A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.
“We all have a ‘before’ story. For some of us, that story was before we met Jesus. For others, it was before we took our faith seriously. For others still, that story is the up-and-down journey of a long walk with God. But we all have a ‘before’ story.” Live Second, page 76
Before that Sunday morning in August of 2006, who was I?
Well my mom always said that when I was little I was a “good boy”. I don’t remember getting in a whole lot of trouble other than an occasional reprimand from my grade school teachers for talking too much in class. Oh ya, and I argued with my little brother but anyone that has siblings knows that fighting between them is pretty normal. When I got to junior high, it was much of the same.
High school so a lot of things change. I was still a pretty good kid, but I found myself hanging around a lot of the wrong people and honestly, I became one of them. I did a lot of stupid and shameful things. Things like drinking, experimenting with drugs, getting into lots of fights, messing around with girls and stealing. As I look back on high school, especially my junior and senior years, I thank God that He had His hand on me then though I did not accept Him. There were many instances where I could have died but didn’t. Two of my close friends sit in jail 17 years later for a crime I was almost a part of one summer night. Now I wasn’t all bad. I respected my mom (most of the time), didn’t hit or intentionally hurt women and would do an occasional good deed. But that in no way made up for the hurt I caused others.
I should have learned my lesson after high school but I didn’t. Instead the messes I played in simply changed. I did a lot of partying from 18-28. I was married at 22 to the love of my life and together we had our first child the following year. My little baby girl was such a blessing but I didn’t take the time to appreciate her as much as I should have. Instead of enjoying my wife I chose to complain about every little thing she did. She spent too much, complained too much, didn’t do this, and didn’t do that. I was so busy pointing all my fingers at her that I had none left to point in the mirror. And even if I had a free finger, I wouldn’t have pointed it there anyway. There were times when I flirted with and garnered the attention of other girls. I visited strip clubs, sometimes with my wife and sometimes without which only fueled the fire more. When it came to money, I was making way too much of it and spending even more. Cars, clothes and casinos were at the top of my interest list where my wife and child should have been.
There must have been someone in my life pointing back in the right direction, RIGHT? Well not really. You see, from the outside looking in I had it all together. Before that day in August of 2006, I wore a great game face. My friends and family saw a 28 year old man with a beautiful wife, a healthy young girl, a successful and lucrative career, a nice house, multiple cars and everything else necessary to live the “American dream”. My friend Dean tried many times to tell me I needed to go to church and drop all my bad habits but I definitely wasn’t listening. I thought to myself, “What could God give me that I didn’t already have?” and “I don’t want to quit having all the fun I am”.
But the week leading up to that day revealed the true weight that was on my shoulders. It was unbearable and I had nowhere to turn. I was destroying my marriage and at risk of becoming a weekend father. I was at risk of losing the two most important people in my life. It was then that I began to realize there had to be something more. There had to be someone who could remove the weight and show me the true sense of joy I sought everywhere but never found.
Join me tomorrow for “The Moment”, the next chapter in my story.