This is Their Life Now
By Linna Sommers - February 15, 2018
Posted in Stories from NMC, You'll Get Through This
Concrete was all around him. That was his home. This six-foot by ten-foot cell was his room, a small space in a massive prison.
It had been a week since Dom had been in this room, or had it been only a couple of days? In this place, he had lost all concept of time. There were no windows. There was no access to the outside world except for the one hour he was allowed out. He was in isolation, put there by decisions he’d made over the years.
As he stared at the blank walls, hopelessness crowded his mind.
He only had one thought, “This is the rest of my life.”
Dale and Niki Davis wanted to start a family, but after three miscarriages in a row, they were emotionally devastated and physically exhausted. They weren’t sure how much more their hearts could handle, how many more times they could have the same doctor’s appointment, hear the same silence at the ultrasound. So when a relative approached them about adopting the baby she was pregnant with, they were hesitant at first, but on May 13, 1997, one month after their third miscarriage, they walked out of the hospital with a baby boy.
His name was Dominick, Dom for short.
Within a few of years, Dale and Niki were able to have two biological children, and they finally had the family they had longed for. Their world wasn’t perfect, but on the days when their kids played and laughed and imagined together, it felt pretty close.
They’d always told Dom that he was adopted, but they’d waited to tell him the specifics until he was older. All that changed, though, when Dom was in the sixth grade. Through social media, Dom found out more details about his biological family. It wasn’t the way Dale and Niki had prepared for and prayed about for years, and this one event seemed to set off a chain of events that would send Dom into a spiral. In the weeks following, Satan began to attack with vicious lies.
“You’re not in your real family. You aren’t worthy of your real family. They didn’t want you. No one wants you.”
Over time, these lies overtook the truths Dale and Niki had always taught their son, and they began to manifest themselves in decisions that would determine the course of Dom’s life for nearly ten years.
Dom was in the seventh grade when he first tried drugs. It was something he knew his biological family did, and he just wanted to be part of their world or any world that made him feel like he belonged. This kind of belonging, though, brought a change that unsettled Dale and Niki. They began to notice an uncontrollable rage and selfishness in their son, and it seemed like no matter how much time and energy they devoted to parenting him, he felt further and further away.
During this time, a feeling of worthlessness completely overtook Dom. He felt like he belonged nowhere and with no one, and he had no motivation for the future. Once he got into high school, he became even more unmanageable as addiction completely overtook his life. Dom remembers feeling so desperate one day that he took 50 pills and turned himself into the principal’s office. He remembers the voices that whispered lies. He remembers that ache for more, more, more drugs. He remembers being homeless for a week. He remembers stealing. He remembers so much that he wishes he could forget.
Dale and Niki remember so much too, but mostly they remember that prayer, the one they prayed when their 19-year-old son lay in his 6 foot by 10 foot cell at the Elkhart County Jail.
“God, break him.”
It was a prayer prayed out of desperation, with tears running down their faces.
“God, break him.”
Dom had been caught dealing drugs and faced a six-year sentence. When he thought about this, he remembered all the times his family had fought for him. He remembered all the times God had fought for him. He remembered all the people he’d hurt. He remembered all the things he’d done, and he was completely broken.
“God, I’m done,” Dom said into the empty cell.
In that moment, his desire to do drugs was gone, replaced by a kind of fulfillment he had never before experienced. He finished his month of isolation in his tiny cell experiencing the presence of God in ways he never thought were possible. He prayed. He listened. He confessed. He experienced the love and grace and forgiveness of God in ways that were simply overwhelming.
That was over a year ago.
Today, Dom is on a journey of healing and recovery through Teen Challenge. There, he has discovered the man he wants to be, a man who seeks after Jesus. The healing road hasn’t been easy. It’s not been simple or perfect, but it has been marked by God’s faithfulness.
On February 9, Dom graduated from Teen Challenge a completely different man than the one who lay in that cold, tiny cell. Now, he is doing a two-year internship with Teen Challenge, leading worship and directing the choir. For the first time since the seventh grade, he is free from drug addiction, and the future is bright. He feels the Lord calling him to be a pastor and musician. As much as he wishes he could forget about drug addiction, he knows the Lord also is calling him to work with drug addicts in the future.
For Dale and Niki, the future has never seemed more hopeful. After years of disunity and intense pain, they can see God’s deep healing in their family. They’ve watched Dom’s siblings forgive him. They’ve watched their own hearts change as they themselves have forgiven Dom. For the first time since he was in the seventh grade, they can actually trust him.
When they look at their family, they don’t see a group that is perfect, but they do see the kind of joy that filled their lives so many years ago. They see a family that is healing and a son who has come home in all senses of the word.
This is their life now.