“Hey Jeannie, long time no see.” I was rushing out the door of the Lamb Center for a meeting, but I turned around to see who was calling me. I felt a rush of gladness to see “Steve,” a long-time Lamb Center guest who I had not run in to for almost a year. Steve used to be a daily presence at the Lamb Center, attending the lunch-time AA meetings and stopping by my office over lunch to crack jokes and offer his unique perspective on the goings-on in the world.
As Steve and I shook hands, I asked him “What’s been going on, Stranger? I haven’t seen you for ages.” To my great joy, he beamed and announced “Things are going great, and it’s all your fault!”
Now Steve is a very smart guy. He is an engineer, and before I met him, Steve had a job as a contractor for the federal government and was married to a good woman. But during these years when life was good, Steve was drinking heavily. Over time, Steve’s drinking escalated to the point that he lost his career and strained his marriage.
Then, suddenly, tragedy smashed Steve’s life to pieces. While he was away on a drinking binge, Steve’s wife Jen was killed by a reckless driver. Crushed by sorrow and guilt, Steve began attending AA daily and following the 12 steps. Steve got sober, but emotionally he was still a disaster, and he couldn’t move forward with his life. Eventually his savings ran out, and he became homeless, sleeping in a friend’s car.
Somehow Steve found the Lamb Center, and he fell in to the habit of eating lunch here each day before the 12:30 AA meetings. After an AA meeting one day, Steve stopped in to chat with director Dave Larrabee who referred him to a local free health clinic for counseling. The counseling was useful, and Steve began to get back on his feet emotionally. I met Steve around this time, as he began to feel more hopeful. He began looking for work, and eventually found a job as a front desk clerk at a local health club. Still homeless, Steve secretly slept in a storage closet at the health club for several months, hoping to save up enough money to rent a room.
On top of his addiction and grief, Steve was dealing with a number of health problems that had gone untreated for many years. As Steve and I met to work on housing, I noticed that his hearing was severely limited. We discussed this, and I asked him if he would consider contacting DARS, the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services, to see if they could offer him any help. Steve agreed, calling DARS that same day to schedule an appointment to be evaluated.
It was around this point that Steve stopped his regular visits to the Lamb Center, and I lost touch with his progress. When Steve showed up again two weeks ago, out of the blue, there had been many awesome changes in his life. He summed them up this way:
“DARS has opened up a whole new world of resources for me. I have my hearing aids now. I get job coaching, and have had training for interviews on the phone and in person. We have a weekly job club where we meet with federal and private agencies looking for qualified candidates with disabilities to fill vacant positions.
“Best of all, I have had five interviews with Federal agencies within the last few weeks, and I have received call-backs on three of the positions. The future is looking so much brighter.”
Steve asked me to include the following post-script to this article.
“The Lamb Center helped me feel whole again. It helped me with my physical needs, but more importantly with my spiritual needs. It helped me regain the dignity that I thought I had lost as a human being. Here I was treated as a person, as one of God’s children, not as a problem to be solved.”
“The difference with the Lamb Center is that they take the time to get to know you as a person, not only as a client. Without the one-on-one work that they do, Jeannie would not have been able to refer me to DARS.”
“My future (physically and spiritually) is much brighter thanks to the help, attention, kindness and spiritual guidance that the Lamb Center has so kindly provided to me.”
Although Steve has struggled to overcome grief and self-condemnation, he is living proof of God’s promise that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (John 1:9). We thank “Steve” for sharing his story and his gratitude with us, and with all of you. Please join us in praying for Steve as he continues to “run with perseverance the race marked out” for him! (Hebrews 12:1)