and unemployable. I had learned how to survive off the streets and was living in a motel room with a boyfriend right across the street from the Gospel Rescue Mission. I know it today as a divine appointment from God - turing the darkness into light, His light. Ashes into beauty.
No one, that I have ever heard, says, “When I grow up I want to be lost and broken. I want to be an alcoholic and an addict.” No one. When I was a child, I suffered things that no child should, no child. So at the age of twelve, I found my comfort in alcohol. That helped me deal with my confusion and pain that I felt. Having a childhood friend and having access to all the alcohol I could get my hands on became a place where I hung out when I needed some ease and comfort. Hard to think that in grade school alcohol was what I turned to instead of my parents. I knew there was a God and we went to church every Sunday and Wednesday nights, but that also didn’t cross my mind of a place where I could have received the ease and comfort needed at the time of what was being introduced to me as a child. Growing up, there was a feeling of emptiness; it was like there was a big hole inside of me. This emotion became bigger with everything that life dealt me in my childhood and this “HOLE” inside of me needed to be fed more often. I then found myself looking at relationships with boys, while in grade school, as a way to feed this hole - just adding to my brokenness, for it didn’t make me feel any better. I remember being very controlling and very abusive in these relationships, man what a memory. Bouncing from one to another, feeding the emptiness inside of me. Nothing seemed to work. Graduation night from grade school, fourteen years old, drunk, empty, and broken at such a young age. It makes me sad just writing about it and remembering that night.
“Yea! Off to high school, things got to get better, right?” I thought to myself, but it was just more to deal with, more to experience and oh how I did. Now having many ways to fill my emptiness and having a new level of what could fill that emptiness, today I understand what is meant by the saying, “new level, new devil.” The stronghold began and I was never aware of what was going on and what my life would become if I continued on the path I was choosing at that time in my life.
My life then, today as I look back, was the beginning of a dust devil brewing, things slowing becoming unmanageable, being picked up my the twirling of the wind, but still blind to the destruction that was going on around me. It was so minimal in my mind and I never saw it any different than just living, enjoying life, having fun, living as others did. What is so wrong with that? My poor choices throughout high school and college were making this dust devil larger and still blinded me to where my life was headed, and the God I was introduced to at a young age, was not a thought in my head or words in my mouth. I had to feed the emptiness inside of me. This emptiness was becoming the eye of a tornado, a full blown out tornado not measuring on the scale of destruction and no voice telling what was going to happen if it wasn’t stopped. Sucking up everything in my life that was good and destroying it. Now being in the middle of this life’s destructive tornado, in the eye of the tornado, life seemed normal for once.
I married in 1987, already a mother of one, then living in Tucson with a new start, but my life was a dream and I never knew that I was still right in the middle of the tornado with destruction still twirling all around me, I truly did not know. Ten years later, a wife with two more kids, a house and a full-time job, I was again sucked into the twirling winds of the destruction of this tornado. At the end of the tenth year of this normal life, I battled with poor choices, which took me down a path of struggling against addictions. With those choices I had made I lost my family, marriage, job, mandatory resignation actually, in and out of hospitals, institutions, detox centers, sold the family car, traded my wedding ring for drugs, and finally listened to the lie that I had listened to for so long, “One Beer, One Bar, One Hour.”
October 31, 1997, I went out again, just to have a beer, just to go to one bar, and just for an hour. This time I did not return after having that one beer, going to just one bar, for just one hour. The enemy [Satan] was the one speaking into my life then and the one I worshiped at that time. He lured me in and contributed to who I became. That lie, that seemed so reachable, that I thought I could do, was who I became. One bar, one hour, one beer, one hit, one twenty, one night, filled that emptiness inside that was starving then and needed to be fed every single day. Going out that night, I left with every intention of returning but I didn’t.
When I came to from that, “One night,” it was three days later, still in the same clothes, feeling like there was no turning back now, I was swept out into the tornado and could see nothing, nothing for nine years.
I learned through feeding the emptiness that with the lifestyle I had chosen came the need to learn quickly how to survive a life on the streets. I lived through rapes, beatings, homelessness, hungriness, sickness, darkness, and a life of crime to be able to survive. I became society’s worse nightmare, me, Sherry. How I did I get there, how could I get home?
I had times of clarity during those nine years and in those years, I tried to stay in contact with family and children, regain employment, place of living, sobriety, and get out of that tornado, but did not seek what I needed to find. I failed over and over again.
August of 2006, I lived across the street from Gospel Rescue Mission’s Women and Women with Children’s Center, then known as Bethany House. Still very sick in my addictions, I watched the women come and go and listened to the announcements of mealtimes, curious of what it was all about. A boss I had worked for once spoke a word into my life in 2004, about placing me in the “Bethany House” if I could not get back on the wagon and live a life sober. That’s God, because in 2006 I was living across the street from the “Bethany House.”
Suffering more than ever, I was asked to leave that room my boyfriend and I were staying in because all the brokenness in the relationship was “my fault” and today I know that was a false belief. Our relationship was broken because we were broken, lost, and the enemy was in control of our lives. He is here to kill, steal, and destroy. I called Gospel Rescue Mission, no room at the inn, call tomorrow. I begged for my boyfriend to allow me to stay that night. I was very tired and had already been up for three days. He allowed that night and “only that night,” as he stated.
I knew what would happen the next day and did not want that lifestyle any more. I cried out as I laid my head on the floor of room #16 October 23, 2006. “God help me, please, I can’t do this anymore. Open a door and I will close the door to all of this madness.” The next morning, I called as it was asked of me and the door that I asked God to open, was opened. There was a bed, “Be here for an intake at 2 pm,” she said. I began to pack and then a voice came from behind me. It was my boyfriend. He said, “You can be here when I get home. I have changed my mind.” I don’t know where the words came from, but I said, “I need to pray about this.” As he left for work, the door shut and a question dropped in my spirit, “Will you go through the door that I have opened for you?” I begin to cry, I knew that this was my chance to get out of the tornado, madness, darkness, sickness, I had hope for the first time in nine years, true hope. I carried two bags as I walked across the street, because that is what was told to me when I called in, two bags were allowed and my pillow, from that broken hotel room into the Gospel Rescue Mission’s Women and Women with Children’s Center, October 24, 2006. I battled with letting go, still sick and learning that relationships were one of my many addictions, but I did not leave Gospel Rescue Mission. My boyfriend still lived across the street, but he moved on with a new relationship and so did I.
I found the relationship that filled that “HOLE” and that emptiness. And the tornado, it died. I was given life through Jesus Christ and introduced to Him, there at “Bethany House.” I am grateful to the staff, volunteers and the women that stayed there at the same time I did. Today I see and know the grace of God, mercy, forgiveness, and true love that was breathed into me then. Then at the age of forty-seven, I picked my year chip of sobriety and I HAD HOPE. With the classes, lots of therapy, prayers, healing and leaning on the word of God I was going to make it. I had found the food, the relationship (Jesus), and true love that filled that HOLE. I stayed and graduated from the Restoration Program in March of 2008.
Today, giving back as asked of me, serving and loving as Christ would, I now have over eight years of a new life, a renewing of my mind, and a filled hole through Christ Jesus. I am washed white as snow, forgiven, and freed. I am loved and was not forgotten, lost but now found. I am, Sherry, a beautiful child of God, the bride of Christ, and an heir to the kingdom.
As Galatians 4:7 says, "So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir."