It seems more and more lately, I have come to a point where I look back and need to remind myself where I’ve come from. I never want to forget where I’ve come from. God has been good to me. I now have a beautiful wife with a beautiful little daughter and a son that is strong willed like me. We are about to move into a single family home and if you would have shown me a picture of this house when I was younger, I would have told you some rich guy lives there. I’m not rich but my perspective sure has shifted. I don’t want to pat myself on the back. However, without perspective of where I’ve come from, it is easy to fall into a trap of thinking I brought myself here. I am writing all of this to remind myself of where I’ve come from. If the eyes that see it benefit, then glory to God. After all, He is the reason I am still breathing.
I grew up in a “christian home” learning who Jesus is and went to church. I believe I knew who Jesus was and accepted Him as my savior at a young age. The problem lied with me not understanding what a relationship with God was. Things changed as I got older by my own choosing. Growing up in Boston, it was easy to find things to get wrapped up in that no one should be involved in. Don’t think for a second I blame or think my placement or circumstances give me an excuse for choices I’ve made. However, in my early teens, I let my relationship with Jesus fade away into the background to get clouded with anger. Anger evolved into rage and violence. I lost all motivation and simply quit caring. Naturally, without motivation I didn’t try in school leaving me behind three times in 8th & 9th grade. I switched schools and in an effort to try to convince me to try, the next principal immediately advanced me to 10th grade because of the school I was coming from. On the first day there, I ended up in his office for blowing up a thermometer over a fire in a lab. Within a couple of months, I dropped out of high school for good. I was only about 15 or 16 years old but felt like I didn’t have much to live for. Lack of motivation slowly snowballed into a cycle of depression that I medicined with drugs. Addictions then quickly overtook me. Whatever made me feel good to fill the hole I had from leaving Jesus behind. Weed, ecstasy, alcohol, cocaine… Name it, I probably did it. I hated my life and deep down I knew why but didn’t want to do anything about it or face reality. So escaped reality I did by drowning my mind and body with chemicals. Unfortunately, I let this infectious process trickle into my friends around me. My friends became like-minded and I began to surround myself with people who wanted to get obliterated. Our life consisted of getting high, drunk and not much else.
One night, a friend and I decided to wander the neighborhood in a drunken stupor. We came across a car that had left it’s keys in them and decided we should take the car. I called “shotty” and I didn’t think to wear my seat belt. We drove around joyriding for a little while. My friend stopped at a set of lights pointed towards a very narrow street and started revving the car’s engine. My friend looked over at me with a sinister look and slowly buckled his seat belt. I didn’t buckle mine and can’t tell you why I didn’t. He slammed on the gas and began to navigate down this one way street narrowly missing the cars on both sides while picking up speed. He hit approximately 60 MPH before clipping a van on our right which threw the car out of control. The car shifted to the left and back to the right locking the axle onto a curb so we couldn’t steer. We drove head on into a telephone pole throwing me forward smacking my face into the windshield. I came to and couldn’t open my door because it was buckled. I climbed out of the car through the car door’s window and immediately had to start running with my friend who was also apparently ok. We had to start running because we could hear people screaming at us and sirens from down the street. I don’t know if we were knocked unconscious or not but I know that was way too fast for sirens to be coming up the street if we weren’t.
I also got wrapped up in drama amongst warring gangs around my neighborhood. Things got so bad at one point that it was almost suicide to be even walking around by yourself on the wrong block. Call me paranoid but I remember bracing myself to take a bullet whenever a car rolled slowly by at night. Somewhere during all of this I had forgotten how to smile either from continued depression or because of a lack of serotonin due to all of the ecstasy I had been taking, or both. Smoking weed had been helping me hide from myself but started to amplify my problems. I would get high and feel worse. I was arguing with myself and with God, wondering why all this could happen or if He even existed. My anger caused war in my parent’s house which forced me to have to leave. I hadn’t been spending much time there anyways so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I had always stopped in every few days to grab clothes and whatever I thought I needed. This time though, I had to pack a bag of clothes as if I wasn’t coming back. For some reason, I decided to grab my dusty bible. I had been fighting with myself so much, my suppressed conscience had started to fight back. One morning, on my way to work, I was sitting on a curb at the bus stop smoking a cigarette. I had decided to open the bible I had in my backpack. I opened right to a set of words that hit me like a bag of bricks. It was Isaiah 59:1-2, which reads: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear.” I don’t think I had ever been spoken to so bluntly and direct. I dropped my cigarette and broke down. I prayed right there on a busy street in Boston for God to forgive me for how ignorant and sinful I had become. Right there in that moment, God freed me from all bondage associated with drugs. Just like that, I never smoked weed or another cigarette or took any other drugs again. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders that I had been carrying for years. People who knew me will tell you that after that, I couldn’t stop smiling for weeks which is a miracle in itself because I hadn’t genuinely smiled in so long. I can say that God truly took my dirty filthy rags and traded them for riches. I didn’t deserve it. No one does. (“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:22-23) By God’s grace I was spared from a downward spiral that doesn’t end, even in death. “But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8