“God wasn’t done with me.”
Life change isn’t easy. Sometimes it takes falling into the darkness again to truly see the light.
Mark battled alcoholism, depression, and codependency for many years before he came to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. For 12 years, his address was the streets.
“I had drunk myself into oblivion,” he shares. “I reached a breaking point. Death or help were my only two options.”
He entered the Men’s Recovery Program at the Mission in 2013 and got his life together. But he began turning to the bottle again when work pressures got to be too much.
Soon, he was distancing himself from his wife and his daughters and caring more about his next drink. “There is a process, where, when you start to pull away from everything and lose sight of any kind of goals, relationships, volunteering, work, anything . . . you get stuck inside yourself, and anxiety and depression start to take over,” he says. “Then what happens is you just give up.”
Back on the streets…
The next thing Mark knew, he was alone and on the streets again, back to an environment he was all too familiar with.
“You’re exhausted. You can’t lie down. You can’t rest because you’d get in trouble,” he says about the problems those experiencing homelessness face on a daily basis.
In the summer, the problems are much worse. “When you’re out on the streets, sometimes it’s incredibly hard to find resources to be able to stay hydrated,” Mark shares. “You get hot, sweaty, sticky, you stink, you can’t get clean. Just trying to get from place to place is incredibly difficult.”
“I needed a reset.”
For Mark, finding himself on the streets again after initially making a new start was his rock bottom.
“I swore I would never be homeless again after almost a decade of being on the streets,” he says. “The only thing I could think of was I had lost everything I gained from coming through the program before. I needed a reset. I needed an opportunity to come back and refocus.”
A solemn promise.
In February 2019, Mark reached out to the one place where he knew he could find hope — the Mission. “I knew this was the one last place I could turn to in my desperation,” he shares.
But coming back to the Mission wasn’t necessarily easy. Mark recalls being full of fear, uncertainty, and apprehension walking through the doors again.
This time, Mark was determined to make lasting changes, with God’s help. He says: “Upon coming to the Mission, I made a solemn promise to the staff, but most importantly to myself, to let God guide me. The only thing that mattered was that God would show me the way. I would listen and not make decisions based on what I wanted. And I would pray on everything, making His will my highest priority.”
“I have purpose now.”
Since letting God lead the way, Mark has felt the happiest he’s felt in a long time. He says, “I feel fulfilled and like I have a purpose now.”
The best part of his recovery has been the relationships he’s built. He’s come to realize: “You can’t do this world on your own.”
He’s even discovered he really likes listening to people. “It’s given me the option of counseling as maybe a career path for me,” he says. “The biggest thing that I gained was the insight that I don’t have to give up the dreams of a more stable career.”
“His will, not mine.”
Today, Mark is grateful for his experiences at the Mission and for all God has done in his life. At the Mission, he has been a floor clerk in the Bridge Program, a house clerk at Riverton Place, and a lead with Search + Rescue.
“Throughout, God has shown me grace and compassion and has shown me a clarity I never had,” he says. “He restored all I had lost and so much more. My relationship with my two daughters, family, and friends is wonderful now. God is so good!”
Most of all, Mark has hope and optimism for his future with God leading the way.
“I look forward to seeing what God has in store for me next. I have so much hope for the future. Whatever God has planned next, I am 100% committed to my promise — His will, not mine.”
Reposted courtesy of United Gospel Mission
Mark stayed at Riverton Place, UGM’S Men’s Recovery Program in Burien.