Crystal Nears Graduation And Focuses On Her Kids, Future As A Woman Of God

Crystal grew up in Oxnard, first with her mother, who is now a recovering addict, and then in foster care before being adopted by her grandparents. She had her first daughter at 18. “That’s when I started using drugs—first weed and then the harder stuff,” she said. “I had my second daughter when I was 22 and my son when I was 26. I was able to be sober and have healthy pregnancies, but I’ve been an addict for about 10 years, on and off.”

After Crystal lost her kids in 2016, she went into a local program and got custody back. “For the first year of sobriety, I did OK,” she said. “But then I started thinking I could use here and there. I couldn’t. I relapsed while on probation. I was in jail, just praying to God, ‘Please, I can’t be without my children.’ I was thinking about the impression I was leaving on them. We were separated because I used, and that made me feel so ashamed, so guilty. I just begged God for help.”

Crystal’s options were to sit in jail for three months, or enter a nine-month program at the Lighthouse. “I was more than willing,” she said. “I had been to the shelter before, and I knew Lighthouse was faith-based. I knew I needed something more. I really didn’t have to think twice.”

Crystal arrived last July. “When I first got here, I was gung ho,” she said. “I got baptized and recommitted my life to Christ. My foster parents were Christian. I know a lot about the word of God. In my addiction, I would still read the bible, but I’d never put it to action. I learned how to pray again.”

But Crystal said her downfall was a past relationship, the father to her youngest two children. “I was not willing to surrender one thing—Brent,” she said. “Because he’s an addict and wasn’t in a program, they didn’t recommend me being with him. They said it wasn’t conducive to my recovery. I said, ‘No, I can do it, he’s not going to make me stumble.’ They were very patient with me here. But I got cocky in my recovery.”

Just two months into the program, Brent picked up Crystal to take her to a probation appointment. On the way, they stopped at his house. “My flesh took over,” she said. “There is always alcohol there, and recently, that’s been my biggest downfall. I drank before I went to probation and I got arrested. Sitting in jail, still wearing my Lighthouse shirt, it was one of the worst experiences ever.

“Once the light is revealed to you, once God opens your eyes and you see what calling he has on your life, you can’t really go backwards. It’s never the same. I was sitting there, calm, and God was telling me, ‘You don’t belong here.’ I would tell myself, drinking is legal, but it is a sin for me. And that’s what God was revealing to me that day.”

Crystal restarted the program and broke off her relationship. “I’m not trying to pull him along with me anymore,” Crystal said. “I re-devoted my focus. I am in prayer before I do anything. I’m teaching my children how to be gentle, how to be loving, how to be kind, and also how to be accountable for their actions.”

Crystal will graduate next month. “I’m just excited for the rest of my life,” she said. “Now I know my focus is to give back to this ministry and help women have hope in Christ. I’m going to be a woman of God with a firm foundation. He has shown me such mercy.”