Chris Overcomes Childhood Trauma, Gets His Life Back On Track
Chris had a rough childhood, and sees more clearly now how the trauma has affected the trajectory of his life. “I went through a lot,” he said. “I was molested as a kid and that caused me to act out. I resented every man who came into my life. I saw the bad in everything anyone did, even if they were trying to be genuine.”
When Chris was 12, his family moved from Jackson, Mississippi to Lompoc where his father opened a car dealership. Shortly after the move, Chris’ mom died from complications of diabetes. “I vowed to never really listen to anyone else. I started using meth, started drinking, and violence became a part of me. I always ran with the way-older crowd. My sister is 10 years older and she was selling drugs. That crowd was already gang banging and I was running with them. I took it to a whole other level.”
At 17, Chris was sentenced to life after shooting someone in the head. After eight years, when the family took the victim off life support, the charges changed and because of that technicality, Chris was released. “God allowed me to come home, but I never once saw God’s hand in it then,” he said. “I wasn’t looking at anything from a spiritual standpoint. I didn’t thank him for what he did. I stayed out for two weeks and went back for five years. My whole life I was in prison—possession of firearms, sales of drugs, assault—it was the same life.”
But during one of his sentences, Chris met his mentor, a prison chaplain. “He started feeding me the word,” Chris said. “I started studying. He was planting the seeds, investing his time in me. God allowed him to see something in me, even though I didn’t see it.” Several months later, Chris surrendered to God. He went to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission and then into a sober living home. He went to church regularly and attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, where he met his wife. “God was blessing me because I was doing the right thing,” he said. “The promises started becoming more real for me.”
Chris started working for Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara and then started a career as a chef. He started a company cooking for fraternity houses in Santa Barbara. “I came out of the alcohol and drug life and now I was back in it in a positive way,” Chris said. “I was able to minster to these college kids.”
But the long hours started taking a toll on his marriage. “I was taking care of my home, thinking ‘I’m a man,’ but I wasn’t taking the time to feed my wife the word of God.
I wasn’t taking the time to hear her needs.”
The couple started arguing, and Chris ended up back in jail. Because of his past record, he was facing serious time. “I kept asking God why this was happening,” he said. “I had done so much. I was doing so much better. But God revealed to me that my balance was still off. And in the midst of all the haze, everything that was going wrong, he kept showing me that I needed to continue on, that I was going to have struggles, but that he’d give me the strength to get through them. I stayed positive. I kept praying.”
Chris didn’t serve any time and instead entered a program, eventually ending up at the mission. “This is an amazing place—it’s small but powerful,” he said. “I’m loving it here. It’s like family. You see how God is working.”
The elders at Chris’ church are working with him and his wife through marital counseling. “Things are going well,” he said. “I know I need help. I’m seeking it. I went through so much in my life to get to this point. Sometimes I want to give up, but God is in me telling me to push harder.”
Chris has been enjoying the bible studies and the classes taught by staff and community members. “There are no ‘big mes, little yous’ here,” he said. “There is just staff here that loves you and cares about you. They don’t just say it, they show you through their actions. I never had that hands-on love as a kid. It fires me up, keeps me going.”
Chris has also found motivation in outreach. “Helping other people drives me,” he said. “It makes me feel not alone, that I’m not the only one going through things. God says, ‘Let your conduct reflect.’ If my conduct is reflecting that of a righteous person, the next person will imitate that.
“That’s what drives me the most, knowing that God can use me to pull those people out of the trenches. I’m able to relate with them enough to be able to talk to them and tell them the Gospel and what God has done in my life. That’s awesome to me.”