Joanne's Story 2022
We want to share Joanne’s faith story which shows God never gives up on us and he stands ready to give us another chance.
We are grateful to Joanne who took the time and heart to write her faith story. We hope it is an encouragement to you.
My youth was misspent, but it didn’t start out that way. I was born in the spring of 1963 in Houston as the youngest of 6 children to a loving mother and father. Mom had converted to Catholicism (formerly Baptist) for my dad. Going to church service on Saturday evening was a regular routine.
One of my earliest memories was during mass when Father M. said, “If you have something troubling you, ask God. He will give you the answer.” I’m not quite sure what was troubling a 5 year old, but I asked and suddenly the answer entered my mind. I was astonished. During another sermon, Father M. spoke of purgatory. I remember thinking to myself, “You’re wrong. There is no such thing as purgatory. You just told us how wonderful God is.” This didn’t make sense to a child. But I knew God was there and existed as a young child. It was not even a question.
When I was still young my father was transferred to Beaumont. My parents chose to move us to a small town a few miles away. During this time, the KKK was alive and thriving. I was entering the 2nd grade, but I was clueless to the racism around me. It wasn’t until years later as a young adult that I shared some emotional trauma from elementary school with my mom. I learned that we were seen as traitors to our race and pot-smoking hippies from the big city. Perhaps it was because my oldest brother drove a van and had long blond hair.
We returned to Houston just a few years later. I went to Catholic parochial school from 4th-6th grade. It was at the end of 6th grade when the school decided to educate the students about drug abuse. I walked into English class and on the chalk board was hand written every recreational drug known for that time period. I remember thinking, “This is stupid. Why are we learning about this?”
What it did do is perk my curiosity. At the age of 11, I sought out a girl in the school who smoked pot. So it began, the two of us would remain inseparable throughout Junior High and High School. My journey into drug addiction began slowly and blossomed into a cocaine addiction by the time I was 18.
My first marriage was based on drug use. By the time I was 25, I was physically, emotionally and spiritually sick. I knew I could no longer live that way. I sought refuge back in my parents’ house. I managed over the years to quit using drugs and obtain a professional license in college. I married a good man in my 30’s and enjoyed a promising career in health care.
Although I managed to quit drugs, I had begun drinking in my twenties. Alcohol was now my master. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t stop or why I couldn’t drink like normal people. I had managed control over most other things in my life, but alcohol had me beat. This cost me my marriage, my self-esteem and my job. This was my rock bottom. I was 51. It wasn’t until my third trip to the rehab center and full surrender to a power greater than myself that I began a successful journey.
I started out my new spiritual life as a young child with a love for Jesus Christ. Through misguided adventures I had lost my faith over the years. I left God, but he never left me. I had questioned my belief in Jesus Christ. As I sought healing in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), my spirit began to live again. AA is a 12 step program. The first 3 steps are:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
In the beginning of my recovery, I wasn’t convinced about Christianity. AA allows its members to choose who their higher power is. This is a powerful tool for giving the misguided a chance of redemption.
About 4 years into recovery, I began to seek spiritual growth. A friend recommended a book “The 4 Wills of GOD” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (Nashville, B&H Publishing Group 2018). I chose the audio version.
One of the things God wills is that we believe in Jesus Christ. It was while listening to this chapter one Saturday afternoon I was struck by the Holy Spirit. I had always known Jesus, and now there was no more doubt in my mind. I hit my knees and reclaimed my belief in Jesus Christ, asking for forgiveness and grace.
I have now entered my 8th year of sobriety and life is good. I joined a church and was baptized last August (2021). I am active in my recovery. I go to meetings and sponsor other women. I am active in the church. At the same time, I feel young in my spiritual journey.
This verse is meaningful for me: “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.” (Titus 3:3)
I look forward to each day without regret over my misspent youth. I try to be of service to others. I share my strength and hope with others, that they too my find their true purpose as God intended. Each day is a gift not to be wasted. As AA teaches, I take one day at a time. This truth is in the Bible: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Mathew 6:34) Instead I pray for peace, recovery and to be of service to others.