EDITOR’S NOTE: In this post, I speak frankly about sinful situations from my past. If you think you may be offended by this sort of content, please go read this hilarious post instead.
I look back at my life and I see that I am not in the same place I have been in the past. Though I am very much on the spiritual road that my parents set me out on, I wasn’t always true to that path. Many times I have just drifted along and on a few occasions stepped completely off of the right path. Here is the story of my life so far. How I got from A to B.
My Early Life
Since I was a baby, my parents were Christians. They brought me to church everyday and showed me how to live a good life. They introduced me to Christ and I cannot thank them enough for that.
When I was about five or so, my family moved from California to Medford Oregon. We attended an Assemblies of God church for several years and my dad worked hard to build the children’s ministry there. I remember I always wanted to sit in the front row at kid’s church and I was always excited to be there.
One evening service at church, I felt very different as the pastor spoke. I couldn’t tell you what he preached about, but that night I felt the need for a savor. I gave my life to God. I remember being at the alter and crying and praying that Jesus would save me. That night I told my parents what I had done and was so excited. I ran down the street to a neighbor’s house to tell them. They gave me a popsicle.
I was very sad when my family decided to leave that church. I was in the sixth or seventh grade, and had been to only this one church since I was five so I decided to keep going to this church without my family. Our neighbors also went to this church, so I got a ride with them. In my mind I kept going to this church with my neighbors for quite some time, but considering how memories for childhood seem to be exaggerated, it is very possible that I only went once or twice.
I think this is the first time God talked to me. How I remember it, I felt that I needed to stop going to church there and go with my family where they went. It was such a long time ago and I haven’t thought about it much, but I think God told me to go with my parents. That being said, my memory about that is a little vague, so maybe it was my parents who told me or just a regular feeling.
Becoming A Teenager At A New Church
My family and I started going to a new church. It was a non denominational charismatic church that first met in an old bank building, and later in the cafeteria of the local high school. While meeting in the high school, we moved from the bank to a small church building with a bell. I rang it once or twice.
It was during this time in my life that I started down a dark path.
I was in the seventh grade. During one of my classes, I saw that a couple guys were looking at porn on a computer while the teacher wasn’t looking. It was fairly benign, but it was pornography none the less. I started sneaking around at night to look at it at home. I was lead down a path of lust that had me hooked for years to come. All the while I was still going to church and doing everything that I should as a christian. I knew deep down that it was wrong, but it was a knowledge that seemed to stay below the surface. I couldn’t quite grasp the sin that it was.
I have plenty of wonderful memories from these next few years with my new church. We went on a couple missions trips to Mexico and several conferences. I loved our small, close knit youth group. My pastor was a wonderful man who cared deeply for each of us. His wife, who had the same birthday as me, was wonderfully full of life and took special time and care for the youth. Sometimes I think back to this period in my life and I wish it hadn’t of ended.
I picked up a bad habit during this time. We would go on a missions trip and I would be so on fire for God, until a week or two after we got home. I would quickly fall back into my regular routine of living for myself. Then we would go to a conference and I was back full strength for God, then back home I would fall back again.
On one missions trip to Mexico, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. That same trip, I forgave some hurts and pains that I had held onto for a long time. About a year later we went back to Mexico, but by that time I had forgotten everything that God had done for me the year before. I had gotten into the habit of forgetting God’s working in my life.
I don’t think that this was in anyway caused by the church I was attending. They were doing everything possible for us youth. It’s just an easy cycle to get into, one that christians get caught up into all the time.
My older sister had graduated high school and joined an internship and Bible college program at a different church in town. She went through this program, Armor Bearers, while still attending church with me and my family. Eventually she felt God tell her to leave our church and go fully to the church she was interning at, Joy Christian Fellowship. She went to our pastor and asked for his blessing before she made that decision.
This was my freshman year in high school. At school, I started out the same why I had been though middle school, with few friends and quite an insecurity with the friends that I did have. A couple months into the year, I made a group of friends that I was able to hang out with. I soon became fairly popular, though still very insecure. For the first time that I could remember, people liked me.
Changing Churches (Again)
During the summer between ninth and tenth grade, I felt God telling me that I should follow my sister to Joy and in a few years join Armor Bearers. Though I had on many occasions moved in the gifts of the Spirit at my current church, this was the first time I felt God speaking directly to me. At a conference that my youth group traveled to, I made the final decision to go to Joy.
My sister advised me to go and talk to my pastor or youth pastor about changing churches before I did anything. I lied to my sister and said I had, but I never did. I still regret not doing that right. I wish I had, but I was too scared to face them.
I took a few weeks, but I integrated into Joy. My new church provided a lot more structure and discipleship than my old church. This proved, and continues to prove to be incredibly beneficial.
On an encounter weekend not long after I started attending Joy, I fully realized what kind of sin I was in by secretly looking at pornography. I had a Godly conviction that caused me to start the uphill battle of leaving that sin behind. A battle that I have fought for years, up into my marriage with Lydia. I know that it is a temptation that I can easily fall back into, but that I must, for the sake of my marriage, the sake of my kids and the sake of my relationship with God, resist.
The next two years of high school, I was homeschooled. Since I was old enough, this meant that I taught myself at home from workbooks. I still took a science and a drama class at the local high school.
These next two years at school were quite a bit different that my freshman year. Not because I was only taking two classes, but because I had changed. I was now reading my Bible regularly, praying regularly and open with my faith. The simi-popularity I had felt the year before was gone.
Armor Bearers and Becoming An Adult
After graduating High school, I joined the Armor Bearer program at my church. It was a two or three year program where I would also receive a degree from Siskiyou Bible College. The next three years in Armor Bearers were full of many highs and lows in my life.
There is a lot that I can talk about that happened during my years in Armor Bearers and Siskiyou Bible College, but for the sake of this post I’ll just say that even though I gained a lot, I wish I had applied myself more and learned more while I was there.
The structure of Armor Bearers made it easy to seek after God, but when this discipline was over after the three years, I quickly and easily lost my discipline.
After Armor Bearers, I tried my hand at a few different paths. I tried to start a t-shirt business, I looked into going to video and design college in Portland and even started a web show with a couple of friends. After about a year, I started an internship at theDove TV.
I learned quite a bit about TV and was eventually hired. I had decided that I loved making television, and this was the career path for me.
Around the time my internship at theDove was ending and paid employment was beginning, I started myself down a path that would lead to the biggest trial in my life to date. It was also a path that lead to some of the greatest joys in my life.
During Armor Bearers, you sign a contract with expectations for your behavior. One of the expectations is that you aren’t involved in any romantic relationships while in the program. At this point, this was no longer an issue for me, but it was an issue for Lydia.
Lydia was just finishing her first year at Armor Bearers. She and I had known each other for years, but all of a sudden I was very attracted to her. We started texting each other and eventually I asked if she wanted to hang out.
We met at the parking lot of a grocery store, got into my car and drove around for an hour or so. It was very awkward. That night, we texted each other and decided that it was a stupid idea to have done what we did and decided to forget it happened. But the next day we started texting and decided to meet up again.
Lydia and I decided to carry on our secret relationship and bury our guilty consciences. After what seemed like a long time being together, but in hind sight was actually a very short amount of time, we started having sex. We carried on our relationship in secret until Lydia became pregnant.
We waited a few weeks, then we told our parents. Without getting into any details, things got messy.
Over the next year, weren’t allowed to see or talk to each other. It was really hard. I submitted to my pastor and what he wanted me to do. Basically, I couldn’t be with the girl that I loved, everybody was mad at me and everything was different. I kept it quiet from my coworkers at theDove, until I had to tell them, which was awkward. The worst part was it seemed like Lydia’s dad wouldn’t ever let me see Lydia or my baby.
For better or for worse I was able to be at the birth. Stanley was born and I loved him so much. I’m very grateful that I got to be there.
After Stanley was born, I had another meeting with my pastor. Basically, I still wasn’t allowed to see Lydia. I could see Stanley, but only if Lydia dropped him off at my parents’ house and I picked him up from there. My pastor did give me some hope, in three months I could see Lydia again.
After three months, I didn’t get to see Lydia again. Instead, I got to see her dad. Lydia’s dad and I continued to see each other for a few months. Finally, on Christmas Lydia and I were allowed to see each other and start courting. That next summer, we got married. Lydia, Stanley and I were finally together.
That year of waiting wasn’t just a year wasted. I’m not sure I actually made any real progress spiritually, but I did earn character. I know that I can endure long difficult times, but more importantly, Lydia knows that I am committed to her completely. By waiting that year, I showed our parents, our pastors and Lydia that I have the character and commitment to stay with Lydia no matter what.
Our first year of marriage was all about changes. It was a change that we were married and living together, it was a change when Lydia got pregnant again and it was a change when we moved to a new house, twice. It was a big change when Oliver was born and we had two boys instead of just one.
One night, Lydia and I did something that I would recommend everyone should do. it’s something that seems to have changed our lives forever.
As we were driving, I prayed out loud and thanked God for some of the blessings he had given us. This lead to Lydia and I driving around with the boys asleep in the back seat as we prayed, thanking God for everything He has done for us. (Go read about it here)
After this night, Lydia and I were changed forever. We both started reading the Bible consistently, praying consistently, being more involved in our church and loving God with our whole hearts. I even started this blog. That night ignited a fire in each of us to do the will of God for our lives. The direction of our family was changed forever.
Lydia and I feel a strong call on our lives and are working hard towards that goal. We are both passionate about God and about seeing the lost come to Christ. Even though our relationship started in sin, it has been redeemed into something effective for the kingdom of God.
So, this is the story of how I got from A to B. What’s next? I suppose it’s time to start heading from B to C.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.