My Story (Part III)

Part I and Part II

      From here on, my story changes dramatically. I really don't know how to continue this story, actually. I'd like to give a nice happy closure to it, but similar to the way my life has progressed so far, it just seems to get more chaotic. 

      After learning about Jesus, I started looking at the world differently. Still, things still don't make complete sense to me. I think it would be arrogant of me to think that since I know who Jesus is, I now suddenly have all the answers to life's big questions. I still don't know why certain things happen to me. Why do I have ADD? Why do I still get arbitrarily depressed despite knowing the best news this world has to offer? What does it really mean to be a Christian? Is there such thing as a "good Christian"? I don't have these answers, and while I may find pieces to this puzzle as my life goes on, I'm convinced that I won't fully understand these mysteries in my lifetime.

     I took a class on Rhetorical Theory and Criticism, and since then I've grown more aware of the way we use language. I've noticed how seemingly innocuous statements can drastically and negatively impact the way we communicate thoughts and ideas, and in turn how we internalize the things we value. For example, I believe that because of what Jesus did on the cross, I have been re-identified as a child of God. But the way I talk about my life and my experiences hardly reflects that fact. My language encourages that mindset, and I'm stuck with the conundrum of simultaneously trying to express how I feel and how I should be feeling. I could go on. Language is integral to our understanding and perception of our lives, so I believe it's in our best interest to take it seriously. 

     This brings me to one of my life goals: I hope that I will never stop asking questions. God has given me a passion to keep digging and searching for more information about the world and, more importantly, his plan for the world. I'm not satisfied with simple answers for complex problems, and the world has a lot of complex problems. I fully believe that there is a good reason for everything to happen the way it does, but it would be self-defeating to let challenging and trying moments stifle our curiosity. 

      I am writing to you, dear reader, instead of writing in a journal because I want more than anything to bring people in on this adventure. I don't believe I am alone in these thoughts, and I refuse to believe that this is a stage I will "grow out of". Please comment and ask questions, call me out on things, and engage in discussion!

     Let's do this.

"Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable."
Psalm 145:3

My Story (Part II)

If you haven't read Part I, click here

     My adventure toward God escalated after high school. I emphasize this because it was the life changing moment for me – the one that I will talk about for the rest of my life. Something happened to me in my first year of college that forever made me a different person. Let me explain:

     I arrived on campus for the first time as a student to begin band camp for the university marching band. The experience was nothing like I ever had before. We rehearsed in the blazing hot sun for ten hours a day with breaks for lunch and dinner for ten days straight. The experience was made worse because I was in drum line playing maybe the most awkward and cumbersome instruments in history: the tenor drums, aka quads. By the end of day three I was hating my life, and just wanted it to be over. I was beginning to regret ever signing up for what I thought would be a relaxing extra-curricular activity of playing music for football games. 

Setting up "The Rack" for the drum feature of the 2012 season.

Setting up "The Rack" for the drum feature of the 2012 season.


     I wasn't alone for this ride, though. Our whole drum line bonded throughout the week, and soon I found a sense of belonging that I wanted for so long. One man in particular made sure I felt at home with the rest of the line. His name was Mike, and he was a fourth year veteran of the band. He patiently worked with me to improve my technique and to help me practice my parts. He sat with me at lunches, and engaged in conversation with me in a way that truly made me feel accepted and wanted within the community. 

     One day he asked me about a necklace I was wearing. I got it from a retreat in high school, it had a cross on it, and I hadn't taken it off since the day I got it. Clearly, its ceramic pendant was well worn, and the hemp was frayed in the ends despite melting them down. His question caught me by surprise; I thought most people took my necklace to be merely a thing I wore, since nobody ever asked me about it. We talked about how it was from a high school ministry that works in small groups late after school to encourage one another in struggles through conversation about God. Our conversation took us to Qdoba, and soon he introduced me to a world of Christianity where God isn't a far off deity in the sky, but is instead a close and loving father who wants a real and personal relationship with us. 

     I started regularly attending a Christian campus ministry called Cru. They met every week to worship Jesus and listen to someone talk about the Bible. The mission statement was, "Cru is a community where the Gospel captures hearts, transforms lives, and launches men and women on a lifelong adventure with Christ," and it certainly did that for me! For weeks I heard the gospel preached to me, and I heard over and over again about Jesus who loved me enough, even at my worst, to die for all of my sins so that I may be considered his child. This blew my mind, to know that there is someone out there who knows all of who I am, and yet, even while understanding the bad parts of me that I tried my hardest to forget about, loves me enough to die for me. I was afraid of intimacy, thinking that it would only lead to disappointment and sadness. To find out that someone will always love me for who I am was completely refreshing. 

     That winter, I went to a conference held by Cru. For five days, more than a thousand college students gathered together to praise and learn about Jesus. I saw that there was another side of following Jesus that was worth exclaiming and being joyful about, and that there was something about these people that was fundamentally different in the way they looked at life. For them, thinking about God was an every day blessing that was welcomed into their lives with excitement. I had never experienced something like that before, and I made a decision right then and there to dedicate my life to serving and glorifying God in whatever I did. 

     From that day on, I started to hear God speaking to my insecurities, reassuring me about our relationship and his love for me. He is showing me how glorious he is and how much he deserves to be talked about and praised! That day began a healing process that is still working in me today...

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." 
Ephesians 2:8-9

My Story (Part I)

     The goal of this blog is for me to tell you, dear reader, about God's goodness by sharing my personal journey through life in the form of occasional stories and thoughts. If I'm going to share experiences in my life, however, I think it is important for me to share where I am coming from. The next three posts will be a timeline of my life featuring different parts that I find important to the development of my life. As a believer in Jesus Christ and his mission to save and restore people, these posts will be noted by the major points before, during, and after my acceptance of Jesus as my savior and the dedication of my life to Him. These won't give you the full story, but I intend to give a good snapshot into where I'm coming from, as well as highlight some of my big picture insecurities that God continually assures and heals. 

     My story begins when I was born. I was adopted by my parents and my brother when I was about eight weeks old, and grew up in the suburbs of eastern Montgomery County, Maryland. I attended a Catholic church and school all the way through high school, mostly living as a single child after my brother left for college when I was in the third grade. My parents loved one another dearly, blessed me with a nurturing childhood, and formed a foundation for my spirituality and values. I lived fairly far away from the rest of my classmates, so I spent a significant amount of time with my family or by myself. It wasn't necessarily a horrible experience; I learned to entertain myself in any situation and found comfort in my imagination and creativity.

     In sixth grade, things started to look pretty down. I was diagnosed with depression and Attention Deficit Disorder. My sense of confidence and self worth were destroyed and my ability to behave like everyone else was inhibited. Insecurities popped out of the ground seemingly out of nowhere, and I wrestled with finding significance and value. My life of cruising on the highway of academic success was brought to a slow crawl as I learned to fight ADD and an Executive Function Disorder, a battle I still face today. Since I went to a small school and grew up with the same 30 people until high school, I had no way of diversifying my friends. And since I couldn't hang with the cool kids, I clung to any sense of fulfillment and value that I could.

     High school came along and I had my first chance to redefine who I was and make new friends. However, the only familiar thing I had, the few friends I had from middle school, went to a different school in the Washington, DC area. Soon I was going out with someone and developing a superficial friend base there. At some point arrogance and a facade of self confidence masked my low self esteem – not much to substantiate my sense of value. In fact, I found my value almost solely in my relationship with my girlfriend. I figured this out when she broke up with me, and I was left with no friends... again. Now I realized a new insecurity; I felt no intimacy with anyone. I don't necessarily mean romantic intimacy, though I won't rule that out. I felt insecure, as though nobody knew the whole me and loved the whole me, and worse, felt like nobody could. It was a humbling experience that led me to reevaluate my life. All I knew was that boasting in myself wasn't going to make me feel better about anything and that it would only cause me to make more enemies than friends.

     After that first year of high school, things started to look up again. I was still self-centered, a quality I'm still very prone to default to today, but I understood that I needed to change my attitude at some point. I made new friends when I realized that the popular crowd wasn't what I fit in with. I learned that it was okay to not go along with the crowd, and that searching for worth as a follower wasn't going to help me know the freedom of individuality. I graduated in good spirits, mostly because I was leaving the place I hated going to every day, but also because my best friend, Megan, had been by my side for the last three years. Additionally, I was able to make great relationships with my teachers and faculty at school that continued past graduation. Without them and continuous prayer, I don't know how I could have made it out.

Thanks, Megan, for being my best friend and helping me through high school!

     I also left with a desire and thirst for developing a deeper connection with God, something I promised I would do when I went to college. I didn't want to grow away from the only person who walked with me and brought me through all of my most depressed moments. Little did I know, He was going to take me on an incredible journey the next year...

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15