Updated: Jul 25
Eric and Jen’s story is a testament to God’s grace and redeeming powers. “In [Christ Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (Eph. 1:7-8). Despite our past, the mistakes we make over and over again, when we turn to God in repentance, He lavishes us in grace!
Eric and Jen have been together for the last seven years. They met each other through their jobs at the Legion. Eric was hired on while Jen worked as a manager. Even though Jen had been married for a number of years at that time, and Eric was in an engagement, they wanted to be together. Eric broke off the engagement and Jen moved on from her marriage. They started dating and eventually lived with each other in 2014, along with Eric’s one child and Jen’s three children. They added one more child to their family in 2016.
Eric was drinking before he moved in with Jen, but it became more serious afterward. “It was an easy excuse to pick up a bottle and have a drink” Eric admitted. Jen found herself drinking every day as well. The guilt from their decisions drove them to look for peace in alcohol. In 2016, Eric knew he needed to change. He went to a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) program in Mississippi. “I was sober for, what, two weeks afterward.” For the next 5 years, Eric struggled with alcohol on his own, trying to practice self-control, without results.
In 2019, Eric and Jen lost their apartment. For nearly a year, they bounced around hotel rooms for months at a time, only ever being kicked out for the mess. “Cooking in microwaves means TV dinners every night. And it was just a mess, and horrible. It got to a point where I wanted to drink myself to death.” The environment was hard on the children, especially the older kids. When Jen’s kids weren’t with her, they were with their dad, who had an addiction to weed. “The kids were hit on all sides,” said Eric. Some of the older kids started using weed as well. It was a difficult time for everybody.
In August of 2020, Eric had reached a low point in his life “I had given up on life, so I guess it was time to go back into treatment!” Eric’s family had cut him off to not enable his habit, but when Eric called, crying for help, they brought him to detox. “It’s not fun waking up finding yourself in detox. But I wanted to be there.” Eric has been sober since August 21, 2020.
A few days later, he started going to Faith Family Treatment Center, where he met Tiffany. His time there was when he started learning more about God. “I’m a “see it to believe it” kind of guy. And I don’t see miracles… well, I saw them. My eyes just weren’t open to it at the time.” Eric would ask Jen questions about God, but not because he was willing to learn. “It didn’t matter what I said. He was going to prove me wrong” Jen said.
Faith Family has a bible study on Wednesdays called “Promise Principals,” which Eric started going to in August. Eric stayed for another hour and a half after the bible study, talking with the pastor, asking him questions, and getting answers that, Eric admitted, he probably heard from Jen. But after a couple of months of going to Faith Family, he realized the God of the bible was real. Eric committed himself to God.
Recovery can mean different things to different people. It could be an adjective, describing a person’s lifestyle. Some might even have it be synonymous with sobriety. Jen had a different answer. “Recovery is learning a different way to live. Living your life in a healthier way. And with God, it’s having faith in him, and living in His Will.” Eric, clearly impressed and proud of his then fiancé’s answer, added, “Being sober is just abstinence of alcohol. And, as she said, recovery is changing your way of life. That’s why [my sobriety] is different this time. I’ve been sober in the past, but my life didn’t change. Now, my life has changed!”
After becoming a believer, Eric wanted to marry Jen. He knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, and that they made a great team together. He also knew that he couldn’t live in sin anymore. Eric and Jen agreed to be celibate until their marriage, which was on August, 21st, a couple of weeks ago.
Eric and Jen’s story is one of struggling against sin and temptation. It’s a story of failure and mistakes, over and over for years. But it’s also a story of transformation. The apostle Paul told the church in Corinth, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” How evident this is with Jen and Eric. After entering into recovery, that is, learning how to walk in God’s will, their life has been transformed, as evidenced by their life.
Over the past year, God has been healing Eric and Jen’s family in countless ways. Jen has been sober since January 23rd. He provided a new home, a triplex, which was a welcome change from the hotels. God also provided reliable vehicles for them to commute to their jobs. Jen’s kids stay with her instead of going to their dads, adding more stability to their lives. Jen’s oldest daughter even lost the desire to smoke weed. “None of it is us. It’s God” Eric said excitedly.
Their relationship with the people around them has also improved. “I’m shocked with the amount of forgiveness we’ve experienced,” said Eric, who was able to work for people who have fired him several times over the past several years. Jen agreed, “I am so thankful for the forgiveness from our children.” With each day that passes, Eric and Jen see their family healing from the pain of the past.
Eric wanted to conclude by thanking Tiffany for her faithfulness as his counselor. He was especially thankful for her prayer ministry. “It was my favorite part of treatment…It changed my life by taking away some of my anxieties, my racing thoughts. All of the spirits I didn’t even know about existing inside of me. She’s amazing.” Tiffany still does her prayer ministry every Thursday at 4:30 pm at Bob’s place in Hastings.