The Gift of LoveHow should you respond to such a great love?
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Life before Jesus
Life before I received Christ was a constant cycle of anger, aggression, and disappointment. I was raised in a family that showed little affection, constant belittling and getting the point across by aggression. I am sure my parents loved me but very seldom heard it or felt it from them in a positive way. I grew up feeling weak and humiliated and felt that I had to become strong like my parents wanted by acting the same way until I at least graduated from school. As a teenager I would tell myself that I would never act and say the things I witnessed growing up to my wife and kids. I would treat my family with love and respect, giving them positive motivation and ensuring that I would not break them down and disrespect them in front of others. I was wrong.
I graduated high school and joined the military to get away from home only to find myself doing the same thing I told myself I would not do. I exerted my will on the men I lead and it worked because it was an environment that showed little emotion and first priority was mission accomplishment by any means. It was during my time in the military that I married my first wife. I tried to live to two separate lives, during work I was hard and unyielding, and at home I was attempting to be kind and understanding. I failed at my home life and I started to feel weak and humiliated on the inside because I knew I had become my parents. That mindset ultimately lead to our divorce and made each and every relationship after that worse.
How I came to Jesus
I came to know of Jesus when I was young. My parents would make my brother and I go to church without them while they stayed home. It was during the sermons I always felt weak and small because I felt something or someone pulling at my heart and in our household you were not supposed to feel like that if you were going to be a man. I kept telling myself that I would know when I was ready to follow Christ. First it would be when I left home, and then it was after I could make my relationship with my first wife work, and finally when I could make myself happy with whom I had become.
Everything finally came crashing down because of the life I was living. I was teaching my kids that it was normal to speak to your spouse in a derogatory manner, to yell to get your point across and to manhandle the ones you love to show them how you feel. At that point in my life I was in a relationship with my current wife, Angela. In October of 2006 she finally left me because she saw our son becoming the man I was and she was not going to let him continue that same family cycle I grew up in.
I was finally broken, tired and without hope and I felt that even then I was not ready to follow Christ. How could He forgive someone like me for the things I did to the people I loved? All the anger, guilt, and shame I carried were too much for me to carry any longer.
It was after a softball practice that I was approached by Matt Weinrich; he started a conversation with small talk and then mentioned something about following Christ. I must have looked like I was lost because he then invited me to service that next day.
The first sermon I attended was about carrying baggage and not being able to move forward because we are unable to forgive ourselves. He spoke of how Christ, no matter what sins we committed would always love us and be there with us even when we felt most alone. I felt the same feeling again, the feeling that someone or something was pulling at me heart. My first reaction was to harden my heart, to be tough and strong, but this time when I tried the tears came out. I prayed for forgiveness and for change in my life to be the man He wanted me to be. I felt as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I was not ashamed or embarrassed by my past. I knew then I was not in control of my life, but God was, and He would not ever stop loving me.
Life after receiving Jesus
After receiving Jesus into my heart I went home and called Angela and told her about what happened. She seemed hesitant to believe me, but as the weeks went by she says she could hear a change in my voice and decided to give our relationship another try.
When she came back we started attending church and a fellowship class together. We were baptized together on December 31, 2006 and eventually married the following summer. Things have changed a lot in my life, I feel as if the anger in my heart and soul has been cooled. I now express my emotions to my family the way Christ intended, with love and compassion in my heart. I am becoming the man I want my son to be, the man I want our daughters to marry and man my loving wife deserves to have.
I owe my life to Christ, without him I would still be in that constant cycle of anger, aggression, and disappointment. I know now that He controls my life, that I am never alone, and that through faith in Him good things will come. Things will still happen and life will still be difficult every now and then, but like someone in our fellowship class said, "If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it"!