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Spotlight on Recovery: Connie Eldridge

Staff Writer
Washington County News
Washington County News

A vital component of combating the presence of drugs in our community is understanding that behind every drug arrest is a story - a story of someone who has lost their way and a family that has been torn apart by addiction.

Sheriff John Tate’s focus on assisting those struggling with addiction to find lasting recovery is just one step in healing families and giving those stories a chance to have a happy ending. Arrest itself is not an ending. Instead, it can be a new beginning.

Each month, we share a story from individuals who have successfully completed a drug rehabilitative program through the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office and are now enjoying a new, fulfilled life of recovery.

Their journey. Their words. A message of hope for us all.

The May 2020 Spotlight on Recovery story comes from Connie Eldridge:

"So if the Son sets you free, You shall be free indeed!" -John 8:36

Drugs don’t care who you are or where you come from.

You can grow up living poor, with drugs all around you, or you can grow up with money and family and anything you could ever want.

You can be the high school football star or cheerleader or the quiet kid who reads books all the time.

It dosent matter.

They are everywhere and can happen to anyone. They do not discriminate.

Both my parents were hard working and provided everything and anything I could have wanted. But even then it wasnt enough.

I knew God existed, and I feared Him, but I always thought He was so angry with me and didn’t understand why everyone said we needed Jesus to redeem us. After all, I hadn’t done anything really bad up to that point, so I felt no need for Him.

Well, God made sure that I knew I needed Him.

I was addicted to meth for 4 years. I said my first time using that I would not let it control me, and I could handle it (as most addicts like to believe) but quickly found out that I was, in fact, NOT in control, and it consumed my life.

My life was not my own anymore, and it had become chasing the next high, trying to get as high as I could get. I lost my husband, my children, my family and friends; everything that ever mattered to me was gone.

I was left to have the drugs that I chose over them, and as bad as I didn’t want the drugs, I couldn’t leave them alone.

I tried many, many times, and every attempt failed. My children just wanted their mommy back, and as bad as I wanted to be with them, every time I left from seeing them, I felt so discouraged and just wanted the pain of regret, shame, and failure to go away, so I did all I knew to do to make it stop and went to get high yet again.

My days were a never-ending cycle of the same process. I went to jail, I was homeless more times than not, I went to detox and even a secular program out of state. But every time I came home, I ended up worse than I was before - until October 10, 2017 when I had finally reached my breaking point.

I reached out to my now Pastor, Jerrod Jenkins, at Grace Fellowship Christian Church (GFCC), who sent someone to come get me. Once I got to the church, I was met by John Wayne Searcy (Peer counselor for Holmes County Sheriff’s Office), who not only gave me my first hot meal in a long time but gave me so much more.

He gave me the hard truth and showed me the love of Jesus. I was given clothes and food and slept for a few days, but when I awoke, I was sober and ready to go.

I told them I could handle it, and I just needed to get a job and work and I would be fine. Jerrod knew I couldn’t do it, and he literally drew a line in the sand and told me that I had 2 choices: I could either go to a program, surrender to God and get the healing I need, or if I left, then the next time he saw me would be at my funeral if I kept going down the road I was going.

I knew what he said was true. He showed me grace and gave me until church the next day to decide. I went inside the camper I was staying in and talked to God. And after a miracle, I knew I neeeded to go and was ready to go.

I was given the number to a program in Wauchula, Florida called Lydia's House. It is a one year, faith based, residental program that is completely free. I knew going there was going to be the best thing I ever did, but the hardest thing I ever did as well. I thought I was going to get healing from a few things but ended up getting so much more.

I found out things about myself I never knew. Pain that I never knew I had was brought to the light, and I was able to learn how to love God and trust Him, and by learning to love Him, I was finally able to love myself and in turn, I can love others.

I completed my one year but ended up staying an additional two months until God released me to graduate. I had not seen two out three of my children for 14 months, and when my graduation day finally arrived, to see not only all three of my children, but my mom and my then ex-husband as well all there supporting me, it was just an overwhelming feeling.

I came home to a new family at GFCC and started spending more and more time with my children. My husband and I are now remarried worshipping the Lord together, and I have all my children back together. I am finally the mom they have always deserved and needed, and I can love my husband with everything I have and be the wife he deserves.

None of this would be possible without God. God says He will return everything that the devil stole from you and more, and I can testify that what He says is 100% true.

I don’t deserve any of the things God has given me back. I didn’t deserve a second chance with my husband and my children. I hurt so many people that I never intended to hurt. I thought I was just hurting myself. But really I hurt so many people.

God could have left me in my "pig pen" to rot and go to hell. But He didn’t. He had to get me to a place where I had nothing and no one, and all there was left was Him. And I praise God that He did.

I was shallow, selfish, full of anger, hatred, hurt, unforgiveness, and materialistic. I was a liar, a thief, and just plain and simply no good. But God saw my heart and knew who I really was. Once I found Him, I found Me.

I’ve been clean and sober for two and a half years now and fall in love with God more and more each day. I didn’t do anything; God did it all. I just finally submitted to Him and did everything He told me to do. It’s that simple.

If you are in addiction, I encourage you to give God the chance He wants. You won’t be sorry. After all, those "friends" you think you have are not your friends, and one year of your life is nothing to commit to a program.

I won’t lie: my program was hard. I had to deal with emotions and feelings that I didnt want to and had buried deep inside me, and at times, I wanted to quit. But I wanted better. I wanted more, and I knew that God was right there to help me get through it. And you know what? He was. And He always will be. He only wants to help you and He loves you so much.

If you or someone you know is in addiction and are ready to be set free, give Lydia's House a call 863-773-0877, or your always welcome to come to Grace Fellowship Christian Church (GFCC) in Caryville, and we can help you as well.

I am also available to help anyone who might want any information on Lydia's House.

Don't wait. Jesus is knocking at your door, will you let Him in?

[HCSO note: Those seeking addiction recovery resources may also reach out to the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office at 850-547-4421]