“Get out of His Way”: A Story of Addiction & Obedience

By: Danielle Eickenhorst, Midland Division, Communications Specialist

Brian Gordon, 46, was abandoned by his mother as a child, and given, along with his three siblings, to a grandmother who was charged with raising him. “It wasn’t a good experience,” he recalls, “My grandmother was raising me and my three siblings and she had 11 of her own children to care for.”

Lost in the shuffle, Gordon recalls that his first dalliance with alcohol came at the tender age of five. “My grandmother would set aside sips of her beer and sometimes put back some for us kids. She never knew we’d get addicted.”

At the age of nine, an aunt introduced Brian to marijuana, which he continued to use until he reached junior high school. In junior high, Brian made the very adult decision to stop using alcohol and drugs because the people in his life weren’t using and he wanted to be more like them, but growing up in a community of addicts and drug dealers, Brian still frequently found himself in trouble with the law, and once he reached high school, he began to deal drugs and returned to substance abuse, using speed and PCP.

Unbelievably, at the age of 16 Brian was convicted of fire-bombing a house in retaliation for an outstanding drug debt. “They tried to give me life in prison,” he recalls, “but the judge said he saw something in me and sent me to a boys group home instead.” Around this same time, Brian had another brush with death that would lead him to a life-changing decision. In another drug-related scheme, a man seeking to kill Brian mistakenly killed many of Brian’s friends.

“I knew God had something planned for me,” he recalls, “I’d escaped with my life and had almost gotten life in prison,” but he didn’t. Instead, while in juvenile hall, Brian came in contact with a pastor who helped him make the decision to turn his life over to Christ, a decision that would make all the difference for him 30 years later.

Despite his faith, Brian continued to struggle once he returned home. From the age of 18 to the age of 24, Brian became hooked on crack cocaine, saw two marriages fail and even attempted suicide. “I would go in for rehabilitation or treatment, but would always fail when I went back out, because I was going for external reasons – to keep a job, to make my wife happy…” he says, “It wasn’t until I got sick that it all came together.”

In May of 2011, after undergoing surgery for severe bleeding in his stomach, Brian came to The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light for respite care. The staff at Harbor Light helped him through the recovery, ensuring that he followed the necessary steps to heal, and making certain that he took all necessary medications. Through his 3-month involvement with The Salvation Army’s respite program, Brian was able to find sobriety, to reconnect with and develop a closer relationship with God and to ultimately, find an apartment of his own. He will celebrate six months of sobriety next month.

“My son even lets me keep my four grandkids now,” he remarks with a smile.

Brian is slated to become a soldier of The Salvation Army when he completes classes and graduates in December. He will ring bells through the holiday season to assist in The Salvation Army’s Tree of Lights fundraising initiative. He continues to look for work in the hospitality industry – either cooking or performing janitorial work.

Brian hopes that his decades-long struggle and the success that he has had through The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light center will be an inspiration to those in his family and circle who still struggle with substance abuse.

For those struggling with sobriety or other issues, Brian simply says, “I would tell them to put their faith in God. Let God to what he has to do and get out of His way. We must be obedient. I following him because I know God didn’t lead me this far to leave me.”

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