Growing up I didn't have a very personal view of God. I did see God as the creator of the world. Although I didn’t fully understand, growing up, I always her Jesus died for my sins. Growing up I really struggled with a very negative view of myself. I never took criticism very well. For example, in sports, if the Coach would say, “You need to be bigger, faster, stronger.” I wouldn’t take that as somebody telling me to work harder. I would take is as, “Oh man, I’m not good enough.” I would play it over-and-over again in my mind. That led to some bad struggles with depression growing up.
I’m originally from Shelbyville Tennessee; but after the fifth grade my family and I moved to Columbia, Missouri. That was a whole different world compared to Shelbyville, Tennessee. A whole different culture. I lived there throughout middle school and my freshman year high school. It was some of the roughest years of my life. I got picked on for being from the South. I was always known as a quiet kid. I really started isolating myself from other people, closing myself off to any relationships. My struggles with depression got a lot worse. I had struggles with low self-esteem. During that time it was the worst it’s ever been. I didn’t really have any real friends during this time. I just didn't know what to turn to. I really couldn’t find anything good within me. I guess, at a very young age I realized how broken I was; how broken everyone really is. I just didn’t now what to turn to.
After my freshman year of high school my family moved back to a little town outside of Chattanooga called Soddy Daisy, Tennessee. Not too long after [moving back] I started school. One of my good friends told me about this really awesome ministry called Student Venture. It was the high school ministry of Campus Crusade [for Christ]. He and a couple of other people ask me come check it out. I was, like, “Yeah, yeah. I'll check it out.” I started going to their meetings every week. It was at these meetings that I heard the true gospel for the first time. I heard people share their testimonies. People who had struggled with drugs and alcohol, bad relationships, violence and anger. People who had struggled with all these different things. They were being really honest and authentic about it. They were also talking about how their personal relationship with God had completely changed them. I had never really heard of a personal relationship with God before. As I said earlier, I saw God as kind of distant.
The Director of Student Venture was speaking that night about facing the giants in your life. He was comparing our struggles to giants, like the bible story of *David and Goliath. He said, “Under our own strength there is nothing we can do to slay those giants and overcome them. It’s only by trusting God, giving our hearts to the Lord. Trusting that Jesus died on the cross for us, and took the punishment for our sins, so we can overcome those struggles, and have a new life. That night, in my heart I prayed to receive Christ. From there my life started changing. God started changing me in ways that I never could imagine would have happened. I started opening up a lot more. I started coming out of my shell. I began changing the way I looked at life, the way I viewed myself, the way I viewed others. Everything started changing.
*I Samuel 17, Holy Bible