Dalton remembers always feeling like the black sheep of his family. “I was a sensitive child,” Dalton said. “My older sister got straight As. My older brother was a happy-go-lucky kid. I was always crying about every little thing that didn’t go my way. From a young age, I felt like I was a burden to my parents. From that stemmed a lot of insecurities into my teenage years that I masked with alcohol and drugs.”
Dalton’s parents took the family to church, but he never felt a deep connection. “We had that faith-based background, but it was more routine and religion than anything,” he said. “There wasn’t a relationship with God. But I knew who he was. I knew Jesus.”
His parents divorced when Dalton was 10. At 13, he started smoking cigarettes and marijuana, and then moved on to alcohol. “It progressed from there,” he said, adding that he started taking pills. “Every time I got high, I liked to steal. Sometimes I didn’t remember it, sometimes I did. Whatever I felt like I wanted or needed, I’d take. I was in and out of jail for minor petty theft.”
Dalton started to turn his life around when he entered a program at 21. He was seeing a girl, and after graduating from the two-year program, they married. They rented a house in a neighborhood that they soon found was infested with crystal meth. “The first time I got introduced to meth, things went downhill really fast,” he said. “I lost my job and couldn’t pay rent.”
The couple was evicted right after learning they were expecting another child. “For the life of me, I still couldn’t quit using,” he said. “I was really addicted.”
As they were relocating to Dalton’s dad’s house, the family was pulled over. After finding drugs in the car, Dalton was sent to jail on a vacated sentence from an earlier crime. His wife was under the influence. Their daughter, who was in the car, would have gone into Child Protective Services custody if she weren’t able to go with her grandmother.
Dalton went to prison for two years. His wife completed the Lighthouse program and got their daughter back. “When I got out, I had a family to take care of and I was doing the best I could. It’s hard to get fully back on your feet when you’re coming from nothing. We were living paycheck to paycheck. We were struggling a lot.
“We had no savings—there was no end in sight. When I found out we had a second child on the way, I knew I just couldn’t carry us anymore.”
Dalton told his wife to go to her mother’s in Washington. “I told her to leave me,” he said. “I told her that we’d come back together when I could provide. We spent one last weekend together, and then she went. We stayed in touch for a few months, but then she was gone. One of the conditions of her mom helping her was that she cut me off. I was served divorce papers. Then she vanished. That was four years ago.”
“It sent me over the edge. We had left on good terms. But now, I didn’t even know where my family was. I started doing a lot of pills, smoking a lot of pot. I went back to meth a couple of times.”
After failing a drug test, Dalton ended up back in jail. When he got out, COVID was in full swing, and Dalton was unable to go back to work serving at a restaurant. “Because of that, I lost my place. I didn’t know where to go. All I knew is that I wanted to stay sober and do what God wanted me to do.”
Dalton got to the Mission in May. “It’s been a blessing,” he said. “An answered prayer. This place has offered me the opportunity to practice good habits and strengthen my relationship with God. It’s time to sit still, and trust that God’s here and he’s working in my situation and in me.”
Dalton still longs to connect with his family, but is refocusing. “Although I love my family, and I long to be a father and a husband and make amends for the destruction I’ve put upon them, I know God wants me to focus on him. I know they are in a good place and being taken care of. I’ve realized that I held my relationship with my wife and family higher than my relationship with God. This is God’s way of taking them off the throne and putting him on it. I still have hope that God reconciles that relationship.”
Dalton wants to graduate and then intern at the Mission. “I want to contribute,” he said. “I want to help people get off the streets, get off drugs, and find a better way of living. I want them to find comfort and peace in our savior.
“The staff, the chaplains, the men around me—the dedication and devotion they have is inspiring. So is the program and how it runs and works and contributes to society and helps the homeless, everything it does for the community. I believe in this program and what it does. I’m finally where God wants me to be.”