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Desiring a Life of Purpose

As a little boy, fear had become a daily part of life for Joseph, who lived with parents who were addicted to drugs and alcohol.  “My life at home as a young boy was chaotic. It was full of drugs, a lot of arguing, a lot of fighting, a lot of physical abuse.”

When he was five, his mother was driving under the influence when she was involved in a devastating crash, and suffered from a brain injury that caused memory loss.  Joseph says that’s when their relationship dissolved and rejection set in.   “Confusion, sadness, fear… abandonment.  She didn't recognize me at all. She didn't even know she had a child.”

The physical abuse from his father continued until he was 11 years old. And as a teenager, he began looking for validation in all the wrong places.  “That’s when I began to start doing drugs, medicating that pain of losing and feeling abandoned by my mother. I went and went to a rave in Atlanta, and got introduced to ecstasy and LSD and then it stemmed from that into cocaine and then that stemmed into meth and heroin.”

He spent the years of his early twenties in and out of prison for selling and using drugs. He would get clean while locked up, but once released, he was back to his old habits.  Joseph was gaining money and attention from the drug cartel, but he was never completely satisfied.  “Yeah, the drug use – it took away the pain for the moment. While I was in that lifestyle, I really knew that everybody was out to get everybody else. And so, I didn't trust anyone.”

At 28, he was robbed three times in a year, almost losing his life to the violence. He decided to walk away from it all, in hopes of getting clean for good.  “That last time was really scary, and they robbed me and handcuffed me and that was that moment where I'm like, I'm going to die if I don’t get out of here.”

“I had chosen to leave that life, and the only way I knew how to leave it was to just leave everything I owned. I was homeless, so I left all my cars, boats, dogs, everything, and I just started walking the streets.”

He wandered for nearly six months without a home. One night, he was trying to rest in a school baseball dugout, when he had an unexpected encounter.

“That night, the mosquitos were terrible. And I was really restless. And I sat up and I just cried out to God, I said, ‘God, why have you let all this happen to me?’ And immediately after I said that, Jesus appeared to me as a man, I mean, He just looked like a regular person, and He looked at me, ignored the question I had and He said, ‘I love you and have plans for you.’ And then He just disappeared. It felt like liquid love. Like it just felt like someone had hugged me so well and in such a sincere way that it set me free immediately.” I just came to my senses and was like, alright… You have plans, I’m going to follow you. I’m going to see what these plans are.”

Experiencing God’s love led him to get the help he needed for addiction. And, he entered a faith-based recovery program. There, his heart continued to heal and he found his place as part of God’s family.  

“I spent a lot of time in the Bible, and then a lot of time reflecting, just hanging out with Jesus.  He was filling in the voids and mending all those areas of my heart that had been broken.”

After 10 months of participation, he successfully completed program. Now, twelve years drug free, he says his feelings of fear have been replaced by God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.

“He’s never left me. He’s so kind to me. He keeps me uh going in the right direction.”

Joseph is a devoted father and husband. He says the plans God showed him that night in the dugout, are clear today.  He is actively involved in church ministries and shares his story with others, passing on the joy that he’s found through a real relationship with God.  

“Give Jesus a try, and He will not let you down. There is no place that you can be, there's no darkness, there's no bottom that He can't pick you up from. He will change your life forever. And He did it for me.”

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