The first beating he ever received came at the hands of his own father on his 7th birthday. “I’d accidentally broken a window and went to hide under my bed. He kicked me and punched me a few times. Afterward, he apologized. He was an abusive alcoholic, and it’s a cycle I’m doing my best to end now.”
And that’s not the only challenge on David’s plate these days. After enduring a life of abuse and neglect at the hands of his parents and others – and spending most his late teens and 20’s either behind bars or on probation – this native of Warren MI is working to transform his life one day at a time with Guiding Light’s help.
David’s abuse began with marijuana, when he was in the 5th grade. He experimented with alcohol while in high school – at one point, he would ingest as much as a fifth of liquor a day – and his using grew to include a cocaine habit that cost him “maybe a couple grand a week” – everything and more that he made as an automotive worker.
He dropped out of Port Huron High School around 2005 and joined the U.S. Army at 19, but that ended badly when he “got real drunk” one night and received a medical discharge after enduring a beating by strangers who left him half-dead with a serious eye injury, a caved-in nose and a broken jaw. “I missed out on joining the Special Forces, which was a dream of mine.”
Any other dreams he had were thwarted by drug use, membership in a gang, and a lifetime of problems between himself and his parents, both of whom were prone to abandoning David and his four siblings to feed their own drug and alcohol addictions.
As a youth, he swirled in and out of the foster care system, growing more and more calloused, defensive and angry as the ties between him and his parents became exceedingly distanced and frayed.
His epiphany came during the summer of 2018, when he approached his stepmother: “I told her that I had a problem with cocaine and that I couldn’t stop. I feared that I was going to get in more trouble with the law or kill myself or someone else.”
He spent a week in a psychiatric ward in Port Huron, then discovered Guiding Light by way of the mother of a resident already in place at the Heartside-area ministry.
Unlike other programs to which he’d admitted himself earlier, Guiding Light “took.” The reason? David points to at least three factors 1- he needed more than a 30-day program. 2 – “I learned that it wasn’t a sign of weakness to ask for help”, and 3 – “I was able to admit my vulnerability.”
Looking back, David realizes he was punishing himself for things that were out of his control. “I was at a point where I had lost all hope, and I had nowhere else to turn. I covered up a hard heart for so long, and at Guiding Light, I was encouraged to open that heart, and I discovered I could be – I was – a sensitive person.
“I’d been in survival mode and a victim for so long that I never really was able to get out of it until now. I tended to dwell on things and blame others for everything that was happening to me.“Now, I’m learning to act with more compassion, and when I get up in the morning, the first thing I tell God is that I’m surrendering my will over to Him.”
The future? For now, David wants to complete the program at Guiding Light, which includes beating his addictions, securing employment and eventually moving out on his own.
His career goal is to become a certified trainer, to serve others seeking to improve themselves in healthy ways. An accomplished wrestler and football player before he quit high school, he’s right at home in a gym, and can bench press more than 300 pounds, despite a 5-foot-5-inch frame that weighs in at 176.
“I used to be filled with nothing but despair and hopelessness,” he says. “Now, I’m pushing myself in the other direction. And I’m surrounded by people who really care.”
THIS MEANS THAT ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST HAS BECOME A NEW PERSON. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17