If You're Reading This, It’s Not Too Late
Though I find it easy to bleed out parts of my story as an offering of what Jesus is doing in my life, there are chapters seemingly unmentionable. I struggle with communicating the periodical brokenness I feel around things related to physical intimacy. Like many children, I grew up with little to no supervision. Subsequently, much of my youth was spent trying to gain the respect of older kids. It was there, a teenager 7 years my senior (I was nine) held me down for three long years. Sometimes I tried to resist and others I did not. Eventually he perpetrated a cat and mouse type game and began hunting me like a predator. Posted up near one of the school yard exits, he waited for me after school. Taunting me with names in front of others or trying to walk me home when no one else was around, he was a bully I couldn’t seem to shake.
With time, he became more aggressive - so did I.
Due to a myriad of issues I was on a first name basis with my elementary school principal. Whether getting detention because of running my mouth, or getting licks for punching a classmate in the face (He was making fun of my “crusty old mom” who was actually my Grandma who wore a breathing apparatus and walked with a wheeze…). Let’s just say I spent a lot of time in James’ office. But it seemed no matter how hard I fought, I couldn’t fight my abuser off of me. When I could no longer resist, and after growing weary, it got worse. Tired of lying to teachers about bruises, I stopped fighting and gave in to his demands. With no hope in sight, I slowly began to enjoy his advances. Unlike my parents, he was present. Starving for attention, he fed me well.
Simultaneously, I felt wanted and worthless.
Spending time with my molester, I grew into a preteen. Wooing me with video games and pornography, I began spending the night at his house on the weekends. His parents didn’t seem to mind I was notably younger. As a homeschool kid, he didn’t have much of a social life outside of terrorizing mine. Threatening my grandma and me with murder, he intimated me by saying: “If you tell anyone, you’re as well off as dead. I’ll kill you and your grandma.” With a childhood flashing before my eyes, I made a vow of secrecy. Then, when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.
One evening while staying the night at his house, everything changed. After everyone in the house had gone to sleep, and we were tuckered out from playing Street Fighter II Turbo Edition, he made His move. While my head was being forced into his groin, she walked into the bedroom.
She saw everything.
We were nude.
I was freed.
“You little f*ggot, we dont do that in this God fearing house. If you tell anyone what’s been going here, I’ll tell the whole neighborhood how much of a little f*ggot you really are.”
Although it didn’t seem like an answered prayer then, looking back I see God’s grace.
Labeled with a false identity, I questioned my sexuality. Once again manipulated by authority, I trusted no one. Convoluted by experience, I had a hard time seeing God’s people in His image. Instead of telling, I kept quiet. To cope with the silence, I picked up bad habits. I threw myself in to religion and tried my best at performing my way into righteousness. If I could figure out what church leaders wanted, I thought, maybe I could be welcomed. Longing for acceptance, I became a lot of things to a lot of people and in the process, lost myself.
I struggled with my feelings. Not quite understanding the emptiness inside, like a square peg forced through a round hole, I used food, pornography, drugs, alcohol, social status, money, and whatever else I could get my hands on. None of it worked. Whether devoting time to bible studies, leading church teams, or foreign missions, I still felt empty. In typical addict behavior, I increased the intensity and frequency while trying to fill the void, yet never could. Fast forward through life and the highlight reel previews counselors, therapists, psychologists, inpatient rehabilitation and intensive outpatient treatment, churches, hospitals, cognitive behavior therapy, and anonymous programs; but none of those solutions fixed me either.
It took navigating 20+ years of addiction and hollow religion to meet the real Jesus.
At the end of myself, He made himself known. But like a dog returns to its vomit, in times of sickness, I can go back to old ways (Proverbs 26:11). Even though it looks similar to my previous way of life - if you look closely - you will see Jesus is changing me, barf stains and all. Because unlike before, today, I write with a clean concious. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, I confess my transgressions freely. Where I was once slow to ask for help, I now cry out in moments of need. Hesitant to let others in, I now express genuine vulnerability. With disregard for reputation, I repeatedly attempt walking in humility.
I am grateful for a church home who has welcomed the most broken version of myself I have ever experienced.
Thank you to those who helped me flush drugs, enabled passcode restrictions on technology, and with each setback, gameplanned how to move forward. Thank you for sitting in the struggle with me and reminding me I am not my past. Though the days may look similar, Jesus is writing a new story in my life. It hasn’t been on my time table and it definitely hasn’t looked the way I wanted it too. Nevertheless, it is a new story with many new beginnings.
If relapse is part of your story…
If breaking habitual sin patterns has been difficult…
If failed expectations have lead you to places of resentments and discontent…
There is still hope. Because In Christ, we can recover, sin can be defeated, and forgiveness can be received and given. As the scriptures declare:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. 7 And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].
8 Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. 9 The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9 (AMP)
Unlike Drake’s Mixtape, If You're Reading This It’s Too Late; If you're reading this, it’s not too late because your story is not over!
In Your Corner,