**Before I get into my story, I have to note, this page was/has been titled “who is he?” for over a year, but I finally realized why I titled this page as such. It’s as if I was narrating from a third party perspective, hovering above myself, separate from past experiences. Well, I think it’s finally time to change, finally time to reexamine the purpose of this blog. It will be “who am i?” because as you read my story, these hardships, these struggles define who I am as a person. Conversely, it’s not the struggles that define me, but rather how I have endured and overcome them. Just remember, anyone can change, anyone can be renewed…you may be going through something difficult right now, but it’ll pass and maybe one day you can use your life journey to comfort and encourage others…
Some of you, maybe most of you, may not know this about me. I’m tired of hiding my past. I’m sick of neglecting and trying to forget what I’ve done. We cannot hide or forget about our past, we must learn and not dwell on it. A new life and reconciliation is only possible through Jesus Christ. I want to live a life for God and put Him first. I’ve been selfishly hiding my shameful history because I was afraid of how people would judge me. But it’s not about how people judge me, it’s about how He will judge me when I’m standing in front of Him.
I‘ve always made it seem like I lived a perfect life, holding everything in, expecting it to be ok because it’s me! I’ve always expected people to do the work and not me. People would come to me, I don’t need to put in the work. It saddens me to realize how my entire life I’ve been living this way. I simply lost sight of myself and was neglecting Him.
The following is real, everything that’s happened in my life encompasses who I truly am:
I was born and raised, small town Northwest Ohio. My entire life, I’ve been consumed by sports, whether it was baseball, basketball, football, or hockey, my personality has been defined by my participation in sports.
After high school, burned out from playing sport after sport, I gave them a break. Instead, I was easily consumed by the lifestyle college offered, partying and drinking. Intramural sports didn’t fill the empty void in my life. Rather than pursuing these interests, getting drunk replaced the weekend sporting habits. I consumed this new lifestyle as such, a sport. I HAD to fill this void.
After getting hospitalized because of excessive drinking, my life took a turn for the worse, only temporarily. Getting in a physical fight with my brother only made things worse. Drinking was put on hold for the time being.
I fell back into the drinking lifestyle. Not learning anything from my hospital experience, I turned to alcohol to solve my problems, with an annual birthday drinking rant continued to feed my enthusiasm and fun I was having in this new lifestyle. Why turn back? It caught up with me again. Something happened and it wasn’t good.
It was something I’ll never forget and will always regret. It was a bad night, where alcohol doesn’t lead to anything good, which eventually led to my incident.
Embarrassed of my actions and still unknown of what actually happened, I kept the incident from my parents, fear of getting ostracized, but more importantly, letting them down as their son. I was also ashamed because everyone in my hometown would judge and make fun of me for my incident.
Of course, wouldn’t you know, things went back to normal. After returning to school for the fall, drinking, once again became my outlet. But this time, eliminating it from my life completely, it was only consumed in moderation because of course, I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ in the corner not drinking. Slowly but surely, the drinking lifestyle came back into my life.
With all the distractions and limited sobriety time, I graduated in four years, with a 3.0/4.0. Who would have thought, a boy from a church going family, with great Christian, ever-supporting parents falling into such a lifestyle?
I‘ll tell you this. It’s very easy to fall into these devilish traps because the devil temps us with temporary highs and pleasures. As humans, it’s tough for us to look deeper and farther because the enjoyment is so ecstatic and addicting. I became consumed by everything of this world, things that are superficial and finite.
After graduating, I found myself back home, living with my parents, applying for as many jobs as I could find. I found a local gym to get back into my sporting shape. Four years of excessive drinking takes a toll on your body. I needed to fill the void.
I found joy and pleasure in exercising and working out, something very close to sports. As a result, I applied to the gym and got a job as a trainer. I also acquired an internship for a minor league hockey team. Juggling both jobs, my time was completely consumed.
Unbeknownst to me while applying, the gym’s owner, managers, and workers had an established foundation for Christ and lived each day for Him alone. Beginning the day with goals and a prayer, everything began to point towards my faith with Him.
But instead of taking all of this to heart, the familiarity of praying brought me back to my childhood of Sunday school and going through the motions as a child, not fully comprehending the power of Jesus Christ in one’s life. I continued to go through the motions for a year. I still did both my jobs to my fullest and excelled at both, but my spiritual and personal relationships suffered.
Life tends to surprise us all. All throughout the year after graduation, I had health issues, encompassing random, sporadic pains, I began to seek out help. CAT scans, blood samples, urine tests, and a colonoscopy brought no conclusions to what was happening. Once I thought my pain was leveling off, I had random pain in my male reproductive area. Very eye opening, I immediately sought a urologist to determine what’s going on.
Fearful and beyond scared, just like everything up to this point in my life, I hated accepting the truth or my past. I was scared of the results. I didn’t know what I was going to do if I couldn’t reproduce to keep my family name going, become a father of my own children, or experience childbearing with my wife someday.
Finally, one visit with the urologist, the results came back and everything was fine. It’s a common condition that affects a lot of men, but essentially, my prayers have been answered. Beyond grateful of this, my life began to be put into perspective.
Wanting more, and knowing what is physiologically going on with my body, I had encouragement to seek out more formal education. I took the beginning of 2011 to apply to graduate school. Getting accepted in the summer, I found myself wanting to turn my life around and thought to myself, I’m finally going to do it. I’ve taken everything life has to offer face to face and prevailed.
Notice what I said, “I’ve.” No one else, but me. My selfishness has encompassed all my accomplishments to be rewarded because of ME.
My hockey internship ended, leaving just the trainer job for the rest of the summer of 2011. Expecting my fall enrollment for graduate school, completely living on my own, in a foreign state loomed in the background. The closer it got, the more loneliness crept in. Not knowing anyone at all, this would be a brand new experience.
Wanting familiarity in my life, I turned to someone that I let go shortly after graduating college. I needed familiarity in my life before embarking on a new life-changing experience. She has been there for me through all my rough times. She has been at my side through the thick and thin. Words cannot express how grateful and blessed I’ve been for her to be forgiving through all my ups and downs, even though my inconsistent behavior didn’t show it.
Skeptical of taking me back, she knew it’d be tough simply because of the distance. This would be the farthest away we’ve ever been from each other, but with all of our memories we’ve made together, we got back together. Shortly after arriving in a foreign state, I was hospitalized, not for alcohol, but for a throat closing incident caused by mono. This was also an unknown and scary experience, but who else to help and nurse me, of course she was there by my side once again.
All the while, school started to pick up and I was able to keep up efficiently, also making friends in the process, not feeling so lonely anymore. Also, eliminating alcohol from my lifestyle helped and encouraged success in the classroom. But that was the only successful product of my behavior.
Living alone, you find yourself doing work and of course other things. I found exercising and working out an outlet to fill the void in my life, since I no longer worked as a trainer, had alcohol, or sports. I became obsessed. I ordered personal training material to study to help people achieve their fullest potential. The issue dwelled in the impossible. I was always seeking out fitness articles, looking up fitness models, how they got to where they are, looking at pictures of perfect physiques, simply educating myself to be physically perfect! Essentially, I was creating fitness workouts for almost everyone I encountered, always seeking out more and more each day. I would awake every morning to scour bodybuilding websites for the latest workouts and nutrition information. My life was being controlled by exercise and fitness. I was letting my life be controlled by it.
The more and more my life was consumed by exercise and fitness, the more I became cold and distant from the only person I truly cared and loved for. My life was empty and disappointing if I didn’t work out or have that fitness model girlfriend. I simply was unsatisfied. I wasn’t happy. There was no joy or happiness in my life. So of course, my option at the time was to break up with her.
I was cold. I was hurtful. I was every other adjective that you can think of. I forgot about our past together. Of all the times she was there for me. You’d think after so many years, I’d have some regret or sorrow. I didn’t. My life could continue without her.
I was so wrong! My life had been empty up to this point. I was seeking pleasure and satisfaction in the wrong things. I was putting my faith into illusory pursuits.
God wasn’t in my heart. I lost sight of Him. While I was back home for Christmas break, (this is December 2011 by the way) familiarity of being with family and the absence of her hit me like a brick wall.
An emotional tidal wave came over my life. A spiritual tidal wave over came me like no other. God was moving in my life. I fell. I wept. I cried. My heart tore open and every emotion I’ve ever felt came spilling out. It was if I just awoke from a bad dream, only to realize it wasn’t. There was something wrong. My life has been torn because of my selfishness. After seeking professional help, I knew I had to make things right with Him first. I had to reaccept Him into my life again and be born again. I have to take all the necessary steps and do everything and anything. I asked forgiveness and to this day, I still ask Him forgiveness for my behavior to my family members, friends, to her, and to her family for my childish, selfish abandonment.
There’s not a day that I regret and feel pain for all the suffering I’ve put people through. Through God’s will, everything that I lost: the trust, honesty, faithfulness, dependability, and sincerity will be slowly gained back. I know this journey is going to be tough and unreasonable, but “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”-Phillipians 4:13. I’m willing and eager to change for Him. I’m living a life for Him and Him alone for the rest of my life. I need to reestablish myself with the people that truly cared for me, which I dismissed. No longer am I using excuses, I WILL put in the effort to reestablish myself and live a life for Him and no longer will I be afraid of judgments.
My purpose is this: I’m here to embrace YOU! I am here to offer you advice. I’m here for YOU.
In those times of wanting to give up, like I have in the past, I’m here to accept who YOU truly are as a person, to aid YOU in your life. Whether that’s exercise goals or workouts, spiritual healing, or relationship problems, I’ve learned the hard way. I don’t want YOU to go through the same problems as I have. We all experience hardships, we all sin, we all have problems. Why go through these experiences alone? I have selfishly gone through life alone and it’s not the way to go, trust me!
It’s my turn to put the work in. It’s my turn to help and to serve YOU.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”
-1 Peter 4:10
No more retreats, no more relapses, I will never surrender. This is who I truly am!
Update May 2012:
Life is good, plain and simple. Even though it didn’t work out with the person whom I mentioned above, God has other plans. And I’m so excited for my future with Him! God hasn’t disappointed , even though I had (and still) to travel through rough patches.
Life is flying by. From already finishing my first year of grad school with a 3.94 GPA, to moving to Chicago for the summer because of an internship, it has been a spectacular ride of a new life. A new opportunity to make things right with myself and with Him. It is in Him that all of this has been possible. Yes, there are times of inconsistency and times of question, but we always need to get back up after falling down.
This blog has been beyond successful. It has taught me so much. From staying consistent with my daily thoughts and scriptures, to helping/connecting with others.
You truly have made this something I didn’t think would catch on.
Hopefully, in my next business ventures, you can be the spark again!
Update December 2012
Gosh, I don’t know what to say, besides God is amazing! No matter how busy, no matter how much has been going on, He is always the Almighty, always walking alongside me through the trials and tribulations. With end of semester projects and papers, bachelor party planning for my brothers wedding, my dad’s hospitalization, graduation, moving, wedding, and applying for career jobs as well as my summer experience in Chicago, I’ve been overwhelmed with love and peace at heart to know I am in His arms, with no fear, no frustration, or regret. Granted, there have been some tough days, but everything is clear now. All my selfish thoughts and actions were sinful, were demoralizing, were simply ruining everything I was as a man. I was looking for comfort in the wrong things. I was avoiding life. I was avoiding growing up. I simply wasn’t living the life God had designed for me.
But as I turned my complete attention to Christ again, not just on Sundays, everything began to return. I was myself, I became new, my heart was softened to His grace and presence in my life. What I was turning a blind eye to before and not recognizing, a new perspective has revealed so much about my past, not that it’s centered around regret, but living a life without Christ is truly a road to nowhere. Take my word for it, please. No matter the mistakes, whatever you’ve been through, He will renew your spirit, He will soften your heart, but you must be willing to admit your mistakes, repent, and ask for forgiveness, and begin to be filled by His love each and every day because without Him, we are lost!
It’s unbelievable how many new ideas and business ventures the Lord has blessed me with. Honestly, I feel an amazing project is on the horizon and will take place in the near future, supported by FFE followers and I pray it can evolve into something bigger and better than my dreams. I pray you can continue to show your support and respect, that we can together reach out to the lost, to lead them to an everlasting life in Christ Jesus. It’s going to take a lot on my part for such actions to happen. And I pray you can help as well because I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without all you amazingly blessed people, so please, with this next step, I ask for prayer and strength to fulfill God’s plan.
No more regrets, no more relapses, I will never surrender, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
Update December 2013 Coming Soon!