Seriously, don’t read this. It is long and boring. It doesn’t contain any jokes. It has little application to your own life. However, it is something I am being called to write. It is an amazing love story. It is the story of my faith.
I am so very blessed. My childhood was filled with some horrific moments. I grew up with a father who had no idea what it meant to be a man. I know he loved me, as on some level, all parents love their offspring. I can picture happy moments laughing with him, moments where he would encourage me to dream and imagine all that my life could be. He used to sing to me when I would wake up in the middle of the night, which was a lot because I had messed up leg bones. But he had no idea how to be a father.
I don’t think he had a great childhood, mostly because he never really talked about it. I think his dad was absent a lot, something no boy handles well. Like his father and many of his family members, he turned to alcohol for the love and warmth he was missing. He, and this disease, turned his heart completely away from God and towards Satan. The pain he caused me was awful, but despite every wound from that man, I am so very blessed.
My mom worked a lot and found other ways to hide as much as possible, as victims do. But if there is one thing the man did right, he would take me to church if I asked him to; the single greatest gift he ever gave me. It was at church where I learned about true love, love reflected both in words and in actions. My early Sunday School experiences provided me with exactly what they should have – good feelings about God that made me want to be at church and be in the presence of the holy spirit. If at any point I said I didn’t want to go to church, no one forced me. So my relationship with God, like most things in my life, was completely my responsibility.
Once God won my heart, there was no stopping me. I had two wonderful middle school youth group leaders who cared about me and had me to their houses all the way through high school. I made friends with some amazing Christians whose passion for God was contagious and inspiring. I started emerging as a man of God.
I chose to attend a Christian affiliated college that poked holes in my childlike faith, for better and for worse. Throughout college I battled some serious depression and self-doubt as I consistently encountered people who told me I wasn’t good enough and that I had nothing to offer the world. But I kept reaching for God’s hand and I was so blessed.
I was completely selfish and focused on myself, consumed by what I thought my life should look like. As a result, I sinned against good people in words I spoke and in actions I took. I just couldn’t see who God wanted me to be and definitely couldn’t feel His love despite prayer and worship. I became a man with many hats. I was one person around my home friends, one person in my bible study, one person in my dorm and all those people were battling for my heart. My junior year I started infrequently attending a contemporary worship service on Sunday nights and it was awesome.
I came back for my senior year with fire. God was calling me to be a teacher and gosh dangit I was going to change the world. I grew close to some beautiful people and had an amazing semester. I was stressed beyond belief but with God as my rock I gave a voice recital, wrote a 20 page senior paper, took piano lessons, worked two jobs, and got decent grades while taking 19 credits. I left for student teaching after an amazing Nordic Tour I had the two best student teaching experiences a guy could ask for. I prayed that spring for God to send me wherever I was needed to spread his love and where I could be of most help. I was hired in a very rural farming community and was so very blessed.
The challenges I faced were intense but I found God’s love over and over again in some amazing people, many of which were teenagers. Nothing about my job was easy and in December I drafted a resignation letter. I was completely consumed by constant persecution and as a result I completely stopped trusting in God’s plan. I let the many evil voices of my childhood and college years rise up and convince me I was useless. I didn’t quit my job, but I pushed away anyone who got close, some people I truly cared about. I doubted God’s love for sending me to a place where I was so unhappy.
I applied and was interviewed for a job outside of teaching in the corporate world. I received a phone call and was offered a position the day before our Large Group Contest. And in one of the most telling moments of my life, I turned it down. Even before contest I knew corporate America wasn’t in God’s plan for me. My kids sang better than they ever had that day and we drove home as champions. The end of the year was magical and filled with memories I will never, ever forget. I was so blessed.
I left for the summer with plans to return for another year but God knew I needed a lifeline. Not looking for a new job, God set one in my lap and brought me back home, where my story began. Instead of instant happiness, I found a fall full of heartache missing my old friends and students. Once again I was overwhelmed by an even more challenging job. Not to mention, I was forced to deal with the parts of my life I had been running from for so long. But God broke through stronger than ever. He led me to a church that has nurtured me and created in me a clean heart. He has steered me towards many amazing and healing books that are helping me grow into the man I was created to be. In December I completely re-committed myself to becoming fully alive in God. And four months in to God’s new plan for my life I have never been happier.
My life now is no walk in the park. Everyday I struggle to embody God’s love but I am giving it everything I have. I am healthier in body mind and spirit than I ever have been. I am seeing the past, the present and future in the eyes of a Father whose love for me is all I will ever need. I repent for all those I have hurt in the past and humbly ask for forgiveness. I hope our paths cross again so I can have a second chance to be as Christ-like as I can be to you. I thank everyone who has loved me at the lowest and highest points of my life. And I thank our creator, who knows my every thought and will never let me go no matter what this world throws at me next.
So as you can see I am just so very blessed.
It’s a little scary sending your faith story out in to cyber space and probably a terrible idea. Once you post it, it’s out there forever you know. But I think that’s why I have to post it, so it’s out there forever.