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God Put Guiding Light in my Path: Jeremy Marks Five Years of Sobriety

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“I remember showing up at Guiding Light, seeing the big cross and thinking ‘I’m in the wrong place,’” Jeremy says. “I’m a sinner. I’ve done a lot of bad things. I’ve hurt people through my actions. I thought I was beyond redemption. God put Guiding Light in my path at the right time."

/Doug Pancy

“I was a hardcore addict for nothing shy of 20 years,” Jeremy recalls. “I had always wanted to get sober, but I never wanted to do the work. I thought my recovery would happen organically – I’d wake up and not want to use. But all my friends were in that lifestyle, and I had to change a lot.”

His fourth time in rehab was that turning point for Jeremy. His nuclear family was dead. He’d given up two children for adoption. He was wrestling with God.

But Jeremy was out of options. He was afraid he was going to “die an addict, a lonely and desperate soul.” He had never heard of Guiding Light until a friend told him about the program.

“I remember showing up at Guiding Light, seeing the big cross and thinking ‘I’m in the wrong place,’” Jeremy says. “I’m a sinner. I’ve done a lot of bad things. I’ve hurt people through my actions. I thought I was beyond redemption.

“God put Guiding Light in my path at the specific time when I was ready for it.”

Make no mistake, those early days were rough for Jeremy, as they are for so many in our Recovery program. Guiding Light takes men in the immediate crisis of addiction and gives them a safe, supportive environment where they can do the hard work and build a life worth staying sober for.

Jeremy not only went through the physical pain of withdrawal, but psychological and spiritual pain from confronting the demons in his past.

“Recovery is really difficult – it’s scary and uncomfortable,” Jeremy remembers. “I didn’t know how I’d get through it minute to minute let alone hour to hour. My future was very, very uncertain.

“It took a month before I realized there’s something here. I wanted to get down on my knees and cry, relieve myself of the guilt and shame. I just wanted to be at Guiding Light.

“I thought they had the recipe for me here.”

And we did. Known on the streets as “no-joke recovery,” Guiding Light provides a four- to six-month residential program that combines evidence-based practices, life coaching, therapy, support groups, spiritual direction and resources that works to replace the chaos of day-in-day-out addiction with a proactive, extensive, all-encompassing and healthy routine.

Men like Jeremy who successfully complete the Foundations phase of our Recovery program have the option to move to Iron House, a sober-living apartment setting that provides a safe and secure environment in a residential area outside the inner city. Jeremy was skeptical about making that move, though.

“I didn’t want to go to Iron House,” he notes. “I talked about it with others in the program, and they said it improves your chances of staying sober. So, I took their advice. Besides coming to Guiding Light, it was one of the best decisions I made.

“I lived at Iron House for just shy of two years and particularly appreciated the community aspect. Often when I didn’t want to go to a house or support group meeting, I did it anyway – and came out feeling like I was part of the community.”

“They really have it mapped out for you. I needed that. This process is a marathon, not a sprint – it helped me develop.”

And stay sober: Approximately 78% of the men who come through our Recovery program, find employment and move to Iron House will achieve one of year of sobriety – compared with 33% of men who attempt to get sober on their own.

Jeremy began working at Guiding Light in 2017 while he was still in the Recovery program, greeting guests who came through the front doors of our home in Heartside. Two years later, he transitioned to The Job Post, Guiding Light’s talent placement firm that provides job placement services for men and women who are temporarily unemployed or searching for career advancement.

Today, Jeremy serves as director of talent placement for The Job Post and loves being seen as “the go-to guy” who is now synonymous with the agency. He’s returned home to Grand Haven where he shares an apartment with his fiancée.

The two were high school sweethearts who tried to maintain a relationship after school and work took them in different directions. They lost touch for 15 years – until she found his picture on The Job Post website and they reconnected two years ago. When Jeremy proposed on Valentine’s Day, she said yes immediately.

“If anyone has a guardian angel, it’s me,” Jeremy says. “There are so many good things happening to me I’m almost in tears.

“I owe this to the donors for the investment they made in me. These are perfect strangers who believe in the work Guiding Light does and donated money for me, and people like me. I take that seriously. I have a responsibility to utilize that money to change my life and not go back.

“I also owe my sobriety to my peers and to Guiding Light. These are the people who taught me from day one what is important. The bonds I established five years ago last to this day. My new normal is to be sober.

“If I had a message to deliver, it would be this: Help can be found here. Guiding Light isn’t a silver bullet, and it isn’t for everyone. But if you want to change, we can help.”

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