From the Inside Out

Dannielle's Story

A bright window with light shining through to a dark room.

I began using drugs like marijuana and methamphetamine at a young age. I then began drinking and due to my addictions and bad choices, I spent the majority of my twenties in jail and rehabilitation.

I felt a huge hole in my life, one that all the success of the world couldn’t fill. I always wanted something more but was constantly left feeling empty. I pushed Heavenly Father and the Church out of my life and I wasn’t happy.

After some time, I turned my life around. For about eight years I stayed sober, but then I had a bad relapse. I ended up in a place far worse than I had ever been. I started using drugs so heavily that I was hospitalized and almost died. But this still didn’t stop me. After spending three days in the hospital, I went back for more drugs and alcohol. I lost my job, home, and loved ones. Everything I had spent the last eight years building was lost in eight months. But I could not change my lifestyle of going in and out of jail, using and selling drugs, and lying and stealing. I did it all without any regard to the hurt and wreckage I caused to others. I lived every day only for my next high. I was morally bankrupt.

One day the missionaries knocked on my door, saying they had not seen me at church for a while and that they were there to visit me. I was skeptical of their sincerity, but I invited them in. Even though they did not know I had been seeking for direction in my life, they told me about finding hope again and praying for guidance. Later that night, I decided to try out their counsel and got on my knees to pray. I prayed more fervently than I had prayed in a long time. I don’t know exactly what type of help I wanted or expected, but I prayed for some sort of divine intervention to happen.

The next day I was arrested and sent to jail. I spent over a month there, making deals with lawyers, judges, family members, and Heavenly Father. I made the decision to become sober and never to return to my old lifestyle. Through this experience, Heavenly Father delivered me literally and spiritually from bondage.

After my release from jail, I met with my bishop. I told him I wanted my Church membership back. I followed every bit of his counsel in hopes of finding healing and restitution. 

I spent the next year attending a court-ordered drug program, as well as the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program. I received support from other members struggling just like me in the inspired ARP meetings. For additional support, I met with the missionaries regularly and received professional counseling to help me work through some of my most intimate problems.

Through these tools, regular church attendance, and consistent scripture study, I started to feel less like a shell and more like a person. Then one day while sitting in sacrament meeting, a strong sense of peace came over me. I knew I was home and that I was where I needed to be. Everything would be okay.

Through the process of rebuilding my life, I have learned humility. I’ve been able to make reconciliations, legally and personally. I have had to ask many for forgiveness and pay my debt to society, but I am now able to let go of the past. Through repentance, I know I have been forgiven.

President Ezra Taft Benson once said: “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.” (“Born of God,” President Ezra Taft Benson, Oct 1985 General Conference)

Today, not everything is perfect in my life, but I have been sober from drugs for almost three years and I live without feeling despair. I believe Heavenly Father knows me and never gave up on me, always knowing exactly what I needed. If Heavenly Father can save me from the darkest of places and bring light back into my life, He can do that for anyone. I believe Heavenly Father loves even those who are caught in addiction. He loves us enough to always give us second chances in life if we seek Him.