This Is My Story

Let me set a scene for you…

It’s 2018, Black Panther is dominating the box office, everyone is abuzz about the Royal Wedding, and the closest thing we had to a pandemic was the “tide pod challenge”. My weight had climbed to 580 lbs., by far the biggest I have ever been. I couldn’t go to stores due to how hard it was to stand for longer than a few minutes at a time. I had been out of church for a while and I didn’t have any friends outside of church, so I didn’t get out much. I had a job at least, though that wouldn’t last. I felt uninspired, unable to write anything on my blog. “What good is having a ‘gift’ if I can’t bring myself to use it?” I would think as I stare at a blank draft. On top of all this, my marriage of seven years had taken its last labored breath.

This was the year that began a seemingly endless journey through some of the darkest times of my life. While I have made references to my story over the course of my writing, I feel it’s necessary to delve a bit deeper into my testimony in hopes that it will help someone else.

After our mutual separation, I moved into mom and dad’s new house, my life now tucked away in a box of broken pieces in hopes I’ll eventually forget. The next almost two years were comprised of working, coming home, going to my room, sleeping, and waking to the same mind-numbing routine. The only human interaction I got was with my family and at work. I existed in hopelessness, feeling like I had wasted my only chance at a normal life. At least I had a steady job.

Until I didn’t.

February of 2020, just before the onset of the global pandemic, I lost yet another job. Feeling lost, useless, hopeless, and bitter, and now I felt like a burden to my family. Isolation continued taking its heavy toll as it was affecting how I interacted with my own family. It was during this time I began having thoughts of wishing I were dead. In my mind, it would have been easier for everyone if I wasn’t around to be such a burden. I would imagine someone putting a bullet in my head for that instantaneous release of death I desired. “I’m too much of a coward to do it myself,” I jokingly thought to myself, “but if someone else were to do it, I wouldn’t stop them.”

Toward the latter-end of 2020, mom told me about this small group lead by Matt and Tiffany Hutchinson called “Current”. “Well, any human interaction is better than none,” I agreed with cautious optimism. We met in a small chapel across from the main church building, having open discussion about the chosen topic and anything else that came up. I ended up loving it. Even though I was only there for the final two meetings of the year, it felt like I had stumbled on the desert oasis my mind and spirit desperately needed.

The months that followed saw me return to the depths of darkness. My sweet ma-maw passed away in June of 2021. It was an incredibly difficult time for us, while at the same time celebrating the end of a race well run. Amidst this time of grieving for our family, however, something happened that would forever alter the course of my life.

I was told that Morgan and Joey Nelson were officially taking over Current as Matt and Tiffany were going to lead InsideOut Youth. They decided on a new name for the group: CommUNITY. The mission being to bring together men & women in the 20s and 40(ish) age group to have real discussions of what we are struggling with, and create a unified group of burning warriors of Christ that will lift each other up and go into spiritual battle for each other in times of need.

Something in me sprang to life when I received this announcement, and I felt excitement like I had not experienced in a very long time, if ever. Later that year, we began our meetings in the Great Room at Christ Temple Church, our wonderful home church. For the very first time, I was making real friends and was beginning to engage in discussions with others my age about everything we’re going through. I was still experiencing those dark thoughts and battled extreme depression & anxiety on a constant basis, but at least I had a way to give my spirit a refreshing drink once a week.

In August of 2021 at one particular CommUNITY service, something happened that I believe changed everything. During the meeting, I shared my dark secret with the group, heart racing as I expounded on my innermost fears and wishing I were dead. Then, God spoke directly to me through Morgan as well as Emily Ferguson, who was seated next to me. Essentially, God told me He had been trying to take me out from under the shell I had been hiding under, and that I needed to stop fighting Him to keep that shell. The Lord also said He wants to use me now, not when I’m this ideal version of myself I’ve been waiting on. He gave me gifts to use for His Kingdom right now. Emily also said she pictured me walking along a path with God, and every time I hit an obstacle, I think I take several steps backwards while God is waiting up ahead for me to catch up to Him. The reality is, God is much more gracious than I ever gave Him credit for; He will always come back for me and pick me back up.

The months since then, God has continued to tear me away from my old mindset and ignite a new fire within me that differs from anything I have felt before. The Jewel City Revival was the gasoline to the fire, allowing God to further separate me from the person I used to be. My list of friends in CommUNITY continued to grow in number and in closeness. Slowly, I was beginning to feel like a completely different person altogether. There was just one thing missing…

CommUNITY was scheduled to lead worship the final Wednesday before revival started back up. I of course volunteered; as much as I wanted to, I think my friends wanted it that much more! It would be the first time I had lead worship in close to 10 years (give or take). I was so very nervous yet excited at the same time. I must have had my eyes closed for two-thirds of the time I was leading my song (which was Battle Belongs by Phil Wickham, of course). The response was absolutely overwhelming; so much so, we were invited to lead worship each Wednesday of the upcoming revival, which is still happening as of this writing.

God has poured into me like never before because of my obedience to Him in walking in the anointing He has placed on my life. I can truly say I will never, ever be the same. From wishing I were dead, to now leading others to the same life-giving freedom I now have is something no one can ever take away. To think, it’s still only the beginning…

From “Hopeless” to “Purpose”

I have been absent from the blogging scene for quite a few months now. Not for lack of trying; on the contrary, I have sat at my laptop, fingers resting on the keys anticipating words that never came. My mind was a desert, parched from my creative drought with nary a drop to refresh me.

The truth is, I was afraid of putting into words the things that until now I have kept locked away. I was afraid of what the reaction would be if people saw behind the façade I maintain. To be transparent is to be vulnerable, and that is not something I handle very well. To be fair, anyone can say the same. We all have times when we choose to “suffer in silence” instead of admitting our personal struggles to someone. It’s easy to convince yourself that no one else would understand, or that you have to endure these struggles alone.

For me, it’s been a culmination of years upon years of wasted opportunities, stupid mistakes, and buying into lies from the enemy that have caused me to conceal myself away from God and the world. As a result, my writing suffered. It felt like every thought I wrote down was too dark to put into the open. After what God has recently spoken to me however, I feel it’s my responsibility to use my platform the way God intended. My struggles are a part of my testimony, so it’s important to put it into writing as well.

I had come to a point in my life where, at times, it felt like it would be easier to embrace death than overcome the obstacles in my life. The weight of hopelessness was profound, more so than any physical weight I bear. The pain of past regrets shackled my mind and heart. Depression, anxiety, and fear had become these possessions I refused to let go of. I lived life inside of my shell, keeping myself safe within it’s confines along with my “possessions”. Envy was the scale by which I judged my self worth, always comparing myself to others who have achieved far greater than I have.

My prayers felt empty. At times I thought God had left me to deal with my own problems. Any feeble attempt to crawl out of the depths of despair led me right back to where I began. I longed for a glimmer of hope. I couldn’t feel nor hear God at all. I’ve lived in near isolation aside from immediate family. All that time alone really works on the mind, allowing every mistake I’ve ever made to run rampant in my thoughts.

Truth be told, I’ve had many moments when I wished I were dead. If I’m going to be completely vulnerable with you, this needs to be said. I’ve hit some pretty low points over the past year and a half. I was losing battles on every front with my white flag in hand. When you reach that point, life loses all color. It could be a brilliantly sunny summer morning, and inside exists only gray. Everything becomes meaningless, uninteresting or overwhelming.

I was especially frustrated that I couldn’t hear anything from God. This perpetuated the belief that I was alone in my struggles, and amplified the hopelessness I felt. In hindsight, I realize I probably missed His answers many times because I had already determined in my mind the specific answer I was expecting. So, this past Wednesday evening, God chose a more direct approach in order to get my attention.

Through some wonderful people God has put in my life, He spoke some much-needed truths to me. I came to realize I was actually fighting against God when He was trying to deliver me. For so long, I prayed for God to take away my depression, anxiety, and fear, and He essentially said, “if you would let go of it I would.” It’s weird to think about using these dark emotions like a crutch, but that’s exactly what I was doing. I would isolate myself from everyone, as if inside a shell, with my emotional crutch as my only companion.

I’ve always felt like my life has been taking one step forward and several steps backwards. Meanwhile, God is waiting on me to get my stuff in order and catch up to where He is. God helped me see that He will always come back for me when I stumble. He meets me where I’m at. His grace knows no limitations except for the ones I create.

I’ve been so caught up in my constant struggles to regain financial stability, to gain consistency in weight loss, and other day-to-day issues that I kept putting off God. I told myself, “if I can just beat these few obstacles in front of me, then I can actually be useful to God.” What He revealed to me was I don’t have to wait until I’m this ideal version of myself before He can use me. Rather, my ministry can begin now through my writing.

Part of the reason I’m writing this is so I can come back to this in the future whenever I need a reminder of where God has brought me from, and where He is taking me. I wanted to die. I thought my life was a huge waste of potential, and that I let everyone down. I thought God had abandoned me.

One of the biggest factors in my turnaround has been surrounding myself with God-fearing people who will stand with me, and always remind me I’m never alone. Another factor was a willingness to be transparent with them when the opportunity presented itself. God had set it up perfectly for me to open up about my darkest thoughts and fears, and I decided not to let it go to waste. Being vulnerable is scary, but with the right people, it can change everything as it did for me.

The other reason I’m writing this is because I know others can relate to my story on some level. It is my hope that anyone who may be having similar thoughts will read about how God has delivered me, and consider that it can happen for them as well. God was fighting for me the whole time, but I was blinded by the lies I chose to believe about myself.

From now on, I will try to be more transparent in my writing, instead of being afraid of what the response may be. God has given me my testimony so that I may reach this generation. My journey is about going from a place of darkness, and stepping into the light, so my posts tend to have a bit of both. Hopefully, through reading these, God will reveal Himself to you, and show you He is fighting for you too. Be blessed.

The Person at the End of the Road

This is the story of a man long tormented by a seemingly inescapable chorus of lies. They feel like daggers in his ears, piercing his thoughts with extreme prejudice. He attempts to cry out into the void in search of answers, though he’s convinced it remains a whisper on the wind. So, he chooses to suffer in silence, as he knows all too well by now. This silence is deafening, filling his head with noise he can’t escape.

Fear and hopelessness consume him, yet no tangible danger is present. On the contrary, He is quite safe in this regard. So what troubles him then? From whence does this terrible shade emerge, and what keeps drawing him to this particular soul? The way of escape seems simple, yet it is complicated by webs weaved from the mouth of the shade. They create a mystification, distorting the truths that our subject holds onto desperately.

Each passing moment moves him closer toward the inevitable end. Before this troubled man lies the narrow path that leads to true freedom. In the distance, a figure stands on the other side, motionless. Struggling to get a better look, the ensnared soul thinks to himself, “his eyes speak only of passion, and there burns a fire upon him that does not cause him any harm.”

He longs to see more, but he knows he is not ready for the full picture. With each step forward he makes, his understanding increases, but so does the strain of the webs clinging for dear life. What he lacks is the will to break free. For his bondage lies where they cannot be touched…his mind. “How do I break bonds I cannot see?” He asks himself.

Then, a voice was heard, rolling like thunder, saying, “Trust not in the strength of your own will, for I will hold you up, and carry you to the victorious end I have planned for you. You need only reach out and take my hand.”

Then, in an instant, the realization hit him, that his unbelief kept him in bondage; not his unbelief in the voice speaking to him, but rather that he could ever be anything other than what he is now. The heavenly voice knew his heart, and he said to him, “Surely I tell you, I have called you to carry my flame into the dark reaches of the earth. You are my workmanship, my love for you is unceasing. My plans are for you to prosper, not to fail. Should you stumble, do not lose heart, as I did not call you because of your perfection, but because of my perfect plans for you.”

These words fill the tortured soul with a strange yearning. It felt as if some invisible force had reached into his very essence, urging him onward.

Trapped between hope and despair, our conflicted hero’s thoughts returned to the source of his imprisonment. “These accursed webs feed off of my struggling,” he thought to himself, “it feels like I’ve tried everything to free myself of their dark influence.”

At this point, his body was too weak, even to stand. Unable to fight his growing weariness, he fell to his knees. The world around him began spinning and his vision was blurred by his intense sorrow.

With his remaining strength, he cried to the heavens, “I cannot free myself of these burdens. Your words course through me like lightning. They ring true in my ears. I submit to your Lordship, Father. Rescue me from the jaws of death.”

Just then, he noticed a shift in the air around him. Wiping his eyes, his attention was pulled to the person at the end of the road. For the first time, he was moving, ever closer towards him. He moved with purpose, piercing through the ominous night like a blade. The darkness could not touch him; not even a shadow followed his footsteps.

He stopped just before the struggling soul, still on his knees. He dare not look upon his face, for he felt unworthy of the man that stood before him.

The fiery figure lifted his hand and placed it upon his head. In an instant, the webs turned to ashes, drifting away in the wind. The shade let out a terrible shriek and fled in fear.

The hero began weeping once more, suddenly aware of the miracle that has taken place. The dark void that once filled him was now filled with a brilliant light. His desert heart was now a lush oasis of hope and love.

His eyes darted every which way, hoping to thank the mysterious figure that saved him, though to no avail. He was no longer a separate entity. He now burns from within the hero, filling him with newness of life.

As he turned towards home, there laid before him another person, suffering as he once did. The thunderous voice spoke once more; “Your pain has become your purpose. My creation still suffers greatly at the hand of the evil one. Now, go forth and prepare the people for my return.”

This story is still being written, and the forthcoming chapters are indeed filled with uncertainties. My prayer is that we all come to realize what burns within us, and walk in the purpose God has established for our lives.

Drip

Drip…drip…drip…

One more drop will ease your troubled soul,

Once more to fill that gaping hole,

You know you’re still in full control,

Drip…drip…drip…

Each one more tolerated than the last,

How to numb your pain you ask?

What’s one more drop to forget the past?

Drip…drip…drip…

Once more to feel the sun again,

Once more to soar above and then,

One final plunge into nothingness.

Drip…drip…drip…

The dreaded night bears its teeth,

But don’t worry, you’re safe with me,

Only I can set you free.

Drip…drip…drip…

Listen closely to the sound

Of tortured screams all around,

Unending pain and fear abounds,

You want to escape? I’ll show you how,

Drip…drip…drip…

Now you feel nothing, but that’s okay,

Nothing else matters anyway,

With your will to live now stripped,

One more light is snuffed by the drip…drip…drip…

A New Generation of Revival

There are many things in this world that always elicit a smile, like a peak of sunlight forcing its way through an overcast sky or a vibrant rainbow marking the blessed end to the torrential rains. My little niece Claire and nephew Elias are two such things. Today, we had the pleasure of entertaining them on this frigid February afternoon.

As soon as I heard their familiar shrills of excitement, I smiled to myself. I take a moment to appreciate how easy it is to smile these days. To think that several months ago I was crippled by depression and anxiety; that person feels like a lifetime ago now.

Before long Mom, Claire and I found ourselves knee-deep in art supplies. (Elias has an affinity for video game culture, so his Spidey-senses inevitably led him to uncle Seth’s shiny new Xbox.) Soon, the dining room was transformed into an art studio, and Madame Claire went to work on her next masterpiece. I also made an attempt, and I will only say, it’s a good thing I can write better than I make art.

Claire and me displaying her work of art

Amidst all the laughs and fun times, I can’t help but marvel at how fast they’re growing. I’m fortunate to be able to appreciate these moments while also watching them blossom into who God created them to be. Their personalities are so unique, from Claire-bear’s creative and enthusiastic spirit, to Elias’s sense of humor and intelligence. Each one, like us, has been handcrafted for a unique purpose for such a time as this.

Now, my mind broadens to their generation as a whole. These children are coming up at a critical time, a time that’s seeing our nation continuing to turn its back on God. Young adults of today are more stressed, depressed, and are entering a world where truth is subjective and moral compasses spiral in every direction.

That’s why we as sons and daughters of the Almighty don’t follow a compass, but a light. The Light, that is. Our path is illuminated by Scriptures, and darkness cannot touch what God has covered in His Holy light. It’s important that the next generation understands this and that they know the love of the Father as we do.

So, while we’re making art, playing bean bag toss, or having movie night together, we must also be bold in our expression of praise and worship. They need to see us deep in prayer, or freely worshipping together in church. This needs to be as normal as brushing their teeth (or waking up at 6 am for no reason). I’ve seen what this can do first-hand during the Jewel City Revival. Numerous amounts of kids have made the choice to get prayed for, baptized by water or the Holy Spirit. God is pouring His oil out upon these young people for what He plans to unleash upon the principalities corrupting our nation.

I have to say, that brings the biggest smile to my face of them all.

A Lesson in Boldness

I read an interesting account of events in the book of Nehemiah that I believe holds a lesson or two we can apply to our current day and age.

In the year 444 B.C., Nehemiah, who had served in King Artaxerxes’ court as a cupbearer, lead a group of Jews back to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile in Babylon. He along with the scribe and priest Ezra sought to rebuild the city walls in addition to solidifying the political and spiritual foundations of the people.

When word of their efforts first reached the regional governors Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, they were greatly disturbed. They began mocking Nehemiah, saying, “What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” (Nehemiah 2:19 NASB). Of course, Nehemiah knew God would give them success, so the rebuilding continued as planned.

As their progress continued at a fevered pace, the governors’ rage grew more intense. The three men devised numerous schemes in attempt to dissuade the Jews from obeying God’s plans. These included trying to lure Nehemiah into a trap to harm him (Nehemiah 6:2), making false claims against him (verse 5), using false prophets (verses 7-13), and influencing the the nobles of Judah (verses 17-19). Time and time again, they tried to intimidate Nehemiah from completing the city walls. Time and time again, Nehemiah refused to back down, even to the point of working harder to complete the walls in record time.

So, what’s the point of me telling you all this? Well, as I was reading this passage, I began to draw some similarities to modern times. Here in Huntington, WV, the Jewel City Revival is well underway in its mission to take back the city from the principalities that have a death grip on the people. Decades of poverty, drug and alcohol addiction have reduced this once-great city to its current state.

For the past three weeks, revival has exploded throughout the area, particularly the high schools and, most recently, Marshall University campus. Addiction recovery programs invited any members who were willing to a special service at Christ Temple Church (my amazing home church) where more than 70 were baptized in water, leaving behind their old lives in exchange for a new identity in Christ Jesus.

To say the spiritual enemy in this region is disturbed would be an understatement.

Imagine if you will you’re face-to-face with a huge bear (I promise there’s a point here). How do you fight an enemy that is clearly stronger than you? Well, you appear intimidating and make a lot of noise in hopes it runs away in fear. I like to think this is what Satan does when we threaten his operations. That’s why this revival, and any more like it, will draw very loud opposition.

Understand one thing: our enemy knows all too well what would happen if the bride of Christ took a stand together instead of fighting amongst ourselves. So, much like Nehemiah, we will have to stand against threats of the enemy trying to discourage and dissuade us from obeying God’s plans. Already, we are seeing false claims and an uproar of voices raising up against what God is doing here.

What God has birthed here will continue throughout Huntington and beyond, until the spiritual wickedness has been dismantled and scattered. God is raising up a generation right here that will not be swayed or intimidated. We cannot let up, no matter the opposition. Keep in prayer, keep in God’s Word, and pray for rain. God is sending His rains to flood this tri-state in Holy Spirit revival. There will be deliverance, healing, chains will shatter, and lives completely changed. Dormant churches will be awakened, corrupt vessels purified, and oil will pour. What God has begun, He will complete. I for one will not be okay with just living my life ignoring what’s going on. I pray that God will give me Nehemiah’s boldness to remain steadfast, until the Jewel City Revival expands into the Mountain State Revival and beyond.

The Broken House

I had an interesting dream, recently. In this dream, I, along with some other faceless figures (my dreams aren’t very detail-conscious), were inside this house belonging to me. Everything looked pristine. My guests were admiring everything with awe, when suddenly one of them bumped into a wall. For the longest second of my life, everything around me flickered, revealing something completely different. Gripped with curiosity, one of the faceless phantoms grabbed at the wall and began pulling.

What they found astonished us all, myself included.

The house was draped with elaborate facades, giving the illusion of having great beauty. One by one, the phantoms ripped down the illusory drapes, revealing the dark truth. My home looked like it had been abandoned, void of life or purpose. Being so completely exposed left me horrified.

I’ve had some time to think about that dream and what it means. I don’t usually look too much into dreams, but the symbolism here got me thinking about my radical transformation over the last several months. It didn’t really occur to me how much I had changed until it was mentioned to me recently while attending a revival service at my church.

I was the house in my dreams at some point in my life. While the external side of me was draped with a fake smile, inside I was void of purpose and joy. I had abandoned all hope that I could become anything other than what I was. I was stained with years of neglect, the windows to my heart boarded up to keep away prying eyes. Goes to show that growing up in church and attending a private Christian school can never replace having an authentic, genuine relationship with Almighty God.

So, what exactly sparked this turnaround? While it’s hard to pinpoint one or two specific moments in time, I think I can say with some certainty that it began when I started talking to God again. Mind you, these weren’t “pretty prayers” by any means. I was honest with Him, about everything. He already knows of course, but it wasn’t for His benefit. I needed to open everything up to God, including the horrid parts I kept from everyone else.

He wants all those things. Jesus isn’t looking for scripted prayers sprinkled with insincerity. We have to come to Him with everything we’re carrying, all the baggage, the chains, the scars, and bruised egos we’ve accumulated. When we reach out to Jesus with our whole hearts, He will always respond.

When I invited God back into my life, He “cleaned up house” in a big way. Years of bitterness, depression, and crippling hopelessness were swept away. I’ve learned some things about myself along the way, too. I was completely at the mercy of anxiety and depression; they dictated every part of my life. Now, I’ve learned to give God my highest praise despite my fickle feelings. There’s a song by MercyMe with a line that says, “…but even if you don’t, my hope is you alone.” Those lyrics have become my heart’s cry. I no longer care about getting what I ask for. I only desire to give Jesus nothing less than my life.

I wonder how many reading this would say they can relate? It’s really hard to see past your struggles and the many lies the enemy has convinced you to be true. I always thought because I messed up so many times that God would have no use for someone like me. Then, speaking through a friend at church, God told me He will always come back for me when I stumble. He also said I didn’t have to be this perfect version of myself to be used for the Kingdom. It was in that moment I felt the great weight of those burdens lift off of my heart and mind.

God cannot take what we will not give Him. Whether it’s past trauma, church hurts, crippling anxiety and depression, addiction, alcoholism, or any other myriad of burdens, Christ wants it all. His yolk is easy, and His burden is light. It’s time to drop the facades, get real with God about it all, and see what He can do with your broken house.

I’m Back, and I have Something To Say

I have some thoughts about what kind of year I’m expecting 2022 to be. Oh, and hi! I’m trying to kickstart this thing again. It’s beginning to feel like that one car that sits in your driveway for months at a time and you occasionally start it up again to keep it from turning into a rust bucket on wheels.

I’d chalk it up to writer’s block again, but I think the real reason is I become too obsessed with writing the “perfect blog”. It has to have that opening line that draws you in, followed by an opening paragraph that properly introduces the reader to the overall subject of my prose, a body of profound snippets of wisdom draped with clever metaphors, and a conclusion that ties into the beginning of my writing like a nice, neat little bow. Not to mention picking the right time of day to release for maximizing visibility.

It’s exhausting inside my own head sometimes.

Anyways, I’ve been thinking and praying about this year and what it means for me. I’ve experienced some spiritual growth in the past year, and now that I’m finally in college I’m making actual steps toward a better future in the world of teaching. It’s crazy how I’ve come to this point when for much of my adult life I’ve spent refusing to believe I could handle the pressures of education. I’m just happy I didn’t have to be swallowed by a giant fish before I accepted God’s direction.

I believe this year, I will be winning some fights that were long-thought to have been lost. I’ve had my years of naïve ignorance. I’ve seen my share of rude awakenings, trudged through the deepest depths of despair and hopelessness, and then was pulled back out by God’s relentless love and grace. Now, armed with knowledge and a focus I’ve never had before, the time has come to shake off the shackles of my yesterdays and take up arms in the fight of my life.

Only, it’s not just my life at stake here.

I see a new generation rising up amidst the torrential downpour of hatred, violence, and utter wickedness. They are the harbingers of Christ’s return, the catalyst for unprecedented revival. There’s a boldness evident when you see how they take action without hesitation, praying over people, freely worshipping God, and fighting to bring the Gospel into our school system. How can I remain in my room feeling sorry for myself while kids half my age are taking the fight to the streets and classrooms?

That’s why I’m taking up blogging again, regardless of whether it’s perfect or not. I believe God has given this gift-among others-to use instead of sitting on them worried about what others might think or how I might look. I mean really, how many times is someone going to say they miss my writing until I think to myself, “maybe I wasn’t as bad as I thought?”

Moreover, if God is calling me to be a teacher (as I have recently come to realize) then I have a responsibility to be obedient, not only for myself, but all the future revivalists and leaders I’ll have the opportunity to pour into. How many are out there counting on me to be ready when the time comes, I wonder?

Maybe you’re like me, and have avoided certain things you feel God is leading you to do because you’re afraid of letting others down? Or perhaps you’ve convinced yourself you don’t have anything of value to offer? Well, so did I, until I started listening to the wise counsel of close family and friends. It really helps to get an outside perspective when all you can see are your past failures. Trust me, the enemy will keep your failures playing on loop like a five-year old girl does her favorite Disney princess movie. One thing I’ve learned is that, no matter how many times I’ve stumbled and fallen flat on my face, God always comes back for me. He’s patient beyond reason, loving beyond measure, and faithful beyond compare. As hard as it is to accept, He will always wait for you, forgive you, and He will never stop working on you.

I pray there would be many more from my generation that decide that Satan has been running rampant in our communities for long enough. Let’s stand in agreement that this year, 2022, will be the year we say enough is enough.

Who Do You Think You Are?

I’m the type of person that always needs tools close at hand to help me relax. Case in point, I currently have beside me a squishy hamburger-stress-reliever-thing and a pair of those sizzler magnets. They’re both very worn out; the squishy hamburger looks like it belongs in a Sad Meal at McDonald’s.

I need them because my mind always seems to find something to be worried about. Mind you, not just some butterflies in the stomach; it’s more like end-of-the-world, trying to maintain my dignity by not ugly crying in front of everybody sort of anxiety. I’m always thinking about what might happen, might not happen, what someone might think or say, etc. That’s one reason why it takes me so long to post these; I start worrying about how it will be received and second-guess myself until I don’t know what to write.

In my conversations with God I find myself using Him as a doctor. I vent all my issues to Him and hope He gives me something to make it all go away. Day after day I’ve spent begging God to take away my fear and anxiety like a hypochondriac seeking relief from a sickness they truly believe they have. At the same time, I’m similar to an unruly patient that refuses the treatment offered because I’ve become so used to how it feels that I can’t imagine not having it in my life. So, what I’m really asking God to do isn’t just to take away the fear, anxiety, and depression, but to take away my addiction to them.

To describe it as an addiction, however, would suggest I get some kind of enjoyment out of suffering. After all, one aspect of addiction is the euphoric or “rewarding” feeling it creates, is it not? So, what enjoyment would I get out of remaining in a festering pool of negative emotions every day of my life? What part of me does it satisfy?

In short, it satisfies my desire to give up.

Truth is, in order to become who I wanted to be, I would have to do that which I did not believe I could do. Change is hard. Admitting defeat is easy. Pushing myself beyond what I’m comfortable doing means challenging everything I believe about myself. Accepting my darkened disposition as my truth takes much less effort.

In order to challenge these beliefs, God decided to give me a taste of the future He has in store for me. A door was opened for me to use my writing in a much bigger way that could impact many people. The biggest obstacle I faced first was having people depend on me to produce results. Of course, the only person putting pressure on me was…me. Because I was looking at this project through the lens of my past, the outcome was predetermined to be exactly the same. You might have thought I was asked to produce a Pulitzer Prize-worthy composition in a matter of days the way I was acting.

Hence the worn-out stress relievers.

What really made the difference this time were the people. When you surround yourself with enough people who genuinely believe in your gifts and see the potential you’ve become blinded to, it will start to rub off eventually. That’s why living most of last year in near isolation was so detrimental to my mental health. The only voices I could hear were the whispers of lies and half-truths from within my mind.

I started opening up about what was going on inside my head (kind of hard to avoid the subject when you randomly burst into tears). That’s when I realized that all this pressure I’d been feeling was entirely my own doing. I thought that if I didn’t knock it out of the park the first time, then I would let everyone down and I would go back home to my bedroom and throw in the towel. After all, giving up is easier than trying to do the impossible.

Turns out, they were never looking for perfection; they chose me according to the potential they saw in me. I’m starting to see now how this reflects the character of God. He sees the potential in me, and now He’s molding me and preparing me for the purpose for which I am called to serve. It’s passion He seeks from me, not perfection. After a few very helpful conversations, I started to set more manageable expectations and place more trust in God’s faithfulness than my limited perspective.

For so long, even though I’ve been saved and given a new nature, I allowed my old nature to retain the throne of my life. Every thought I have, every action (or lack thereof) has been dictated by the old. I’ve been stuck in an old season I should have left long ago. God is preparing me to step into my new season. It’s up to me to make up my mind that I will not miss another opportunity.

I imagine I’ve missed plenty of opportunities because that fear of failure. Slowly, however, I’m learning to be okay with not knowing how it’ll all turn out. When I changed my perspective from, “I’m going to fail because I’m not good enough” to “even if I fail, I will still trust in God’s perfect will for my life”, I felt the old nature becoming dethroned.

Suddenly, I don’t have to be afraid of not knowing how it’ll turn out, because God holds my tomorrow. I don’t have to buy into the same old lies that kept me from ever being who God called me to be. Now I can say it’s easier to persist than to give in and risk missing out on all the abundance God has in store for me.

Maybe I don’t need those stress relievers after all.

The Person Behind the Mask

Over the years, I’ve become so used to handling issues alone that I had to make myself be more open with my parents about what I was struggling with. I would prefer suffering in silence to trying in vain to explain the jumbled mess inside my head. Every day at work, much like a lot of people when asked how you’re doing, I would simply say, “I’m here, man.” Because that’s all I was focused on doing at the time: just getting through the day so I could go home and be alone with my depressing inner monologue.

If there’s anything I’ve learned however, it’s when God calls you to a higher purpose, He won’t let you stay in mediocrity forever. He brought me to the point where I could no longer ignore the underlying issues I had left buried for so long. I was losing the things that enabled me to keep living for myself while ignoring the truth of the matter. It was too difficult to be honest with myself, as that would mean I could no longer eat to my heart’s content. It would mean actually setting goals for my life instead of being enslaved to comfortable living.

I remember a time in church when I was told that the enemy was fighting me so hard because of my potential to be a threat to him. Knowing that should have empowered me to fight back; the problem was I was not convinced that I could be that kind of person. My insecurities clouded my true purpose, and instead of opening up to someone and accepting wise counsel, I put on a smile and moved on.

The only way I was going to be set free of this mindset was to come to the end of myself; no more comfort zone, no more saying I’ll deal with it eventually, no more resigning myself to a life of just “existing”, and no more isolating myself from the rest of the world, especially those God would use to build me back up. When everything was stripped away, I was left with a mirror, and my reflection inside of it. I saw someone with a dark void he’s spent his whole life filling with temporal pleasures. I saw a man who has hidden behind shallow pleasantries and fake smiles for too long.

I have since discovered how invaluable it is to find people I could open up to. Having a special encounter with God was the most important first step, but immediately after that was connecting with other spirit-filled friends and family instead of remaining isolated. God has immensely blessed me in this area, as it allowed me to not only shed light on everything I’d been holding on to, but to share in my little victories and build my faith.

God is calling us out of mediocrity, and into the marvelous future He has planned for us. This life can beat us down, and so often we try and muscle our way through on our own, which only leaves us weary from fighting. As brothers and sisters in Christ, God wants us to lift up one another through the power of our words, and love with the same love that has been freely given to us by God. Should another believer fall, reach out instead of leaving them to handle it alone.

Also, I want to encourage you to see yourself not for your fractured parts, but for your potential in the hands of the Father. You are uniquely made with a special calling from God, and He wants every part of you. So today, I pray that God would show you His grace and love, that He would heal your brokenness, and show His great strength in your weakness.