"I Couldn't Imagine a Life Without Drugs, and I Didn't Want to Try"
Darcy Jo is a recent graduate of the Prison Fellowship Academy™ at the Minnesota Correctional Facility—Shakopee.
'A LIFETIME OF GROWTH'
I've come a long way in the last two years, but I have a lifetime of growth ahead of me. It's going to take time and effort to clean up and move past the mess I made of my life, but I'm ready and excited for that challenge.
For 16 years of my life I was an addict. I chose to live a miserable existence filled with chemicals, crime, abuse, and pain. I had opportunities to change—I was court-ordered to many different treatment centers, [incarcerated at] juvenile and adult correctional facilities—and I have a healthy, supportive family who has always been willing to help me in any way they could.
The problem was, I didn't want to change. I didn't want help, and I didn't think I needed it. [Convinced] I loved my life, I couldn't imagine a life without drugs, and I didn't want to try. [I didn’t] believe in God or any kind of a higher power.
THE WOMAN GOD INTENDED ME TO BE
That all changed about a week after my arrest in August of 2015. Suddenly, it was so obvious to me what was missing. Why I couldn't hold a job; why even the times I tried to stay sober, I failed. And why even the good relationships I had [suffered].
I was spiritually dead and drowning myself in sin.
Luckily, I knew exactly what to do. I got myself a Bible and began attending Christian programs at the county jail. My 13 months in county were amazing! God used the environment as a training ground for me.
Before leaving county, I knew I would be in the Prison Fellowship Academy. I knew this program was what I needed, that this curriculum would be essential to my future after incarceration.[At the Academy,] I learned new tools and saw how God would use the curriculum to grow and shape me into the woman He always intended me to be.
WOMEN OF IMPACT WALKING IN FREEDOM
Living in this [Academy] community has taught me how to coexist in God-pleasing ways. I've learned to respect and show love to others that I may not particularly like or who may be hard for me to get along with. [This community] has taught me how to live out Romans 12:18—"Do everything possible on your part to live at peace with everybody." For the first time in my life, I have no enemies, no one I feel hatred towards, and no one trying to get back at me.
Through the curriculum and interactions with my Academy sisters, I've identified the themes and hidden beliefs in my life that kept me stuck. I used to extend trust prematurely—before I even knew people, I gave them my trust. Needless to say, I got bit a lot.
I will be forever grateful for our coaches. Their dedication to this program and their willingness to pour their time and energy into us [helped me] believe I can be successful—that I am different, and my life is going to be different.
They believe in us, they've guided us, and they've shown us we can be women of impact and walk in freedom.
STAYING ON THE PATH
I don't know what my future holds. It's going to be hard, [but] … thanks to my solid foundation in Jesus, my wonderful support network, and the tools I've learned in the Academy, I am going to leave this institution with confidence, expecting to succeed.
I like who I am sober—I love the woman I've become. To keep me on this path, I plan to participate in the Academy graduate program. When I leave in two short months, I will be [investing] myself in healthy activities, finding opportunities to serve others in life-giving ways, and taking healthy risks—such as joining a sports league or participating in a theatre production.
I know I have the potential to be highly successful in all areas of life as long as I continue to practice what I've learned here and keep my focus on Jesus Christ. I base my life on Psalm 18:1,"I love you, Lord, my strength." And I will continue to do so.
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