Feeling insecure? Not good enough? Jeremy Graham could talk all day about his self-destructive pursuit of approval. In the end, a simple question ultimately freed him of his insecurities, a question you might consider asking yourself: Whom do you revere? Man, or God?
But at the time, this pastor with a checkered past hadn’t reached that level of understanding.
“All I wanted was to be cool. Accepted. The life of the party,” said Jeremy, the founder of True Purpose Ministries, an addiction recovery program in East Tennessee.
Due to his dad’s career with the U.S. Army Special Forces, the Graham family moved often, from one Army base to another every two to three years. And with every relocation, Jeremy started all over again—in search of new friends.
“I allowed them to tell me how to dress. How to act,” he said in a sermon a few weeks ago. “What type of music I listened to and what kind of drugs I’d do, which I said I would never, never do. I wanted their approval so bad.”
By his late teens, Jeremy was taking everything and anything. Crystal meth. Pain pills. He enlisted in the Army, partly to please his father, only to be discharged later for drugs and alcohol.
“I hurt my dad,” he said.
Everyone Is Insecure
You, like most people, have probably felt inadequate at some point in your life.
Like me, you might’ve thought you didn’t deserve a better job because you weren’t talented enough. That life would be so much easier if you could only make more money or become the person everyone admires.
You might’ve even felt like an imposter who could be found out at any moment.
Go to the Google machine and check for yourself. The cyber world is rife with articles about why people are insecure. For Jeremy, it stemmed from a need to fit in, and for others, trauma is a contributing factor.
“I didn’t set out in my early years, saying I want to be a drug addict when I grow up,” he said that Sunday morning. “Whatever you revere is what you fear… Who will you obey?”
He revered man.
What Will It Take?
“Some take 40 to 50 years to get it right,” Jeremy said a few days later, sitting in the conference room of one of the six True Purpose campuses. Comparatively speaking, this father of six was among the fortunate.
One day, coming down from a crystal-meth high, Jeremy, then 23-years-old, lost a thousand dollars gambling, another of his addictions. Desperate, knowing he didn’t have the money to satisfy his drug habit, he broke down.
“I heard the Lord say, ‘What else will it take?’”
Weeping, Jeremy gave it to God, and “two weeks later, I still couldn’t get my nose out my Bible. My desire for him was that great.” A heart change had happened and so did his path forward.
Whom do you revere? Man, or God?
A New Career Emerges
“He took a drug addict that no one wanted. A total mess-up. He took me and molded me to become who I am today… I am a pastor and I love the Lord.”
Never in his wildest dreams did he think he’d pursue a career in addiction recovery. “I knew God had something for me. I could tell I had an anointing, but I really didn’t know it would be this.”
In 2009, he opened the first True Purpose residential recovery center for men, only to be followed by facilities for expectant mothers and recovering couples and families—an area that others in the treatment community avoid because of liability issues.
“We just like being a spearhead in areas of recovery that no one wants to do.”
And the need is great, he said. Ninety percent of the men and women who choose faith-based recovery at True Purpose has experienced trauma, including physical and mental abuse, molestation, neglect—a smorgasbord of social ills that would shock even the most jaded.
“It’s hard for me to shocked anymore,” he said.
And he plows on, dedicated to fulfilling God’s calling on his life: changing “one life at a time” and stopping the cycles of dysfunction. “I’m running a marathon… I’m running to the finish line.”
Whom do you revere? Man, or God?