By Merrily Brast, Staff Writer
Jeff LeBlanc believed he was stupid.
“I just couldn’t get stuff and nobody could tell me why other than that I’m stupid.”
He couldn’t sit still in school and he had trouble concentrating on learning when there were other things to worry about.
“The thing that I fret about most was what was gonna happen when I got home. I couldn’t do anything other than worry about the [problems within] my family.”
When Jeff was young, he was placed in foster care and taken away from his family without explanation. “I blamed myself, and I kind of carried that guilt and shame until now.”
“It’s hard to do anything when you think you’re to blame for all your family’s problems.”
He felt like others were judging him because he was a foster kid. He felt like he was facing life alone. And in order to deal with his feelings, he used drugs.
“I became homeless, in and out of the Mission, in and out of jail, got into a lot of trouble.”
It was in jail and in the midst of his meth addiction that Jeff had a life-altering experience with God.
“I started reading the Bible, and I got this crazy thirst for it. I couldn't explain it. I craved it more than food and water.” Jeff recalls God asking him to make a choice—die in his addiction or live and follow Christ.
“This light shone in my room. It was bright and warm and the most amazing feeling I've ever had… So I prayed, I gave my life to God, and everything's been different.”
The rest fell into place. By God’s grace, the charges that had sent Jeff to jail were dropped, and he came to the Mission to go through LIFE Recovery.
“I screw up every day, but they don’t shame me or give me guilt trips. The love and care they show has compelled me to change. I've been able to go to the hardest places I've ever been, become vulnerable.”
Part of the recovery program is meeting educational requirements—a scary and seemingly impossible task to Jeff when he first arrived. But the VocEd Center is slowly helping him realize, he’s not stupid.
“I don’t like going in there; it brings up a lot of stuff. But every time I've gone in and tried, I’ve learned pretty quickly. I’m like a sponge in there…It’s not actually that bad.”
Jeff’s starting to believe he is capable and see possibilities. “If I can finish the program, I can do a lot.”
Jeff wrote the following excerpt, and it is obvious to us, he is FAR from stupid.
For most, homelessness isn't a choice. It's a chain of circumstances, a flurry of unfortunate events that have crippling consequences.
There's not many who will take the time to acknowledge the existence of a broken/defeated man/woman. I know for myself, until I was shown unfailing love, I was worthless and stuck. I couldn't function no matter how hard I tried. My family didn't understand, friends moved on.
Eventually I was alone, hopeless. I didn't know how to live, act, or feel. I was a shell, a valueless mass; I convinced myself I was a failure. I became the author of my own destruction.
It wasn't until God brought me out of my haze and brought me to UGM for the first time, that I was shown compassion; I was affirmed instead of ignored. And through this positive and life-changing experience, I've stayed sober for close to a year, found my worth, and have become a new creation.
Sometimes that dirt-covered man just needs a hand.
Reject the labels that are placed on you and remind yourself of the names God uses for you.