As a child, I attended church with my family and sought to know God better. During the fourth grade, I sought out a mentor to help me earn the God and Family metal as a Webelos scout. After earning the metal, I professed faith as a fourth grader, during a revival service. My family stopped going to church after moving across town, and I started to drift away from God. I still called myself a Christian but did not have a personal relationship with God.
This sentiment continued and even worsened in college, where I started to adopt the idea of a universal God who would accept me if I was good in action and intention and performed the correct deeds. Adopting a universal God allowed me to balance my fear of man and confrontation with a spirituality that was vague enough to accommodate most others. I took a World Religions class that studied the philosophical tenants of major religions across the world, and the idea of behaving a certain way and checking certain boxes was reinforced. I was exposed to a greater pool of examples to pick certain characteristics that I liked from different religions, to form my own personal spiritual outlook. According to this outlook, Heaven was the same as Nirvana and I could mix aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity together and end up in a place that was similar to some form of heaven. As time progressed though, I always felt like I was falling short, in actions and spirit. I kept fantasizing of a better version of myself would be immune to sin cycles and would be much more adept at performing/behaving in a way that would get me into heaven.
I carried this belief into marriage with my wife Jamie, and the scope of my fantasies grew to also include being a good husband and man. In addition to self-help books, I sought affirmation from other men that I was on the right track. Two men who were important figures to me during this time were my wife’s father, Bob, and grandfather, Mark. Both men walked by my side as my father was living overseas and starting a new family. Both men gave me other examples of what a man could be. By March 2013 both men had passed away within 4 months of each other. I looked at my wife and realized that as her husband, I had a much more impactful role to play as the main man in her life. The pressure to be the right kind of man was kicked into overdrive and the search for answers on being a better version of myself was intensified.
During the passing of Mark, my wife’s grandfather, Jamie heard the voice of God and became an instant believer. For the first time in our marriage, she wanted to attend church on a regular basis. She welcomed me to join her but did not require me to do anything. A feeling inside me knew that if she went to church without me, we would start to slowly grow apart, and I didn’t want that. For months I waited for God to speak to me the same way he spoke to Jamie. I yearned for a single big moment that I could point to and tell people about. That moment has not come yet. Instead, the Lord steadily pulled me closer and realigned my heart to him as my savior. He drew my eyes to him and his example for what a man needed to be. Instead of revealing himself to me in a single moment, he has revealed himself to me a little at a time in a constant and consistent pulling.
In September of 2013, I confessed Jesus as my savior and underwent believer’s baptism at Shady Oaks Baptist Church. During this process, I didn’t have all the answers to the questions that were running through my mind, but I had faith that Jesus would continue his work in me. God continued to grow my faith slowly and steadily at Shady Oaks Baptist Church for the next five years. In particular, God exposed the presence of passivity in my heart and has pressed upon me the need to fight against it and fight for his kingdom. Through this process, my heart was drawn to helping other men further their walk with Christ in the men’s ministries. In the last year, God has stirred Jamie’s and my heart and called us to grow closer to him. This calling crystallized most clearly during our 10-year anniversary trip. Before this trip, I had started to yearn for something more, and during the trip, I felt God calling me to journey with him in a deeper way. That journey led me to the Village Church.