I’m the middle child of two brothers. I grew up with two loving, Christian parents. As far back as I can remember, I was never a Christian. We went to church, I liked the story of Jesus, and even believed in God’s existence. Ordinarily, these are common marks of a Christian. I would disagree, however, and argue that being a Christian is part what you believe, and another part how much you allow those beliefs to change you into a new person. The bible would call true Christian faith a lifestyle of actions based on the belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (See Romans 10:9, James 1:22).
From a young age, I had a terrible self-image and never really liked who I was. I always thought I was unattractive and overweight. These mindsets caused me to battle depression and suicidal thoughts. As young as ten years old, I contemplated suicide. I regularly considered taking my own life. I wrote suicide notes telling my family who I wanted them to invite to my funeral. There was a very real cloud of depression that plagued my childhood.
I was eleven or twelve years old. I overdosed on over-the-counter pain meds. Luckily, I was not successful in my attempt that day; I just got really sick and threw up for three days. I never told anyone I tried killing myself because I felt like a burden to my loved ones. So I battled alone.
I was thirteen. First, I overdosed on pills again, taking a larger amount this time, but the result was the same — I threw up for three days. Later that year, I remember getting my dad’s shotgun and loading it, then sticking it in my mouth. I sat in my parents room with a loaded shotgun for what seemed like hours, but never pulled the trigger. I kept my depression and suicidal attempts to myself for years. During this time, I was also very sexually perverted and confused, but was too ashamed to open up to anyone.
My high school years were filled with self-hatred, drug addiction and a struggle against suicide. On the outside, I was popular, good at sports, and always had a girlfriend. But inwardly, I was miserable and felt insignificant and unloved. But always, I would party on the weekends and go to church on Sunday.
I began smoking weed and drinking during my freshmen year, then my depression and drug addiction progressively became my identity over the years that followed. During my final year in high school, my parents made me see a Christian drug counselor. After two months of meeting with him, I decided to “try out” Jesus and threw out all my drugs. This attempt to surrender my life to Jesus was nothing more than a bargain I made with God. I told God if He made my life better, took away my depression, and helped me get off drugs, I would serve Him. My trial with God only lasted two months. I was still depressed. I remember walking on the football field one day before practice, looking up to heaven and telling God that I had tried it His way and nothing changed. I told Him that I didn’t need Him anymore and was going to do things my way.
Within a few weeks of that conversation with God on the football field, I ended up in a relationship. A few weeks into this relationship, I gave away my virginity, something I always said I would never do. I quickly went from just smoking weed and drinking to doing all kinds of drugs. During this time, I experimented with acid, ecstasy, shrooms, opium, various prescription pain medication, and even cocaine. I have an addictive personality, so it didn’t take long for me to eventually spend hundreds of dollars a week on drugs. I stole money from anyone and everyone to support my drug habits. It got to the point that I was smoking weed everyday and doing whatever harder drugs I could find on the weekends.
My friends and I were playing around boxing one another and I think I ended up with a concussion. I called my girlfriend and told her to meet me in a nearby gas station parking lot because I didn’t want to drive myself home. She met me there and within a few minutes, we got in a huge argument, a common occurrence in our relationship. After the fight, I jumped in my car and drove off. I got my car up to about 35 mph, never touched my brakes, and slammed into a concrete light-pole. My face smashed into my car windshield, putting a hole in it the size of a basketball. Somehow, I didn’t blackout from hitting the windshield. Instead, I jumped out of the car screaming in pain, then quickly laid down because my eyes were filled with glass and I couldn’t see. Soon, I was in a puddle of blood that went from my head all the way to my feet. I was lying on the ground for what seemed like forever.
I ended up with over 100 stitches in my face, from the bottom of my nose to the top of my forehead. This was the last time I tried committing suicide, however, despite a near-death experience like that, I still refused to change my life. In fact, the exact opposite happened. I just ended up doing more drugs and my depression got worse. The parties continued and I continued stealing money from my parents and my employer to support my drug addiction. My life was consumed with trouble and I had no purpose in life.
In the fall of 2002, my mother started attending a ladies prayer meeting. While praying one day, one of the women felt like God wanted her to tell my mom that one of her sons was called to ministry and that the girl he was dating would break up with him. The meeting was recorded on a cassette tape. A few days later, as I told my mom that my girlfriend had just broken up with me, she played the tape for me. After listening to it and knowing it was directed at me, I looked up at my mom and said “I guess I should give my life to Jesus, huh?” It was there, in the kitchen of my parents’ home, that I finally gave Jesus complete control of my life. In October of 2002, I was born again and have never been the same man.
I was no longer addicted to drugs, I no longer battled depression and I never attempted suicide again. Anyone who knew me in high school and college and who know me today could attest to the “new creation” God has made me. Proof for God is in the old me versus the new me. The two are definitely not the same. When I gave my life to Christ, so much about me changed. The old me was gone and a new me was birthed through the power of God.
Within a few months of my giving my life to Jesus, I attended a bible college in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Upon graduating, I wanted to tell everyone about this Jesus who saved me and made me a brand new person. My life now had purpose. I spent six months in Africa as a missionary and I’ve been doing ministry ever since. In 2010, I married my best friend, Megan. We now have a beautiful little girl named Hope. She’s a constant reminder to me of the hope I found in Jesus.
My story is not unique. I know lots of people whose stories are very similar to mine. While the details may be different, the results are the same. When you surrender your life to Jesus Christ, make Him your Lord, you’re born again. All the old things you were are gone and you are brand new.