My personal testimony
I learned about Jesus and God early in my life. My parents claimed to be Catholics, along with my grandparents and most of my family. I don't recall much about exposure to God and church from my childhood, but one event continues to stand out in my mind. I remember jumping on a school bus one Sunday morning when I was around 6 or 7. The school bus took us to a youth Sunday school class. I remember the church was white and old, mostly made of wood. It was dark, and most of the light shined through the windows. I only recall attending a few times, and the most memorable time was when the preacher asked if we wanted to get saved. I had no idea what it meant at the time, but I raised my hand for some reason.
The lead teacher took us aside and brought us into a separate room from the other students. I remember feeling scared and unsure of my decision. Our teacher led us through prayer or something we had to recite. I don't know the words, but I do recall the feelings of fear and confusion. I don't know what happened that day, but I will confess that I have sensed right from wrong all my life, and unfortunately, I have chosen to do a lot of evil. But even when I did wrong, I always felt a deep feeling of conviction; however, I never understood what to do with it.
Another memory I experienced as a child was when I attended Catholic Mass with my best friend and family around 8 or 9. I didn't learn much and probably became even more confused about faith and God at the time. At some point in the service, it came time for communion (I later learned what this meant), and as I proceeded to follow my friend, his mother grabbed my shoulder and told me to stay in my seat. At that moment and to this day, I felt rejected. I wouldn't attend church or talk much about the experience of church or God for a long time after this moment. Since then, I now better understand my best friend's mother's intentions and know why she didn't allow me to take part in communion that day.
It wasn't until years later and early in my military career that I decided to learn more about God and faith and start attending church. Most of this motivation came from my sin, failures, and destructive behaviors that resulted in divorce, drunkenness, and horrible decisions, which I made repeatedly. The most consistent of these dangerous behaviors was the choice to abuse alcohol continuously. Alcohol affected me negatively in my teenage years, during college, and in the military. And frankly, it continues to affect my life as a Christian, husband, father, son, friend, leader, and follower.
About two years ago, in early 2019, everything fell apart; mentally, emotionally, and physically. At the time, I would drink seven days a week, mainly during the evenings from the time I got home from work until 10 or 11 pm. And on weekends, I would start earlier and drink longer. On the last night, before deciding to stop drinking, I started with beer, switched over to wine, and eventually ended the night with liquor. The following day I woke up feeling horrible and reflected on the weeks and months when I got so drunk that I couldn't remember most of my words and actions the night before. I thought about the hurt and suffering I put my family through over the past couple of years. Then God came to mind; I felt terrible guilt and shame, and more distant than I have ever felt in my life. At this point, I felt like a stranger in my own home and quit leading as a husband and father.
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Heart Lifts Up and Mind Goes With It
During the course of my most recent struggles with alcohol over the past couple of years, I authored a poem titled, Heart Lifts Up and Mind Goes With It. It is my pleasure to share this poem with you today. Please take time to read and reflect on this poem and know that it is my hope and prayer that it serves as not only encouragement but a reminder and example for what you can overcome through the grace, love, and mercy of our God.
It is also my hope and prayer that this poem serves as a tool for others who struggle like I have and still do, to find trust and faith in Jesus Christ to overcome their addictions or whatever causes them to lose their faith and trust in God and His will. Please invite your friends, family, co-workers, or anyone to visit Faith2Soar.com so that they too can find hope and support amongst a community of faithful believers in Jesus Christ and our living and loving God, our Father in Heaven.
Scroll down to the slide show captured in the next section and enjoy the read. The slide show transitions automatically, 30 seconds for each slide. To go back to the previous slide or advance to the next slide, click on the arrows at the center-left or right of the slide.