It was on a Sunday.
While I don’t remember all the converging circumstances of the moment, my entire paradigm shifted about five years ago while eating a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.
If you’ve never really had nothing, it may be difficult to grasp the power of the instant you realize it. Since, I’ve had countless recollections and dreams of sitting at that table chewing on that sandwich until now when for some reason, the significance of that moment has become amazingly clear.
I’d been clean only a few months after eight years on a methamphetamine diet when eating a sandwich was something you did only because people said you were getting too skinny as meth often does. I had been an unemployed and unemployable mess for so long, I’d stretched my last $300 down to just $6.72 and the shame of who I’d become after all those years had eaten through any remaining pride or self esteem as I walked to the store to spend it on the ingredients for what I believed was my last meal.
On the cusp of poverty and homelessness, that bacon sandwich changed my life.
I had always considered myself a sympathetic man, thinking of the plight of others before myself. The many epiphanies I’d experienced during my cold turkey withdrawal from the drug months before (see “My 9-1-1” story from September 2013 below) were just the beginning of a deeper, more profound purpose and direction for which my life was now headed.
I vividly remember each bite and swallow, the feel of the hard chair on my bony ass and the cup of warm tap water I used to wash down the agony of each bite. I was flooded with emotions and realizations of what my life had come to. I was a poor man. Once rich in spirit and life, I’d become a shambled, lonely, pitiful mess of an addict in recovery eating his last supper.
I was not at all unlike so many other newcomers to my recovery meetings who, having abandoned a life of drugs, theft, porn and sex, were clean but poor and yet without aim. I now believe this is why so many return to the destructive lifestyle, lacking something bigger than themselves to grasp onto in exchange.
I say again, by the grace of God, I was saved by a bacon sandwich.
At that table, on that chair, at that last bite, I literally felt my head twist to the right a little and buried it in the crumbs on my plate, having realized what my life was meant to be. It wasn’t going to be drugs, poverty or a mere bacon sandwich anymore. I was being called to become an agent of change for the drugged, the abandoned, the homeless and the hungry.
I think I fell asleep at the table for a long while, waking with the crumbs of the past stuck to my face and experienced my first real glimpse of hope in many years. I would like to say I remember the dream I had during that upright sleep but I don’t. I can only recall the waking and the twisted change it had made in the way I have since viewed my single, celibate, drugless and solitary existence.
Several events occurred in the days following. My house got cleaned, I reached out to friends and associates from long ago, I redrafted my resume, and I began writing again. Soon after, I was very graciously hired as a janitor at my church and eventually worked into my current position with a charity that had been waiting patiently for my occupation. I again now count myself a rich man.
To this day, I am the highest when with the lowest.
They say that finding your purpose in life is an alignment of what you’re good at, what you love to do, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.
For me, it was revealed in the most unlikely of places.
A divine moment on a Sunday afternoon between two slices of white bread.