Testimony of the Month
I wasn’t born into a life of abuse or neglect. In fact, some might say I was a spoiled kid. My family didn’t lack for anything in the suburbs of Orem and we often took trips into the Utah wilderness to ride ATVs and camp. But I still ended up addicted, facing prison and out of options.
A little over a year ago, I was dropped off at the Rescue Mission’s Women’s Facility in shackles. When I got out of the car, my probation officer carefully unlocked my chains and took me inside. I knew that if things didn’t go well here, I was destined for many years in prison.
But almost immediately, God started to change my heart. What I learned at the Rescue Mission was a lot different from what I had learned growing up. I was baptized as a kid, but then I was told that everything I did after baptism would stick with me for life. I felt like there really wasn’t anything I could do to be forgiven or get right with God. And I knew I had done a lot of bad things after I was baptized.
But at the Rescue Mission and at the churches I went to on Sundays, I learned what the Bible taught about forgiveness. I learned that everyone has done wrong things, and that this was the very reason Jesus came into the world. He provided a way we could be forgiven by dying for us. If I believed in Him and trusted Him, I too would be forgiven, even for the things I had done after being baptized.
This new information really freed me and set me on a path to believing in and following God. I started going to The Rock Church in Draper. There I was welcomed and accepted, and I started learning more about the Bible. I also met with my community mentor, Eileen Crist, each week to study the Bible together. Then there were constant recovery groups and one-on-one counseling session with my counselor, Cyndi Harris. All this infusion of God’s truth and relapse prevention changed my heart and my life.
Today, I have a good relationship with my father and my step-mom. When I was out-of-control and on drugs, they stepped in and adopted my daughter. I am so thankful they have been able to give her a good, safe home when I couldn’t. Today my daughter doesn’t call me mom, she calls me “Aubrey.” That’s OK. I know the things I have done have permanently impacted our mother-daughter relationship, and God has given me grace to accept that.
God has also blessed me with a good job at a local attorney’s office. I do intake interviews and screen clients (most of whom have some disability or injury) to see if they have legitimate cases that should be forwarded to a lawyer in our firm. I like this job because I feel like I am helping people who have problems get the help they deserve under the law.
As I write this, I am preparing to graduate from the New Life Program and move out on my own. A friend of mine owns a house in Lehi, and she is allowing me to rent a room from her. I think it will be a good place for me since it is close to the law firm where I work and is affordable enough for me to continue saving money. It is also close to my dad and step-mom’s house, so I can visit them and my daughter on a regular basis.
I have been able to buy a used truck, which I will drive starting in July. That truck will be a welcome relief from taking the bus and trains to work each day. I really can’t believe how much God has changed me, even though I am only 23. I feel like I have been through a lifetime of pain, only to have God restore my whole future in just one short year.
Beginning a Life of Addiction
Trouble began for me when I was 12 years old. My biological mother, who was still married to my dad at the time, began to have some health problems. Her doctors prescribed pain medication and my mother became addicted almost at once. The addiction hurt my parents’ marriage and they soon divorced.
At this time, I was starting junior high school and, as many seventh graders do, I wanted to be cool. With my mom’s drug addiction on full display, I started smoking cigarettes and even marijuana. When my parents divorced, I chose to stay with my mom and the man who would become my step-dad. I declined my biological father because I knew he would be strict with my behavior.
At my mom’s place, she and her new husband took the parenting approach of “we’d rather have our kids do drugs at our house than out on the street.” This attitude allowed me and many of my junior high friends to smoke, drink alcohol and do drugs together. We often skipped school and partied at my house instead. My mom was so addicted to pain medication that she often didn’t know or didn’t care that we weren’t at school.
Eventually, Child Services were called and I was given a choice: move in with my biological father or go into foster care. I chose foster care. I didn’t want to follow my dad’s rules. I was in and out of state custody. I went to detention for a while. I lived with my grandparents for a while. I was rudderless and just lived to use drugs, get drunk and party. At age 16 I got pregnant and, thankfully, was able to stay sober during the pregnancy. I gave birth to a healthy baby girl and married her father when I was 17.
Heroin Takes Over
One day, my husband and I were racing ATVs in the Utah wilderness and I broke my wrist while riding. I started using pain pills for my wrist, and soon my husband and I were addicted. We started doctor shopping to get more pain medication and even got a fake address in Las Vegas. We would drive down there, see a doctor who thought we lived in the area and convince him to give us prescriptions. Our ability to get prescription pain medication didn’t last long, and when our options ran out, we turned to heroin. We used drugs every day.
By the time my daughter was two years old, I called my father and told him we were out of control. I asked him to come get my daughter. I couldn’t take care of her anymore and I wanted to ensure she was safe. My dad picked up my daughter, but not before calling Child Services. My husband and I ended up in jail, and my dad started the process of officially adopting my daughter.
Over the next several years, I was in and out of jail for drug use, possession and distribution. I was never caught with large quantities, so I would do a few months in jail and then get out. But I never changed; I just went back to using drugs. My life was a mess, but it didn’t reach a boiling point until March 2014.
By this time, I had divorced my husband and was dating another guy. I was on parole, but wasn’t checking in with my parole officer. I’m sure there were numerous warrants out for my arrest, but I didn’t care. My boyfriend and I were living in and out of motels, selling heroin and using. We set up a deal near Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. After the deal, we drove to a nearby gas station. What we didn’t know is that the person we dealt with had set us up. As we parked at the gas station, what seemed liked hundreds of cops surrounded our car. They pulled me from the car, put a gun in my face, pushed me to the ground, cuffed me and took me to jail.
Now it was serious. I was facing multiple felonies and risked losing a good portion of my life to prison. Somehow, my attorney got a hold of Lisa Wolfe at the Rescue Mission’s Women’s Center.
An Unbelievable Second Chance
My attorney and Lisa talked and Lisa agreed to let me come to the Rescue Mission, as long as the judge, the prosecutor and my parole officer would allow it. I thought it was too long of a shot. I went to court in April of 2014 believing that I would admit guilt and then be sent to prison. The only question I had was how long my sentence would be.
When the judge said I could be released to the Rescue Mission’s New Life Program, I was in awe. I couldn’t even believe it. I know now that God was the one who sent me to the Rescue Mission. He knew the New Life Program was what I needed for a changed life. It was really the only option for me: a place that was long-term, free and faith-based. I knew it was exactly what I needed and couldn’t believe there was enough support out there to make it available to me at no cost. I literally had no money at the time and other programs we had looked at were very expensive.
I have been sober for 15 months now. I never thought I could be happy without using drugs. Now, I can’t wait to get the ’89 Chevy my dad has been saving for me and I look forward to continuing a relationship with my father, step-mom and daughter.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a relationship with my biological mom anymore. She is currently serving a long drug-related prison sentence. My step-dad, whom she remarried after my parents divorced, died of a drug overdose several years ago. So my story is not without some lingering impacts and sadness from lives filled with addiction. But I am glad God has pulled me through it and I am hopeful for his perfect heavenly home where there will be no addiction, pain or suffering.
Please pray for me. I know I will need God’s help as I strive to walk with Him here on this earth. I truly appreciate each and every one of you who have supported the Rescue Mission and provided me with a free place where I could get the help I needed. I don’t know where I would be (alive? dead? in prison?) without the Rescue Mission’s help. So thank you. You helped save my life.
To learn more about what is happening at the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake in July, check out our monthly newsletter, The Rescuer: