December 13, 2015
Have you ever been through certain struggles in life, where you felt that all hope is lost? Circumstances in life that made you feel alone, depressed, and unloved? If so, you are not alone. I have been there, and have walked a long road of pain and rejection. It wasn’t until later on in my life that I realized all of the pain and heartache that I went through made me who I am today. Not only that, but Jesus was there the whole time right beside me every step of the way.
At an early age, I experienced the divorce of my parents, my father moving out of state, and calling several places my “home.” My childhood was very unstable to say the least. Because of those instabilities, I became hurt and angry early on. I didn’t know who I was, where I was going in life, and hated who I had become.
I was raised in a Christian home, and because of that upbringing, I did know who Jesus was. I asked Him into my heart at the age of eight, and got baptized a year later. My faith was influenced by the times I spent between my grandmother’s house, and my aunt and uncles growing up. When I would stay with my aunt and uncle, I would go to their small country church. It was there I heard the gospel preached, and the sweet hymns that witnessed and melted my hardened heart.
As a teenager, I still struggled to find my identity. I knew Jesus, but I wasn’t sold out to Him. I continued to let the burden of divorce and abandonment define my life. I searched for happiness and contentment. I tried a different environment, as my mom and I moved in with my aunt and uncle in South Carolina. I then tried moving in with my dad in Florida. The void in my heart was still there. At eighteen years old, my soul searching led to my high school sweetheart Emily, becoming pregnant. It was at this point where my life was at a crossroads. It could have been so easy just to walk away, to have my daughter grow up without stable parents just like I did. That’s what Satan wanted. He already destroyed so much in my life, why not one more relationship?
Emily and I never lived together while raising our daughter. I would work in the factory at her family’s business after school, and get off just in time to see my daughter off to bed. I even worked third shift in a hotel after I graduated, to provide for all the expenses. Emily and I would have never been able to make it through those challenging times of raising our daughter without the loving support of our families. Her dad was fresh off of leaving a pastoral position when Chloie was conceived, and yet not once did he ever get upset with me or hold the pregnancy over my head. Her mom would watch our daughter during the times we couldn’t and took amazing care of her.
Almost four years after Chloie’s birth, Emily and I got married. It was on that day where the Lord started opening my eyes. It was as if a switched turned on and the void and emptiness that I felt in my heart was gone. I saw the beauty of His grace and mercy throughout my life for the first time. I also realized how sinful and broken I truly was. Looking back, I saw how He placed a Godly, loving, Bible reading grandmother in my life, to love me through my hurt and pain of the divorce. I saw how He sent my loving aunt and uncle to basically take me in as if I was their own. I saw how He mended the broken relationship with my mother and father. I saw how He took a precious little girl, and made me into the dad that I always wanted. I saw how He gave me a wife who had a motherly touch at a young age, and how the love she had for me was unconditional. I saw how He put a father-in-law in my life, as a Godly father figure and example. I saw how He had a plan for my life the whole entire time. Even though I didn’t deserve any of it, He showed kindness, mercy, grace, and was a shelter from life’s storms. My life can be summed up as the old hymn goes “He set me free yes He set me free, and broke the bonds of prison for me. I’ glory bound my Jesus to see, for glory to God He set me free.”
My Hope For Athens Church
That we would be a body of believers who witness and share the powerful and life-changing message of Jesus Christ no matter what the costs are.