As my life has recently been transformed in the span of only a month or two, most of my friends and acquaintances are surprised, confused, and want to know why. Well, since I’ve devoted my life to something that is so great and powerful that the human mind can’t even fathom it, it’s pretty hard to put into words what I’ve experienced; especially when I’m put on the spot. So, I’ve decided to write about it so I don’t leave anything out and so I don’t have to keep telling “my story” over and over.
Well, I found my identity in soccer as a child, but as I grew older I lost my passion and drive for the game; leaving me feeling empty and searching for something else to find my worth in. I saw how this affected my parents, who always had high aspirations of me getting a scholarship to play D1 somewhere, and it made me feel like a complete failure. I had messed around with drugs and alcohol, but this only seemed to make me feel even more guilty, and junior year of high school I began struggling with depression and anxiety. I was put on anti-depressants by my doctor and hoped things would get better. They did help to numb the pain, but essentially all I was doing was burying my problems deeper and deeper instead of facing them head on.
I was embracing the party scene to the fullest by my senior year of high school and I couldn’t wait to get to college and continue. I joined a fraternity once I got to college and moved into the frat house first semester of my freshman year. Partying now became my life. I didn’t care about school, grades, my family, anything. All I wanted to do was live out this dream life where I was constantly filled with drugs, alcohol, and women. It gave me this false sense of happiness because I was rarely sober, therefore I never had to face any of my deeper issues that started to arise in high school. I remember thinking to myself, “Man, as long as I’m surrounded by this atmosphere, I’ll be great.” Well, that year came to a grinding halt when my parents informed me that I wouldn’t be returning to that school the next fall because of money issues. I was forced to move back home and go to community college. My world came crashing down.
Now I’m back home living in my parents basement, while all my friends are away at school having the times of their lives. I visited friends almost every weekend to get as much of my party fix as I could, but it wasn’t cutting it. I fell into an even deeper depression, followed by watching my closest Grandpa die right before my eyes. This made me really begin to question life. I saw a counselor for a few months, but didn’t get anything out of it so I quit going. I made it through that school year at home but that following summer I hit rock bottom.
Things should have been great in my life. I had a great summer job at a bank, I had all my friends back home to party with, and I knew that in the fall I’d be attending Indiana University. Things weren’t great though, and it drove me crazy. I started seeing a psychologist and my doctor tried switching my anti-depressants several times. At this point, I was on the maximum dosage of anti-depressants, but they didn’t seem to help at all. I was getting my fill of partying in at that time, but nothing could get me away from my depressed thoughts anymore. I wrestled with thoughts of suicide, and one night even went to the hospital to get evaluated by a stress team. According to my psychologist, once I got to IU and was surrounded by a social atmosphere again, I would be fine. This was just a “phase.” I took her advice, and by the skin of my teeth I made it through that summer, and put all of my hope into getting to IU and living the same lifestyle I did freshman year to make me feel better.
Well, I got to IU and picked up right where I left off freshman year. Drugs, alcohol, and women. Those were my priorities. I was with all my friends again doing the same stuff, but this time, it didn’t fill me up. I could now longer live that life of false happiness. That winter, I hit rock bottom again. I had put all my hope in getting to IU and feeling “normal” again, but I wasn’t. I was questioning life even more at this point. I was doing everything I saw mainstream rap music and society telling me to do, but I was miserable, and wondering why I wasn’t happy. For the next two months I researched the existence of a God and really doubted that there could be one with my life going this way. I even read a few books debating the existence, but at the end of the day, all I could say was, “I don’t know.”
At this point I was rolling around in bed until 4 am every night, wondering if I could continue living life like this. I rarely made it to class. My life was crumbling. Not knowing what else to do, and with the ultimate fear of suicide, I began crying out to a God that I didn’t even know if I believed existed, saying, “God, if you’re real, then you have to fix my life. Take away this depression. I can’t live my life like this.” I prayed this for several nights, and finally, one night, I got an answer. This time, I could feel God’s presence and Him speaking back to me. Those who have a relationship with God know what I mean, but if you’re not a believer than it’s hard to explain. But when it happens, you just know. Basically, it was like my soul became awakened and a voice deep within said, “Get off all of your anti-depressants, and trust me.” Get off all my anti-depressants? What!? I’d been on these meds for almost four years now, and coming off them is no easy task. I didn’t understand, but something deep within me told me to just go with it, so I did.
Less than a week later, a friend of mine who I partied with asked if I could give him a ride home from campus at 9 pm. I said yes, and when I picked him up I asked where he was. He said he was at a Cru meeting and explained that it was a Christian student group on campus that focused on building a personal relationship with God. Chills ran through my spine and I immediately thought of the prayer I had earlier that week and knew that God was putting help right in front of my face. I had to find out more.
I joined my friend the next week and didn’t really know what to think of the whole thing yet, but I was still going with it because I felt obliged to. Deep down I felt God tugging at my heart. My friend was meeting with a staff member from Cru once a week to talk about God and life and I joined them as well. I was now attending Cru meetings once a week, meeting with this guy once a week, and going to church with this guy and my friend. This led into me attending a retreat that Cru held in the spring, and it was there that everything came together. The speaker that weekend gave an incredible account of the gospel of Jesus Christ that I had never understood before. Everything made sense at that moment and I knew that I was right where God wanted me to be. I made the decision to accept Christ that weekend and have begun a new life surrendered to God.
I found God when I wasn’t even looking for him. Not once had it ever crossed my mind to turn to God for help or answers. I was raised Lutheran, baptized, confirmed, the whole works, but I never understood, cared, or even believed any of it. So I guess it’s better to say, God found me. He answered my prayers and began transforming my life in ways I never thought possible. I’ve been able to look at the world around me and my own life through the lens of God’s grace and realized what life’s all about: Him. I’ve found out the purpose of life and the emptiness I had inside is now filled with joy, peace, and love through the Holy Spirit. It’s so hard to put into words how I feel now and how I’ve experienced God working through me. It’s truly amazing. A lot of people are going to think I’m crazy or this is nonsense, but I know people out their have and are struggling with the same types of problems. No matter what I say at this point will get people to fully understand, but I can only share what I know and what I’m continuing to learn by reading the Bible and praising God. Once you let God into your life and fully give up everything for Him, He will do things you never dreamed of. I finally understand the concept of being “born again.” The old me is dead and up on the cross with Jesus, but a new person has been born. I still look the same, but on the inside God has done some construction. Things I used to think were fulfilling are actually just ways to cover up our true emotions. I’ve found that no feeling in the world is better than being filled with God’s grace and the Holy Spirit.
God has radically transformed me and my life in the past two months and I couldn’t be happier about it. The rest of my life is now a journey and relationship with Him. Never in a million years would I have pictured myself like this today, but that just goes to show there is a God and he works in mysterious ways. He is so great, Holy, and powerful, that our human minds can’t even fathom how truly righteous He is, but only be witness to his Grace.
Well, I’ve been rambling for quite a while now, and I’ve only skimmed the tip of the iceberg on the whole God thing. But I’m going to close this post with a Bible verse that truly describes what God can do, and what he’s done for me.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17
Peace and God Bless.