Most of our stories start here in the good ol’ US of A, but Miles’s story is a little more distant…Make that a LOT more distant. Miles is from the Ukraine. He was adopted by a loving American family when he was just a baby and although his biological parents might’ve given him up, he was CHOSEN by a new family and hand-picked by God. It seems that his story had gotten off to a rocky start from the git-go, but he was actually very blessed.
At a young age, it was clear that Miles was different. He was prone to angry outbursts, had difficulty concentrating, suffered from depression, and struggled socially. Miles was eventually diagnosed with autism. According to Autism Speaks, autism “refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication,” (AutismSpeaks.org, 2019). Autism has many faces though. For some, it’s completely debilitating; for others, they can still be very independent. Miles was somewhere in between. His parents did their best to encourage him, but several angry outbursts started to eat away at the relationship between him and his mother. Teasing and verbal abuse from his brother (who was also adopted) seemed to aggravate the situation even more. However, his relationship with his father remained strong.
Miles grew to be somewhat independent, getting a job, moving off into his own apartment, but he was struggling. He didn’t know how to cope with his anger or depression, and his thoughts felt like a jumbled mess. The medicine that he was prescribed to help combat these issues made him feel sick, so he stopped taking them, which frustrated his mother even more. He went through job and after job, holding each one for only a few months before he was let go for one reason or another. He eventually lost his Tulsa apartment that he had been struggling to maintain on his own. He was angry, hurt, embarrassed, and deeply confused. Why couldn’t he keep it together?
Without a single word to anyone, he jumped on his bike and rode. He had no idea where he was going or what his plans were. He couldn’t think straight. It felt like images just zipping through his mind, but he couldn’t slow them down enough to really look at them. He has a photographic memory, but when you can’t slow your mind down to focus on the picture, it doesn’t do much good. The only thing he knew was that he needed to leave his apartment in Tulsa. He couldn’t stay there. He knew that his parents would be so disappointed if they knew he had lost another job and his apartment, so he couldn’t go to them. He had no friend to turn to, and he felt completely alone and lost in a world that he didn’t completely understand. So, he pointed his bike for the highway and just peddled.
Somewhere near Haskell, he started to feel tired and thirsty, but he didn’t have a dime to his name. He tried to flag down motorists for help, but no one would stop for him. He had a cell phone that his parents provided for him, so in desperation, he called 911. He knew they wouldn’t send someone just to bring him water, so he told them that he was going to take his life. An ambulance was on the scene within minutes. Miles was brought to Muskogee and eventually found his way to Gospel Rescue Mission and to God’s healing grace.
It’s been a few months since Miles came to us, and he’s making leaps and bounds when it comes to understanding his autism and processing his thoughts. “My brain is like a computer,” he told me as he explained how he was coping. “When I run, it’s like the pictures in my mind file themselves in the right order so that I can understand them.” He is an avid runner, running one time 16 miles in a single day. Early in the morning, you can see Miles out jogging, headphones on, just tuning everything out and
letting himself concentrate on the day’s activities. It seems like the faster he physically moves, the slower he can think, and it’s really been helping him to control his anger and depression. There’s one more thing that has been the pivotal piece of Miles’s puzzle. God. He had heard of God, but never really knew God until he came here.
With the strength he’s found in Christ, his formerly negative attitude and way of thinking has become much more positive and hopeful. On Facebook, you can see his posts that now come from a place of optimism rather than of pessimism. He never really knew how to clean, and his apartment was in terrible shape because of that, but by being here, he’s learned how to care for his own space. You see, as part of our program, our guests are required to do certain chores in order to stay here such as making their bed, helping with dishes, or sweeping and mopping. “I get to live like a man now,” said Miles, reflecting on how not too long ago, he felt like he couldn’t even hold his head up. “When I mop and sweep, it makes me feel proud.”
So, what’s his plan now? He is working toward getting a job. With a job coach, counseling, and the right employer, we believe Miles will excel. He is a hard-working young man, and although he lacks some confidence, he is starting to finally get some direction for his life. “God doesn’t give you material things,” he advised me. “He gives you resources. It’s up to you what you do with them.”
Miles is putting his passion for running to work by joining us for the Hometown Hope Run. We were on the radio not too long ago looking for a sponsor for Miles and got one within seconds. He said that he is so grateful to Doc Woods from Connors State College and that it is such a blessing to be able to run.
Although Miles has his $25 sponsorship covered, we have other guests that would love to be sponsored as well. If you would like to sponsor one of our guests for the Hometown Hope Run, please reach out to executive director Rich Schaus at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Autism, please visit www.autismspeaks.org. Without the support of our donors and volunteers, stories like Miles’s might have had a very different and tragic ending.