Just over a decade ago I got hitched to a pretty great guy. We have seen each other through triumph and heartache and he has become one of the most inspiring men of God I have ever known. In honor of Valentines Day I wanted him to share his testimony with
From the Heart of My Husband:
As I sit here wondering where to begin in sharing my testimony, I am convinced that perhaps the best place to start is not a time or a place, but a reason. The reason seems so simple to me now, at 35 long years of age; it is only three words:
I have HOPE.
Simple for me now, or at least – more simple than it used to be, but I have vivid memories of what it was like before I understood that phrase and really felt it was true. The (seemingly) endless years of pain, searching, hurt, and striving. I know each of us has our story, and most of us would probably define at least a portion of it with words like that; I share mine not to complain, not to compare, but in the hopes that perhaps some of you may relate, and through that gain some encouragement in Christ.
I grew up a child of a single mother. Despite all the trials thrown her way throughout life, like my father in prison for my early years and her family mostly far away in California, she was a good mom. I also grew up a child of a legalistic religion – one that places ultimate importance on your actions and the eternal rewards of those actions (be good in this life and you will have a rich reward). I moved 16 times before I was 14 and was an only child until my mom decided to adopt two of our distant relative’s kids from a bad situation. Suffice it to say my early life supplied plenty of reasons for angst and confusion about identity and did not include any stable friendships to anchor me to truth.
By 17 my subconscious began to realize that no matter how hard I tried, I would never live up to the standards I was being compared against both internally and externally. I wanted to be good enough, but I had no hope of achieving it. In that year I broke emotionally; my recurring thought and mantra became: “If I can’t do it right, then I am darn sure gonna do it wrong.”
In the 4 years between 17 and 21, I accumulated a pile of sin so impressive it haunts me to this day. I have many times heard sin defined as “falling short of the glory of God”, and I lived that truth every day in that time to an extreme. Sex and drugs dominated my depressive self-medication. At around 19 I found myself half-way across the country while my family had no idea where I had gone. I found myself wretching violently on the floor of a house with missing windows clad in plastic bags as the methamphetamine I had just snorted carved a burning line down the back of my windpipe (indicating that this particular batch had been cut with something nasty).
I share this now not for drama, but because without understanding a bit of the depths of self-destruction and self-loathing I sat in, wallowing in sin, you would not understand the lengths Christ went to to chase me as a lost sheep.
The moment that spelled the first of a number of turning points in my life was the end of my meth addiction. I also moved home, found work and reconnected with family. I was happy from time to time, but I was in no means joyful. There was that eternal storm cloud hanging over me, reminding me that better was no substitute for good enough.
After a number of other turning points and a return to school at the local community college for a better career, I had the second most defining turning point in my life: At 23, I met my future wife. I knew by one month into dating that I should marry this young woman; at 19, she was paying her own way through school working retail at night with classes each day. Let’s just say that Whitney has always had it a bit more together than I have, my biggest claim to fame is realizing that fact and working on being a better man for her. I was also smart enough to not spill this revelation, considering she was not even dating me exclusively at that point. By the grace of God, somehow we were married around a year and a half later. Throughout that first year of dating, and around the first 2 or 3 years of marriage I worked through years of baggage in various (not always healthy) ways and Whitney modeled Christ-like patience with me. I wasn’t a Christain yet but she knew that I would one day be.
In the year prior to us both graduating college, we attended our first Christian concert together. Being a pastor’s kid (PK), Whitney had been sharing thoughts on Christ and his love for me through the years, but at this concert in a small southern Oregon town, one song by Tenth Avenue North captured my heart. The song, “By Your Side” is written as a love song from Jesus to me, to you, to all of us. There is a set of lines that
So what changed? Why can I now say I have hope? Let me be clear about this: It is NOT because after that meeting with God I suddenly am able to be good enough; I am still a sinner – falling short of the glory of God. What changed is my perspective on what can save me – it is by no means ME, it is God himself. God is enough when I am not, his power saves, and is eternally constant – it is only my opinion of him, my view of him, and who he is that changed. Wiser people than me have said that God is not defined by what people believe about Him, but you can be defined by what you believe about Him.
I choose to believe that God came to Earth to show us how far he is willing to go to meet us in our brokenness, took on flesh to endure our painful world that we may not claim that he does not understand or is detached, and endured floggings, humiliation, and death on a cross to stand in our place and announce us blameless if we put our trust in him, rising again on the third day to conquer death and remove