Have you ever experienced a moment in life when everything changed? One instant you were on top of the world, and the next, nothing made sense. If so, did you bounce back quickly or struggle for a very long time?
The latter is what happened to Tim. Tim knows exactly when his charmed life became disenchanted. One moment he was the star of his high school baseball team, hoping to go to college on a scholarship, and popular with his classmates. He had a great relationship with his family and was especially close to his father. But all that changed with one poor decision.
I met Tim while he was participating in one of the restoration programs at Mel Trotter Ministries in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is very tall, funny, and on most days wears an infectious smile. When we chatted, I was struck by his honesty and willingness to take personal responsibility for his choices.
Tim’s life changed over one cigarette and a bad attitude. One day his baseball coach caught him smoking. As a consequence, Tim was asked to continue going to practice, but to sit on the bench for ten games. Rather than accept the punishment, Tim walked off the team. He admits that he was thinking only of himself. He let down the coach, his teammates, and most of all his father. He carries that burden to this day.
After that, Tim began experimenting with alcohol. Often the police caught him and his buddies drinking and driving. The police let them off with a warning the first few times. But things got real for Tim when he received his first DUI and went to jail. Though Tim felt ashamed of his actions, this incident did not stop him from drinking. Then there were more DUI’s, more jail time, and eventually the loss of his driver’s license. With each offense, the rift grew between Tim and his father.
Tim moved to Florida to escape his troubles in Michigan, where he had a stable job for thirty years. He worked hard during the week, but partied heavily on the weekends. Tim noticed that most others his age left the bar scene as they married and began families. The age difference between him and his bar friends grew greater with each passing year. Sadly, trouble eventually caught up with Tim when he and his friends did (in his words) “something stupid” for which he spent four years in prison.
Tim came home to Michigan when he was released from prison. He soon realized that if he was ever going to be the man he wanted to be that he would need help. Now, with the help of Mel Trotter Ministries and of Charles from Arbor Circle, Tim has achieved his goals of sobriety, a full time job, and a place of his own. He is still working on healing his relationship with his family. He and his father speak regularly by phone, but have not yet seen each other in person despite living fewer than thirty miles apart.
I finished up my conversation with Tim by asking him two questions.
First, for what are you most grateful? His response was, “Just life! The chance to get up one more day and do it again.”
Second, I asked Tim what his happiest moment was.
In response, Tim became animated, using his whole body to tell his story. Tim was nine years old and baseball was already his life’s passion. It was game time, but they were one umpire short. Tim’s dad stepped in to serve, reminding Tim that he would have to be completely impartial. As the game went on, a batter from the opposing team hit a ball near Tim’s position. Tim tagged the batter out as he approached first base. “Out!” called the umpire. Without hesitation Tim ran to home plate and tagged the third base runner. “Out!” called the umpire. Finally, Tim threw the ball to the second baseman. His teammate caught the ball and tagged the runner. “Out!” called the umpire. Tim looked up at the umpire to see his father’s eyes filled with love and pride.
Written by Gail Howarth
Gail works at Mel Trotter Ministries as an Administrative Coordinator in the Dental Clinic. In her spare time, you can often find her taking photos, writing and exploring.