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Chasing the American Dream

VanceI was living the American dream. I had a good job, a family, a home with a white picket fence and a dog. By the standards that I grew up around, I was supposed to be happy and complete. But that was not the case. I went from living the American dream to chasing it, making more money, getting larger homes, moving up the corporate ladder, needing more external things to make me feel whole.

By the time I reached my forties, material things were not working any more. I had thoughts like, “Is this all there is to life?” I had reached the annual salary that I thought would make me content, but it didn’t. I had the job title that I thought would bolster my self-esteem, but it didn’t. And I had a big home and the right kind of cars that I thought would increase my self-worth, but they didn’t.

I became increasingly unhappy, and there seemed to be nothing that would fill the emptiness within me. Medication helped my symptoms but didn’t take care of the root problem. I soon became more reliant on the drugs to numb the way I felt and, of course, they, too, quit working.

My American dream was crumbling. Depression had taken hold and was affecting me as a husband, father, employee, and so on. Then my father passed away and a close cousin committed suicide.

I began a downward spiral into deep depression and heavy use of prescription medication. I lost my job, got divorced, and my family moved away. Finally, I lost my home and, along with it, my will to go on.

A friend of my sister suggested the Star of Hope. I arrived at the Men’s Development Center a beaten man. I felt like a failure. I could not forgive myself, and from my limited knowledge of God, I believed He would not forgive me either.

But at Star of Hope, I had Christian role models around me teaching me about the Bible. I came to understand that God promises to care for all my needs, and I have seen that God keeps His Word. He gave me food, water, shelter and an opportunity to develop a relationship with Him.

I will never forget the night in Chapel, when I decided to submit my life and will to God, by asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. It was the start of a new beginning for me. I experienced the most peaceful moment of my life, and I felt whole, again. But this time I didn’t have money, the job, the family or any of the things of the world. All I had were the things God provided for me: a few articles of clothing, food and water, a bed, His love and His promises—promises like, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” And “I know the plans I have for you; plans for your welfare and not calamity; to give you a future and a hope,”

At Star of Hope, I was always encouraged by the staff. I have learned to do the same for others. I can give back to Star of Hope by helping those coming through the program and encourage them to finish it. I am involved in the alumni group whose purpose is to continue to build our community, be spiritually transformed, and to give back through service work.

Today, my family is being restored, I am employed, again, and I have my own place. I am a new man, complete, lacking in nothing. Today I am the father, son, brother and christian man God designed me to be! I give back to the Star of Hope by being a volunteer in ACTS Ministry which is the alumni program. I am eternally grateful to the Star of Hope for being a part of my recovery, and making it possible for me to be where I am, living the great American dream through Jesus Christ.

Vance Letbetter

Addiction Recovery Programs Houston
Star of Hope Mission  

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