Evan’s image of himself was distorted. Meth. Alcohol. Cocaine. He was held captive to his addiction. But he’s no longer an addict. Today, he’s healthy, he’s sober, and he’s taken on a new image.
"I had to break down and reach my hand out, and I feel like God extended His hand to me and lifted me up," he says.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13: 12-13 (NIV)
Windows are an avenue through which people see and experience the world around them. There is nothing remarkable about their design or the way they work—they simply provide a view, an image of reality, and they do it perfectly.
As humans, we need windows in our lives, windows to see, to learn, and when the conditions are right, to provide us with moments of beauty.
In May of 2016, 28-year-old Evan saw himself through a window, not the kind that one might peer through to watch song birds sing or snowflakes fall. On that day, Evan saw himself through a window that revealed more about himself than it did the world around him.
It was the dead of summer in Bridge Creek, Oklahoma. He was at his drug dealer’s house. He hadn’t slept in nine days because he was coming off of meth. He stirred around the living room, searching for what little belongings he had—a toothbrush, deodorant, an extra pair of shorts. He put his possessions in a small bag, threw it on his back and walked out the front door.
Evan had a truck, handed down to him from his family some years ago. But on this day, his truck wasn’t running. He’s not sure what was wrong with it, perhaps the oil needed changing or the belt had gone bad, but without his truck, he was forced to walk.
Home is often described as more of a feeling than a place, and perhaps that is true. Home is wherever people go for rest and comfort and love, which is why Evan was about to make the 10 mile walk from his drug dealer’s house to his parent’s home.
He walked on a back country road, surrounded only by cow pastures and rows of corn. The sun glistened off the ground beneath him, reflecting on his face. A bead of sweat slipped off his forehead and into the dirt below. His body yearned for rest. With each step, he could feel the skin under his foot softening from perspiration and weariness. The rocky pebbles beneath the sole of his Adidas were beginning to rub a blister on his right foot. His head drooped toward the earth. “It was hot and bugs were everywhere,” says Evan. “I was just sweating. I got about four miles down the road, and then I just couldn’t go any farther. I crawled into a ditch and finally went to sleep by a telephone pole.”
He isn’t sure what time he fell asleep, but he didn’t wake up until the next day—still in the ditch, still leaning beside that telephone pole. “I just remember thinking to myself, ‘what are you doing? This is miserable.’”
For Evan, that ditch was a window—the place where his view of himself changed, the moment when he saw himself for what he truly was.
“I realized I was a full-blown addict,” says Evan. “I was a junky, and I knew it.”
After he woke up, he finished the walk to his parents' home. And just one day later, his mom and dad would wake Evan up in the middle of the night—bags packed and the car running—and drive 12 hours to Denver Rescue Mission. They didn’t tell him where they were taking him, and for good reason. It was commonplace for him to come home, plead for help, get cleaned up, shower, and eat only to leave again—and get high again—a few days later.
His parents drove to the Lawrence Street Shelter where Evan enrolled in Next Step. From Next Step he was accepted into the New Life Program.
In August of 2017, he was playing in a home run derby for a softball league many of our New Life Program participants play in. Just days before, he was contemplating things, “I was on the fence in my recovery. I was questioning whether or not I could stay sober. That home run derby was big deal for me, it was a big part of my recovery.”
It wasn’t just the home run derby that was a big deal, it was also the people there watching Evan participate in the derby. “My family was there,” he says.
Evan won the home run derby, and when he won, he walked over to his mom and dad and gave them a hug. It was a simple gesture, but it was one of those moments—a moment of beauty.
“They drove all the way down to watch me play, and that really meant a lot to me. It gave me confidence that I can finish the program, and it helped me see myself as capable and loved.”
On that day, Evan’s image of himself changed. No longer was he an addict, surrendered to his addiction. Just seven months after the home run derby, he had landed a job and graduated the New Life Program.
“When I was in that ditch, I saw myself for who I was—a broken person, and in need of help. I finally realized I couldn’t do it on my own. I had to break down and reach my hand out, and through my experiences in the program, I feel like God extended his hand to me and lifted me up. That’s something that will always stick with me. I’ve always told people the main thing Denver Rescue Mission taught me was: "blessed are the poor in spirit." And that’s where I was when I showed up at the Mission—I’m never going to think that I can do things on my own.”
The New Life Program is a rehabilitation program that your donations support. Through courses, counseling and case management, people are empowered to navigate their addiction with success. But what’s just as important as sobriety is encouraging our participants to engage in community with the people around them. It’s because of healthy relationships and community that people are able to view their life through windows of hope and see themselves as valued and loved.
“I don’t see myself as an addict anymore—I want to be a good friend, a good father and a good son. Coming to The Crossing and making friends with people who have experienced similar things was an important step in helping me,” says Evan. “We shared our experiences together, and we talked about them. Before The Crossing, I felt I was weird or different—like I’m the only one with all these problems—but that’s not true. Lots of people have similar problems, and it’s important to help each other through them.”
Like community and relationship, your donations are also windows, the avenues by which our participants can experience a life of recovery and rehabilitation. Thank you for helping people view themselves through windows of hope!
Letter from the CEO
In my job, I hear a lot of stories about brokenness, about pain and suffering, about what addiction does to someone and their family. From these stories, I have come to realize that we are all broken, that we all have experienced suffering in our lives. It is not just the homeless, needy or addicted who have pain.
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Evan's story was featured in the June 2018 issue of Changing Lives titled “A Window of Hope.”
Also in this issue:
- Father's Day BBQ - June 13
- Hit a Home Run Against Hunger
- Dr. Michael Schneider on Why Denver Rescue Mission Matters
- Letter from the CEO