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Why I know I'm clean and free

From the February 24, 2003 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

The years that I was homeless, jobless, and addicted to cocaine and alcohol were a time of hopelessness, of living from day to day in fear. That was my life at that time.

As I explained in the earlier article about the changes in my life ["A walk out of darkness into light," January 27, 2003], I was living with a young lady who was a drug pusher. It made everything pretty convenient, but at the same time it only heightened my sense of misery.

My first encounter with drugs happened when I was eleven years old. I actually snorted my first bag of heroin at that age. I also began smoking marijuana and using other drugs around that time. So my struggle with addiction started at a very early age. But I would say it became really intense after I was freed from prison in 1979. In the same year, six months later, my father was murdered, and I began to use drugs really heavily. So from 1979 to 1999 my life was pretty much controlled by drugs and alcohol.

Sure, there were times when I didn't use drugs. I went to drug treatment programs. Being clean would last for a little while, but I would always go back to drugs, because I didn't really have a sense of purpose, and I didn't understand what addiction really was. So I would always find myself going back to drug use and alcoholism.

I later learned in reading Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy, that it takes either "suffering" or "Science" to awaken ourselves, [see page 296], from destructive living. And for me, the awakening took place as a result of intense suffering. I had lost everything, and I was emotionally and mentally disturbed. I just didn't feel like I could go on the way that I was living. It was through that suffering that I began to look for something else. I knew I needed something else in my life, and that was the turnaround for me right there. At first my searching took me to the Bible, and I began to read it.

I remember one night I was in the backseat of my broken-down car in somebody's broken-down garage. I had just finished getting high, and something just hit me so hard. I began to cry. I was crying and crying, and then I just asked God to deliver me from all of this—I felt that I couldn't take it anymore.

What really gave me an anchor was to know that in God's eyes I could never be an addict, or an alcoholic.

I left home. I left my girlfriend, the drug pusher. I went to a place on the South Side of Chicago called Victory Outreach Ministries and stayed there for a little while. In some way I was led to Evanston, Illinois, [an adjoining suburb north of Chicago], where I stayed in a shelter called Hilda's. It was in Hilda's that I really began to read the Bible. I would take walks to the lakefront and just pray. But it was through the suffering that I received this fervent desire for righteousness. I mean, I really needed to grasp hold of something real that could save me. That was my prayer.

I never was religious when I was coming up as a child. I only began to really search for something else later on in life, sometime in my 30s. I was a Muslim first, and then explored Buddhism and the apostolic and pentecostal faiths. I was searching.

Prior to encountering Christian Science, I had been clean, drug-free, as the result of my "fervent desire for growth in grace" (Science and Health, p. 4). But I needed an anchor. I needed something that would tell me who God was and who I was, and just what that meant for me.

Some people believe that God loves and hates, that He could be angry, could destroy. I needed something that gave me an uplifted idea of God. I found that in Christian Science.

Now, when I'm asked if this freedom I feel is one of those temporary things, and if I'm going to drift back to drugs, I can honestly say that that thought has never come to me since I've been studying Christian Science. The other times I had been clean, the thought would always be in the back of my mind that maybe I'd slip back.

But knowing, as I now know, that God is Love, and that all that He expresses is love—that thought in itself is so uplifting. God never sees us as addicts. He sees us as made in His image. That's what really gave me an anchor—to know that in His eyes I could never be an addict, or an alcoholic. Once my thoughts were lifted out of that mental defect, then my whole life changed.

I was an intravenous drug user for 15 years. I did just about everything under the sun in order to get drugs, and I've been through so much as a result of drug use. I know that the understanding of God can help a person, because it happened for me. I'll say to anybody, coming from the depths that I came from: If it can happen for me, it can happen for anybody.

It's so important to come face to face with the truth. That's where it's at. It was so important for me to encounter the truth about God and myself.

Kenny Simmons works for a book distributor in Chicago, and enjoys writing inspirational songs.

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