Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Little Bit About Me

Ok.  If you have been reading my blog, then I felt I should tell you a little bit about who I am.

I was raised with parents that were believers, but we weren't always faithful at going to church.  I remember when I was very young that my parents were separated and my dad, brother and I would walk to church.  It was a LONG haul.  We didn't have a car, but we would go to church walking up Colby Lake Rd and down Grand River to the First Baptist Church of Laingsburg, Michigan.  Eventually my parents got back together and we moved to Shaftsburg.  There were a couple of years that I don't think we went to church at all.  One church  that was only a couple of houses down my grandparents had been a founding family of.  I know beyond a doubt that my Granny Hadley was praying for us all this time.  If you are praying for your grandkids, then believe me God will answer those prayers.

When I was in late elementary school we began to go to Community Bible Church.  I had already accepted Christ as my savior through a release time program put on by a local ministry.  When I was in middle school my Uncle John baptized me at the Perry Baptist Church.  You would have thought I was heading in the right direction.  I still had so much to learn, before I would truly embrace my Savior.

God has gifted me with a great intellect.  I am a pretty bright guy.  I am not saying I necessarily have a lot of common sense, but I am pretty good with book knowledge.  When I entered adolescent I began to doubt all that I had been taught since my childhood.  At some point I became an agnostic.  I didn't believe all this God stuff, but I believed that religion was helpful to live a good life.  I had a sort of it can't really hurt kind of attitude.

I think I was a junior in high school when we stopped going to Community Bible.  It was then that we began to attend Graham Church.  They have a dynamic youth ministry led by a good man, Brian Knight.  Early on they were having a college tour.  I signed up at the last-minute, and we set out to visit Grand Rapids of the Bible and Music, Grand Rapids Baptist College, and Moody Bible Institute.  I was even now still an agnostic.  I could not make my brain believe all this God stuff.   To me it just seemed too improbable.  To me it seem more likely that all this was just something that people had made up to make sense of the world.  The creature had created the creator.  It sounds insane to me now.

Even though I was stuck in my unbelief I decided I should go to Grand Rapids Baptist College, which is now known as Cornerstone University.  I don't have an exact date or time, but I began to read writers like C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell.  It was then that I was confronted with evidence that could not be denied.  At sometime during that first year at Cornerstone I finally believed what I had been running from my whole life.  I also met my first wife.

Near the end of my first year, my parents split up.  My new-found faith was shaken to the core.  I was thrust into choosing sides and hadn't the spiritual resources to weather the storm.  I thought I would find the answers in my first wife.  We had become engaged at that time, and were spending every moment together.

I have always been extremely insecure.  My dad could be very cruel and I never felt like I was good enough.  I felt the same way about God.  I never felt like I was quite good enough for God.  I always felt I had too many dark secrets to ever earn his favor.

I had some time away from Cornerstone due to the military and other such things.  While I was staying with my dad, I worked with the middle schoolers at Graham.  I felt like I had found what God wanted me to do.  My first wife and I had broken off our engagement sometime before that.  Suddenly, one day she called and wanted to reconcile.  I was broken and insecure.  I really felt like she was the only person in the world that would ever be able to love me.  I ran back to her.

I returned to Grand Rapids the following fall.  I remember those first few weeks in Grand Rapids sleeping in my car.  I would park in one of the student parking lots and hope that security wouldn't catch me.  I was able to find an apartment.  My ex-wife and I then set about to plan our wedding.  At some point our relationship became sexual.  We were ashamed that we had let that happen.  We could not live with our sin.  We eloped in October.  We were set to be married in December.  The night that we eloped I lost the job I was working, and my head was set spinning.

We weren't married very long and my wife became pregnant with my son.  We were only 20 years old, and had no idea how our life was about to change.  By this time I had changed my major to youth ministry.  This was the first of many such changes.  About the time that our son was born we became involved with a Church plant in Caledonia Michigan.  The pastor had come to chapel at school and I felt that this is what God had for us.  I was going to run the church's youth ministry.  Here I am a 20-year-old with no idea about the world, and God was trusting me to lead young men and women to him.

I struggle with lust.  I suppose I am like many other men.  I was working at security for Cornerstone, and when I was alone in the middle of the night I started to look at internet pornography.  I knew that my outside didn't match my insides and I was sick with shame.  I was a man carrying a heavy burden, and my new wife could since it.  I was exposed.  I finally came clean to her and it devastated her.  I was so ashamed that I walked away from the youth ministry that I had been leading.  I didn't know how I could stand there and teach these kids if I didn't have my affairs in order.  We continued to attend the church, but I was no longer involved with the youth.

When you are the only couple among your friends with a child it kind of isolates you.  My wife had stopped going to school to take care of our son, and began to feel desperately lonely.  I would work evenings at UPS and then I would work midnights as campus security.  All of our friends had single life to worry about and we were left alone in a strange place.  She decided that she needed to move home.  I could not bear the thought of my son moving to Ohio without me, or the idea of failing at marriage.  I decided to join her.

When we first moved my ex-wife insisted on attending the church she had grown up in.  I was not comfortable with that and so we never went.  I never suggested any other options I just refused to go.  Our relationship was already at this time very strained and it wasn't going to get any better.

We decided to buy our own home in Warren.  At some point we decided to go to NorthMar Christian and Missionary Alliance Church.  I was attending Kent State Trumbull, and had change my major at least three times by now.  I would sit in church and God kept speaking to me.  I just continued to tune him out.  The only verse that I could remember was "Seek First".  I kept telling him he had the wrong guy.  He had to be wrong about me.  He could not possibly use me.  I was too broken and too fallen.  I was a horrible husband and man.  How could God use me?

At some point I yielded.  I finally gave into that inner voice that had been calling to me all those years.  I enrolled in an online degree completion program through Crown College.  It was a CMA school and I truly believed that God was calling my wife and I to become Church planters.  In the meantime, we had our daughter.  I had only about one year left to complete when my wife dropped a bombshell.  I had just returned from a military training exercise in Panama, and she said she wanted out.  I had 7 years of hurts that I had bottled up.  I had never been completely honest with her, about ways I felt she had failed me.  They all came out in one tsunami of emotion.  To this day I am not sure if she were being honest or if she was bluffing to get me to become a stronger man.  It didn't matter.  I set out on a path that would make reconciliation absolutely impossible.  I would call just to tell her all the wrong that she had done to me over 7 years.  I should have been speaking the truth all along, and I would have never had so much to say.  I am certain that our marriage would have been a lot healthier had I done that.

I had a good friend that was a pastor at our church.  He counseled me in how to handle the disaster I was in the middle of.  I could not believe what he was telling me.  He was telling me keep fighting.  He said that I should not just throw in the towel, but that I should seek to be reconciled to my wife.  I set about to do just that, but in all honesty, my heart was never in it.  All of my attempts at reconciliation were half-hearted.  After a year in Iraq, we were divorced.

I had already dropped out of school by the time all this happened.  I once again had conceded that I was just too screwed up to be of any use to God.  He had to have been crazy.  I had wrapped all of my self-worth and confidence up in my marriage.  When it fell apart I stood holding nothing.  I could not stand to pray.  I could not stand to be with God's people, and so I ran.  Truthfully, I sprinted away from God.

My life began to enter a downward spiral.  My ex-wife told me I would never finish my degree.  I was determined to prove her wrong.  I began to take more classes, than I could possibly handle.  I also at this time had forsaken God's people for my fellow veterans at the VFW.  It was right up the road, so after I had drank too much and wasted too much time I could simply walk home.  Between the drinking and school, my attendance at work began to suffer.  I was eventually fired for my attendance.

I was completely at a loss.  I had child support to pay and no idea how I would do it.  I tried selling insurance.  BAD IDEA!  I was absolutely horrible.  I couldn't fire insurance in a forest fire!  I failed miserably.  Cut off notices began to pile up.  I continued to spend my evenings at the VFW.  During all this, I met my wife.  This was a disaster waiting to happen.  By this time my gas had been turned off and I had taken to living in one room of my house with an electric heater.  These were desperate times.  I still refused to seek God.

One evening 7 years ago, I returned from Akron to my home in Warren to find that my electric had been cut off.  I pack up a bag and drove to my wife's apartment.  I told her I have no where else to go, and I moved in.  I never asked if it were okay.  I never even apologized for thrusting myself into her and her daughter's life.  We never had a real chance to get to know each other, and here we were living in the same tiny apartment.  I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I just didn't care and didn't see any other options.

We lived together for several years, until four years ago we got married.  I had spent so much time blaming my ex-wife for my first divorce, that I continued the same bad habits in my second marriage.  I just could not see why I has failing so miserably.  I was so unhappy, because nothing ever seemed to get better.  After the disaster following my first divorce, I didn't even feel I was capable of making good decisions.  I let my wife make all the decisions for me.  Even if I didn't agree with her decisions I just let her make them.  It was easier than facing my own failings.

Sometime ago, I felt something horrible was about to happen.  I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I knew that if I didn't say something, then my family would be destroyed.  I chickened out.  I kept my mouth closed, and everything that I thought would happen did.  My world has been shaken to its very core.  I spend days just hating myself for being such a coward.

When everything came crashing down, I could finally see where I had went wrong.  I have turned back to God.  He is the only thing that makes any sense to me right now.  When I am scared of being alone, he keeps me company.  When I don't feel like I can face another day then he lifts me up.  He is the only thing that is holding me together right now.  I have prayed more in the last two months than I have my entire life.  I have read more of my bible than I even did when I was in Bible school.  I desperately want to seek his will for my life.

I have decided to heed the counsel I received in my first divorce.  I am desperately trying to rescue my family.  Even when everyone around me is telling me to walk away, I have to follow God.  I am constantly meditating on Psalm 1.  I do not want to walk in the counsel of the ungodly.  I want to please God.  If I do not please God, then I will never find peace.

I don't know what God has for me.  I don't know the plans he has for me.  I do know that a couple of months ago he laid it on my heart to start this blog.  I resisted.  I didn't think there was anything that I could offer to anyone.  I am a failure as a husband.  I am a failure as a father.  What could I possibly offer to anyone?  All I know is that God has laid this on my heart, and I have to follow his leading.  I can not afford to continue to do things my way anymore.  My way is failure.  I don't have the strength to be all the man who God has called me to be.  I should stop trying to go it alone.  He has promised to be with me.  Why would I try all this on my own?

 

Well I just thought it would be helpful to give you a little background info.  I hope it helps you to see where I am coming from.  God Bless.

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