Norm’s Story

God, Recovery

Contributed by: Crossroads Prison Ministries

“I really did fake my faith before. What I was missing was God.”

My life has not been very good these past 15 years. I was in prison more often than I was a free man. Every time I go back to prison, I say the same thing: Never again; I’ll never do this again; I’ll never get high again. You see what I mean.

My path is of destruction, and each time has been worse than the last. Several years ago, I asked Jesus into my heart. At this point, I realize my faith then was very weak — if not fake. When it came to faith, I “faked it till I made it.” I went to the church and found I really loved worship, but during the sermon, I would go for a smoke rather than hear what was being said. If I did hear the words, I felt guilty for all I’ve done. I fell short, as I always seemed to.

Now I’m 53. Years have passed. I find myself in the very same spot once again. I’ve known God my whole life. I’ve been in and out of church and worship for many years. I was in a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, taking part in their twelve step program. They refer to it as a “higher power.” Their program is built around it. Without the “higher power” they speak of, their program does not exist. Again, I really did fake my faith before. What I was missing is God.

Truly, if I don’t have God in my life, I always end up where I am at. Because I have done everything to avoid turning my will over to a power greater than myself. This struggle of mine has been my life story.

At church, I loved to sing. I didn’t want to hear the Word. I managed to turn my ear away from it. How can anyone learn about God or grow with God if you won’t hear the Word? I fell short over and over.

Last year, I started to read the Word. I was on my knees begging for a change. I had overdosed. I had lost yet another relationship. I had lost my home. My sons no longer wanted contact with me. I was back in prison.

Yet this time was much worse than ever before. I’m now serving a 42-month sentence, and still have a 4 day trial for armed robbery.

This is very new to me. My crimes in the past would never escalate to this type of charge, not ever. At this point, I am on my knees, asking God for a change.

Please Lord, help me. I no longer want to be this man. I no longer want to hurt myself or my family. Here I am, Lord. I am yours. I am on my knees and I need you. Please show me mercy and kindness.

The next time I opened a Bible, a card fell out. The card was advertising Crossroads’ Bible studies. I thought I recognized Crossroads, so I filled it out and sent it in to start the course.

Not a lot of change came. I was pretty much the same man I was then. But I read and learned that I must forgive others before God can forgive me. This punched me in the face. All my years on earth, all my times in a church, I never knew this.

And so the work started amongst all the people I had to forgive. But the real work was when I figured out I had to forgive myself. I hold on to my hate very well. This, I feel, is what held me back. I had begun this process of forgiveness. I would look in the mirror (not often), and when I did I hated who I saw. I would snarl at myself like a rabid dog. I had no love for myself.

I was mad at God for this. I had to let go of all my hate. It took a while to start the process, but once I started, I found I could practice on others first — and little by little, focus on me.

I started to take care of myself. Self care and love was on my doorstep. I read more and learned more of the Word and I found something was changing my heart. For the first time in my life, I cared for myself. I forgave myself, as well as all others, and my heart opened up wide. Through the grace of God, I was saved.

I love studying my Bible and sharing the Word with anyone who will listen. Now, my life has no guilt, no lies, no stealing, and no violence. I want to be a good Christian. I’m aware of how I affect others. I’m fully aware of all my behaviours.

One of my blessings is that I ended up in a mental health unit. I had shown signs of mental disorder. What they saw was a broken down man detoxing off drugs. I needed a lot of help in my first few days inside.

I went to a unit with only eight cells in it — very quiet. No politics at all. This is where I started the work with God. I now do sessions with physiology and drug counsellors. Every day I get closer to God.

I love God today in ways I never thought possible. I’m very blessed to have had all these events take place. I pray for guidance, knowledge, and wisdom. My union with God allows me to ask for such things.

I love Proverbs and all it offers. I don’t have one favourite verse — there are so many! Books of John through Mark, all of them. My issues are of living issues and being able to cope. This is all being taught now as I write this. I’m learning to love and be loved.

This journey here has only just started.

I feel God and I are working together for my very success. Every study I do touches me one way or another. I always get something from God’s word. I love to share with any others who will listen to me. I believe John 3:16 with all my heart.

Norm’s name has been changed to protect his privacy. Photo by Griffin Taylor on Unsplash

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