Life for a Dead Man?
Interview with Josiah Hardy
Shepherd’s House Ministries Graduate
What was your background before you decided to get help from Shepherd’s House Ministries?
“I was always a positive person. I bartended for over fifteen years, and I was a part of a community but did not feel like I belonged. I grew up in a loving, Christian family. I was sober years before I came to Shepherd’s House Ministries. But, I got into some trouble and was given court-ordered recovery and re-hab. Addicts like to do recovery on their own terms.
I had put substances in my body for so long that it became a crutch. When you are using you don’t know if your happy, sad, angry, etc. You just stop feeling. Before I was able to get sober no one wanted to be around me.
There were no grace or community components to the recovery programs I had participated in in the past. I bs’d my way through one 2 year recovery program, and I was hiding and sneaking my addiction. God met me at the end of that program, and I had an encounter with Him and I stayed sober for a while.
When you are using you don’t know if your happy, sad, angry, etc. You just stop feeling.
But, fast forward six years later, and “life happened.” I started back in my addiction and things got really bad really fast with drugs and alcohol and not being able to hold a job.”
What was it like when you first arrived at The Shepherd’s House?
“For a long time, I avoided my family because I was ridden with shame because of my choices. I was scaring myself because of my addictions. My pain was piercing and it did not matter what I did. I couldn’t see a way out. When I reached out to my folks for help they responded and took me to The Shepherd’s House. I remember when I walked through the doors because the guys there welcomed me and that set me at ease. But, I still thought to myself “I can’t wait to get out of here.” The first two months in the program I wanted to do things as quickly as I could.”
How has the community there impactful you?
“As I began to detox, I was with people just like me. I didn’t see that at first, but relationships began to build. As part of The Shepherd’s House program, I started going to AA and had a sponsor. I was active with going to Shepherd’s House classes and shared more about my struggles with others. I focused on the “why” of my recovery.
One of the biggest factors with my recovery was the focus on outdoor trips. They call it Eco-wellness, a place to experience the outdoors in a safe community setting. I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a bunch of trips.
I had a feeling of belonging and being bonded with the guys that I went on hikes and camping trips with. Before, I found my identity in work, but these experiences helped me see beyond that. Hiking the Three Sisters was a real accomplishment and encouragement for me, and being able to bond with others was great. After that hike, we were exhausted and hungry, but we accomplished something together and, as a result, I grew very close with the other men in the program.
I still keep in touch with some of those guys I went through the program with because of those outdoor experiences.
Getting sober and staying in community brought life back to this dead man. I began to feel again.
One of the harder things was that I had to accept I would not be able to work while in the Shepherd’s House recovery program. But, I knew my recovery was more important and that it really mattered. I wanted it to stick this time.
For the longest time when I was out there using I was broken. I also learned that the people I knew that were using could die from addiction from years of abusing their bodies. That always left a mark on me and was a reminder to help me stay on the path of recovery because I was on a path to death.
Learning to find common ground with others and being mindful of other people’s journeys and struggles has been very impactful. I had to come to terms with accepting that I had addictions.
Eventually, as I was able to start in real recovery, I could look in the mirror and stop hating myself. I was not stuck in the pain anymore. Getting sober and staying in community brought life back to this dead man. I began to feel again.”
How has life been after graduating from the Shepherd’s House Program?
“I came to Shepherd’s House in April of 2015 and graduated from the program in 2017, and it is crazy to see where I am now. It was not long after graduating from the program that I got hired at Costco thanks to the men’s director, Darin, who helped me get the job. That was a huge step for me.
I have always known that I have leadership abilities. I took on the challenge of taking a seasonal job with Costco and was able to get hired full-time and kept working my way up with management. I had to prove to myself that I could do what they asked me to do, that I could stick with it. I worked in the “chicken room” for 9 months and that was one of the hardest places I have ever worked in my life. I made it through that challenge and was eventually promoted.
My goals today are much different. I am more intentional and able to stay in a healthier place mentally and spiritually.
I was an employee for nine months and got a promotion that usually takes five years to get. I took advantage of Costco’s cross-training and opportunities to work with supervisors and those guys challenged me to be better and to keep growing.
Today, I am setting goals for myself. My goal as an addict was to get what I needed and it consumed me. My goals today are much different. I am more intentional and able to stay in a healthier place mentally and spiritually.
I was pretty bad to my parents, but I now have a great relationship with them. I am looking forward to taking care of them and that is a big reason for me moving back to Colorado to transfer jobs with Costco. I want to give back to my parents who have given me so much.
They were always there for me, prayed for me, and forgave me. They are my two best friends, and I want to be able to help take care of my mom who has an illness. I want to help them as they helped me.
I look forward to taking steps in my career and trust that my goals will come to fruition. I thank God every day for where I am in my life.”
Anything else you want to share?
“Thank you for your support to help men like me get through recovery!!!!”
By Ryan Olufson
Volunteer Coordinator, Shepherd’s House Ministries