As a little girl, Bea remembers her mother taking her and her three sisters to church. But her dad didn’t believe in God and wanted nothing to do with Him. But, her mom had a lot of friends there. When Bea was 9 years old, her mother died, and Bea’s strongest memory was feeling so sorry for her dad. It was the first time she ever saw him cry.
Being the single father of four girls wasn’t easy, so just a year later, Bea’s dad remarried. Her stepmom came with 4 daughters and a son of her own, so Bea began to feel lost. The new family members also introduced a lot of bad things into the household. Church became something that the children were forced to do so that the newlyweds could have time alone. But, Bea did witness God at work when an evangelist in the family healed a man before her very eyes. Still, she perceived God as mean and vengeful, and heaven was nearly impossible to achieve.
During Bea’s teenage years, she began to become bitter toward God. Why had He taken her mother? How could He have let all those bad people into her home? Why did he allow all those men to abuse her? Why did she feel so incredibly alone? It would be many years before she would feel connected to God again. Her teens also introduced her to what would become a lifelong battle with alcohol.
Bea joined the Army, got married, and had a son. But, then, her marriage fell apart and by the 1990’s, Bea said, “I had blossomed into an out of control, raging alcoholic. In the end, I was praying for death, but too scared to die. I had lost everything. But, that’s when God started pursuing me. I needed to change!”
In 2011, Bea found herself in jail. She says, “I really didn’t know how to pray, so my prayers were mainly self-centered. Get me out of here! Keep my truck safe. Please ask someone to bail me out, etc…” While there, Bea was visited by people from a faith-based recovery program that was very strict. Nonetheless, she decided to go. “Now, I just got out of jail, cussed like a sailor, and was a smoker.” By the time I relapsed 9 months later, I had a file two inches thick of self-assessment forms that I had to fill out when I cussed! So, I got drunk on my graduation day, and left there still believing that I’d never be good enough for God.”
The next few years were spent going to treatment programs, 12-step meetings, and halfway houses. In 2014, Bea went to truck-driving school and had a start on a new career. She and her son had reconnected. But, once again, the alcohol continued to consume everything good. “It consumed my hope of ever finding a life that was suitable to live.”
In 2017, Bea had 18 months clean, and was living at the YWCA when she saw a brochure about Hand UP For Women. She interviewed with Eva, got accepted, and started the program in May of that year. She relapsed a short while later, lost her spot at the YWCA, and went to another halfway house. It was the best one she had ever been in. She spent the next few months living there, working for a collections company, taking classes at Hand UP, and going to AA meetings. She was matched with Barbara, her wonderful mentor, and Eva actually asked her to consider moving into Duncan House.
NOOOOO!!!! That was all she could hear in her head! Although she was honored to be asked, all she could think of was the last faith-based house she had lived in with all the legalistic, judgmental self-assessments. So, she declined. But, that didn’t stop God and Barbara, who asked her again at least once a month!
Then in 2018, Bea was diagnosed with lung cancer. She had to quit work, but the director of the halfway house and the women who lived there paid her rent, so she didn’t have to move. When she had her first round of chemotherapy, the pain felt like her bones were coming through her skin. They hadn’t given her anything for pain, so when it became unbearable, she relapsed. Alcohol had been her go-to for 25 years. Whether it was a good day or a bad day, it was her comfort. But then came the guilt and shame that always followed a relapse. Romans 7:15 summed it up for Bea. “I do not understand what I do, for what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do.” When Bea relapsed again in December of 2018, she was evicted.
Bea found herself staying in the only place she could afford, the nastiest motel she had ever experienced. She wallowed in self-pity, guilt, shame, and self-loathing. Again, she had no place to go. That had become her normal. That’s when she reached out to Eva.
Eva showed her the same kind of grace that God does. In fact, she told her that she wouldn’t be spending one more night in that horrible motel. After meeting with the rest of the Hand UP staff and her mentor, Bea moved into Duncan House…where God had tried to get her to go months before. And it was nothing like she had pictured in her mind! Nobody woke her at 6 a.m. with a Bible in their hand, ready to shove God down her throat! Instead, they demonstrated with their lives how a woman of God treats other people.
Bea said, “You know, in my drinking days, it was just me and my bottle. I had no use for other people. I couldn’t trust them. But now, with this organization, I have some of the most amazing Christian women in my life that I fully trust. Ones that I can pour my heart and soul out to, and ones that genuinely have my best interest at heart. They’ve shown me the same kind of love, compassion, mercy, and grace that Christ Himself shows me. They’ve taught me that getting to know God and following Him doesn’t mean I need to be perfect. It just means that I should wake up every morning and try to be better than I was the day before.”
Bea used to call herself a recovering alcoholic. But today, she calls herself a lady who has had a problem with alcohol who’s trying to let God lead her. He will lead her to what He has in store on the road to becoming the person He wants her to be.