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Stories of Lives Liberated

Sam

Once trapped in my mind, enslaved to loneliness, and bound to destructive selfishness. Now brought to life, peace, and love that never ends and cannot be stopped.

Who I Was Before Christ:

I grew up in the suburbs and went to public school, where right off the bat I really struggled socially. I was totally lost when it came to interacting with people; I felt alienated and confused. Most of the time I would just retreat into a shell and the rest of the time was spent feeling totally lost in trying to manage conflicts like bullying and “failure to assimilate.” I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder early on and struggled to understand what people meant by such a label. They were trying to help me be more socially comfortable and interactive, in healthy and manageable ways. However, it just made me seem, and feel, more different and more alone. My parents were there and they loved me, even as they do now, but so many experiences left me very insecure and self-isolated from everyone. In High School, this evolved into a craving for acceptance and intimacy; I very much wanted to feel valued. My desperation led me into some unhealthy, sexual, and rather abusive relationships as an approach to fulfill my perceived needs. These unstable relationships collapsed after many mistakes, leaving quite a bit of hurt for everyone involved. It seemed that everywhere I turned left me empty, crushed under shame, and enslaved to a fear of rejection. Between my feelings of worthlessness and stubborn determination to please myself, I was left only with a persistent, crushing bitterness towards just about everything.

What Changed?:

After High School, I had joined the military and was in basic training when I realized my complete lack of self-sufficiency. I felt more isolated and alone than ever. All of my walls were up, but I couldn’t hide. As the Drill Sergeants worked to totally reform my identity, any illusion that I had of control over my life was stripped away, revealing a brokenness and desperation; I could not do it alone any longer. With no strength left, I gave myself to Jesus and told Him to do with me what He would. It was then that I began to rely on Him as my strength; He became my identity. I was utterly empty and He filled me. While I was brought down to nothing, only He was strong enough to hold me up; and not only did He hold me up, He brought me to life. He showed me that outside of the life that He gives, there truly isn’t life. They broke me down to make me a soldier, but in my brokenness truly God made me His son and a soldier for Christ.

Who I Am Now:

Even after that, I was a slow learner in a lot of ways. However, my life began transforming over time, and it was soon evident to me, and to others, that I was not the same person. I began devouring the Bible and learning more and more about this God that had saved me from my self-destruction. I was filled with His perpetual joy and peace, and these now persist even when life is difficult. Learning to interact with others effectively has been a journey, and old habits of anxiety fog my mind every now and again. But God teaches me every day to be more and more comfortable with being boldly uncomfortable. God has led me to a church called the Rock; many profoundly deep relationships have been formed with my brothers and sisters there. For them, God continually impassions my heart and they are constantly being used by Him to pour blessing into my life. In the abundance God has blessed me with, which is beyond threat by any circumstance, I have found myself being used to love and give to others in imitation of this God that loves me. In my new nature, I want to please God because I love Him; that is who I am. I seek to learn how better to serve Him, as I stumble and fail every day. But I rest in never-ceasing grace because of the faith by which I live in Him, as God has forgiven me because of the atoning sacrifice that Jesus accomplished by dying on the cross. Jesus was punished enough for my sins, for which I have deserved to die, and my guilt is no longer mine. My family and I are living proof that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Cor 5:21; NIV)

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