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2005 Impala by Mikey

Everyone has to start somewhere, and some even start somewhere more than once. My name is Michael and I am 21 years old. I am currently a guest of Bob’s House at A Ray of Hope. I came here seeking shelter but as time went on, I found much more than that. Without going too far into my past, I would like to share a little bit more about myself. I like to read, write, hike, fish, kayak and snowboard. I’ve only done these things a handful of times because up until recently, I was immersed in the pursuit and use of drugs and alcohol.

I spent the majority of my childhood feeling indifferent. My father died 9 months before I was born and I was disconnected from my mother around age 10. During my teen years, I started down a path that sinners take. I began using meth, alcohol and later fentanyl to deal with my feelings, indifference to life and emotions from childhood sexual abuse. I know all that is pretty raw but I feel I had to share that part so you could fully understand what changed. I asked the Lord to come into my heart on the floor of a soft cell inside the Flathead County Detention Center. I was defeated but Jesus didn’t forsake me. I’ve since struggled with my obsessions and feel as if I always will; but that was the beginning of my relationship with Christ. The months leading up to coming to A Ray of Hope, I was strung out, living in a 2005 Chevy Impala. One of the tires was on a doughnut. That Impala wasn’t going to take me very far and it was hard to hold down a job while living in a car. I needed shelter and somewhere to go back to after work. That’s how simple it was in my foggy brain at the time. You see, A Ray of Hope, has a motto that is directly in line with their mission statement. “A Hand Up Rather than a Hand Out.” It’s like when an addict asks for money, claiming it is for food. Rather than giving up the money, buy them the meal instead. A Ray of Hope does this in the sense that they provide a place to live while also teaching one how to live. It didn’t occur to me that even when I had somewhere to live that my life was still outwardly unmanageable. I hadn’t learned self-governing nor how to consistently follow a schedule. By following A Ray of Hope’s guidelines and agreements, I found myself getting things I never had. I’m not talking about materialistic things. I am talking about things like a strong prayer life, 12 months free from active addiction, close friendships and relationships within the community. One of the greatest gifts is giving back. A Ray of Hope allows for their guests to help out in the community with things ranging anywhere from packing U-Hauls to planting a rose bush in an 85 year old woman’s yard. These are the things, I have come to learn bring true joy.

The community connections and network of support that I found here during my stay are irreplaceable. A few more things A Ray of Hope was able to help me accomplish are: achieving goals, creating a financial budget, amending debt, reobtaining my driver’s license, establishing a savings and last but not least, retiring my “2005 Impala.”

Even though my story here is still on going, it is with a warm heart that I thank this place of healing for restoring me back to life and teaching me how to live.

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