Jeremiah 29:11

Meldie was mentoring my ex-wife through bible scripture when I first met her. “Gus”, my ex, gave me fair warning before I first laid my eyes upon her.

“I have to tell you: Meldie is GORGEOUS! Her and I go to Church together. She will be with me when you and Emma get here.”, Gus explained.

Her words went directly through one of my ears and straight out of the other. I had no interest in Gus’ warnings, gorgeous church women or biblical mentors. I had been through far too much with this woman to give serious heed to any such words. I didn’t believe Gus was going to Church for righteous motives anyway. Gus was a street hustler, in my opinion; a survivor whom rarely spoke the truth, as far as I was concerned. This meeting between Emma, her and I had been years in the making. And, I figured she was searching for some way to get out of it.

“That’s fine. I have no problem with gorgeous women.”, I responded. “See you at noon?”

I was expecting the hammer to fall now. I had no idea how I would explain her avoidance to Emma.

“Yes sir! I can’t wait!”


Gus and I first met at an Alcoholic’s Anonymous meeting, held at St.Bede’s Parish on Chicago’s south side, sometime in early 2000. She had been sober for almost four continuous years, at that point. I was sober barely over one full year, myself. I thought she was funny and cute even though she seemed a bit confrontational and somewhat stand offish. Her length of sobriety was what sparked my real interest, however. Most women who cleaned up that young were married by the end of their second full year of being sober. It seemed that was the real motivation for females to stop drinking and getting high. Gus got sober at eighteen and she was still single. Either she didn’t get sober just to find a man, which was how I viewed most younger females, or she was far too crazy to appropriately land one and keep one.

I decided I would attempt to find out who she was and decided to ask her out on a date the following weekend. Her response caught me off guard, completely.

“I’d be honored to go out with you.”, she responded.

Our first date was to the “old timers meeting” at the International Conference of Alcoholic’s Anonymous held in St. Paul, Minnesota. We were both heading there, anyway, with our AA sponsors. I assumed it would be a great place to start.

We were married in November of 2001. Emma, our daughter, was born in January of 2004. We were divorced in May of 2005.

Both Gus and I returned to active drug addiction shortly after our divorce. As they say inside the rooms of recovery, “Addiction gets worse over time – never better.”

My return to addiction cost me a business and my standing in the community – along with revolving door visits to Cook County Jail and multiple drug treatment centers. Gus’ return introduced her to heroin addiction and a four year “bit” in an Illinois state penitentiary. I was awarded “custodial guardianship” of Emma while Gus was away. The judge, reluctant to do so yet without any real alternative, remanded Emma and I to stay at Mama and Papa’s house. She constantly referred to me as “the cocaine dad” in open court.


Emma couldn’t hide her excitement over seeing Gus – her mama – on the three hour drive to go visit. Attempting to contain it would have been like preventing a C4 plastic explosion from happening; it was best to just stay out of the way. She was singing and dancing while explaining – in great detail – what we were about to embark on. This was the happiest that I had seen her in quite some time. I felt it best to restrain my anxiety and swallow any apprehension I had about the immediate future. Emma deserved this moment; she had been through enough between her mama’s addiction and mine. She was twelve, now, and she had seen her mama only twice since she was six.

I was watching a celebration of her Spirit and it had nothing, at all, to do with me or my fears. I was simply a courier who had to deliver a package. And, deliver her I would – come hell or high water … or gorgeous Church mentor.

I had spent the better part of the six years that Emma and I lived with Mama and Papa in isolation. I got high, fairly regularly, and I worked whenever I was sober. However, the times in between I stayed to myself. I was dying, I knew it, and the least I could do was give my daughter some happiness.

I had prayed, from time to time, but I gave up on most things relating to God a long time ago. God, I had felt, was for folks who went to Church and dressed nice. The folks who didn’t rob drug dealers, or spend their full paychecks on crack cocaine, were the folks that held God’s attention. I was sure that He wanted nothing to do with me. In return, and totally out of spite, I wanted nothing at all to do with Him, either.

I. Couldn’t. Have. Been. More. Wrong.

{Jeremiah 29:11 esv For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.}

Published by rrlgabriel

R.L. Gabriel is a US Army Airborne Combat Medic (veteran), former drug addict, father, husband, construction worker and follower of Jesus. He writes with an uncommon honesty while chronicling his past and describing how he walks by faith. His self reflecting memoirs will be published weekly. He lives in the American Midwest with his beautiful wife Meldie. Together, they host and tend to a diverse group of backyard critters while raising an indoor goldfish named Petey.

2 thoughts on “Jeremiah 29:11

  1. your writing truly inspires me I have a very similar past minus the service and overseas stuff but a lot of the other things I have in common and I thought for the longest time that God hated me but recently within weeks I have just accepted him into my heart and I have never felt more amazing in my entire life,, thank you for your writing it’s beautiful please don’t stop. I felt the same way that only church was for the people that dressed up and have good jobs that for people like me who barely made it check to check if that ever even with that lucky but now having a job and a great marriage and a good future and God in my heart is just amazing God bless

    Liked by 1 person

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