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No Longer a Slave to Addiction

“Very early in life, you know, it left this stench, this haunting smell that is cocaine,” Kevin relives.  “And I started connecting the dots with this smell…’This is what my mom is doing that's taking her money, that's taken her mind, that's taken her away of being responsible.’"

Kevin’s mom was just 14 when he was born. The early years were good, until she became addicted to crack cocaine. She spent her welfare checks on drugs, keeping her children in poverty…and alone.

“She began to spend more time with her friends - not with me. She would say things verbally and to kinda, you know, wound me, offend me,” he says sadly.

Kevin saw his dad only a few times in his childhood. That void carved deep scars in Kevin’s heart.

“I didn't have the affirmation, the father affirming me.  In teenage years, I wanted a relationship with him, I really did.”

Kevin was 13 when his mom lost custody and his own grandmother took him in. Feeling completely abandoned, Kevin was angry at his parents and life.

“I just felt, you know, life had dealt me a bad blow.” Kevin recalls.  “It affected my confidence and a sense of self-worth and want to feel that I belonged to someone and I belonged to a purpose.”

In the midst of the darkness, there was some unexpected hope that would keep coming back to mind: his best friend’s grandmother.

“She prayed for me, and like I say, she shared some things about God with me every now and then, but she showed me the love of God more so.”

But it would be years before Kevin would understand his need for God’s love. A popular athlete, he thought he found it through football, sex and pot.

“Yes, and no. Exterior, yes,” he explains.  “The way people embraced and received me, the respect that they showed me, I did. But deep inside I struggled with me.”

After high school, Kevin planned to join the air force. But those plans derailed when he got his girlfriend pregnant. Determined not to abandon her and his own son, Kevin saw a way to make money the way others in the projects did -- dealing drugs. But soon it became more than providing for his family.

“The money, the clothing, the cars and things they had started becoming attractive. Being respected, in our neighborhoods as being ‘the guy’ or being ‘the man,’ Kevin reminisces.  “The attention, the attraction from a lot of women. I thought I had this knack that caused me just to float under the radar and not get caught by police. It was a sense of excitement.”

 “Excitement” that included a life of gunfights and violence. For years, Kevin thrived living the lifestyle of a dealer and thug. He never used what he sold ... until his girlfriend left him for being unfaithful.

“Being hurt again.  I'm being abandoned, you know, by a female. I started craving something stronger to numb the pain.”

Then. that old childhood memory …

“That smell, that cocaine that was a stench that was so haunting to me and so intimidating, it became my friend,” he admits.   

Cocaine and later, heroin, took hold of Kevin’s life. That meant several stints in jail and the guilt of not being a good dad. After five miserable years, he hit bottom.

“I just felt inside this is like a living hell, that if I died in that state I knew I would go to hell.”

At age 29, Kevin saw only one way to get clean and be the dad he never had. It came from remembering his friend’s grandmother.

“She used to tell me, ‘You're going to need God for yourself one day,’ and how to open up your heart and receive God and have faith.”

Now having violated probation, Kevin turned himself in.

“Immediately when they shut the door I got on my knees just began weep and to call out to God,” Kevin shares.  “I asked him to save me and I told him I was serious about living a life to serve him.  And as I was calling on God I just felt this presence. I felt this peace come into the room and it was like I felt like I wasn't alone. I felt like I wasn't abandoned. I felt like I had somebody come into my life and they was on my side, that everything was going to be all right. I felt the warmth of His love began to just embrace me and come alive on the inside.”

Kevin served seven months, and used the time to get to know God.

“I wanted to be grounded and rooted in Christ as I was reading in the scriptures. I wanted a new foundation because all the time that I had spent in darkness and chasing drugs, I had to invest in a new nature that I had in Christ and that's by feeding the word of God.”

In time and with God’s strength, he was even able to forgive his parents.

“Yeah, so I was able to forgive my dad, and release him from my heart.”  Kevin continues, “We only get one mom in this life and love her just the way she is.”

Today Kevin is grateful for his wife, Costella, and their blended family of nine. He now knows where to look for the true measure of his worth.

“I began to see myself through a different light,” he discloses.  “I seen myself through His likeness and His image. No rejection is there, no abandonment is there because His love is fulfilling.”

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