Sheila’s Story

Being a mom is such a challenge! We’ve all had those nights staying up late with a teething child, barely getting any sleep, and the screaming and crying are like nails on a chalkboard by the time you get to 3am. For most of us, we have a support system that we lean on when parenting gets tough; a village to back us up. For Sheila, there wasn’t much of a positive support system near her. She had moved to another state to be with her boyfriend, far from a stable environment. She was 21, just learning to live on her own without the support of her parents, and when she found out she was pregnant, her whole world was changed. As the years went on, she found herself overwhelmed and turned to drugs to “take the edge off.” When she was 25, she gave birth to another child. Just when she thought it couldn’t get worse, her boyfriend was incarcerated, set to serve a seven-year prison sentence. So now she would be doing things by herself. She had no idea how she was going to make it through.

What she used to consider just a fun time and occasional high was now turning into a full-scale addiction, and she could no longer control it. Real life was becoming too much for her to bare, and the drugs were an escape. “It was like being in a different world,” she said. So when being “Mom” started to feel overwhelming, she knew she could get away from reality by using, and it was sucking her in more everyday, until her life went right down the drain. Her kids were taken into DHS custody when they were three and seven and placed into the care of her relatives. So with nothing left and her life falling apart, she decided to go back home to her parents. 

Things were ok, but Sheila knew she was a grown woman and she felt bad about having to move back home. She had just started trying to put her life together, but this fit just wasn’t right. With that, she decided to move where she had some distant family and friends and try to put herself back together. She was sober now, so she felt she had a fighting chance at a good life. Things were better once she got there, but with nowhere to stay, she ended up in a homeless shelter. She got a job, and the plan was to save up until she could get her own place. God had a different idea though, and in the strangest way, Sheila’s plan was flipped upside down.

A simple Facebook friend request started Sheila off on an unexpected adventure that would forever change her. It was her oldest son that she hadn’t seen in 25 years. Their conversations were productive and healing, both for Sheila and her son, and eventually her youngest son connected too. It was through these messages that her children discovered that their mother had a drug addiction that had left her homeless. She was sober now though, so the oldest child took a chance on his poor mother, and he invited her to come live with him in Oklahoma. Was she ready yet though? She didn’t have a lot of money saved, she was only a year sober and still battling her addiction. So was this really a good idea?

Her son’s home wasn’t quite as stable as she thought, and he lost his job not too long after she moved in. Eventually he lost his home. Her second son took her in while the first one was staying with other family. And not long after that, that home become unstable too, and Sheila,having that out-of-control feeling again, relapsed. That son also found himself without a home, and while he stayed with others, Sheila was back on the streets in an unfamiliar city with no friends, no support system, and no other family besides her estranged children. This was no place she ever wanted to be, and she desperately wished that she hadn’t followed that whim to come here.

Eventually God led her to Gospel Rescue Mission. She regained her sobriety, rebuilt a healthier relationship with her children outside of their homes, and committed herself to being grandma to her grandchildren. She has a steady job in the hospitality industry, and she is saving up for her own “grandma pad” so she can have her children and grand babies over to visit. For now, the plan is to stay in Muskogee, but she’s listening to God and is open to where ever He wills her to go. “I’ve always known about God, but this place is helping me really know God. It’s in His hands,” she said confidently. So while in the midst of what she thought was a mistake by coming here, it might’ve just led her to where she really needed to be.

We’re so excited to follow Sheila’s story. Like most of our guests, it is still being written, but her positive attitude about her situation gives us a lot of confidence in her success. Recently, she and another guest were being interviewed for a position that would offer more pay than her current job. The employer went with the other guest, and I happened to be in the room when the news was delivered to her. “I’m good with it,” she told us sincerely. “I was praying for him just as much as I was for me, but I know he needed that job, and I’m glad for him.” Couldn’t we all learn a little from this and how we should celebrate the successes of others rather than being jealous or upset? I know for me, it was truly inspirational.

We try to be the teachers, the counselors, and follow the voice of God to motivate our guests, but who’s really teaching who? Sometimes I forget…