Grace is ever present, no matter where you are at in your life, and no matter what is happening in your life. “John” is a story of that grace.
Divorce. The word can be chilling, especially to a 12-year-old boy. But what makes it worse is his father abandoned him, leaving him at a time when a boy needs his father the most. Fast forward 23 years later, and he reunited with his father. He could’ve been bitter and rejected him. He could’ve been angry, and he might’ve been justified to feel that way. Instead, he chose grace. He chose forgiveness and healing, and in that decision, he found a loving father and two half brothers that he built an amazing and fulfilling relationship with. Had he not chosen grace, he would’ve been doomed to let the anger and hurt from that abandonment swallow him whole.
Unfortunately, the relationship was cut too short. A few years later, his father unexpectedly died from chronic bronchitis-turned-pneumonia at the age of 71. Thankfully, John and his father had been able to mend their broken relationship before it was too late. But that wasn’t where the pain ended for John. There were darker things ahead.
He had been happily married. His wife had a little girl who had passed away at the age of four, and although it was a painful time for her, their relationship was strong. In fact, it was 34 years strong. They had seen tough times, and they had seen good times. There were hills, sure, and the valleys were plenty deep, but they held together. He was her rock, and she was the love of his life. Despite all the hurt he had endured from the broken relationship with his father, this healthy marriage was one he was very proud of, and it changed him. He had a generous heart, and the grace he showed his father, he showed to everyone, including his neighbors. One such neighbor would come to test him.
It was a desperate situation for them. Their only vehicle was in dire need of tires, to the point that it couldn’t even been driven anymore for all the wires showing through. John, taking notice of the situation, offered to buy them a set of tires on the condition that they would repay him, and they accepted. But days and weeks then eventually months went by, but it was always an excuse as to why they couldn’t pay him anything. His frustrations over the situation were mounting, and in a moment of blind rage, completely losing sight of grace, grabbed a knife, went to their house, and stabbed holes in the tires. As he was doing this, their older son came outside, saw what was happening, and called the police. John was arrested and sentenced to 6 months in prison for assault and battery since he had a knife and appeared threatening. That day would come to haunt him for the rest of his life.
A short time after being sentenced, John received a devastating blow. His darling wife, on her way to visit him in prison, had been in a fatal car wreck and did not survive. That was the day that John’s world came crashing down. When he was finally released, he held a ceremony in remembrance of her in July 2018 and spread her ashes on her daughter’s grave. A piece of John went with her that day, and no matter what he did, he couldn’t get it back. He took the rest of the life insurance money, locked himself in a motel for a month and spent every bit of it on drugs to numb the pain. How could he come out of this spiral? How could he come back to a place of hope, love, and grace?
After all the money was gone, he was evicted from the motel and with no place else to go, he came to the Gospel Rescue Mission. He remembered God’s love for him, and most of all, remembered His grace. That even him, a convicted felon and former drug user, could come back to God’s love was enough to help him heal. While he is still struggling with loss, tears streaming as he told his story, he is finding his way to a better place, emotionally and physically.
If you are experiencing grief, Doorways of Hope is a great place where you can feel safe and find healing. They meet at 6pm on Monday nights here at Gospel Rescue Mission at 323 Callahan st. You can also reach out to SAMHSA’s National Hotline 1-800-662-HELP (4357).