Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Testimony

Part I

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. My family attended every Sunday morning and night, and every Wednesday night my siblings and I attended kid's activities. When I was 7 years old, I prayed with my Dad to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and was baptized roughly a year later. It was a simple life--public school during the week, church on Sundays and Wednesdays, and evenings full of video games and cartoons.

As I got older though, things started to change. We moved to another house when I was in the 4th grade, and by the 5th grade I was in another school. I suddenly had no friends, and I came to find I'd gained a little weight and I was also very into my own interests. If you didn't know how to talk about Megaman, Pokemon, Digimon, or other things like it, we couldn't be friends because I didn't really know how to talk about anything else, and frankly didn't want to. I was happy that way.

Everyone else? Well, everyone else seemed progressively disgusted and irritated with me. With the culmination of my weight, interests, and into myself-ness, I had become a very easy target for bullying.

As I went on into middle school, it got even worse and I was bullied verbally on a daily basis. And as it got worse, I secluded more and more into myself, into my own world. I began to hate church on top of it all, even at one morning saying I hated even the sound of the word worship. Church songs on Sundays and Wednesdays became obnoxious, and the messages preached didn't make any sense. I didn't want any of it--I just wanted it to be me and my world.

My world became a very strange place when I was 11. I was watching cartoons one afternoon after school like any other kid might do, potentially X-Men or the like, and something along the lines of genetic mutation was mentioned on the show. This, in my little mind, made me wonder if something like that was actually possible. What if, I asked myself, I could become something else? What if I could be special? It was around this time of course that I had somehow convinced myself that Digimon were real too, so it wasn't a major stretch in my already wild imagination. I ran to my parents' computer, logged on, and got online while nobody else was home and did some serious searching. I landed on this idea of shapeshifting, like in old Native American tales. I found some strange article that taught me my first dive into self-hypnosis, and that set me on a very odd path.

I spent years investing in this fantasy--namely that perhaps somehow, I could turn myself into a wolf. I would lie in my room alone, meditating on the idea of it, trying to call out to spirits and the like. In time I believed that I was a wolf at heart and not a human being, and that was my identity. I would eventually go outside at night for long walks, occasionally howling at the moon or just getting a kind of ecstasy being "in my environment." This all had a very strong effect on my sexuality too: I started being aroused by the idea of a transformation until it was the most pleasurable thing I could imagine ever happening to me.

My dislike for church and its goings on didn't let up during this time. As a "wolf" at the ages of 12-15 I felt like I belonged even less there, and wouldn't bother really affiliating with anyone unless I had to. It wasn't as though I didn't want friends, more so that I felt like these children who only ever seemed to discuss sports would have absolutely no capacity to understand my world.

Around the age of 15 however, something happened.

Part II

I found myself in a small group at my church, with other kids who didn't quite seem like the others. They weren't my level of strange in the least, but they at least liked video games and had played some of the ones I'd enjoyed in the past. I was able to get along with them and therein, take interest slowly in discussions we were having about the Bible.

I found myself then going to extracurricular church activities where we met at our youth pastor's home, played video games, and then broke off into small groups, and my interest began to grow even more. Church steadily seemed less obnoxious, and I started to take a little more interest in the messages taught.

However, at heart, no matter what anyone said, I was a wolf. No one was taking that from me, I thought. I would still covet becoming one as my highest pleasure above all else, and my world would remain my own.

At the age of 17, my junior year of high school, I fell into an even stranger world. I met a girl who seemed to fall for me very quickly, and on our second date, she confessed to me that she believed she was a vampire. When I say vampire, I mean the works--fangs, drinking blood, and according to her, having to feed on people. She would bite into me and blood would pour out from somewhere--no visible wounds or signs of anemia, but quite a show nonetheless. She would tell me all of these dramatic stories about fights with other vampires and creatures of the night she had, and some of them would even be acted out over the phone with me as though they were actually happening. Gullible as I was, I believed two things: One, if I left her then she would probably drink my blood dry and kill me, and two, all of this was real and me being a freak of nature myself, I would probably be alone forever if I left anyway.

This terror I was now seemingly bound to forever drove me to my Bible even more than having just found decent human beings to call friends at church. I read scripture almost every night and prayed, and I found that I enjoyed it. It brought peace and joy to me, and most importantly, made me finally begin to start questioning all of the things I was doing. Not heavily right away, no; my identity and "dream" was far too important for that. After church one evening though, feeling particularly strange and perhaps even convicted of the life I led, I did something I never thought for even a second I would do: I told my Dad everything.

I was much too afraid to tell him out loud, but I felt compelled to confess it somehow. I wrote out a letter on my computer to my Dad, and told him to come upstairs to read it. In it I described my identity, what I had been doing and trying (while conveniently leaving out any details pertaining to my girlfriend),  and I sat and cowered in fetal position on my bed while he read it. After a moment or two of silence, Dad turned to me and I sat up.

He went on to calmly, gently explain the concept of buffet Christianity--Taking what we want out of scripture and leaving out the rest. I got what he was implying to me then, but I wasn't sure I agreed at the time. He simply said after the fact that he believed if I were to pray about what I was doing and seek God, then I would likely find I was in the wrong. He didn't sit and say I was wrong, or lock me out of the internet forever, or really punish me in any way. He just told me the truth.

I had never felt more relieved in my entire life up to then. I knew then that my Dad still loved me even though he didn't understand or even agree with what I was doing at all. Even better after that, he didn't treat me any differently. He would still drop me off at school reminding me "whose child I was (God's)," and just randomly saying he was proud of me just because I was his son.

I have a great father. On Earth and in Heaven.

It wasn't much longer after this, maybe two months or so that I felt led, if not even compelled to break up with my girlfriend. I knew that I had to leave her world behind, despite not wanting to leave mine just yet. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but it brought freedom and joy I had never known before.

A couple months later, I finally gave up my identity too. I felt God give me the peace and understanding I needed to give up the idea that becoming a wolf, or being one in mind and spirit was something I had to have. For the first time in my life in May of 2008, Jesus was truly real, and He was enough for me. It wasn't much later after that I started this blog.

Closing Remarks

After my rededication to my faith in Jesus, or perhaps what was my true conversion, I found that I still wrestled immensely with that fantasy of just becoming something else in general. For a time I despised wolves--the sound of them, the look of them, the mention of them all made me cringe. As it is now I love them, and in a rather different way identify with them, and can do so separated from the guilt and shame of the lusts and identities I had held so closely in my younger years. The fantasy itself of transformation is to this day a battle that I deal with and it is still an ongoing war that I hate, but by the grace of Jesus I fight, and have others around me to help me do so.

So, as long as this story is, what does one gather from it? I would say to you, reading this, that if you seek Christ, the true Christ of the Bible, He will meet you in your mess. He will receive you as you are, and give you the grace, love, and peace you need far beyond any semblance of those things that you could make for yourself. He will defeat your sin, and save your soul from Hell's grasp. He will not leave you alone, but instead guide your heart into new, abundant life where you will walk with Him and know Him intimately as an excellent father and your closest friend.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.