After a stumble, Steve gets back on track at the mission
Steve grew up in Santa Barbara in a loving home with two parents and two younger siblings. His father, however, was an alcoholic. “A lot of family on my dad’s side has issues with alcohol,” Steve said. “A lot of them are either in recovery, in active addiction, or have died because of it. My dad is eight years sober now, and my grandma is 12 years sober. It plays a big part in my family.”
Because of his addiction, Steve’s dad was around “physically, but not emotionally” when he was a kid, he said. “My mom had to work multiple jobs. I came home from school and had to take care of my siblings. I feel like a lot of responsibility was placed on my shoulders.”
When Steve got to high school, he started experiencing some freedom, and he liked it. “I started going to parties, and that’s where I found drinking,” he said. “It gave me the courage and confidence I always sought—that pep in my step.”
Steve finished school and kept working, eventually enrolling at Santa Barbara City College. “But drinking became my passion,” he said. “It started taking over my life. That was my priority. I was doing it all throughout the day, every chance I had, when I woke up, until I went to bed.”
But Steve started noticing those around him were moving on. “The parties started ending for all those around me,” he said. “People were starting families, settling down, getting into their careers, and I was still holding on to that party scene, neglecting responsibilities. Along the road, I ended up hurting all my loved ones because of my lifestyle choices. Eventually, I ended up alone.”
“It was a very dark time. And it led to a couple different attempts of recovery, and a couple different attempts at suicide. It was just a very dark road of self-destruction.”
Steve now has an 8-year-old son, and spent some time at a sister mission in Oxnard in an effort to break his addiction and be a good role model to his child. But after some time there, Steve felt he had made enough progress and left. “I had this entitlement,” he said. “I went back to Santa Barbara with high expectations, but it was nothing like that. It put me back into that hole. The guilt and shame was so much worse this time. I just kept thinking, ‘I know God. I have a son. I know right from wrong. I shouldn’t be doing this.’ It was destroying me.
“Basically, I made a sinful decision, but by God’s grace, it led me here,” added Steve. “They welcomed me with open arms. Coming through these doors, it was judgment free, regardless of my past and what they knew about me.”
Steve said the counseling at the mission has helped him learn a lot about himself. “I’m discovering that I don’t know who I am necessarily, or at least I don’t know my identity with Christ,” he said. “Me without Christ makes all the wrong decisions, makes sinful choices, is violent, is angry, blames everyone but myself. Me with Christ is being able to hold myself accountable.”
Steve’s relationship with his family is also healing. “With all these slips and falls, I felt like I lost the faith of my family,” he said. “But I just found out they are coming for Family Day. It just shows me that God is never going to give up on me, regardless of how lonely, broken, and alone I’ve felt. God wouldn’t let me go, and finding that comfort, no words can describe how thankful I am.
“All the tools that I am gaining here are going to work for one purpose and that’s to continue this path with God, grow in this personal relationship with God. And when the time is right, I’ll pass this on to my son so he doesn’t have to go through these struggles that I’ve gone through.”
Steve said he had a message for anyone considering coming to the mission: “God can heal anything,” he said. “I remember feeling like I didn’t deserve his love or his grace or his mercy. Now, I’m not in that dark, dark space anymore. Living in the light is a wonderful thing. It’s nice to be able to see.”