After being at TLC for 2 years it was time to move on. In those two years I learned what it meant live in freedom through Christ. There I made new friends and began new relationships. I felt safe from the “outside” world. This is something very normal when someone has given up drugs and alcohol. Nevertheless I wanted more, I craved new beginnings now. I did not feel as confidant as I do today but I did feel freedom and freedom is important to letting go of the shackles of addiction.
After going back to TLC from the college I attended preview days I only had less than a month to go back to begin classes. I could not believe that I was going back to college! I spent the last 3 weeks at TLC training the men who would take over my responsibilities when I left. It was hard leaving because THAT was my bubble; my safe haven, but, at the same time I knew god wanted me to go. When I moved into my dorm I felt different, I felt like a new person. I then remembered 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” In the two years I spent at TLC these are the kind of scriptures that helped me better understand my relationship with our GOD. I had nothing but 4 suitcases and yet because of how confidant I was in God I walked around that campus with my head held up high. It was a small college with about 300 students so EVERYONE new about me. The president of the school at the time was very close with the founder of TLC therefore word got out real quick that a Greek recovering addict from Chicago was on his way from TLC. It wasn’t embarrassing at all! I was myself and I embraced everyone like I always did anyway, difference here was I embrace people with the Love of our God not because I wanted to be accepted, THAT, only feeds my insecurities. 2003-2004 was a difficult year for me. Adjusting to being NEW and making sure the OLD was in God’s hands.
I got a job in the schools gorgeous coffee shop/student center. Hard wood floors, leather couches, fire-place, loft, etc. etc. I came in to get coffee one morning and there she was!! The same woman who I thought “surely was married.” She was behind the counter working, so I knew then that we were going to work together? But that doesn’t mean anything, she’s married, right? I looked and notice no ring, no engagement ring. Well, surely she has a boyfriend. I mean how can she be single? I then stopped myself AGAIN for the 2nd time and bounced all those thoughts back to remaining focused on my agenda. I let go of her for the second time.
It was August 2003 and I used one of the vehicles from TLC to drive up to Binghamton NY so I can attend “Preview Days” at the College I applied to. It was hot and muggy and I stayed in the men’s dorms for the weekend. I roomed alone but the dorms were full because of other young men attending Preview Days and because of the soccer season that was on its way. Wow my first experience outside of TLC in a different environment other than Chicago without drugs and alcohol. My mind was racing at how horrible it would be if I relapsed. All the hard work I had put in that previous year and the year before the relapse as well! Other than that 4 day binge in 2002 I was heading towards the end of my 3rd year being clean.
I had made a decision a year ago that I was going to follow God’s lead and that I had fully committed my life to Christ, but, what did that look like for me? Well I had read in the Bible that the richest most powerful man on earth, at that time, was given an opportunity by God to ask for anything he wanted. His name was King Solomon. He was indeed the richest and most powerful man, then why did God give him the opportunity to ask for anything he wanted? Interesting question. King Solomon goes on to ask for “WISDOM,” God’s WISDOM. I could not believe what I was reading. Why not ask God to multiply his wealth and power by 10xs or by 100xs? To make SURE he indeed was the richest and most powerful, right? Well I was fascinated by this thought. I thought to myself “if only I could pursue the Lord’s wisdom then all else will fall into place.” As a matter of fact Christ says this in Matthew 6:32b-33, “for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” So I began praying for the Lord’s WISDOM. I knew going back to school was going to be challenging therefore in my heart I was committed to that challenge. I prayed for God’s WISODM not to fall trapped into any type of enticing parties or anything to that matter. I prayed for God’s WISDOM and strength that my heart would be hardened towards any type of girlfriend/boyfriend relationship for that is not the reason why I was going back to school. Being clean for 99% of the 3 years and going back to college really helped me have a clear mind on what my purpose was and that was to stay away from all the “cool clicks” stay away from all the little parties happening off campus. Keep reminding myself of that cliché “been there done that” which got me into rehab to begin with. I was determined with the Lord’s WISDOM I could accomplish this. NO GIRLFRIENDS!!! I was not very confidant to begin with, I mean straight out of rehab with nothing to show for but a few suitcases of clothes? Oh yeah that’s EXACTLY what a woman is looking for (sarcasm), so I had no doubt all would be just fine. But on our very first Preview Day there she was. Surely I thought she’s married, no way is a beautiful woman like this single, right? So with this thought I let go of her and kept focused on what my objective was and that was SCHOOL!!! I sat in some informational classes and next thing I know it was time to go back to TLC and return at the end of August to begin the Fall 2003 semester. She was long gone from my mind, I did not think of her again. I was not falling in love was I? Surely This Can Not Be True…