In Bus Service I spoke of entering into the Teen Challenge programme, and the week leading up to it. I want to take time out from my Easterhouse days, just for a moment, and talk about how those first two weeks went.
The Sunday night, after being with Pastor Hughes and repenting of a life full of sin loved outside Christ, I went up to the Phase 1 landing where my room was. Having told the guys of my decision to follow Jesus, I went into my room and went to bed. At this point the other bed was empty.
I woke up the next morning, unsure of what the routine was as I had never been there on a weekday.
As I was in a room on my own, I had to deal with some hangups and try and find out.
Drugs were not on my mind? What I had to do was. Entering straight into the very disciplined structure of the Teen Challenge programme helped. Your steps really were ordered for you. Ecclesiastes 3 talks about a time for everything, in TC parlance that was:
a time to rise,
a time to shave,
a time to read,
a time to pray,
a time to eat,
a time to clean,
a time to learn,
a time to praise,
a time to mix,
with time to play,
more time to learn,
more time to pray,
a time to sleep,
thankful for each day.
It was a very coordinated place, designed to help build structure into unstructured lives. Especially in those early days it helped me grieve for who I used to be, but also consider who I was now and what to do.
It’s not easy going from the cloud and fog of addiction, where senses are filled and thought processes are aligned to completing the tenner.
The hyper-awareness of God and love was very overwhelming. My mind raced between blind acceptance to analytical questioning.
“How does this go? Am I on a bad trip? Does this make sense?”
It is easy to throw around cliches about forgiveness etc without really understanding the reality of it. You see, my pain did not revolve around what others had done to me, my pain, my guilt and my shame focused on the wrong I had done to others.
I spent a lot of time alone in the personal graveyard of my mind, coming to terms with a lot of the destruction I had wreaked on lives. The destruction of my own potential and the havoc wreaked amongst family and friends. My quest to complete the tenner had not allowed me to process the damage that I had caused to others, whilst I was causing it.
But now I had to process it. Now I had to take ownership of that whole world of hurt. If I didn’t, then I couldn’t move on from it. In the words of that great prophet Bono, I would be “stuck in a moment I can’t get out of”.
The underlying fact that God forgave me completely and unreservedly though, gave me the courage and the strength for the days ahead. I knew part of this new life would involve seeking forgiveness from others that I had hurt. I knew that it meant facing up to a whole load of issues that I had avoided. I knew that it was not going to be easy. It was funny though, that at no time did I miss the solace of the needle, or the comfort of the heroin or hash. It was a painful time, but it was also a genuine rebirth. If I wanted to move onto this new life, I had to excise some of the ghosts of the old. These truly were birth pains of a whole new world. As much as I feared them, I was also excited to face them.
My problem was, though, that I did not really know how to face or deal with the pain. I would go into the morning chapel times totally bemused by the guys with their hands in the air praising God. They seemed to have no trouble praying out loud. They seemed to have no trouble singing the songs.
I knew that what I had experienced on Sunday evening with Pastor Hughes was real. I knew the Monday morning when I woke up and the first thoughts in my mind were about Jesus. I had questions, doubts and fears, but never about the reality of what had happened. There was all sort of emotions racing through my head. That poem card “Don’t Quit” that my Nana had given me and the bits of the Bible that were on it seemed to form a protection around me. Not the “don’t quit” bit, but the verses, almost pleading with me to “trust in the LORD, with all my heart,” to not try and work it out. I got it. I knew I was committed to whatever lay ahead, not behind, but I also knew I had to confront those shadows from my past in order to move on.
Ok, I thought, let’s do this!
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.
Alternatively, you can visit the Media Links page and see a short visit done by BBC Radio Scotland for an interview I did there.
If you or someone you love, needs help with the Christian response to addiction, or if you would just like to know more or need hope, please click on one of the following:
Teen Challenge Strathclyde
Teen Challenge UK
Teen Challenge Global
Bethany Christian Trust
Cornerstone Assemblies of God, Maryland
Broken Chains Ayr
Easterhouse Community Church