Setting my priorities
The life I led was entirely based upon selfish desires. I wanted the most I could get with the least amount of effort. Gratification and euphoria became my Gods. I chose friends who would not complain about my conduct while helping me achieve my goals of seeking pleasure-- the way I liked it of course. It always had to be my way. I was a taker. This lifestyle produced no benefit toward myself, my family, or my friends. Seeking temporary pleasure had a cost. My body, mind, and soul, paid the expense. Everything within me grew darker and darker. I began to realize through--trial and error--I was stuck. I tried to change, but everything in me refused to cooperate. I was force fed help a few times, but I was not interested in any help; it fell on deaf ears. However, I finally opened my ears after trying repeatedly and failing to change on my own. I learned my way did not work. I sought help and listened to some instruction. I had to become ready to take action. As a child I went to a church, but it bored me to tears. Little good came out of it. People seemed fake and guarded. Seeking help through a 12 step program, I was introduced to God. I began to make seeking God a priority in my life. Prayer felt empty in the beginning. I was told to keep doing it anyway.
I changed my friends, I changed my activities, I began seeking God, I began serving people, I became more honest and responsible. Everything was changing very fast. I was being transformed into something I did not know, which was confusing and a bit scary. I kept trusting God would make everything alright and He did. Some days it felt like my insides were being ripped apart. Trusting God was a test of will and strength. Everything in me was screaming to end the changes and adjustments--to resume familiar behavior and regain ‘control’--but I held on to God and His purpose.
Around a year through this perseverance of faith I found myself inwardly connected to something unexplainable. I felt this peace and contentment I had never felt before. Loneliness and emptiness vanished. I felt something in me and around me comforting me and protecting me. My faith was strong and love filled my heart; still challenged with emotional pain, but accepting it and feeling it instead of fearing it and repressing it. Everything was right and I was getting closer and closer to God.
College happened. I moved away and my priorities changed. God was still important, but my activities, thoughts, and plans moved onto other things. It only took about six months to lose my connection with the spirit. I began to be very confused about God. Another year later I that sense of emptiness and loneliness returned and had a break down.
A follower of God brought priorities back to my attention. This person had it going on, I mean he was glowing. He had tattoos, long hair, and a foul mouth, but the tears of joy from the peace and love he felt inside as he shared his story reminded me of my lost faith. This gentleman escorted me back to reset my priorities, reset my heart, and reset my attitude. In just a few months my faith was regained. All he did was point to the road I had already traveled; I had just wandered away and couldn’t see it anymore.
Test of faith
Through the next 20 years many distractions have, and continue to, come about. I fall off the path and then quickly correct it. Like a tightrope walker feeling a wobble I stop, reset my focus, and then proceed again. The wobble presents itself in irritability, dishonesty, fear, and selfishness. I was taught that when these crop up to stop, reflect, pray for guidance, listen, and share with someone else who is on the same journey.
Attending church was quite awkward for a long time. I began to understand the Christianese over time. The morals at the church tended to be good. I noticed that outside the church people would act different, like being away from parents or the authority. I was confused, frustrated, resentful, guarded, critical, and slowly now I am coming to peace and acceptance. Most Christians don’t seem to understand God the way I do. Their faith seems to be simple: There’s grace and faith; just believe and everything is great!
Research, Study, Evaluation
Through 14 years of biblical study, a Master’s degree in counseling, and 24 years of personal spiritual adjustment, I am continuing in my faith. Introverted and antisocial, giving myself over to God is making me capable of evangelistic character. Listening to the spirit within me, I take a step each day toward a deeper understanding and improved ability to teach others. I will always have sin to watch out for, I will always have love to build on, I will always have God to trust, and I will always have action to take.