Testimonies are a funny thing. Usually people tend to view them as solely a conversion story. “This is when and how I was saved.” But a testimony, it’s so much more.
To testify is to proclaim, to confess, to give an account of the Glory of God in your life. From before you were converted, to after you were converted. It is the tale of how God has worked within your life. The Testimony begun with God’s creation of the heavens and the earth, and will never end. The Overall Testimony is written within the pages of the bible. A testimony is simply our role in this great saga. A testimony is small, but it is glorious, and so I will share mine with you.
My testimony began -obviously- at conception. The thing about me is that I’m a bastard child, in other words, my parents conceived me before marriage. Both my father and my mother have amazing testimonies, but I don’t know much of them, and I wouldn’t have the time to write them down. Anyway, they did eventually get married, and I didn’t figure out I was a bastard child until very recently. It hasn’t really affected me much. The only other notable thing about pre-birth me is that I was almost strangled by my umbilical cord in my mothers womb. The nurse/doctor moved me around somehow and got the umbilical cord from around my neck, and obviously I survived.
The only version of my parents I have ever known are the Christians. They are not perfect Christians by a long shot (but then, no Christian is a perfect Christian), but they do love the Lord, and did a good job raising me, my sister, and my half-brother as Godly influences. Both my half-brother and I are Christians, my sister however is not. My heart hurts deeply for her.
Because of the influence of my parents, I had always considered myself a Christian, my family went to several different baptist churches on and off throughout my life, but we never stayed at one for too long. From a very young age I prided myself on knowing more about bible stories than anyone else in my Children’s Church group. I thought that knowing alot about it made me a really great Christian. I always had nice thoughts about Jesus, asking questions about him and the universe to my parents, I prayed alot, and I thought I knew him, thought I loved him.
As a young child in school, I was what one might call ‘socially retarded’. I did not know how to interact with other people, it seemed to me as if everyone had some sort of manual on how to interact with one another and what to say that I didn’t have. That everyone in the world met up somewhere and held a conference on how to act and what to say, and I was the only one who wasn’t invited. So from kindergarten, to about 7th grade, I tried to figure it all out, I observed people trying to figure out what it was that made them so much more normal than I was. Until around 5th grade I had a nasty habit of refusing to shower for days on end and so I constantly smelled. No one liked me, I was the creepy kid who smelled. I had no idea what to do about it.
Even though I did not know how to socialize like normal people, I still had normal people feelings, and so -for as long as I can remember- I have had an obsession with the opposite sex. I was alone for so long, I wanted to have someone who could see past the socially awkward kid to who I really was. Someone who knew me, and loved me for who I was. I thought that I could find that person in a girl, and so I obsessed over them. I wanted to have a relationship like those in the movies. I didn’t want to be alone.
However, due to the fact that -as I mentioned above- I did not know how to interact with anyone and was considered the creepy kid, when I tried to ‘flirt’ it became dreadfully apparent that I just creeped girls out. Because of this, I began to loathe myself. I was alone, I was the creepy kid with only one or two friends, and it was all my fault. That was my mindset, and it made me ever more desperate for love.
In the eight grade, I signed up for my middle schools drama class. That is where I really started figuring things out. I loved (and still love) acting. It brought me out of my socially awkward shell and gave me great confidence. I could do and say things that made people laugh, and I started to gain friends. However, just as acting was my way out of socially awkward land, it was also the only thing that kept me out. My persona was put on, I began to see more clearly what people liked, and so I began to be just that. I was acting, and so no one knew the real me. I had plenty of friends, but I was still just as alone. Also, my desperation for a girlfriend led me to depraved thoughts, which quickly led to an addiction to masturbation.
I also began having a knack for flirting, and so that is just what I did. I became infatuated with a girl named Katy (this is still in 8th grade) and thought -just as I had done with so many other girls- that she could be the person that would help me with my loneliness. So I flirted with her, but some of my creepiness was still there, and though we were friends, I never stood a chance. This greatly discouraged me, because I was still alone. Also in 8th grade, I met my current best-friend (who is an odd mixture between wiccan, and atheist) Zuriah. I first befriended her in order to get closer to Katy (the girl I liked) but soon she became like a sister to me. I had also been infatuated with another girl by the name of Nicki, and by trying to gain her affections, I dyed my hair black and became more of the ‘scene’ type kid.
Then came my freshman year in high school. Through a series of events I stopped chasing after Katy and Nicki. Unfortunately however, I met a girl much worse. I will not disclose her name, because I am going to be saying some deeply personal things about her. But lets just code name her “Abby”. Abby was a senior and an insane personality -literally. Abby has a very dark history, from sexual abuse, to scoliosis (she has two metal rods in her back that cause her constant pain, and she can’t bend her back because of them), to a series of mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, and acute schizophrenia. Abby is a sado-masochist, which means she derives sexual pleasure from both inflicting and receiving pain. I became more obsessed with Abby than with any other girl I had formerly pursued. She was all I thought about, all I pursued, all that mattered to me. The thing is, unlike any other girl I had pursued before, Abby actually responded with interest. We became close friends (something I wish we still were) but I always wanted it to be more than that. She physically -as well as psychologically- abused me, but I didn’t care. In fact, I convinced myself I liked it -and so became a sado-masochist myself.
Remember how I said I liked Jesus? How I took pride in knowing all the bible stories, and thought that made me a great Christian? Well, Abby was Jewish, and I was convinced that it was my duty to convert her, and I used that as a justification for my depraved actions, saying to myself “I’m doing all these bad things so that she can relate to me, and then I can talk to her about Jesus more effectively.” Of course, that never works, and was just my excuse, but I took it and ran with it. I constantly tried to convert her, all the while drowning deep within my own sin. But I thought no one could blame me, this could finally be it! I could finally find the girl who would know me, and love me for who I was, and I wouldn’t be alone any more! And so I began telling her things about me I have never shared with others, began opening myself up to her, showing her the real me, the one I hid behind my act. It was great, it was wonderful, I was convinced I had finally found the one. So imagine my joy when -during summer break- she told me she had liked me for a very long time! There was a problem however, she had a boyfriend, who she ‘loved’. I ignored this detail though, I was convinced she would eventually break up with him for me, and I could finally stop being alone. So we began ‘talking’ (about things a girl with a boyfriend should not talk about with another guy). One time we had a very depraved ‘sexting’ experience that fills me with guilt to this day. I was plunged in ever more darkness, but I still used that conversion justification, and so I kept trying to convert her. I eventually worked up the courage to tell her I loved her, and she said it back! I was even more convinced this was the one.
However, one night I tried the conversion thing again, and said completely ignorant things. “Your beliefs are wrong, you are stupid, and I will never stop until you are converted.” (Maybe not in those exact words, but something to that effect.) This mistake cost our relationship. She stopped talking to me for over a month, but me -being obsessed- texted her every day trying to get her back. This must work! It has too! God wouldn’t be so cruel as to give me this just to take it away! I had good intentions! Why would he do this to me? Me, me, me. Finally, a few weeks into my sophomore year, she finally texted me back. I had wished she didn’t, because it was an utter verbal slap down. What she said -never to talk to her again, I was the problem, and many other things I can’t write here- made me feel so sick I had to go to the nurses office because I felt like I’d throw up. The nurse said I didn’t have a fever but let me lay down in one of the closed off rooms. I went in, lied down, and began sobbing as silently as I could. It felt like my entire universe was being ripped apart. My very soul being torn to shreds and stomped on. There was a weight on my chest and I didn’t know what to do. I blamed God for it all. When I got home I went into my room and sobbed so much that I ran out of tears, and just began a sort of dry-heaving for hours. Fortunately, no one came into my room during that time. For the next few months I became ever more depressed, thinking about death, suicide, not being able to bear the excruciating agony that was my life. I hated God, I told myself I would never stop believing in him, and really I only kept believing in him because I wanted to prove to myself I could. I ‘believed’ in him, but I hated him, I loathed him, he was to blame for my pain, he put her in my life, it was his fault, and I hated him for it. If it weren’t for his grace, it wouldn’t have been long until I tried to kill myself.
But God is graceful, and he put a girl in my life who is my most beloved friend. A girl named April, who was so bold for Christ she didn’t mind asking me if I wanted to go to her Pentecostal church, and asking, and asking, until I finally went. Church was good for me, I started feeling better, though not by much. After a few weeks going to youth, my mother woke me up one Sunday morning and asked if I wanted to go to a morning service. At first I said no, I was too tired, and she left my room. But I couldn’t go back to sleep, and as I glanced at my bed-side table, I saw my bible. With a sigh I decided I’d go. That morning service was the first I had been to in over a year. We sat in the very last row of seats, and as we were singing a song about freedom, I felt an irresistible need to have that freedom, I wanted out of this agony, and so I went to the alter and sobbed, just so many tears. I cried to God, I begged him to forgive me, I begged him to save me, I came to terms with the fact that I was to blame, it was all on me, and I could not stop pleading for him to save me, to forgive me.
Freedom. Something I had yearned for, something I had considered killing myself to attain. It was given to me on that day, freedom, the song had new meaning, and I sang with tear filled eyes.
All my life I had felt alone, I had a deep desire for someone to know me, someone to love me -not the person I acted like- but me. I searched for it in girls, in Abby, and it left me crushed. Now, this friend, this father, this beautiful, glorious God had me. I am known, I am loved, I have God as my dad. I will never be alone again.
That isn’t to say I didn’t still struggle with the affects of my ordeal with Abby, I still do to an extent. I also still struggle with masturbation, I’m still a sinner, but I’m free, I’m known, and I’m loved, completely and unrelentingly.
The rest of my sophomore year I was still very much inappropriate, but now I was striving to overcome that. For the first two years after my conversion, I was an Armenian. Recently, I’ve become reformed in my theology, and that has led me into much sanctification. God has changed me completely from the person I was. I talk with Abby every once in a while, but there isn’t any real friendship there. I am going to be a pastor after college.
That reminds me, God has drawn me to a college in Columbia, SC ( about forty minutes from where I live) called The South Carolina School of Leadership (SCSL) and that place -and those people- have changed my life so much. At their ‘experience weekend’ both this and last year, I have experienced God in such a powerful way. That is where I will be going, God is so present there.
My friend April is now married, graduated, and living in Seattle. I try and declare the Gospel as much as I can -but I still struggle with it. Every day God draws me ever closer to him, deeper into our relationship. I don’t feel the need for a girlfriend any more, for ‘the one’ because Jesus is the One, the only One.
This is only part of my testimony, but it was all orchestrated by God. He planted a desire in me for something only he could fill. He kept me from suffocating in my mothers womb, He used my parents sin to bring me into this world, He allowed me to screw up, he did all of these things -even allowing the despair- to draw me to him, and I would undergo it all again if I can have him. He is all you need, all that matters, and no amount of despair can challenge that.
I pray for Abby, because I still love her, but in a Christ-like way. I want her to be saved, not for my own selfish gain, but for her, so she can know Christ, the only one who can bring her out of the chaos she lives in. I ask you to pray for her too.
God bless you
If you want some more of the details of my sanctification, click here.