It is not an easy thing to share the truth with others. However, I feel that I need to write this. I am writing this for my friends, so that they may understand me a little better.
I guess I will start with my childhood. I grew up with my two sisters and my mom and dad. We lived in this tiny apartment in Palmerton. When I was in kindergarten and 1st grade, my parents made me and my sister Jess go to this Christian school. I remember vaguely that school, but I do remember getting hit by a paddle for just saying shut up in class. This is also the place where I met my first friend, Travis.
We went there for two years, until my parents couldn’t afford it anymore. So, the next year we started at our first public school in Northern Lehigh. Now this was a huge difference then the Christian school that I used to attend. However, as soon as I got to the public school, I felt completely out of place. For some reason, I just couldn’t fit in with anyone, I got into fights with other kids, and I was in the principal’s office every day. My best friend was still Travis and he still went to the Christian school. The best way I can describe Travis, is that he was very charismatic and mostly everyone loved him. He was the guy everyone wanted to talk to. I used to just hangout behind him, while everyone else talked to him. If you ever were that person in school who was invisible, that would be me.
So, even at a young age I felt alone. I hated that Travis got all the attention, so I acted out and got myself in trouble so that people would notice me. If you ever watched Naruto, then you know what I’m talking about. This lasted for basically the whole time I was in elementary school. However, in 5th grade Travis transferred from the Christian school over to our public school. At first I thought this was awesome, because I would now have a friend in my classes. It was that way for about half the year until Travis with his charismatic personality started becoming popular.
His popularity just continued to grow as we entered middle school. By the end of 7th grade, he already decided to stop being friends with me to go hangout with the popular kids. Can anyone relate with this?
Since he no longer wanted to be my friend, it seems that the hell gates opened. I started getting made fun of more and more each day. I would go to school and I either got made fun of, or everyone ignored me and it was like I didn’t exist anymore.
Now during this time, my family was going through a lot of issues. My dad who was a mechanic for over 20 years, dislocated 2 discs in his spine, and it caused him to lose his job. My mom had to work 3 jobs to pay the bills. My dad lost his case for disability, which made matters worse, because now he had to find a desk job. He had no experience with customer service really, as he fixed cars for a living. This caused my dad to I would say go off the deep end. He would get angrier and angrier every day. Now that I’m older I can understand what he was going through, but at that time, when I was just a kid, he terrified me. His anger was getting the best of him, and he started taking it out on me and my sister Jess. I am not going to get into the specifics, but it was not a good time for my family.
His anger and the fact that I was terrified to be in the same room as him, caused me to go into a depression. I distanced myself from practically everybody. My life consisted of going to school and being made fun of, then going home and dealing with my dad. So, I locked myself in my room every day and hid myself away, playing Warcraft 3. This is what I did for years. I stopped talking to people all together in real life, and I lived in my game. I guess you could say this was my escape.
At the end of 8th grade, one of Travis’s old friends and someone I used to see at boy scouts started talking to me. For privacy reasons we will call him A. So, I started hanging out with him most days, and it was cool to feel included. I thought things were getting better, and I would start making more friends. He was on the football team and once high school started football became like a full-time job. He convinced me to join the team, and he said we would hangout more. So, I joined the football team on my sophomore year. I did this because he said he would hang out with me more, which happened at first. However, as the season went on, he got more popular and eventually I got replaced by this new friend of his, for privacy reasons we will call him C.
Now I liked C and I thought he was a fun guy. However, at the same time, I was angry because he took my best friend from me. At least that’s how I thought when I was still in high school. Well after football season was over, things started spiraling backwards. I felt like I was replaced, so I stopped hanging out with them and I started to regress and go back to my video games. I would stay in my room alone and I wanted nothing to do with people.
During this time, while I was in 10th and 11th grade something happened to my parents. If you remember earlier, I told you about my dad’s anger issues. Well it was weird he started to be nice and calm, and he acted like he cared again. It was terrifying to me, I thought he was dying or something. Just keep in mind I distanced myself from my family and locked myself in my room, so I had no idea what they were doing. Anyway, it seems my mom and dad started going to church at the Gospel Chapel. I started noticing this as they wouldn’t stop putting worship music on the radio, when they were driving me.
I didn’t understand what was happening, but after months I couldn’t help but realize something was changing in my family. I didn’t know what the church was feeding them, but I figured if it can change my parents, maybe it can help me. So, I decided to go to church for the first time since I was a little kid. I hated sitting next to my parents, so I decided to sit alone. Well within five minutes this girl waved me over and had me sit next to her. I was confused, but obviously, I went. I sent next to her the whole sermon and then she kept talking to me and I thought something was happening here. So, as what you could expect from a lonely person who doesn’t talk to anyone, I got very clingy. Every time there was church, I wanted to sit by her and talk to her, that was literally the only reason I was going.
After a few months, I got attached and I believed I was falling in love with her. Though, I didn’t realize that she was making fun of me behind my back to every girl that was in youth group. She pretended to be my friend and then kept making fun of me and told everyone that I was this weird creeper. So, that was my first interaction with a “Christian”. Obviously, I decided I was going to leave and never go back to church again, but then the next day something happened. This girl who I handed a piece of gum to during a youth group activity, started messaging me on Facebook. She said that she heard what that girl did, and she didn’t agree with it. She told me she thought I was cute and asked me out, I was so shocked I said yes. I didn’t even know who this girl was lol.
That is how I first met my wife. So, I can thank that girl who I will not name for leading me to my future wife. I started dating her and honestly I thought at the time it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I started going back to church, and I joined this bible study that focused on the book of Revelation. I never read the bible before this, so I assumed it was all boring nonsense. However, I was greatly surprised to know there was stories of God destroying the world. I thought it was the coolest thing at the time, I mean what teenager doesn’t like a good apocalypse story? This is where my obsession with the bible started. I researched revelation to the point of complete obsession. This was dangerous, because I never gave my life to Christ now, and all I saw with the bible was a way to get rid of these “evil” people in my mind.
Me and my wife continued to go to church, but it was not for the right reasons. I convinced myself that if I did a bunch of good deeds and followed most of the rules in the bible then I was good for heaven. That was the belief that both of us lived by for years. If we fast-forward a few years, me and her got married. I was 20 and she was 18. We got our own apartment and lived on our own. Both of us got jobs at this gas station called Sheetz. We strived to be managers and that’s what we focused all our energy on. Well with under a year both of us were shift managers. With being a shift manager, you had to be available 24/7 365 days a year. I remember going from first,2nd, and 3rd shift back to back in a week. This was normal for us. Our entire lives seemed to be about this damn gas station. That is all we ended up talking about, and then when I got promoted to assistant manager, it caused even more problems. We just kept competing to see who was the best manager. This obviously effected our marriage extremely.
This went on for years. Our marriage if I could say honestly, was terrible. We started hating each other, and honestly I wanted nothing to do with her anymore, I wanted a break. I was hitting rock-bottom, I started going back to that depressed state that I was notorious for. If you read my other post about leadership, you will see a part of this story and you can understand how terrible of a manager I was. I was miserable in my marriage, and we always agreed to never get a divorce. See, we were Christians by name only. We followed these rules, because we thought that’s what would get us into heaven, so in our minds if we didn’t break them we were Christians. Looking back, I can tell you how flawed this thinking was.
Nevertheless, as a last-ditch effort, I decided to go back to church on Easter Sunday. I can’t explain why, but my parents were still going to that church and so I decided I’d go. An act of God happened on that day. The sermon that the pastor was preaching, was exactly what I needed to hear. He was talking about God talking to Abraham on Mt Sinai. He said something along the lines of that today is the day that God will step down into your life and help you. He said that if you’re going through something right now, God is ready to help take that pain away. I don’t know how to describe this, but an immense sadness consumed me. I felt like my life was a lie. In that moment, I knew that I was just a fraud, I called myself a Christian for years, but I never gave my life to Christ. So, for the first time in my life, I kneeled and prayed and asked Him to come into my life. It is difficult to describe, but I felt an enormous amount of peace. I believe I felt His presence, it was kind of overwhelming.
The next few weeks were a blur. All I felt was this rush of excitement and I dare say joy, for the first time in my entire life. I was literally on fire, I felt like nothing could stop me. I wanted to just tell people what He did for me. I can tell you something, I used to always listen to worship songs, I liked Christian music for some reason before. However, after I gave my life to Christ, the words of those songs came to life in me. I felt empowered and motivated. Anyone who is a Christian can understand this as it is something so indescribable, words are not enough.
In a few months, I started learning how to love my wife. I don’t think I ever did love her before. I think I loved her in the human sense of the word, but it was conditional. It was if you made me happy I will love you, or if you meet this need, I will love you, type of thing. However, I think I started to learn how to love unconditionally.
I ended up demoting myself a week or so after this. I decided that I am going to stop living for me, so I decided to become a salesperson again, so that I could focus on school. I didn’t know what to go for, so I started school at NCC as a medical administrative assistant. I figured I could just check people in all day, and that would be my job. Looking back, I know God led me there for a reason. One of the first classes that I took was an English writing class. In that class, we read a story from Flanner O Conner. It was called A Good man is hard to Find. I wrote how the misfit in the story along with the grandma, represent every humans journey to find God. My professor read my paper, and he was touched by it. He asked to meet me for lunch one day after class to discuss. So, we went and had lunch and discussed the bible for 4 hours. He told me during this conversation that I should be a pastor. That threw me back, I would never in a million years ever wanted to be a pastor.
After his class I had to take a keyboarding class. In this class, every day we were required to bring in a new quote to discuss before we started class. I would bring in Christian quotes and I would explain them to the class. This started a conversation with the guy who sat next to me, who used to be a chaplain in the military. I would talk to him daily and he again told me I should be a pastor. I obviously refuted that and said no no, I can’t do that. Well I just couldn’t get those words out of my head. So, I went to the pastor of our church and asked him what he thought. I told him that I can’t get these words out of my head, and every time I think of them I get a peace. He told me I might be called to ministry. I finally decided to pray and ask Christ about it, and what do you know, I got a resounding yes.
So, I then I was asked by pastor Ken to take over the youth group at our church. I had no experience teaching ever, and I never had to deal with kids before. So, this was honestly the biggest challenge that I ever had. However, after months I started getting the hang of it, and I realized I loved making the lessons and spending time teaching the kids. While I was leading the youth group I made this friend at church. He was my first and only so far real Christian friend. He was 48 years old and had a huge heart problem. His name was Eric, and he was one of the bubbliest person I have ever met in my life. He just had this aura about him that made you want to talk to him. He was also a kid at heart, his favorite thing to do was to play magic the gathering with friends. We immediately bonded and for a year, I was at his house almost every single day. We played magic, talked, I shopped for him, and helped him clean his apartment, because he physically couldn’t.
The discussions we had made me closer to God. All our conversations were about Christ and magic. That’s what we did while we played, we talked about God and about Eric’s son. Eric was physically impaired, but he also was mentally and emotionally in pain. He hadn’t seen his son for years, as his ex-wife took him away and he was not allowed to see him. It hurt him tremendously, but you could never tell that he was anything but happy. Eric was one of those people that are rare in this world. He was my best friend; I have never known another person anywhere close to Eric. I was on fire for God and we used to go witnessing together out in public. It seemed only natural and honestly we had the greatest time doing it. I remember going to Arbys with him and we witnessed to this girl that we saw crying in a booth. Eric said he never felt more alive in his life.
Well on May 4th 2016 I went to go over to Eric’s house like I always did. What I walked into changed me forever. I found Eric dead in his bed with his arm all purple and blood gushing out from his mouth. I still to this day cannot close my eyes without seeing him there. I told you Eric had heart problems, but his doctor said he was doing fine. On that day, I lost my best friend. I know that Eric was saved and that I will see him again, but I cannot tell you how painful that was to me. I broke down and didn’t function for weeks. I could barely eat, sleep, or do anything. I immediately shut God out of my life. I blamed God for taking my best friend from me. I was angry. I went into a deeper depression then I have ever been in. I didn’t care about anyone or anything. I quit the youth group, I stopped talking to everyone, and I shut my wife out. I was not in a good place, and it caused a huge bruise in my marriage.
However, it was during that time that I remembered what I did last time I broke down. I gave it to God. I gave all my pain, my guilt, everything to God. I screamed at Him, I yelled at Him, I poured everything on Him. At first it was painful, but after I felt that inner peace, that only God can give. I reconnected with God and we moved to Bethany Wesleyan Church. I felt a reconnecting with my call, I feel like God wanted me to continue what I started. So, I resumed my classes for my degree and I got mentoring under a pastor at Bethany. I am now trying to get involved in their youth group.
I started this blog so that the voice that God gave me is put to use. I know a lot of my friends don’t believe, or they say they do, but they were like me who were half in half out, or in other words lukewarm. I am writing this for my friends, and for people that knew me before God got a hold of my life. I know a lot of you believe that God is a lie, that everything is answered in science. There are many different reasons that you don’t agree or believe. I am not writing this to sway you, but instead to make you understand my journey, my life. I want you to know the reasons why I believe, and what changed me.
When my friend Eric died, I researched death so much that it could be classified as obsession. I know the truth. Without Christ in our lives, we are nothing but a mess. Take it from someone who messes up on a consistent basis, if I didn’t have Christ in my life, I wouldn’t have any will to live. This world that we live in is so corrupt that it sickens me. I can tell you the evidence of God’s existence doesn’t come from reading and listening. Instead it comes from looking at the change in a hateful hypocrite like me. The fact that God changed a hateful, depressed, lonely person like me, should show you the proof.
This is my story