When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit. Anon
Saturday morning I was woken up, quite loudly, at 7.45am (apparently that was a long lie as it was Saturday). Here I was in a bedroom in a converted supermarket in South Wales.
What the heck?
One of the other guys told me that I was to be ready and downstairs in the lounge for 8.15 for Quiet Time. Nope, no idea what that meant then. I was supposed to get up, washed etc, room tidied and then downstairs by then. It was all a bit bewildering.
In the crushing, crowding sound of what seemed like a million different accents, I obviously was clueless about it all.
A staff member called Neil Erskine had welcomed Steve and me in the night before. Both I and my bag were checked, thoroughly, to make sure I was not sneaking any drugs or cigarettes in. I wasn’t. I had failed miserably at the start of the week to complete the tender. I had failed so badly that I was now in a Christian rehab in Gorslas, and I was not even thinking about drugs for the moment. I was then shown upstairs to a bedroom on the main landing. Two beds but on my own, for now.
At 8.30 we made our way through the adjoining doors into the large dining area for breakfast. There were about 8 large round tables with a number of seats. I just sat in the nearest chair. Most of the guys were talking about the Bible and calling each other brother and being really nice in a non-manipulative kind of way. It was just a bit overwhelming, I do not know what I thought rehab would be like, but it was not this.
After breakfast, we got ready for chapel. Chapel was a sort of morning church service. Some Christian choruses (obviously) were sung. People prayed out loud, some very loudly and then someone shared some encouragement, based on the Bible. It was all vague, new and very overwhelming.
Then it was off to house (Centre) cleaning duties. Every Saturday there would be an inspection so even more effort than normal was put in. As I was only in the door I had not been allocated a duty so was left to wander around a bit.
(The fire exit, taken long after men’s centre moved to new premises in Nottingham)
At some point in the morning, I remember seeing a guy (Anthony Sutcliffe) sitting at the top of the outdoor metal fire escape stairs. He looked fed up, so I went over. As I reached out my hand to say hello, a small card that I had in my shirt pocket fell out. My nana had given it to me. To be honest I had not even looked at it yet. Anthony picked it up and started reading it. He looked up at me and smiled. “I was sitting here just thinking about leaving, ” he said. “It’s too tough and I can’t do it. Thank you so much for this, this is God speaking to me.”
The card had a poem on it called “Don’t Quit” on the other side were the following verses from the Bible:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Here you are, only in the door and God is using you to help people,” Anthony said. He was at the later stages of Phase 3 in the programme, which meant he had been there for almost a year.
There were loads of thoughts running through my head as this happened. It was hard to process. All this God talk! The poem my nana had given., obviously for me, but had been so uplifting for Anthony; the verses on the back which were to become a sort of watchword for my life. (Thanks, nana).
We had a great chat, and Anthony began to tell me a lot more about the programme, and his own life. He was a genuinely good guy and became a great friend and encourager, not just to me but to loads of guys that came through the door.
I have no idea how Anthony’s life has unfolded since then, but that meeting had a long-lasting effect on my life.
One week before I had a gun stuck in my back, here I was now apparently convincing someone not to quit.
Welcome to your new life, Stuart.
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur and a haze. Lunch, followed by dinner. The guys that had been on the programme a while went to a sports centre in the afternoon. In the evening it was a documentary and a movie. The movie was always PG and even then was carefully checked for language and themes. 9pm it was the BBC News. BBC because there were no adverts, and therefore no means of the guys getting distracted. It sounds over the top, but I will write again about why later I felt it was a cracking strategy.
This evening, though, I laughed as it seemed ludicrous.
Chapel at 10, no singing this time, just quiet acknowledgement and thanks (to God) for getting through the day.
Bed at 10.30pm (I was normally just going out at that time) and lights out at 10.45. Nobody complained about this.
My first full day in what would become my home for three years, my first proper day in what was “normal” life.
This blog is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.
If you would like to know more about the Christian response to addiction, or just need hope please click on one of the links below.
Teen Challenge Strathclyde
Teen Challenge UK
Teen Challenge Global
Bethany Christian Trust
Cornerstone Assemblies of God, Maryland
Broken Chains Ayr
Easterhouse Community Church