In 2014 I was addicted to both methamphetamine and the needles I used to deliver it into my veins. Dead and numb, I destroyed my body for a peace that I never got. I lived without morality and hurt everybody that ever loved me. I roamed around East Texas, forever chasing an escape that I could never find. The only emotions I could garner up were desperation for dope, hate for myself, and resentment for a God I held responsible for every bad thing that had ever happened to me.
Which is strange because I didn’t really believe in God. I didn’t grow up in church, I had never read the Bible, and the few times I had been in a church was for weddings and funerals.
Christianity was boring and filled with rules that I would never follow.
I didn’t even have many people that were close to me that were Christians except my mom who found God only after we landed right in the middle of the bible belt. When she tried to talk to me about Jesus, I would laugh at her and tell her she joined a cult.
For the first few years of my addiction, I was homeless and moved between trap houses, hotels, and sleeping in my car and storage unit. My mom’s husband wouldn’t allow me to stay in their home because he knew I was on drugs. Her husband died on Christmas Eve of 2013.
I am deeply ashamed to admit that at the time, I was glad that he was dead.
I showed up at her house that night and moved right in, knowing that she would not turn me away.
I continued to use drugs, steal from my mom, and make her life miserable. One day she came into my room and told me that if I wanted to continue to live there, then I needed to start going to bible study with her every week. She was serious and I was furious. I figured that I could go to her little study and embarrass her enough that they wouldn’t invite me back. Problem solved.
It’s been over six years now since I walked into Lori and Elliot Godwin’s home for my first bible study, high as a kite, and prepared to launch a battle over God and faith.
I was introduced to Brooke who was Lori and Elliot’s daughter and Joe, Linda, and Christopher Greenwell. My bible study family—the people that God put in my life to guide me to Him.
There are 168 hours in a week and for one hour every week for nearly a year, I was sitting in that living room, high on meth. They all knew that I was on drugs and they welcomed me anyway. I used to marvel over how insane it was that they would allow a drug addict like me into their home. Like, weren’t they scared I was going to rob them blind? For the record, I never stole anything—not even the Bath and Body Works lotion I really wanted.
Even before I found salvation, I knew that God would be mad at me if I stole from Lori Godwin.
The battle for my soul raged and God had sent this unlikely group of people to love me, pray for me, and fight for me. They didn’t drag me from a burning building, but they saved me from the fires of hell. They didn’t pull me from the sea, but they did save me from drowning. They did not rescue my body, but they surely helped save my soul. I don’t know what would have happened to me without them, or where I would be now. Dead likely, with my soul forever burning for eternity.
On February 4th, 2015 I was sitting in the post office parking lot in Whitehouse, Texas, broken and covered in blood. With hot tears falling down my face, I could feel an ache growing inside of my heart.
And as the sun began to break across the dawn, my faith rose from the ashes of doubt.
Every second of my life, every choice, and the drug addiction that dragged me across hell was leading me right to this moment. Before, the only time I would speak to God was to blame him or beg him to let me die. Finally, on this day, I screamed out to Him to save me. And He did.
It wasn’t until I was spiritually broken that I experienced abundant life. I haven’t gotten high since that day. My journey to salvation took 37 years but my brokenness meant that I no longer had to live independently from God.
“Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Genisis 32.28
Pretty sure my name should be Isreal on account of my struggles with God. But I learned from my bible study family about Agape love. What does that mean? God is Agape love. It is selfless, pure, sacrificial love towards somebody with their best interest at heart. Agape love is a love with the power to change someone’s life. The way that my mom, Lori, Elliot, Brooke, Joe, Linda, and Christopher changed mine.
On February 7th, 2021 Joe Greenwell passed away suddenly.
Now, I’m left wondering if God passes messages onto people in heaven when you pray. I need him to tell Joe all the things that I should have told him in life but didn’t. So, I decided to write a letter that God can slide into Joe’s DM’s from me.
I know that you’re in heaven with Jesus and no matter how much we all wish you were still here, you wouldn’t come back—even if you could. Although the world doesn’t seem as beautiful to me anymore without your light, you taught me that I’m just passing through here anyway.
I wish I could go back and tell you how much you truly meant to me and what an important part you played in the story of my life. I used to watch you across that living room and wonder what it was like to love somebody so much that you believed that they were real, even if you couldn’t see them. You taught me that that was what faith was. Your patience taught me that I needed to hang out where God was hanging out. You loved me when I couldn’t love myself. You taught me that Jesus is the way, the only way and that I am the daughter of Christ.
Joe, you didn’t just change my life, you saved my life. The woman I have become began with the seed of hope you planted all those years ago. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the life you have given me.
I love you and miss you,