I've lived with shame for more than half my life — a deep, overwhelming shame and feelings of failure that I couldn't bear to face. All for one terrible reason: crack cocaine.
I knew better. I grew up in a middle-class home, with parents who loved me. They raised me in the church, and I've believed in Christ since I was 13. I graduated from high school and went into the military, and after I left, my life was great. I had a good job, a home, a girlfriend and lots of friends to come over to eat, drink and be merry.
But in 1986, I lost my job, and I had trouble finding another one. All of a sudden, I felt my comfortable life slipping away. Then, one day, someone offered me a hit of crack. I took it. For a moment, everything seemed OK. Reality didn't matter. I was hooked. And from that point on, my life just got worse. And as the shame of what I was doing to my life grew, I had to smoke more crack to keep from facing it.
That was my life for the next 29 years. I hurt my parents, my siblings, my children, everyone who loved me.
In January 2015, I finally hit bottom. I had no job, no place to stay. So I came to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. When I took the tour and heard about their Christ-centered program, I knew this was my chance to change. And I took it.
Sober, I had to face all the damage I had done for almost three decades. The shame almost crushed me — until I started walking with Jesus again. This place has done a lot for me, but nothing has been more important than Jesus and learning who I truly am in Him. Over the past 15 months, Jesus took away all my shame, and He's shaping me into the man He always wanted me to be. I'm free, forgiven and my kids are proud of me. Thanks to you and the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, I can walk with my head up again.