JonathanThe ongoing cycle — drugs, crime, incarceration — kept him trapped in a life of misery and hopelessness.
Thinking back to his early days, Jonathan can trace the experiences that shaped him and resulted in a life of crime, homelessness, and addiction.
“My mom used to hit me a lot, and at school I got bullied a lot,” he says. “The reason she hit me was because that’s how she was raised.”
He was also sexually abused. “After that, I ran away. And when I was 13 years old, I got introduced to gangs, drugs, and alcohol.”
Addiction, prison, and homelessness soon followed.
“I was staying in abandoned apartments, stolen cars, laundromats, or just out on the street. I didn’t want to go back to the abuse at home and at school. I felt like I was accepted by the people out there.
The ongoing cycle — drugs, crime, incarceration — kept him trapped in a life of misery and hopelessness.
“The only thing I knew”
“I always went back to doing drugs,” Jonathan says. “It’s the only thing I knew. I didn’t have a foundation. All the people I knew were drinking. They were going through the same stuff I was going through: hurt and pain from home.”
Jonathan’s drug of choice was crack cocaine. “I spent a lot of days downtown under bridges and walking around smoking crack. And then it turned into meth, because it lasted a lot longer, was easier to get, and was cheaper.”
At the time, he says, he didn’t really think much about being homeless at such a young age. “It’s what I wanted. I thought it was fun.” But eventually, his drug use and homelessness began to kill his hopes and dreams. In the end, he realized that what he wanted was to have a family, a career, and a normal life.
“When I was out there and doing drugs, it was difficult for me to see that there was any help,” he says. “When you’re doing drugs and alcohol, you’re just stuck. You’re focused on blocking out all the pain and hurt.”
“Only God can snap you out of it”
Jonathan knew there was help available. “But it’s just difficult to see,” he says. “The only person who can snap you out of it is God.”
His lowest point came when he realized he had no one to turn to anymore. “I didn’t have anyone. I didn’t have my parents anymore. I didn’t have any friends — nothing. I was just all alone.”
Jonathan’s life finally turned around when another homeless man suggested he try to get help at the Mission. They came to our downtown shelter for food.
“It was comforting to know that I could get a meal, that I wasn’t alone, that there were people who really did care,” he says. “I found that at the Mission.”
He asked about our recovery program and one of our case managers spoke to him about what we can offer to someone who’s ready to turn their life around.
“I just knew it’s what God wanted me to do. And He took care of me. He’s taking care of me.
“The Mission has helped me in lots of ways. I’m learning to trust people again, learning to trust myself, learning to trust in God, most of all. I am actually finishing the program. And that’s something that I’ve never done.
Sticking it out
“I’ve never had responsibility. I’ve never had things to accomplish and always failed or given up. Now I’ve stuck it out and completed the program.
“My relationship with God is amazing. I really enjoy seeking Him, worshiping and going to Him when problems arise. In life we all have problems. But we’re turning to Him instead of drugs and alcohol.”
Jonathan sees many wonderful opportunities ahead. Because he’s bilingual, he is considering a teaching internship. That will prepare him to help those who speak English as a second language get their GEDs, so they can go on to college.