By Andy McBeard: My story is a collection of stories.  It doesn’t flow together perfectly because my brain doesn't flow perfectly.  I am a former addict, and my parents were addicts.  This part of my story is certainly not the beginning, but this is where everything changed.

January 12th, 2006.  I had moved in with my step-dad to help take care of him after my mom overdosed.  I had taken a couple of days to try to detox off of meth, and went back to work.  The temptation was too much, though, so I bought a sack, grabbed some beers, and was back to feeling normal.  That night, a friend needed a place to crash, as she had been evicted.  I told her she could crash at my house that night.

Within 30 minutes of being home, all hell broke loose.  I don’t remember the exact freak out, but she was having one.  I turned around to see a mirror coming towards my face.  It hit me, I stumbled backwards.  I opened one eye, just enough to see her running at me with a piece of the mirror.  I closed my eyes, and felt the glass, right in my stomach.  Then, on my head, then on my face.  Then my arms.  I was being attacked.

I eventually held her down until she fell asleep. I got up, went into the bathroom, cleaned up my wounds as much as I could, and stumbled to my bedroom.  I laid down on the bed.  Everything went black.

I felt something poking me.  I opened my eyes, and was looking in the face of the county sheriff, there to evict me.  He told me to pack up my stuff, and then he left the room.  I rolled over, grabbed my pants, reached in my pocket and found a little bit more dope.  I sucked it all up my nose, got dressed, and eventually ended up back at work. When I got there, I was promptly fired.  Great.

That night, after a couple of hours of drinking and walking, I arrived at a 24 hour gas station.  I found a bathroom, went in, locked the door, and sat down on the ground.  I sucked the last of my dope up my nose, then laid down on the ground and stared at the ceiling.  That is where I laid/slept/wanted to die, all night.

As the sun was rising, I felt something outside of myself.  Something different.  Something…. majestic.  “This has got to change. You have got to change.”  I agreed.  I took out my cell phone, and had one bar left.  I called a friend, and asked him to come get me.  I crashed on his couch for the day, until I launched a plan to change.

And I did.

January 13th, 20o6:  The last day I used drugs.  The day everything changed.

Since then, I’ve battled my demons.  My molestation, my abusive household, my mother’s death, my skeletons.  Every day is a fight to overcome what I made of my former life.

In the process, I found Jesus, or… should I say Jesus found me, strung out, on a bathroom floor.  I also met the girl of my dreams,  a girl who supports me, who challenges me, and who pushes me to be better.  We got married, and now have a beautiful girl who turns 3 this year.

Despire all this, my past still haunts me.  Mug shots from a couple of DUIs appear randomly on the web, and when other people catch wind, it hinders my progress.  People form judgements before ever getting the chance to talk to me.

It irks me that people would spread pictures of me at my lowest point , and then charge me an outlandish fee to remove the images. CNN has even featured the story.  But I’ve decided to live a life that only exudes grace and kindness, and so I’ve tried to move past this.

When people meet me, hopefully they will realize that I am changed by grace, and that there is something different about me. I’ve moved beyond my past, and learned that I am not beyond second (and 3rd, and 10th, and 100th) chances.  My past is still part of who I am, but it doesn’t disable me.  It helps me remember that the only way I am anything is through grace.