On September 12, 2008 something happened to me. My whole life changed. Not only my physical health, but my worldview as well. Not only my goals in life, but my desires as well. I became a Christian in a very interesting way.
I was in a dorm room with my college girlfriend. It was in the evening and we had been fighting all week with each other. She had slapped me in the face, and I had broken her heart. The pain was real. My sin became real. I realized that I was addicted to a hedonistic lifestyle, and I was beginning to go cold turkey from tobacco and alcohol products. I prayed for salvation that night after crying and shaking for an hour. I couldn’t go on living my normal life. I realized for the first time that I was a sinner with a huge need that no earthly pleasure could satisfy.
When I woke up the next day and each day thereafter that week I felt alive. I could see colors more vividly, and all of a sudden I was surprised with the amount of love and kindness that I felt towards strangers and people close to me.
My life started to be rearranged around new routines like church and worship times at the local college ministries. I began to devour the Bible. I seriously read the Bible every day everywhere I went. Lunch break, in the car, on my bed, in the cyber café at school. I wanted to learn everything. I began to be conformed to a new image. There were some downsides to being a new Christian if I can be honest. I was naturally defensive and judgmental towards my former friends and colleagues/teammates. I was naturally withdrawing from social situations because of my fear of temptations. I began to have nightmares of my past sins, and dwelling on those daily perpetuated the problem.
I began to battle in prayer, and those habits slowly faded as I matured and rebuilt friendships and relationships around the new me.
Years passed. Now it’s been 7 years. I want to call it my year of Freedom. I’m celebrating my freedom now. I’m resting this year by pursuing my heart’s desires in music and relationships. I’ve had plenty of struggles since then, and I’ve never been perfect, but this year I have learned so much about forgiving myself and forgiving others.
Here are some amazing events that happened these past few years as a Christ follower:
1. Ministered to thousands of people in Spanish and English all over the globe
2. Ministered to my own family whenever I saw a chance and saw my friends become Christians
3. Studied for 2.5 years in seminary
4. Led a men’s ministry and multiple bible studies
5. Began to build a music based ministry
6. Served as an FCA sponsor for 4+ years
7. Learned that God’s grace is sufficient for all of my needs
8. Became the head swim coach for a state ranked high school team for 3 years
9. Competed nationally in military armed drill against West Point and Texas A&M
10. Opened the stage for the Christian rap legend R-Swift.
Honestly, there are so many stories I could share about miraculous events that have happened in my life. I think that every day that I wake up sober and happy is a miracle.
I praise God for these past 7 years. My little blog post doesn’t do Him justice. My life is not even enough to give him the fullness of his glory, but he lets me follow him anyways.
Just know it’s all grace upon grace upon grace from your friend, Pilgrim.
This photo is from when I was an Army ROTC cadet on a National Collegiate Drill Team called the “Blue Ridge Rifles”. This photo was taken a month after I became a Christian.