Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Francis' Story: Fighting My Old Nature

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Francis' Story: Fighting My Old Nature

Article excerpt

We shall all be changed,

In a momemt, in the twinkling of an eye.

1 Corinthians 15: 51,52

I used to love to get high. I stole money at gunpoint, to pay the drug dealer. Nobody was safe from me. I even swindled men in my church to buy me some crack cocaine.

Then I went to drug rehab and learned to stand up and say, "I'm Francis, and I'm a drug addict."

I won't say I'm a drug addict anymore. I refuse to say what isn't true. I gave up my addiction, so I don't have it anymore.

Don't get me wrong. I still long sometimes for the high that makes me feel like a rich, powerful guy. Cocaine highs made me into an excellent fellow - for an hour. Then I'd be further down in the depths of degradation than ever.

When the dope wore off, I'd be the same old Francis living in a shelter for the homeless. The Francis who'd had a good job, a loving wife and children and friends who trusted him. It wasn't my drug addiction that needed treating. It was the old hurts and self-defeatism that made Francis succumb to drugs that needed changing.

Here at the mission, I meet guys who've had worse lives than me. They've had no love and no dreams (except maybe a gold chain, a Cadillac or moving to the suburbs). They haven't even had any heroes since Martin Luther King.

My heroes today are the recovered men here, who walk us through what they know all about. They try to help us get motivated by talking about what we were like before drugs. They know its not just drugs, it's the canker within our souls about what our lives were like and the hopelessness of ever changing them.

As for me, I had a happy childhood until I was 12 years old. Then my father left us, and we moved from a big, beautiful house in a good neighborhood to a small apartment in the slums. Suddenly, my sweet, lovely mother had to work two jobs to keep us kids clothed and fed. Even though my dad was a bad alcoholic, I loved him and missed him all the time. My memories would constantly take me back to our happy, carefree family life - dressing up to go to church, Mama taking pictures of us in the living room, listening to my grandmother singing psalms in the kitchen and later watching my parents up in the choir singing. …

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