by Monique Reed
In January of 1996, the Department of Children and Family Services came into my life and took my children who were 2 and 4 years old. I was addicted to anything that changed the way I felt and I was in abusive relationships where I gave as good as I got. Piece by piece, me and my choices affected my family’s life.
When my children were taken, my parents stepped in and took 100% responsibility for them, so not only were my children affected, my addiction changed my parents’ lives completely as well. I wanted to do better and be better--I really did. However, it took me until 2003 to get and stay clean and sober. I got my children back when they were 8 and 10 yrs old--six years of their lives and mine interrupted.
Through God’s help, we have recovered together. At the time, I hated my social worker. Today I thank God I had that “mean lady” who saw right through me and didn’t grant me custody of the children. No doubt, she saved my children’s lives and mine.
I share my story every chance I get. The reason is to remind people that no one is too far gone to be saved. Although every story of the human condition, like addiction and domestic violence, is different, I believe that one thing is true in all of our stories, and that is that an encounter with Jesus Christ changes everything.
I went through recovery homes, detox centers, mental hospitals and all of it helped. I am grateful for all of it, but when I began a relationship with Jesus, my life really changed. When I got my children back in my custody, I knew I couldn’t move forward alone. God guided us to what was then the Whittier Church of Christ (now CrossPoint). I’m so thankful there was a basketball sign out in front of the church advertising Upward basketball that drew me.
We never know who is walking through our church doors and what they are going through. I often wonder if the people who welcomed me and my children realize the impact they had in our lives. Smiles and encouragement go a long way.
If you are struggling with anything, I would like to encourage you to talk to someone. Open up your bible and ask the Lord to show himself to you. If you don’t have a Bible, pray and ask God to show you the way. Some of the advice I got earlier on in recovery was to maintain a daily connection and relationship with God; be honest, with myself and others--secrets keep us sick. Remain teachable, help others, and have an attitude of gratitude.
My 18 Year Chip
In Celebrate Recovery, we receive "chips" for sobriety milestones. I recently received my 18-year chip. I know to most people it seems like a small thing, but receiving this makes me so emotional. To think that I have not had a drop of alcohol or a drug in my system for 18 years blows my mind. Don’t give up!! My shame is gone, I’ve been set free.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
This bible verse was handed to me at a market when I was in my addiction. Every time I read it I am reminded that God had a plan for me and my family even while I was still in the arms of addiction--long before I had any hope. If you feel hopeless, don't despair. Don't give up. Hope is here!