My freshman year of high school my father had an affair with a woman at church. She was from a family we had shared a pew with. It tore our family apart. I hated church. I hated God. I hated anything that had to do with Christianity. I was adamantly opposed to it because of the experience I had. I began to be physically/sexually involved with women. I was into drugs, mostly smoking marijuana, as well as experimenting with other types of drug abuse. My religion went no further than my attendance at an Episcopalian high school. The school was very legalistic and traditional. Most of my education consisted of learning how to hide the wrong things I was doing. I thought I was having fun. If you had asked me if I was a Christian, I would have said yes. At the time, I thought because I was born into a church, I thought all it took was being familiar with the idea of Christianity.
October of my freshman year a man named Jason Morris sat down with me and shared the gospel. He said, “Hey, man, do you know what it means to have a life with Jesus Christ, to walk with him?” My first answer was yes. After a couple of weeks of hanging out with the people in this ministry, I realized I wasn’t the same. There was a bitterness and darkness inside of me that I couldn’t explain. I didn’t know what it was. I just knew I was different from them, and they were different from me. I had to go to Jason and say, “You asked me if I know what it means to have a life with Jesus. Yes, but the truth is, I don’t have it.” The funny thing was that he said, “I thought that was the case.” He then told me that I had to invite Christ into my heart.
It wasn’t a magical experience. After I prayed what Jason called the sinners prayer, there was still some bitterness, and there was still some desire to live my old lifestyle. What really changed my life was the continual investment into scripture and into God. That was what changed my heart. I first noticed it when I was talking to someone about my father.
My bitterness toward Dad really influenced my attitude toward God. My mindset was, “If my earthly father lied to me for the seven years, he had the affair, and he is now married to the woman, now fifteen years later, I’m being told to build my faith around a heavenly father?” This skewed my view of God, but as I continued to invest in God, February of the following year, the feelings of bitterness began to break down. I remember telling Jason, “I’m not angry with my father anymore. I no longer want to call the man and cuss him out.” This had been the desire of my heart for so long. I really wanted to call him and say, “I’m sorry for what I had done.” Months earlier if you’d asked me I wouldn’t have admitted to have done anything wrong. The truth is, as I’m learning how God and the gospel affect my life, I’m realizing we’re all broken. That was a huge moment that made me want to call him and say, “I’m sorry for the way I treated you. I forgive you of all the wrong.” I could do this because God had forgiven me of all the things I had done in my life.
That was the gospel living out inside of me. I invested in God, so from the inside of me came God’s love. To call Dad wasn’t immediately easy, but I had an overwhelming desire to do it. We’re still working on our relationship. We’re doing wonderful. I now have a great relationship with my dad and his wife. I have forgiven them, and I love them both so much. That was the moment that I realized it had to be Christ in me because on my own I had bitterness and anger toward my dad. I really didn’t like him. All of sudden I felt joy and a desire to call him say, “I’m sorry. I love you.” I had to let him know that I was there for him. That’s the understanding of Christ. No matter what I did, God loved us, and He was still there for us.