We all know that God truly does work in mysterious ways — and for some people, the journey to seek Him comes with hardships many of us could never imagine.
Erik never knew he needed God in his life until he was at the height of his addiction. Little did he know, the saving grace Erik needed — our Lord — had been with him all along.
A troubled youth
Erik’s journey to sobriety was long and winding, and in hindsight, he thinks his issues with substance abuse began when he was a child.
“Where it all started for me was middle school rebellion,” he said. “My mom and stepdad were always a good influence, but my dad was always in and out of prison. I would always hear stories about my dad and my uncle going to wild parties, getting in fights, and earning respect around town. Man, I wanted that kind of respect.”
In an effort to emulate the “tough guy” his dad was, Erik started making some really destructive decisions that ultimately got him kicked out of multiple middle and high schools, and even earned him a felony charge before the age of 18.
He remembered, “In order to earn respect, I brought dope to school, brought a pistol, knocked a guy’s teeth out.”
His father’s influence continued to threaten his well-being, and started his years-long struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.
“I did my first line of cocaine with my dad,” Erik said. “I also had my first drink with him, smoked my first cigarette with him, and smoked weed with him.”
Hearing God’s call
Over the next few years, Erik tried to pass off his drug and alcohol use as harmless party activities — and his cocaine dealing as a way to earn an income. Still, he was in and out of jail, so he knew deep down that he was losing control. It only took one more stint of being incarcerated — facing a lengthy sentence — in order for him to get the unexpected clarity he needed to heal.
“Another inmate told me about a Christian-type program one of his friends had gotten into,” he remembered. “So I wrote to the program director, and just five days later, he wrote back. He said God had told him to visit me and give me a chance. The District Attorney originally shot me down for the opportunity, but eventually, he said he’d give me one shot — but if I messed up, I’d be right back in jail without any more chances.”
Still technically an inmate, Erik entered the program, and it changed him in ways he never expected.
He admitted, “I really only wanted to go just to get out of jail — I couldn’t have ever imagined it would change everything for me.”
“When I have no answers and no control, I drop to my knees and pray. I trust that God puts things and people in my life to teach me lessons, whether I can immediately recognize them or not.” – Diana, Christian Recovery Advocate
Not only did he discover the tools he needed to find sobriety, he formed a relationship he never knew he needed.
“I found that God was attainable. He was reachable,” he reflected. “The same God that controls the waves in the ocean, how bright the sun is, the universe — He loved me, even as a drug addict and a felon. I fell in love with that and engulfed myself with it. I completed a year in the program, completely turning my life around.”
Now, with more than 12 years of sobriety, Erik is an ordained pastor who helps fellow Christians in recovery. He is grateful for the forgiveness God gave him, which was the true source of healing he never knew he needed. If Erik’s story resonates with you, he wants you to know that there is help available for you, both from God and people who once walked the path that you are.
With God’s help, Erik has devoted his life to helping others who are suffering the way he once did — and so can you. He said that along with prayer, his means to recovery is simple:
“When you realize [your] lifestyle has gotten out of hand, you have to make it as uncomfortable as possible to continue that habit, and make it as comfortable as possible for recovery.”