My Story

(Reading time: 14 minutes)

Background

My background is complex. Instead of the whole thing, I'll focus on key points that highlight my struggles, skills, and the impact of Jesus Christ on my life. People naturally put their trust in things of this world for comfort or purpose. That might be people close to you, status, school, job, money, intellect, government, your church. I got to learn the hard way you don't want those as your foundation. I'll share bits of my history so that's more clear.

I started as a kid with just lots of imagination, thirst for knowledge, and loving attention both gave me. I was mentally gifted but socially and physically weaker. I was a "walking encyclopedia" on tons of topics, esp science. Weaknesses being lack of focus and procrastination.

We moved a lot. I lived in the country, the city, dirt poor, well off, etc. I spent formative years in the country with less than others. I did enjoy nature, BBQ, guns, campfires, and fun with friends outdoors. Some of us stayed bored, though. We liked TV, video games, and things that challenged our minds. We mostly dreamed of better lives in other places.

People already exclude and mock nerds. Worse, the black school I went to also made me hate being white since nothing we did, except evil, counted. They'd cut us down and attack us. Gave me PTSD-like symptoms. (There were good folks that kept me from being a hater). I learned to dodge problems or verbally take on whole crowds. Trying to be black and show out to fit in got more hate. Being half-white / half-black stuck with me. Walked a tight rope with no group to belong to. I started thinking through everything I did, worrying what people thought, and being ready for any problem. Dreaming big, worrying, and procrastinating stay bad habits. White, suburban schools were much easier but I was also a teenager with those problems.

By high school, I had learned how to sort of blend in, debate whole crowds of people, teach myself most of what I needed to know, and be emotionally disconnected. I discovered programming, hacking, and other dark arts just in time for 9/11 and Iraqi War to happen. Computers turned my imagination into reality and put me in control (life usually didn't). The Internet helped me make new friends across the country and globe, some kind of like me. Maybe we'd have peace across our borders. Maybe easy information would help us be more rational. We lost that illusion after watching 9/11 happen live in class. There was national panic, media replaying videos of death all day, saying others all around us were terrorists, and we're all next. Many of us wanted to serve and fight the terrorists. Being extra-careful, I did some research before joining.

What I found was depressing. It looked like 9/11 was preventable, folks were so incompetent they should've been charged with manslaughter (fired at least), they were actually destroying evidence of that, and acting for massive increase in money and power. The Patriot Act gutted our constitutional rights. Then, Bush and Cheney lied about Iraq being behind 9/11. Many people joined War in Iraq to get payback for 9/11 or prevent next one. Our favorite outlet, Fox, was reporting lies like this. They'd also claim each attack was "100% successful" or something. Then, videos in international news would show same bombs missing blowing kids up. Older folks said it was Vietnam all over again. A "quick, cheap" war killed more people than 9/11, messed up tens of thousands for life, and killed over 200,000 innocent people over there. The world went from sympathizing with us over 9/11 to hating us for Iraq. Many civilians and soldiers, young and old, had their faith in America shattered. At least the government, military, and corporate media.

With Jesus a While

Somewhere in there I found Jesus. He got a lot of that darkness out of me. He and His true followers also had a great, lasting impact on me. The gap between what the Bible said and what Christians I saw did was really wide. It bothered me. Church people talked up a focus on Christ until it cost them time, money, or worldly attachments. They rarely helped folks different from them, talked about science like they never studied it, and most just seemed as fake as everyone else. Maybe our beliefs had human, not divine, causes. Maybe our good moments were built on lies that make us feel good. I committed apostasy, a high crime against God, by walking out on Him. It's like re-crucifying Jesus. Maybe unforgivable, I was told.

A Better Class of Bad Boy

("I'd Rather Die on My Feet Than Live on My Knees")

From there, I became a principled, fun, bad boy with an elitist goal to be smarter and better than everyone. I'd solve our problems myself. I'd take a path, learn from the best, do my thing, and move on. Sometimes stuck doing and having nothing. I was under- or over-qualified for most regular jobs despite my expensive degrees. I got a regular, union job for bill money, to talk to lots of people, and have plenty of spare time. Then, I used my savant-like knowledge to produces tons of research, dominate in debates, find innovative solutions to problems, and bust bad arguments by devil's advocating. I hit every topic I could. My research on security and boosting human potential, esp using tech for both, got to an elite level few could match. Other highlights included education, reform (esp civil rights and anti-corruption), business, and some law. I gave away knowledge for free to anyone it might help. I was more a thinker than doer anyway.

Personal highlights. I overcame social anxiety working high-volume retail. I constantly entertained others with a heavily-satirical style that was inspired by people like DL Hughley and Eminem. That also was an outlet to vent and cover my worries, esp from PTSD. I tore people up over fake politics and religion. I was a slacker at home, gamer, partier, martial artist, and made a few people pickup artists. I built up deserving folks, esp underdogs, around me to help them overcome their physical, mental, and economic challenges. I took strong pride in my large and diverse network. Those with force... cops, spies, and gangsters... all respected me. Some feared and/or protected me depending on how we met.

My ego and empathy were equally-strong motivators. The ego came as a holdover from the black school, my committment to not be helpless again, and paranoia from PTSD. I overcompensated for these by outdoing everyone and being outwardly invincible. The empathy aspect was that I inwardly felt others' pain like it was my own, saw a world full of it, and had to do something about it. My solutions weren't going anywhere. I had lots of nightmares and insomnia about these things, turning to heavy drinking to stop my brain. That contributed to memory loss given I did it for a long time.

God Breaks Me and Quickly Responds to My Call

I was probably about to build my masterpiece, business, and/or enjoy a prison sentence if government got tired of me. As He warned, God decided to humble me by eliminating by pride at its source: a brain injury. My knowledge, skills, and even memory of most of my life went... poof! I kept it off my medical record to avoid problems (eg job discrimination). It was uncurable anyway. I refused to bow. I re-built what I could, kept working/researching, and now my slips are few enough people often doubt I have one. Those in the know joke about my mixed recall with labels like Jason Bourne or "the guy from Memento." God both let Satan pile problems on for years that all blur together. He mercifully let it be mostly pain, not irreparable damage.

His sheep hear His voice. The Bible promises anyone who believes gets the Holy Spirit. One purpose is acting as an "inner witness" that testifies to God's presence in us in a way that's like nothing else we believe. He also gives a peace, even in suffering, that we don't experience elsewhere. If you leave Him, you experience a hole in you that nothing else could fill. You can at best ignore it with distractions, pleasures, etc. I couldn't lie to myself anymore that I was missing something. I faintly remembered Him in some way. I was still a highly-experienced, gifted problem-solver despite broken memory. I'd push the feeling to the side to solve all these problems at once. God must have instead seen me as a slow learner in need of quicker lessons.

I'll just drop some bullet points on the rounds He fired at me. Activism was looking more dire with the legal situation becoming a maze for any of us wanting progress. Worst-case scenario for a failure was a 10-15 year sentence. A person close to me was giving up on life with a few attempts at suicide. A relative's $350,000 bail added to my huge debts from hospital bills (appendicitis) and student loans. There were other family issues.The area around my liver was swollen. Car developed issues. Then, my company was destroying itself from within sending 50-100 angry customers a day at us in what we described as meltdown days. I worked 13-hour days, one 18.5hrs, literally running and multitasking for angry people and absorbing damage for teammates, esp those with families. Clock was ticking on my knees, liver, vehicle, and other necessities. As an engineer, I was looking at a growing number of variables, more limits than opportunities, and a massive cost to even break even. Worse, I'd probably be dead before I made progress.

Anyway you look at it, I was in a bleak situation with no escape in sight. I was powerless despite all the advantages I had accumulated. Practically crawling under the weight, I called to an "unknown God" saying, if He helped me, I'd do better and even pull others up with me on my way up. God responded quickly. A pair of high-potential women showed up out of nowhere with lots of improbable coincidences that told me to pay attention. They said they were Christians. One, who prefers privacy, was a great influence on me with us helping each other a bit. The other one was different.

Satan Responds, Too

("That woman is the Devil!")

As He sent people, Satan sent a woman that seemed principled, bad, and fun like me. She needed help out of a deep rut, too. We seemed to be great buddies. Then, I got set up three times in a row for what turned out to be money (i.e. promotion she couldn't earn). She joined our department specifically to do that. She picked me since my sins made the setup easier. Knowing we were being tested, I kept praying until I learned I needed to trust God to do things His way, not Him help me do mine. Right after praying that, God moved her out of the way.

God used that situation to give me a head-start relearning humility, gentleness, and patience. I thought I'd be helping people facing hard times. I asked Him why all the hardship if that wasn't what He was preparing me for.

Life of Service

COVID panic hit my very next shift. It seemed almost everyone started acting as selfish, evil, and chaotic as they do in movies when the world is ending. The good people just trying to take care of their families were helpless. My PTSD and insomnia were gone, though. God gave me an inner peace that made me feel like I could face anything. I canceled starting a business to stay and serve even though COVID might have killed me (immune disorder). I switched 100% to praying, obeying the Bible, and good works serving others. All I knew to do. Even my shirt had the Word of God on it so it would work while I worked.

God blesses obedience. He used a combo of that shirt, obedience, and narrow coincidences (signs) to point me at someone who overflowed in love for and joy about Jesus Christ. I couldn't remember seeing anyone else like that in years. She brought me to the Mercy Hill Bible Study. They taught me the point isn't how many good works we can do. They taught me what the Bible is really about: knowing who Jesus is, spending time in His Word seeing Him, and how His Spirit imparts more of Him into us. That the obedience to God and love for others overflows out of a focus on Jesus Christ.

Far from blind faith, God's Spirit was making changes plus doing impossible things. Jesus started putting His love into me, even for strangers. Feelings that trauma took away started returning. During conversations (esp about Jesus), people got strangely receptive, less-hardened in their hearts, and so on. He'd calm or inspire suffering people I have no ability to counsel. Most enemies switched to being neutral or even friends hugging me. I later quit drinking heavily every night, too.

There were objectively-measurable differences, too. I thought trying to minister to people while on a timer at work would get me cut on personal performance. Yet, random events that contribute to my time, spread across dozens of customers a day, started working out positively for that. We prayed for people that should've died but quickly healed instead. One person got retested by two doctors who each thought their instruments failed. A kind person even turned a huge debt into "Paid in Full." (Again.) Better jobs and other situations started lining up for people whose luck had been bad up to that point. Things I prayed for people in church would start showing up in sermons, they'd quote me word for word after it happened without knowing I prayed on it, and so on.

Non-believers sometimes try to say it's just my efforts or luck. The fact is that these things did not happen before Jesus. I used willpower, positive thinking, clever strategies, etc with life being a daily, uphill battle. With Christ and obeying His Word, things just started lining up as predicted. Even the bad things got more bearable and constructive. He promised that, too. Then, there were the tons of helpful coincidences, some healings, and so on. Unlike the Gospel, reading three minutes of a story asking imaginary people to change your life doesn't work. Fiction doesn't cause supernatural events. The best explanation is that God's Word is a living thing (i.e. Him) that was getting the results He said it would.

From there, who I am, my life, and others lives around me have changed for the better in ways we'd all have said were impossible just last year. I was an unworthy sinner. He brought me back, cleansed me of all that pain and filth inside, put His love and peace in me, and set me on fire with the Spirit to serve Him. My life now and till death will testify to the steadfast love of our God He gives through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Note: Currently at Longview Heights Baptist Church (The Well). Previous church was Mercy Hill Baptist Church. Visit either one if you want to meet people who love Jesus.

(Read the Gospel with proof it's true, predictions He made to motivate you, learn evangelism, check out other essays, or go back to the home page.)