In honor of Mother’s Day, we wanted to share a special update from Gilgal graduate Jennifer H. and her mom Denise. Jennifer’s story represents just one family impacted by the journey through Gilgal. Change Happens at Gilgal because a mother’s Love Never Fails!
Jennifer: “Sometimes I feel like Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. My life went from being cozy and comfortable to life-threatening chaos and misadventure, and back again. Mine was a happy and secure childhood. It was wonderful. The beautiful relationship I had always enjoyed with my parents continued into adulthood. Addiction, however, is a destroyer of many things — hopes, dreams, careers, and families. As I became more and more dependent on alcohol to meet my every need, I started shutting out everyone, including my parents, and even God. For years, most of the time I was too drunk or hungover to call or visit as my life turned into a sad existence consisting of little more than drinking and working. Eventually, I drank myself out of my job and my apartment and just assumed my parents would help me as they had before. In other words, I used them. In October 2018, as I faced another eviction, I was shocked and dismayed when my plea for help did not get the result I was expecting. I ended up homeless. I physically felt like I had been slapped in the face and kicked in the stomach. I had never felt so hurt and rejected in my life.
But, through this and many other dark times in my life, Jesus was holding my right hand through it all. He held me through being homeless on the streets of Atlanta, through six weeks at an Atlanta homeless shelter, through Gilgal’s program of recovery, and miraculously, back into my parents’ arms! While at Gilgal, Jesus showed me the way out of the grips of addiction and into healthy relationships with others, including my parents. I started calling my mother again and wrote a long letter to my dad apologizing for all the pain I caused. After graduating from Gilgal in March of 2020, I continued my job while renting a small room in Riverdale. I was tickled pink to even be on speaking terms with my parents. God had bigger plans. One fine night I was talking to my dad and he said, “Your mother and I think you’ve paid your dues and should move in with us.” I almost dropped the phone!
I moved in with them in July and the months since have been such a sweet time spent catching up with them. As I write this, I’m nearly two and a half years sober and my days are spent helping my parents around the house and chasing after the puppy. I’m still awaiting the reinstatement of my RN, but that will happen in God’s perfect timing. I am truly blessed beyond imagination!
Denise: I’m Denise, Jennifer’s mom. I had two little girls and was determined to be the best mom I could be. I came from a family that did not have many hugs, kisses, or support. My girls were, in my view, angels. They never got into any trouble, were great students, and were always either studying or at dance or majorette practice. I never worried about them. My girls were raised on Christian values.
After Jennifer left the nest, I had no idea she was drinking as much as she was. As time went on and life happened, she went through a bad marriage and many other trials and drama that pushed her further into addiction. She became more and more distant from her family. She would call less and less, and eventually was calling only when she needed something — usually money. It was awful for the whole family. Her dad and I had been seeing a counselor in an attempt to get some control over the situation. The advice was to walk away. Ultimately, Jennifer ended up on the streets. The holidays were especially difficult. I love the holidays and have always enjoyed that time to spend with family. Jennifer not being home for them left a huge, sad cloud over every event. I missed her and felt like she had rejected us and hated us. I’m sure she felt the same about us.
God got her to Gilgal and showed her the way out of this darkness. During that time, she started calling us again when she wasn’t loading trucks at work anymore. After she graduated, her dad and I decided it was time to try and help again. It had been several years since we’d seen her. He asked her to come home and she did. It was an answer to many prayers, and it proves again that love never fails. God loves us and will never forsake us. The previous few years were awful, but God taught me many lessons. By His grace, I have my precious girl home, happy, healthy, and helpful in every way. God used Gilgal to literally save her life. I am so very thankful and pleased she is safe. This is going to be an incredibly happy Mother’s Day because a mother’s love never fails, and this mother-daughter relationship never failed. God is so good.