Luke 4:18-19 – 18 “The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.”

As of today, I am willing to change, open-minded to new ideas, and ready to take the next step in my life. But I wasn’t always so humble. As a child, I grew up in a dysfunctional family, taking on many different roles. I always found myself trying to adapt to different situations, in an attempt to fit in. I adapted a mindset of always wanting to try new things, thinking i knew everything and could make it on my own. Yet, at this point in my life, I hadn’t experienced the hardships, difficulties, and tests of faith real life would throw at me. I was always on strict punishment, so when I got an inch, I would take a mile. Always staying out for days, not checking in and getting expelled from school. At some point, I adapted a mentality to prove myself by being hostile, and fighting. I look back now and realize it was fear of rejection. With that, I got incarcerated as a juvenile, and thought it made my self-image look tougher. I continued to act out, fight, and smoke weed to fit in.

Eventually, I got kicked out of my father’s house, with no ambition and no idea of what challenges the real world would hold. I ended up living behind a Walmart, stealing to survive. I got arrested on theft. Petty thefts and jail experience turned into a 4-year prison term on Burglary. Once I completed that, and my family resented me, I turned to Heroin. It took away all my emotions, anxiety, and basically became my higher power. After two more years of chasing sack after sack, I got offered to come out to a treatment in Los Angeles.

I convinced myself I could do it, but had no knowledge of recovery, and no willingness to change. I got off the plane, made it two weeks in treatment, and ended up in downtown Los Angeles, on Skid Row, with absolutely nothing. My phone had been shut off, and my clothes were stolen the first night. I stayed in Skid Row for about a month, and worked my way all around LA, chasing sacks, and sleeping on cardboard boxes. I finally ended at a bridge, where I started building. I thought at that point, I was living the life.

At this point, I thought it was over for me. I was hopeless, I was dirty, and starving. I saw God as resentful, punishing, and thought He had already condemned me. I couldn’t figure out why God would want me to suffer like I was. I would constantly reach for help, never getting it. I thought about ending my life constantly, but never had it in me. I would shoot heroin, in an attempt to end my life. Though I had adapted this mindset, I knew deep down this couldn’t be it for me.

Finally, I broke down and prayed. For the first time in my life, I prayed for god to show me the light. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t asking God to get me out of something, or to give me something, but to show me the way. I sought the help of some old friends, and ended up with Justin Mar’s number. As I reached out to him, I still had no faith. I still lacked trust, and never thought the call would come. However, by the Grace of God, if finally did. I packed what little clothing I had into my cart, pushed it out of that bridge, and found serenity at last. But it didn’t happen overnight.

When I first got to detox, I still had a bad tasted in my mouth. I held recovery at a distance. I honestly had no idea what was going to happen, only that I needed a break from the real world. The first thing that pushed me to where I am is the staff. I’ve never encountered a treatment center who genuinely cares about their clients. It is usually about a paycheck, and it caught me off guard. At this point I was at such a bottom, I could be grateful for the small things. I had no choice but to be humble and appreciated everything. As a scholarship, I felt like my time was limited, which held me back at first.

When I got to the IOP house, and got settled in, I started paying close attention. I had to sit in a room with Destiny, waiting on the doctor, and she told me her story. She told me about how her and Cody F. both got interned. After that, I met Ryan, and he told me the same story. At this point, I made a subconscious decision. I set my mind in motion to achieve the most rewarding end goal. As time went by, I became a sponge. Soaking in all the possible knowledge I could. Instead of learning from my peers, I began taking advice and watching the people I wanted to be like. Marty, Cody, Tawnya, and all the amazing staff at Broadway.

Once I applied IOP, 12 steps, and willingness to my recovery, I began to understand the process, and begun seeing things in a whole new light. I put my total faith in my higher power, as to me, being here alone is a spiritual awakening. I began to apply God’s will in my life, and the direction of those guiding me, instead of my “know-it-all,” hardheaded attitude. When I think of God’s will, I don’t think I can just jump off a bridge and He will save me. In my opinion, God’s will is walking the path He has made for me. As I said before, I used to look at my God as resentful, and punishing. I understand now that’s how I saw myself, and I was projecting it towards my God. Now, I consider my God loving, caring, kind, and forgiving. With that, I apply these characteristics to my life.

I understand now, that all the hate and resentment I had for others was all a misconception of how I felt inside. I never realized my wrongdoings. I never realized that an apology isn’t just giving somebody permission to do something again, or make them think what they did was okay. It is an admission of guilt on my end, and clears up the negative resentments and emotion that could further the pain and suffering.

Since I have been here, I’ve come to terms with my character defects, and I have began to apply changes to them. I always had this idea that the “tough guy” is what people look up to. I realize now, that being a leader takes courage, and you must be caring, kind, forgiving, and apply the spiritual principles to your lifestyle.

I look inside myself constantly to sort out my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I have learned to do that because it is not about what you think or feel, but how you react. It is not about what you do, but why you do it. I try to apply these specific principles to my life. Since doing so, I have come farther than I ever imagined.

Gratitude is key to me. If you are not grateful for the things you have, you will never know true happiness. I am grateful for everything I have today, but I am willing to take the steps in my life to achieve more. To me true happiness is a perception. If you find the good in everything, and remain grateful, you will never be disappointed.

I have begun to truly humble myself. I feel people misconceive the meaning of this a lot. The way I view it, humility isn’t about putting yourself below others, or about letting people walk all over you. But to lose the desire to always want to be bigger, smarter, or tougher than others. To humble yourself is to realize your character defects of fear of rejection, self-worth, and ego, and set it to the side. When you do this, you can think more clearly on how to handle different situations.

Intentions mean everything. I find myself constantly checking my motives when making decisions. It is a confusing aspect, considering most people run on auto-pilot and don’t stop to think about why they are making decisions. If you don’t check your motives and realize why you are making a certain decision, you lack the ability to control the outcome.

The hardest thing for me to come to terms with are my expectations of others. By this, I don’t mean holding people to certain standards. I have always had a hard time accepting my fear of rejection, and self-pity. I never understood why I got angry and lashed out when people didn’t agree with the things I had done. I continue to check myself constantly. Those feelings of anger have always been based on something I had felt were fear based. I would just take the attention off that by lashing out.

Initially, I would constantly wonder what is next for me. Then, I realized this whole time, I have been using the energy of my mind to flow in the direction towards my ultimate goal. I constantly hear people talking about the things they do not want. “I don’t want to get high again,” “I don’t want to be back on the streets.” In my opinion, and what is working for me, is not focusing so much on what I don’t want, but what I do want in life. For the first time in my life, I have a goal set. I am willing to do whatever it takes to reach this end goal.

I used to have a huge fear of change. I didn’t like getting out of my comfort zone. Now I realize that to have something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do things you’ve never done. In order to make a great dream come true, you must first have a great dream. This has transformed my fears into my passions. I went from reaching out for help and not getting it, to now reaching my hand out to help someone in need.

The desire to help people in need has blossomed into something I have never experienced before, a passion. I hear the relief in the voices of my closest loved ones, and it nearly brings me to tears. I hadn’t talked to my father in 5 years, prior to coming to Broadway. These different circumstances have opened my eyes to the most beautiful aspect of life, happiness.

I come to you now, as grateful as I will ever be. I could never express how deeply grateful I am for the life Broadway has provided me. If not for this program, I would have never made it out of my disease. I realize now that I have a mental condition, reaching back to my younger years. I could never do enough to pay back the debt owed to Broadway for not only saving my life, but giving me the tools to make a life for myself, beyond my wildest dreams.

These life-changing experiences, and my desire to make an impact, inspire me to pursue my passion through this program. A program that has saved my life and many before me, and that I will forever hold in my heart and mind. I could not think of anything else I desire more, and I am devoted to planting the same seed that saved my life, in future clients for years to come. I feel every addict deserves a solid chance of a future. This program has every tool necessary to achieve that end goal.