I grew up in an educated Christian home. My parents had rooted their lives in ministry, and I had been baptized when I was younger and accepted Christ. We lived in Hampton, Virginia.
My father had left his position at a church as a pastor there and we had moved to Richmond, Virginia. There was always stress in my household, and not much reasoning behind it. We had financial issues and it seemed as time went on our family strayed from our faith.
Parallel to that our love for each other faded over time. We would stop vacationing together, and eventually we even stopped eating at the dinner table together. At night we would recycle the same prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep”. It had no heart, no meaning. There was a lack of love and devotion to God and serving him in our household.
I had experiences with verbal and spiritual abuse when I was younger by my mother, who herself had gone through a verbally abusive relationship with her mother. There was anger, bitterness and resentment rooted in my heart from this at a young age. Instead of voicing to God all of my anguish I held my emotions and my relationship with God did not get stronger through my troubles because of this. All of these things brought out a pattern of rebellious, self-destructive behavior that impacted my life greatly.
Throughout my youth I was cynical, had constant fear of rejection, insecurity and every other emotional problem as a result. In high school things changed for me my freshman year as I began to play football and engage in healthier social activity, it felt is if things were coming into place for me. My fear and anxiety lifted, and I had genuine relationships.
Eventually peer pressure and curiosity came upon me when I discovered marijuana and alcohol my sophomore year. From there everything went downhill. My grades fell and I became isolated to groups I was once social with. My parents were confused, and I continued to rebel against them, not even realizing that’s what I was doing. Partying, roaming streets, venturing everywhere displaying self-destructive behavior became the norm.
One night in December of 2004, my senior year, I went with a friend to one of his friend’s house. There was a group of people I was friends with there and we were all drinking and smoking. The night was coming to an end and morning was right around the corner, so everyone started to head home. I had an interest in this girl who was there, so I remained there without looking for a ride as I should have.
I knew I had curfew, and that my parents would be worried if I did not return home by 12:00am. This is one of the many instances in my life when I rebelled against my parents, but this time I paid for it. The last memory I have of that night is sitting on the couch next to this girl, mumbling something to her as she smiled.
Then the next moment came. My eyes were heavy, and I could barely open them as I awoke in the VCU Medical Center intensive care unit. I was so groggy I couldn’t stand properly. The amount of drugs they had given me made it hard to come to reality with what had happened. I was told by my parents I was in a car accident, and a very bad one.
My injury was in the brain; I had a subdural hematoma and had nearly died. The nature of the accident was very serious. A young man who was driving and I had befriended that night had died. We were intoxicated and hit a telephone pole going about 60 miles per hour. It is by the grace and mercy of God that I am alive today.
I came home after six days in intensive care. Processing what had happened was still hard for me. I wasn’t in denial of it; I knew it was real. I just felt like I did before the accident, for the most part. I recovered and had rehabilitation for two months before returning back to school in February. I kept up with the work and graduated in June 2005.
That August I attended a university in North Carolina. Told time after time not to drink or use drugs, I felt myself slip back into my rebellion. I began using cocaine frequently. Social isolation continued; I felt separated from people. I felt anxious all the time. My grades suffered greatly as I would appropriate my energy into activities that would make me feel better about myself such as exercise. I failed out of school my first year and returned home.
I continued to abuse amphetamines in any form I could. I had wasted so much money on cocaine that I turned from that to Adderall. I attended community college the following years. My alcohol use grew more frequent as I felt like I was slipping further into social isolation and fearful living.
The anger and bitterness began to show its ugliness towards my family and others in these years as I lived at home. My parents wanted me out after I had been imprisoned for a DUI. They sought resident colleges for me to go to. So, I gave college another try and went to one in Bristol, Virginia.
The year I spent at this college things didn’t change much for me. I still didn’t recognize God in anything I did. I still lacked devotion to him. Things still got worse. I dated a girl for 2 years with selfish intentions. I brought all my hurt and fear of rejection into it; it couldn’t last.
No real friendships were made in college, because I continued to push others away. The years to come were filled with more community college and more amphetamine abuse. I lived at home and began to have fits of anger and rage, destroying furniture in the house and smashing holes into the walls. Everything became a whirlwind of destruction. I was completely isolated from everyone. The only conversations I had with people were on the phone.
Delusions and mental illness set in from the sleepless nights on Adderall. Porn addiction consumed my time. I became increasingly selfish and engaged in odd behavior. My physical pain was immense. I would curse God in anger and yell obscenities, not once stopping and considering why I was yelling at him, nor acknowledging his existence as I did this.
A second DUI came about, and I lost my license, again. This went on for 3 years. I had lost control of myself. I was a slave to these behaviors. I was a slave to sin and was blinded by it. I could not see. I was rebelling against not only my parents, but my Creator.
I became homeless because my parents had evicted me, and I wandered the streets sleeping on benches. My dad would have mercy on me and allow me to sleep in his car from time to time. Still abusing amphetamines, I would have many sleepless nights. My heart ached and I became more confused and fearful. I didn’t know what I was doing. Beyond lost at this point in time, I had nowhere to turn. I was strung out in frustration and sadness.
Then it happened. Tears fell from my eyes as I cried out to God in anguish, I can’t do this anymore, I don’t have the strength, and I need you! The Holy Spirit came into me. Fear and anxiety were instantly cast out and I felt comfort. God was with me.
The living God revealed to me through his Holy Spirit in the coming weeks after that I must accept his Son into my life. After repenting of my sins I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Things haven’t been the same since. I am forgiven, I have new life. I am a new being.
We will always fall short of the glory and majesty of our Father. However, he loves us with infinite compassion and mercy. Since I have been saved, God’s grace has been poured into my life. My mental illnesses, fears, delusions, and anxiety are gone by the power of the Holy Spirit. If they return, all I have to do is pray. God’s grace is sufficient.
The bitterness, anger, resentment and unforgiving heart I had kept all these years that led me to this destruction, has been turned into a story of God’s amazing love, grace, compassion and redemption. My family and I are reconciling and there is peace and love among us. I am outgoing and am able to do things I have never been able to do before.
My physical pain is gone. I can see clearly; I can feel love for the first time in my life. I am still sinner. From time to time my old self emerges. We will always sin; it is in our nature. The indwelling Spirit of Gods Son with the Holy Spirit changes who we are from the inside out. By renewing our minds and changing our hearts, Christ remakes us. The longer we have a relationship with him the longer we become like him on the inside and out.
After 25 years in a Christian home, after hearing countless people talk about God, after I myself participating in church all these years and hearing countless sermons, I still didn’t know God. In fact, I was so disillusioned by sin that I was starting to question the existence of God. The bitterness and strife had blinded me.
I know now that Christianity is not just the mere knowledge that God exists. It is seeing life as God created us to in fellowship with him. It is an intimate relationship with our creator through the truth and knowledge of the Holy Spirit, who will show you all things and unveil your eyes, and our Lord Jesus Christ. If you accept him into your heart, he literally dwells there. He will change your life. He will be your companion and friend through it all, from this life to eternity.