Joy’s Story

What does it mean for your story to be unwritten? At Gospel Rescue Mission, our whole organization is based on people’s stories being unwritten. Joy is no different. This is the beginning of her story…

She woke up in a hospital bed. It had been bad before, very bad, but never this bad. She looked at her cast, her broken bones, her bruises, and it started to sink in. She had to get out. She had to get safe. So there, lying helpless in her hospital bed, she decided to leave him. This was the last time.

Joy had been in and out of abusive relationships the majority of her adult life. Why she attracted that kind of man, she would never know, but even though she would leave, the trauma seemed to stick to her. Then she would find a new guy, everything would seem totally perfect, until it wasn’t. Then she would leave, but the residue of shame and fear just clung to her. Every abusive relationship took its toll, so when she left the last one, she decided that it would definitely be the last one. Unfortunately, the abuse had done its damage, and it just couldn’t be undone.

1-800-799-7233 If you are experiencing abuse of any kind.

She found herself in a constant panic: heart pounding, light-headed, fingers tingling. It was enough to drive a person insane. She did her best to calm her nerves with meditation and deep breathing, but it wasn’t very helpful. She thought maybe a good stiff drink would do the trick. So she tried that, and sure enough, the anxiety subsided for a bit. That was just a temporary fix though, because as soon as the “buzz” wore off, the heart-racing nervousness was back again like a pulsing organism trying to take over her body. Another drink would keep the monster at bay though, she thought. That’s where everything really started to come apart. 

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Years of drinking, just struggling to control her anxiety, was taking her down a rough road. She couldn’t keep a job, and no job meant no car and no house, and she ended up homeless. She shuffled around from shelter to shelter, getting the “Band-Aid” approach. She would have a warm place to sleep and a meal to eat, but come daylight, she was back on the streets. No direction, no hope, just doing what she could to get some more liquor so that she could treat her trauma. There had to be a better way…

She believed in God, she knew she wanted to be closer to Him, and she knew that she wasn’t going to get the spiritual treatment that she was craving through a regular shelter. It was through this realization that she found the Gospel Rescue Mission. Now she’s getting to spend more time with God, her faith is growing, and her path is starting to shift. She loves that our new location is close to AA classes, Celebrate Recovery, Doorways of Hope, and other recovery programs that happen either on our campus or very close by. She’s getting work experience by manning our front counter, and the work there makes her feel productive. “The program here teaches you to take responsibility for your actions,” she told me. Joy is still struggling with her addiction, and since we are a sober living facility, that’s been a challenge for her and for us.

But the good news is that Joy’s story is still unwritten. So I’ll ask again, what does it mean for your story to be unwritten? Does it mean that the path you’re on now is going to continue in that same direction, a constant with no changes? Does it mean that the path you’re on right now is going to take a nasty curve into the dark woods of despair? Or does it mean that the path will eventually turn into sunshine and rainbows? The path could go anywhere, and only Joy can decide which path she wants to take.

Here is a final thought: there is a popular band from the 70’s that struggled with addiction and that addiction caused a huge backstage fight between the members, resulting one of the members leaving the band. Five years later, and with the remaining members struggling to put out a good album, the wayward member decided to come back. It was then that they realized that their addiction was going to be the end of their band’s story, so they all went to rehab, got clean, and formally reunited the band. That group is now one of the most legendary bands of all time, with few others touching their 49-year span. This story had an incredible ending, but if we could’ve had a glimpse at that band’s story in 1980, the ending would’ve looked rather bleak. So although Joy’s story is unwritten, we pray that God’s hand be on her, and that she can find the strength to adjust her path like others have before her. Hopefully her unwritten story will have a happy ending.