I was a heroin addict for 18 years. From the age of 14 until I was 33, I was a drug addict, and alcoholic, a thief and a prostitute. In fact, if there was a law that I didn’t violate, it was not out of any set of principles or a matter of conscience. It was because it had not presented itself as a way to make money. I had abortions, I stole from my family, I habitually lied. I ignored my daughter and everyone else who loved me.

By the age of 33, I had spent about half of my life locked up in one place or another: juvenile hall, home for wayward girls, jails and prisons. During that time, I had been shot at, stabbed, abducted, beaten, and raped. I had overdosed to the point of hospitalization repeatedly, and I watched numerous friends waste away and eventually die of AIDS.

I can only thank God that He allowed me to live long enough to finally heed His call.

Usually, when people would disappear from “the scene,” it would mean either that they were dead or doing a lot of time in prison. Every now and then, someone would disappear, and word would eventually filter back that he or she had “found Jesus.”

Now, I knew very little about who Jesus Christ was, despite the fact that I was incarcerated as a teenager in a convent for about 18 months. The mass then was in Latin, and I wasn’t paying any attention anyway. I knew no bible stories. Although I knew that Jesus Christ had been crucified and even that he had risen again, I did not have even the most rudimentary understanding of why he died and arose again.

I did know that He seemed to work for some people. But when I would hear so-and-so had "found Jesus" and was off the drugs and doing well, I would think to myself how lucky that person was, but amazingly, I never stopped to think "finding Jesus" could work for me too. I don't mean that I considered it and dismissed it. I mean, it never once occurred to me.

It was not until more than a decade later that I realized that this was a symptom of my hopelessness.

I contented myself with trying to remain as numb as I possibly could, just marking time until I could die. Ironically, I did not believe in heaven or hell, yet I wanted to die anyway. Yet I made cavalier comments about not knowing anyone in heaven anyway. “I want to go to hell. That’s where all the parties will be!”

Again, I thank God that He allowed me to live long enough to realize that He came to save me, a wretched sinner who desperately needed salvation, but who believed that I was too far gone to save.

Part II: Clean and Sober, But Still Lost

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