Her story is tragic but all too common. As a young teenager, Lauren struggled with an eating disorder. She started using meth to keep from getting hungry. “Meth seemed like the answer,” she says. “I didn’t have to starve myself anymore.” But, before Lauren knew it, she was addicted. And headed for trouble.
Lauren got her first taste of homelessness when she was evicted from her home. Her children were in state custody. One of her cousins had compassion on her and moved Lauren closer to her family, hoping she’d take the opportunity to put her life back together.
“But I was lost in my addiction,” Lauren says. This time it was heroin. Within a few months, she was homeless again. Lauren tried to get clean many times. But, each time, she failed. She might easily have died, alone on the streets. But God had other plans.
Lauren had so many reasons over the years to want to numb herself from the pain, including abusive relationships. But then, Lauren discovered she was pregnant. A few weeks later, she landed in the hospital, desperately sick with an infection that required major lung surgery. “I knew God had to have a purpose for my life,” Lauren says. “He plucked me out of the world and put me in the hospital where I had no choice but to get sober.”
But, after getting out of the hospital — and even after her daughter was born — Lauren continued to struggle with addiction. Lauren finally realized she was running out of chances. That’s when she heard about Orange County Rescue Mission. “It was just a hopeless situation,” Lauren says. “The more I used, the more I added to the pain I already had. I finally got to the point that I had to face reality. I knew that this program was long term, and I prayed, ‘Please Lord, if that’s where I need to be, open the door.'”
Eighteen months later, Lauren is a completely new woman. With the help of her case managers, she addressed the issues that had led to her addiction
She learned that God has forgiven her. “It’s so beautiful to be a new creation in Christ,” Lauren says, “and to not have to live as that person I was before. I’m no longer that addicted Lauren who did all those horrible things.” Getting there took a lot of hard work. In addition to the counseling she received, Lauren took discipleship classes, life skills classes, and spent time with her daughter at the Orange County Rescue Mission Parent and Child Enrichment Center.
Now in the final phase of her program, Lauren is thrilled to have restored her relationship with her parents, who came to visit over Thanksgiving. With the help of a job counselor, she has polished her resume. By the time you read this, she hopes to have landed a job as a receptionist. Ultimately, she hopes to train as a legal secretary. She’s looking forward to living on her own again — to being, as she puts it, “able to function in society.” But, more than anything, Lauren wants to please God with the rest of her life. “I now know what it’s like to have true joy,” she says, “not joy that comes from drugs.”