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Today, Hillcrest Hope graduate Chris sees his life with clear eyes, noticing grace in so many aspects. But it wasn't always that way. For years, Chris lived in despair. Recently, we at Hillcrest Hope joined him at his Alcoholic's Anonymous hall to celebrate not only his one year of sobriety, but the incredible strides he has made.

Often, Chris cannot comprehend the grace that he's been given in his life. This is the grace of second, third, fourth-seemingly innumerable chances. Chris recognizes that addiction started for him around 16 years of age. Despite a healthy, supportive family, with parents celebrating 50 years of marriage this year, Chris found lies to believe about himself at a young age. He lived with pain and hurt from experiences with which he could not cope.

When Chris walked through the doors of the local AA hall, he still wasn't sure he had found a place he belonged. This quickly changed, as he recognized that people genuinely cared about him, making sure he came to each meeting and that he had the tools and encouragement he needed. Chris met a man who he asked to be his sponsor. This mentor and his family became Chris' surrogate family; Chris was grateful for two loving, supportive families.

Even in the process of moving forward, Chris struggled to ask for help. He wasn't sure Hillcrest Hope could help "someone like him" or that anyone would even want to. After pursuing the program with consistency and diligence, Chris received the call that he had been accepted. Accepted. "And I felt accepted, not only by the program, but by the people" Chris shares.

It was at Hillcrest Hope that Chris learned how to budget, to be responsible and to begin trusting his own decisions. Most importantly, he grew in his ability to accept help from others. Now, Chris clings to this mantra: You can start your day over anytime. He allows himself the grace he needs to adjust, correct and cope. As he strives to build himself, he recognizes that he is becoming someone his family and friends are proud of: proud to know, proud to love, proud to employ, proud to be known with.

As all of those at Hillcrest Hope do towards the middle of their time with us, Chris began looking for housing. Careful budgeting and his strong work ethic led to tremendous amounts of debt paid off. He established employment references, financial references and a glowing reference from Hillcrest Hope but his past still stood in the way of finding housing.

Just when Chris began to lose hope, his close friend and mentor stepped in. They began looking for a house to buy. They shopped quickly and wisely, finding a home in foreclosure. Chris couldn't believe that he would be moving into a home: a real home of his own for the first time in his life. Through his journey, dark and difficult, he never imagined he could have this.

Chris explains that in recovery from addiction, people have the opportunity to live two lives in one lifetime. The life I live now does not even resemble my old life. God doesn't just take out the dents, put on some new tires and give you a new paint job. He entirely removes the old and replaces it with the new.

Chris can't quite pinpoint when he started to believe he was worthy of this life and these opportunities. "It's one of those things that kind of sneaks up on you," he explained. "I cannot say with 100% certainty that I deserve the things that I have, but most of the time I am okay with the person I have become. I try to forget the labels and accept the support and love that surrounds me."

"I make all things new." Revelation 21:5