Part three of Tim’s story is dedicated to his late wife, Jacqueline, who after many years of fighting lost her life to cancer. Jacqueline you are very loved by many.
It was my third trip to prison in five years and this time I was looking at the long and lonely path of a 30-year prison sentence.
Been there, done that. I knew what I was in for, I knew the drill. I went to the diagnostic unit to get my assignment and I was happy because they assigned me to a brand new unit. I had a big smile on my face, I thought I was in for a treat, but that wasn’t the case.
My first trip to prison, I was “Inmate 51- – – -.” Here I was, back in prison less than five years later and I was “Inmate 643814.” It’s crazy to think that many people came through the prison system in such a short period of time.
When I arrived on my unit, 80% of the other inmates had numbers beginning with 19—–, 20—–, 29—–. These men had been locked up for over 20 years! Instantly, the white boy’s words were racing through my mind.
“God is going to keep you where you are closest to Him.”
So, I started going to church. I went to bible studies, listened to the chaplain preach — I got into it. Until, I saw the same people who were preaching, conning others. The guys who were speaking in tongues were getting in fights and having homosexual relationships. I started questioning everything.
This whole time I was searching to fill the void inside of me but I was searching on the outside for something to fix the inside. I didn’t realize the problem was me. I was looking for relief. I was looking for the formula for change, but leaving out a key component. The search kept leading me to dead ends so I turned around and went back where I started.
Even though I was never arrested for a drug related charge, I knew if I wanted to be up for parole, I needed to take some classes. Initially, the motivation to take the classes was all game, but Gpd was playing game on me and I didn’t even know it.
Going into substance abuse classes, I had three questions I wanted answered. I never shared those questions with anyone but they were always circling in my mind. Little did I know, God planned on using those unanswered questions to show me that He was there– even in the struggle.
“Listen, I am really trying to help you guys. I didn’t take this job to teach you out of this book, I am an 8 year clean heroin addict. I know what it’s like to be in your shoes.”
I was shocked. In my mind, I had an image of what a heroin addict looked like, and she wasn’t it. I had no idea. As she started talking about dopamine and the affects drugs have on your brain and body, one of the questions that had been circling around in my head had finally been answered. From that point forward I listened. I listened to every single word she uttered from her mouth. Each class was more informative than the last. I was starting to understand addiction and was eager to learn more.
TDC moved me to another unit where I met Mr. Haygood. Mr. Haygood had been sober for 11 years, and had a lot of insight to offer. It was through Mr. Haygood’s teaching that I realized I prayed the wrong prayer. It wasn’t just crack that was the problem for me– all of it was a problem.
It came in small doses, but I could see God working.
“As long as we can stop using, we thought it was okay because we looked at the stopping and not ay why we were using.”
Of all the times, I’d been to jail. Begged for drugs. Stopped and started again I had asked myself over and over again, “Why am I doing this, why can’t I stop?” And for the first time, I was starting to understand the answer to those questions. Each puzzle piece was connecting to the last.
As I realized the puzzle pieces were connecting and I was running out of excuses, I also realized I had a decision to make. I was laying in my jail cell after a racial riot had caused the unit to be locked down, and I remember saying to myself, “Okay God, I hear you. This is something I want. I don’t know where you are taking me but I know this is what I want. Today. This day. I know I can’t do this with your help.”
That was April 28, 1995. Today, I am celebrating 20 years in long term recovery.
Today… physically… I’m not on dope. My face is not shrunken in. I’m well groomed. I’m dressed to impress and I don’t look like and addict. I smell good. I look good. Emotionally, I’m stable and because God placed me in a situation where I was able to enter into a recovery program, I get to live life again.
“I don’t know all of the answers, but what I do know is that when I die, I’m going to die drug free.”
Today, Tim works as a Peer Specialist. His job gives him the opportunity to introduce recovery to people who have never seen recovery. He shows people who don’t believe recovery is possible how to live a drug free life. Tim is also a sponsor to others who are new to recovery and wanting that change in their lives. Tim gets the opportunity to enter treatment facilities and prisons– places God is able to continually use him as a vessel to show His good works. Because of the transformation God did in his life, leading him down a path of long-term recovery; Tim has been able to be a supportive son to his disabled father, a better brother to his siblings and was able to lovingly encourage his ailing wife as she fought but ultimately lost her battle to cancer.
Final words from Tim…
“I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God placed me in a situation where God could talk to my physical ears in a spiritual way. Today, my mom is my best friend. As a grown man, I now sees what the boy couldn’t. I know what my mom was trying get me to learn all those years ago. Today she gets her flowers on this side of the dirt. I was lost but now I’m found, I was blind but ow I see… that’s more than a parable in the Bible to me, it’s the story I get to tell others like me, every day!”
(This blog is Part Three of a three part story. To read parts one and two, follow the links below.)