Kallie is a writer, photographer, and a dedicated mother. Raised in a church environment and given a good education, she is probably not who you’d expect to see featured in a UGM publication. But, two years ago, she came to us broken.
“Beyond a shadow of a doubt, if I didn’t go through this program, I believe I would have lost my children.”
Having left her church community after having a child outside of marriage, for several years, Kallie floundered through life as a single mom. In and out of co-dependent relationships and struggling with anger at the church and God, she eventually discovered that marijuana offered relief from the pain. She got involved with a man who supplied it to her, and from there, her life cascaded downhill farther and faster than she’d ever feared. “While severely depressed, I took care of all his children in addition to my own. The food we ate was from the little library that the church donated. He didn’t buy food, but it was always, ‘Everything’s your fault.’” She had two daughters with him before finally reaching a breaking point and seeking help at UGM.
This year, as she’s completing UGM Women’s LIFE Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall, she’s taken the time to write about her experience.
“Recently, God gave me an image of a race to help explain to others why I have received all of the blessings I have received from Union Gospel Mission. I saw myself at the start line of a race of my journey into recovery, weighed down by years of abuse, neglect, confusion, shame, depression, addiction, and codependent and toxic failed relationships.
I am crumbling. Being overcome by the past looks like my only choice.
“I am shaking with anxiety. Satan stands beside me with his arm around my shoulder, and he voices what I am thinking: ‘It is not possible to finish this race when you cannot imagine even taking your next footstep.’ I am crumbling. Being overcome by the past looks like my only choice.
“All of a sudden, a face on the sideline comes into focus. She fervently calls to me, ‘We want you! We have room for you!’
“Another earnest face appears, wearing a white chef’s hat, surprising me with her urgency: ‘I prepared a healthy and nutritious meal for you tonight. You’ll always have a meal three times a day. You don’t ever have to worry what you and your kids are going to eat.’
“Just as quickly, on the other side of the path, a woman jumps up and down for joy, shouting, ‘You are worthy of my time. I’ll be here all night if you need anything.’
“To my surprise, I see that I’ve made ten steps already. Tears fill my eyes, and I struggle to see who is now shouting encouragement. I squint down the pathway of the race and wonder at the sight. There are more onlookers than I can count!
“‘I will help you get your child to school.’
“‘I will drive you to church.’
“‘I will help you fill out your legal paperwork.’
“I yelp to them, ‘Why? Why are you doing this?’
‘We know of this man named Jesus! He is the Son of God! You’ll see!’
“They look at each other, and they are beaming. ‘We know of this man named Jesus! He is the Son of God! You’ll see!’
“I’m silent as I ponder this, hearing each foot hit the earth and the sound of my ragged breath. Back before the race began, I was sure God was so disappointed—no, disgusted—by me and my self-destructive patterns.
“I don’t know if it was worth it to feel all this pain.
“All of a sudden, I see a stranger, but somehow… I know Him. I know it’s Jesus, there on the sidelines. My heart jolts and my pace slows from a slow jog to barely moving.
“‘Kallie, may I run with you?’
“I’ve barely whispered ‘Yes’ before He has joined me in the middle of the path. I match my pace with His.
“‘What do you think of this race?’ He asks me. His steps are even, His face is intent. My breath is gasping, my lungs are rattling, my chest is burning, and every muscle in my body is aching. I want to be done.
‘I wanted to give up miles ago, but since You joined, I kept going.’
“I think, ‘I wanted to give up miles ago, but since You joined, I kept going.’
“Now the faithful witnesses are crying. They have crescendoed into a beautiful sound that can only be described as a melodic roaring. I catch the strains of a man’s deep, rich voice as he sings out, ‘You delight in showing mercy, and mercy triumphs over judgment.’ Some onlookers have fallen to their knees with both hands lifted. Some even lay on the ground and appear to be unable to speak. Their faces beam out joy. Through the chorus of voices, I hear them sing, ‘There He is!’ ‘He can do what we could not!’ ‘He loves her so much!’
“Jesus takes my hand, and we run the rest of the way together.”
Because of the army of believers who have made it their mission to walk alongside their neighbors in need, Kallie and her daughters have had the chance to rebuild their lives from the inside out. Toxic cycles broken, old thinking brought to light, hope restored. And through staff and volunteers, Kallie met Jesus, through whom she now has a Living Hope.
Kallie concluded a recent interview with this: “Change isn’t an all-at-once thing; it’s skills that can be taught and practiced over and over, not being shamed for making mistakes, and moving through conflicts with truth and love. There’s just so many opportunities every day to say, how can I stop doing what I’ve always done and do something better in a really small way until it builds up and you’re like, oh, I did break that cycle of addiction.”
To learn more about the methods, tools, and people paving a pathway toward change, come to the 2023 UGM Gathering.