Written by Rob Lohman
In Part 1 of this two part series I discussed my journey through attempted suicide, addiction, recovery and events leading to a major nervous breakdown in 2012. That is where we pick up now and watch the journey unfold into God’s calling for my life. You cannot deny that He is, was, and always will be in the details!
I opted to turn the biggest mistake of my life in 2012 into the greatest opportunity to rediscover the TRUE me and to RISE up and seek God’s purpose for my life…to truly secure my identity in Him.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28 (NASB)
On December 4th, 2012 – 6 months after I confessed to starting the fire – I was arrested on 19 felonies and 13 misdemeanors while being held on a $100,000 bond. God definitely entered the courtroom FIRST during the bond hearing, because thanks to the support of Pastor Don and the expressed heart of my amazing wife, the judge agreed to a 75% reduction in bond, allowing me to be released from jail until my sentencing hearing on July 8, 2013. The bond reduction miracle floored my attorney, as he had never seen a reduction in bond like that before….but I did tell him to expect miracles along the way because Jen, our community, and myself served a big God that is in the business of doing the impossible.
During my open sentencing hearing, I was facing 4 – 56 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections. When I say “I”, I should be saying “we”, because my family would also be doing time with me, just in a very different way – a much more difficult way. The sound of the judges gavel rang through the silent courtroom just moments before I was handcuffed and escorted through the doorway leading to a 5 year sentence with concurrent 8 year suspended sentence to the Department of Corrections. I saw this as a gift of MERCY from my Father.
How does a wife that is left behind explain to her two young children that Daddy had to go away, unsure of when he would return? How does a wife answer the daily questions of “Mommy, why can’t we just call Daddy?” “Mommy, when will Daddy be home?” “Mommy, why did Daddy have to leave?” “Mommy, where is Daddy?” “Mommy, why are you crying?” “Mommy…Mommy…Mommmy…”
I don’t know how she did it. My strong and courageous wife endured a lot of heartache and undeservedly had to navigate the waters of being a “single” mother within the shame of living in my mistakes. Jen dug deep to ask the questions “Who is this man I married and how do I handle this situation?” “How do I stay with this man who has caused so much harm?” Gratitude is an understatement when I say that I am grateful Jen chose to remain married to me, for better and for worse, and is committed to working through life together! We both believe that our life will one day be a reflection of God’s mercy and grace to be used to encourage other couples to work through the messiness and receive the blessings on the other side. We love the song by Jack Johnson “It’s always better when we’re together” and I am thankful we still are!
During the next 324 days, time was my number one asset in prison. Outside of the approximate 30 hours a week I worked in the kitchen, I spent every waking hour working on my spiritual and physical conditioning. God slowly started to reveal His plan for my life! The theme for what I felt God was calling me to was to help others realize that God does not make junk and that each of us has a purpose in life, a purpose that is NOT to be stuck in the shame of our mistakes, but to gain a deep understanding as to why God created us and how He wants us to use our gifts and talents.
Also revealed to me is that before I can help others, I need to be secure in who I was, or should I say WHOSE I am. For the first time in my life, I truly sought to understand what it meant to be a Christian. Why had I believed all of my life that God truly was the One and Only, that He loved me so much He sent His one and only Son to die for all of my sins? What it meant to not just be saved by grace, but to live life as Jesus lived, to live life as Jesus is my Savior AND LORD! I wanted to know. I wanted to believe and live with conviction.
I wanted be free from the strongholds and false beliefs in my life, which is part of the calling God is revealing to me.
I spent my days and nights with my nose buried in books and writing in my journals. My hunger to learn grew exponentially. I became deeply involved in the beautiful, stand-alone Chapel and plugged into every single program they offered, taking eleven life-learning classes which drastically changed my perception on life and of me. God spoke to me through the authors of the forty-two books I read and studied….authors like John Ortberg, Mark Batterson, Stephen Covey, Fritz Ridenour, Neil Anderson, Viktor Frankl, and of course the Authors of the Bible.
While I was encountering God in prison, my wife was back home trying to navigate the world of being everything to our two precious children. Managing the stress of being the sole provider and continuing to do life without me home. God continued to answer my prayers that He would take care of my family. He showed up through our amazing community of friends and family by providing financially and emotionally. God always came through.
By God’s grace and mercy, on May 21st, 2014 I was released from prison to a halfway house just 8.9 miles from my family. On April 15th, 2015, I was granted parole and was allowed to move back in with my wife and children. What was supposed to be 13 years away from my family, God turned in into less than 2 years. What a miracle! What a blessing!
One of the biggest lessons I learned in this journey is that I need to have my focus on God. That God’s grace and mercy are sufficient. He showed up time and time again, sometimes subtly and others in miraculous ways. Whatever the legal system had/has in store for me, God had a better plan. I have to keep my heart, my mind, my eyes and my ears open to receive what He had in store for me and my family.
I serve an amazing God and His plan for my life is so much greater than I could ever imagine. Due to the challenges I faced and face living life with a felony record, many doors were closed in regards to seeking a long-term career that could provide financially for my family. Road block after road block, I kept the faith. Thankfully, a friend reached out to me and suggested starting my own business as an Addiction Interventionist and Addiction Recovery Coach. I definitely believe that was a door God opened, because since I walked through that door, I can see that this is the path He chose for me.
Since December 2015, I have now made a career out of helping other addicts get clean and sober. I now have a heart for people who had to spend time behind bars, that I never would have had before this experience. The name of the business is the name He revealed to me while locked up in prison – Lifted From The Rut – which is exactly what He is helping me do: lift people out of their life ruts to become the amazing people God created them to be! I’m living a healthy, sober, balanced life, even though I continue to struggle with keeping God first. I seek Him daily.
I feel as though I’m doing what he has called me to do: helping to save lives and in the process saving my own.
I believe part of my calling in life is to share my story/testimony with other men and youth who might be struggling with learning how to deal with life on life’s terms and the dangers that come with not developing the proper COPING skills to handle the challenges that life deals us.
I have become involved with Prison Fellowship, the Denver Dream Center, sober living facilities and treatment center communities. I continue to focus on becoming a better husband, a better father and a stronger follower of Jesus Christ.
I wanted to thank all of our amazing prayer warriors that have been by our side this entire journey. The support and love from my parents blew me away as they displayed so much unconditional love. I want to express my gratitude for my wife who chose to remain my wife, my partner in life and to stay true to the lyrics of Jack Johnson, “It’s always better when we’re together.” We continue to heal as a family surrounded by an amazing community of friends.
The road to recovery and healing never ends. God continues to refine me, and I am willing to be refined. He called me to help others believe in themselves, but first I had to believe in me. I believe I am a child of God and that my identity is in Jesus Christ! Nothing will ever take that away again. Thank you God!
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