We use a lot of terms to describe the addiction recovery program at UGM: Christ-centered, holistic, long-term, deep-down healing, etc.
One word you’ll never see describing it is easy. From the outset, those interested in doing recovery at UGM are informed that it’s the hardest work they’ll ever do, but also the most rewarding.
Both were on display at the recent phase completion ceremony for men’s recovery. Anthony Miller came into the program with a class of seven other men. As he enters the final phase transitioning out of UGM, he’s the only one left.
That doesn’t mean those seven others are no longer pursuing recovery – there are many reasons men move on from the program without completing it. But it does show the magnitude of Anthony’s accomplishment, and as you’ll see, even he came close to quitting many times. He showed a lot of grit and determination to stick with it.
If he had been alone, Anthony probably would have quit. And he’ll still need strong relationships to bring encouragement and accountability on the journey ahead. He’ll need people like Dale Fruin, who has worked with Anthony in the UGM kitchen. Dale shared briefly at the ceremony:
“Anthony went through it. There were so many times that he was triggered in the kitchen. There were so many times he talked about quitting, talked about wanting to go back to the bottle, but stayed true. You didn’t quit, you didn’t walk out on your dream or God’s. And I really believe that you’re going to make it. You have the fight inside of you. And I want you to know how much I respect you.”
Anthony’s recovery journey has been decades in the making. He actually came to faith in God at UGM 16 years ago. But he finally reached out for help getting sober less than two years ago.
In his own words: “On January 18, 2018, a scared little boy walked up to the East Door and reached for the handle with a trembling hand. He paused briefly before grasping the small, plastic knob because he had an idea of what he was about to get himself into. The reality is he didn’t have a clue what he might be getting into, but the thought of what he had come from was terrifying and predictable. The thought of what may lie on the other side of that door was also terrifying, but there was also the prospect of escaping the horrors that had haunted him for decades. Change, it seemed, was worth the risk without any guarantee that it would be better.”
Little did he know, there actually was a guarantee: God’s promise to be found by those who seek after him. That’s part of what Anthony has learned and part of what he shared at the ceremony with those just getting started in the recovery program.
“No one has any accurate idea as to what they are getting themselves into. It can be a lot like trying to take a sip of water from a firehose at times. But I will appeal to you that every difficulty, every challenge is worth facing head on. There will be times you will want to quit, but it is in those moments you can choose your future. If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to give up, well, it would be a lot of dollars….
“You can choose to succeed. It’s not about whether you can or not, it’s about whether you choose or not. … it’s about whether or not you choose to succeed or choose to tap out. It’s that simple.”
Most importantly, Anthony is hanging onto God’s purpose for his life. As he encouraged his brothers, “there is nothing that God will put in front of you that with His help you cannot handle. … Remember that there IS a God and if you seek Him, you will discover that your fears and doubts are nothing but feeble lies.”
Anthony hopes to serve God in pursuing his passion for making music. At the ceremony, Joe Boyer, Anthony’s counselor, read lyrics from “The Reason,” a song by one of the most influential musicians in Anthony’s life, Lacey Sturm:
All my life, I've searched for something
To satisfy the longing in my heart
And every time I come away
Emptier than before
I spent my days giving my heart away to anything new
Only to ache from the poison of my temporary muse
And there were times I'd cry myself to sleep at night
Only to wake up wishing that I didn't
And now I finally see the reason
'Cause I was made to be yours alone
You formed my heart with your own hands
But I just could not understand
If I gave you my life
I'd be healed by your Grace
I was made for Your love
And gave others Your place
Thank you for never giving up on me
When I looked to everything else and lived so selfishly
You bled, you died to be with me
Why would you do something like that for someone like me?
Recovery is hard, but Anthony shows us it’s possible with Jesus in our corner. Scroll back up and look at the bolded words: Grit. Determination. Relationships. Encouragement. Accountability. Fight. Change. Risk. God’s purpose. Facing head on. Choose. Grace. Never giving up.
These are a few of the ingredients of recovery, the things that make it so hard and yet so “worth it.”
No one can do it on their own. But we don’t have to.
God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.’ – Hebrews 13:5
Want to see change in your life? Serving at UGM will change you! Learn more about available opportunities by coming to a volunteer orientation.