A Story of Repentance
My life changed forever about 9 years ago. I can’t remember the specific day or even the time of year but I remember the moment. If my life was a lever this moment would be the fulcrum. It’s the moment that I let go of myself and decided to trust Jesus. I don’t think I’ve ever written about it in detail before and I want to take some time with it today.
The only person with me at the time was my girlfriend Edith. This was before we got married. We were alone in the old apartment that I used to share with my brother Bob on Touchton road. It wasn’t uncommon for Edith and me to spend our time there. I can remember many Friday nights spent there together drinking homemade margaritas and playing darts on our twenty dollar Walmart dartboard or playing Tetris on goofy little game system that we could plug into the TV. Those were some of the best times of my life.
This was the year that I finished losing weight. I was 29 years old, 245 pounds, in good shape and I was happy. I remember that clearly. It was the first time in my life that I was really happy. This was a huge change for me, it was a revelation. I’m embarrassed by who I was before this period in my life. I was very angry. In my anger I rejected God. I knew who he was. I had been saved long before this and I had experienced his love clearly during the period when I was just leaving my teenage years.
Things changed for me though. Events happened that hurt me in fresh new ways that seemed at the time to be indescribably cruel. It felt like I had found a port after coming through a horrible storm only to have it ripped away from me again, leaving me in shock and defenseless against the pain. It was as if I had let down my defenses just to be attacked and defeated anew. This period of anguish peaked with my 21st birthday. I remember it clearly. I had moved back in to my father’s house after I left college before graduating and I was working my first serious job trying to earn enough money to move out. I remember that evening, I spent it utterly alone. I remember breaking down and bawling as I sat on my bed in the dark talking to my mother and telling her how lonely I was.
My heart hardened. I built defense mechanisms that wouldn’t come down for years. I turned myself into a person that could shrug off loneliness and pain by convincing myself that I didn’t care. And trust me when I say that a person who convinces themselves that they don’t care about their own feelings certainly doesn’t care about anyone else’s. Most damning of all, I blamed God for doing this to me. After the pain of my youth he had finally given me a life raft and then it felt like he had snatched it from me.
I’m not the type of person who does things half-way. My blame quickly turned to hate. I raged against God for what he had done from me. I did more than turn my back on Him, I engaged in debate and conversation with the intention of bringing others with me. I blamed God for every bad thing in my life and refused to acknowledge my own part in any of it.
This lasted for years. The overwhelming majority of my 20’s was spent in this impotent rage against the Almighty. That’s why the moment I mentioned at the start of this article has had such an impact on my life. My personality had started changing as I had been losing weight. Edith was my first girlfriend. That meant that I had a lot of rough edges that she found herself working on to turn me into someone that was worth being around. She was making such a profound impact on me.
At the same time I had other friends who were doing their own part pushing me in the right direction. I had more than my fair share of deep conversations about God with my friend Chris. He was amazing. He’s experienced his own fair share of pain but he kept the faith. He showed strength where I was weak and his contribution to my eventual repentance cannot be overstated. I had another friend Shawn who I met at Weight Watchers. Shawn was an assistant pastor at a local Episcopalian church who invited me to spend time at his home with others and talk honestly about God.
Even with the efforts of my friends I maintained my fierce anger and continued to blame God for my lot in life. It was Edith on one of those nights with the margaritas and the darts that finally got through to me. She helped me to open my eyes to the amazing life that I was in the middle of overlooking. She challenged me to open my eyes to the ways that God had continued to move on my behalf and to the ways that he continued to chase after me. Most of all she challenged me to look back and question my diagnosis. She wanted to know how it was possible that God had left me when he was continuing to bless me after all those years.
They say that people who have amnesia experience a cascading feeling when their memory comes back. They describe it like a waterfall of memories pouring back into a person one after the other. That’s what it felt like when I finally got the revelation of what I had done all of those years ago when I turned away from God. I realized that how I had succumbed to the pain and quit on Him before ever giving him a chance to reveal his true plan for me. Looking back with older, wiser eyes I know that God had closed a door for me to protect me from myself. Had he left it open I would not have grown into the person I am today.
Chris helped me reach that moment of clarity. Shawn helped me reach that moment. Edith pushed me into that moment of clarity even as I tried to avoid it. I also know that countless prayers have been said for me over my life. I want to say thank you to everyone. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Posted on April 27, 2014, in Career Development, Personal Development, Uncategorized and tagged -, Friendship, God, Jesus, Life Lessons, Personal Development, self-awareness. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.