Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Story: Part 3

• If you are just joining us, it would be a good idea to read through the intro and parts 1 and 2 to get an idea of what is happening, and why it is happening!

Jumping right back in where we left off, I started senior year.

This is going to be a hard post for me. Transparency is the only option, and I pray that God can use what is said for His glory, and that He can speak to you where you are at, especially if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Before we start, I have to say first how incredibly sorry I am to the women who I have treated so unfairly. In my selfishness I stole from you what did not belong to me, what only belongs to your (future) husband. I have done a terrible job of leading and expressing to you God's purpose and love that He has for you, and I can never give back what I've taken. I pray that God can heal you and any pain I have caused, and I pray He can redeem that part of you. I am so sorry.

To those of you who I have affected, and to the women who are reading this now, I want you to know that you are princesses. Not in the Disney sense with flowing dresses and wands and such, but in the way that you belong to the greatest King that has ever lived and will ever live, and you should be treated no less than how a princess should be treated. If you get anything from this blog, I hope this is it. There is so much in the world that says otherwise, but don't be fooled, you are worth so much more.

Up until senior year I didn't have sex. I did pretty much everything but have sex, but I never went the full way. Senior year however, I finally hit the point where I couldn't return. I lost my virginity.

Now, I'm not saying that fooling around with someone is ok as long as you don't go all the way, I want to make that clear. Every time I merely thought about a woman in a sexual manner, I was stealing a part of her that didn't (doesn't) belong to me for Jesus says, "I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).

I say "finally hit the point where I couldn't return" because sex means so much more than fooling around. Sex is a covenant between husband and wife that for the rest of their lives they belong to each other exclusively and they get to enjoy each other fully. Sex is a reward, and you aren't supposed to experience that reward until you have promised to lay your life down for your other half for the rest of the time you're here on earth. Just like a child will spoil dinner if he eats his dessert first. -I plan on doing a post, or series of posts, exploring this a bit further in the future of this blog, so for now I am going to leave it at this and continue with 'My Story'.

I wish this was the only time I had sex, but it was not. I had sex with two more girls in my senior year of high school through the first half of freshman year in college. I do not wear this title proud. I wear it shamefully, and regrettably. I wear it humbly, and can only ask for forgiveness. On my wedding day, my wife will have to look into my eyes, and I will look into hers knowing she will not be the first one I give myself fully to.

Apart from my relationships, I partied more my senior year, and I smoked weed for the first time. I did it to satisfy the insecurities inside of me. The one time I can clearly remember using it turned out to be very dangerous. The guys who offered it to me had a party-hard reputation, and I had to make sure I lived up to that reputation, so I didn't ask many questions. I have never felt more out of control of my own body. It may have been the scariest most intense thing I have ever experienced inside of my skin. To this day, I don't know if it was laced with any other drugs, but the consensus around that night within my group of friends was that it was. I went to stupid lengths to fill that insecurity of not fitting in with the strong possibility of serious consequences. I praise God that I didn't use it more than a couple times at a couple parties, and that I don't have an addictive personality that got me hooked to it.

Senior year was a valley in my life, but at the time it seemed like a mountain top. The funny thing about sin is that it is so enjoyable in the moment that you are essentially blind to what it is really doing to you. If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water it will jump out immediately. If you put it in cold water and heat it gradually until it is boiling, the frog won't have a clue what is happening. This is essentially what happens when you continually sin without repenting and turning away. Small sins continually add up, and before you know it, things that were once pure and special don't matter as much as they used to. You sear your conscience. Mine was seared, and there was nothing I was doing or could do to bring myself back. And I wasn't seeking to find a way back.

The week before spring break of my freshman year in college, my girlfriend and I broke up. I didn't know at that specific time what was really happening, but looking back, this was the precise moment when God started calling me into a personal relationship with Him.

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Story: Part 2

• If you are just joining us, it would probably be a good idea to read the introduction and part 1 to get an idea of why and what is happening!

Picking right up from where we left off, I entered high school as an insecure freshman. There was that normal insecurity any freshman feels about being the little fish and wondering how to survive in "High School" because of all the horror stories, but I also had a different insecurity. I had a deep rooted unhealthy desire to be included, and to be included I would do anything.

The way to be included was to be cool, correct? We found out in part 1 what cool meant, and I was ready to figure out how to be cool in high school.

Shortly after school started, captains practices for hockey began. Now, for those of you who have never set foot into a locker room with upwards of 25 adolescent boys, I will be the first to tell you it isn't the Disney channel. The locker room is a place to wave your banner of who you slept with the past weekend, or hand out high fives from the most graphic party stories, etc. In the locker room, I was introduced to that "do anything" attitude needed to quench my need for inclusion.

Before we continue about the locker room, we have to go over a crucial event at the start of the hockey season that trained me to think and do as I did for the rest of my high school career. The seniors of the team my freshman year started an annual weekend camping trip for the hockey team their freshman year. At the beginning of every hockey season they would throw a party on the Friday night before, wake up, drive to the site and camp until Sunday night, and be back for school the following week. I got my invitation, and I took it.

I had never had a beer in my life, but on that Friday night, I had several. The boys on the hockey team were my idols, and I didn't want to let them down, so I binged. I drank to the point of passing out. I don't know when or how I passed out, but what I do remember is waking up behind a couch. This may seem comical, and I would lie if I didn't see some kind of slap-jack humor in someone waking up behind a couch and not remembering how they got there, but here is the real deal: I was willing to let myself go to the point of passing out from drinking because I was too scared of being called a "puss" from upper-classmen (and their friends) on the hockey team. I was 13 years old.

For some, this isn't that small a number because you might be around that age, but when you are in your 20s, you realize how young 13 is. And there is nothing funny about a 13 year old passing out from alcohol.

The rest of the weekend was spent camping, and drinking. Again, I had never had a beer in my life up to that Friday night, and by the time Sunday night rolled around, I had been close to the point of alcohol poisoning from liquor and beer two nights in a row.

But, I was cool. And that is what mattered.

For the next 4 years of High School, I was with the hockey team day in and day out. In the locker room I learned that the point of relationships with women was to see how far you could get with them. The junior and senior classes my freshman/sophomore years kept a notebook between them with a point system on who did what with who. I learned that being a prude was a joke, and if you weren't "bangin chicks" you were gay. I learned that being popular was the point of high school, and to be popular you had to be the guy who went the farthest whether it be partying, sex, drugs, whatever.

I thought that the more I could become this picture of a "man", the more I would have as far as popularity or self-confidence, or whatever I was searching for. Really, I thought this would make me satisfied. But, little did I know that with each second I subjected myself to these things, I was killing more and more of my conscience; I was building up higher walls in my heart; I was feeding this monster inside of me that only grew bigger and was never full.

Up to my junior year, I had kept a somewhat low status of promiscuity (by worldly standards only, and compared to what others were doing), but my senior year of high school was where the culmination of pressures of sex, drugs, and partying would come to a head, and I would finally fall to a point of no coming back.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Story: Part 1

• If you are just joining us, it would probably be a good idea to start with the introduction to 'My Story' to get an idea of what is happening, and why it is happening.

My parents are divorced, and have been since I was around two years old. I am also an only child. So, growing up has had its challenges.

To say the least, my family life has been a broken one.

As I stated before, I didn't grow up a Christian. I didn't grow up religious at all. My mom took me to Catholic church a couple times, but I was too young to understand religion, and being at home with my dad the subject wasn't brought up. As a result, Godly values were foreign to me, and because of this I had no bearing on what was ultimately right or wrong.

At a very young age (around 5 or 6) I was introduced to pornography. I had ready access to magazines and websites that I shouldn't have had access to. I learned and saw things I shouldn't have known at that age, and shouldn't even know until I am married. This early access to porn had birthed in me a lust that would grow and grow into a seemingly unquenchable monster.

I'm assuming you guys didn't think this was going to get this heavy so quickly, but I'll quote Jimmy Needham, and incredible Christian artist, when he was asked why he talks openly about his previous addiction to porn and he says, "who else is going to, if I don't?" And because God has charged me to tell everything, here goes. It's gonna get dirty.

I don't have an addictive personality, so I can't say for a fact that I was "addicted" to porn, but I excessively indulged in my lust starting from my early exposure to it. What I wouldn't understand, until God revealed the truth after I started following him, was the incredible insecurity that would develop from my lustful appetite. I had a skewed vision of a woman. The beauty of a woman was completely perverted to me now. Instead of being God's pure, gentle, beautiful creation, I looked at "her" as a sexual object to feed my selfish desires.

The more I stole that pure, intended beauty from women in the form of lust, the more I became insecure about my relationships with women (or in this case girls). I didn't know how to treat a girl, because what I knew was what I saw in movies or in magazines. The friends I hung out with also gave into their lust, so I didn't have a community around me pushing me towards a righteous mindset. I wasn't learning at home, at school, or anywhere else the correct way to treat a woman, and it was setting me up for some of the biggest falls in my life.

My insecurity in relationships with girls bled over into an insecurity with myself. This is a result of sin that is sometimes overlooked I think. Sin is a turning away from God, essentially you are trying to act on your own as if you know better instead of relying on his solid, infallible word to guide you Romans 14:23 "...for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." Because I was turning away from Him and trying to do relationships my way, what I had to go on was what my friends said was cool, or worthy.  I was worthy only if I was cool. I was cool if I looked at porn. I was cool if I swore. I was cool if I listened to punk rock and skated (skate boarded) where I wasn't supposed to.

 My whole goal was to be cool, so in turn I would be accepted. I feared so much that I wouldn't be accepted, that I wouldn't be popular, and this drive to be accepted only fueled my lustful and perverted passions through elementary and middle school. What I didn't know was God holds the ultimate acceptance, He holds the satisfaction that porn or popularity would never be able to give me.

In high school, I would start to learn how unsatisfactory the way I was heading was.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Story: Introduction

The first time I remember hearing God's voice was when I was 8ish years old. The night before, I was at skate night at Skate City. I grew up at Skate City. It was my second home; I've played hockey since I was 4 years old, and I spent most of my evenings and weekends playing for the travel/rec leagues there during my years before high school. I also spent every Friday night, 6-10pm, hanging with my friends from school and skating my brains out. So, I was definitely familiar with the staff and venue. I knew exactly when there would be somebody behind the prize counter, and more importantly (in my mind), when somebody wouldn't be there. Inside the glass case was a clear bouncy ball with a snake floating in the middle. I wanted it. You don't need to read minds to guess what happened next.

I found the precise moment when I wouldn't be seen, reached my hand over the counter and into the case and grabbed the bouncy ball and quickly stuck it into my pocket. It didn't come out for the rest of the night for fear that somebody would see and know I stole it. The next day at my mom's town home, I was playing with it, and inside me grew a sting that my conscience tried as hard as it could to push down. I don't think I have ever actually heard God's voice, but this day I am sure HE was the one speaking to me. "Why did you steal that bouncy ball?" He kept asking me, and I kept trying to get around it. Finally I said, "I'm sorry God for stealing this!" And I chucked that bad boy down the street. I wish this was the turning point in my life when I would follow Jesus, but it wasn't. I wasn't a Christian then, which is what intrigues me so much about this event. God was speaking to me, yet, I had no idea who He was.

•   •   • 

God has asked me to share my story with you, to disclose everything that has happened in my life that has lead me to a relationship with the very real Jesus, and into his saving faith. So, this blog is going to be that story. I am hoping what is said here will effect you in an extraordinary way, that God would speak to you through the events He has allowed me to experience so you would know you aren't alone, and that his grace abounds. This isn't in any way intended to bring me fame, fortune, exposure, etc., but it is merely for the fact that God intends to use me to bring His gospel to you, and to show that I am a product of His perfect grace. I would like to quote Mo Isom from her 'my story' blog and say that 'I am a witness. I am a vessel. I am just one of His many tools - and proudly so.'

Over the next few weeks, I will be going through my life and giving you my testimony of how the Lord has saved me. I can't pinpoint the exact moment where I became a Christian; what I do have are places in my life where God took me to show me how much I needed Him, and through those places has formed (and has been forming) my heart to mold directly to His. 

*DISCLAIMER* This blog is probably going to get a bit dirty. I want to first ask that my readers, if you see something that could pertain to you (friends, past relationships, family) do not take it as me trying to throw you under the bus. I want to assure you that I won't be bashing anyone in this blog. God's goodness and glory is the point to be reached, and unfortunately (or fortunately, really) I have learned the hard way in a lot of instances. 

God charged Paul in his ministry to "not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent for I am with you,..." (Acts 18:9). I am a musician, and on this stage, we see a lot of people succumb to the brief glory of finite fame instead of relishing in the everlasting infinite glory of the real reason we were put here: God. I don't want to be one of those musicians. I want to proclaim proudly "Him", without being scared when 'my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, "where is your God?"' Psalm 42:10. I wan't to proclaim boldly His goodness, and the best way to do that is to humbly submit yourself to His will. So, I hope that in writing this blog, He can work and speak to your heart to show how real He is.