Let me introduce myself. People call me Big Mike and I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, an addict in recovery for over 13 years and the founder and director of the an institution called the Jerusalem Sober House. When I reflect on my journey and take a deep look at my life I notice that I'm only here by the grace of G‑d.

As an addict I have been through some rough patches and there have been times when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through another day alive. So when I look back and ask myself “How did I survive?” there really is only one answer, through the divine power of love.

Throughout my entire life, G‑d has always sent someone or something to help guide me through the difficult challenges that I have been faced with, no matter whether the issue was physical, emotional, or spiritual. Whenever I was completely absorbed with my own self-destruction, there was always a divine messenger reaching out with a helping hand to pull me out of my desperate situation.

Let me share a powerful example with you:

A few years ago, I was in transit at a US airport and really hurting. I had an inner turmoil, a conversation going on inside of me. Part of me wanted to die, and another part was fighting to stay alive. I felt myself sinking into the darkest despair. I was losing hope. So, not knowing what to do I mustered whatever willpower I had left in me, and went to the information desk and asked for a piece of paper and a marker. On one side of the paper I drew a square inside a circle (the symbol for Narcotics Anonymous) and on the other side a triangle inside a circle (the symbol for Alcoholics Anonymous). I took my makeshift sign and held it up, not knowing what would happen next. In a few short moments nine complete strangers surrounded me and said: “you are not alone, we are here to help.” These strangers sat with me, spoke to me, and together conducted an impromptu AA meeting. The love they demonstrated toward me was unconditional and boundless. One generous person offered to pay for a new flight for me since I had missed my original connection. Several others missed their own flights, just so they could be there with me. They saw that I was hurting, and they put their own lives on hold, to help a complete stranger.

The Torah teaches that we were all created “betzlem Elokim” (in G‑d’s image), but if G‑d transcends shape and form, what does that really mean? I think the answer is profoundly simple, G‑d’s form is measured and mirrored through his actions. G‑d is the ultimate giver and constantly invests His love in both giving to and recreating the world. Being created in his image means following His lead and acting as givers in whatever capacity we can, with whatever talents we have received from G‑d. Be it in business, family, volunteering or any other way we can contribute to the people and world around us.

In my life, darkness is constantly being thrown at me. Thirteen years into my recovery, I’m still battling my inner demons, and I’m tested daily. One thing I have learned, though, is if I fight darkness with more darkness, than I’m letting the darkness win. The only way that I’m able to combat the darkness and pain in my life, is to move, to grow, to love. I share this love everyday with my wife, my children and my clients. It’s the one thing all of us can share and together make a difference.

One person at a time.