Perfectly Imperfect Christian
Permission To Be Negative
What is the first mental image that pops in your mind when you hear the word, negativity? Is it a person, place, thing or circumstance? To me, it used to be things and circumstances. However, to my girlfriend, her children, friends and co-workers? It was me.
As I look back, there wasn't anything right or good in my mind. I was as self-proclaimed "victim" of all things bad. Whether it be my failed marriage, my financial trouble, my relationships or my unhappiness of my career. It was someone else's fault for my failures and frustrations. The first to argue and the last to stop. I continued to spiral downward to frequent use of alcohol and strong suicidal thoughts. No one wanted to be around me. Not even me.
Where did this start? I have started to learn more about the "sins of the father" and how tradition seems to be carried down not only through family traits or thinking, but even through DNA. I am no expert in this area, but there has been extensive research on this topic. In my case, this clearly came from my mother's side of the family. My grandfather was a hard working man. He was a World War II veteran who optimized the term "blue collar." He believed that if you didn't have an occupation where every day you didn't shed blood, sweat and tears from your job? It wasn't work. A proud man, he knew what he had was earned by his own physical labor. He respected you if you did the same. If you had more and you didn't "work for it"? You were a "sissy" and definitely a target of his negativity. Being an alcoholic contributed to his ornery and bitterness about a society that seemed to have more than he did and worked less hard.
I was amazed when I started reading about how this is carried down. I could see this afflicting my mother's side. This family tradition carried through my mother and rooted itself in not only me, but my sister. Negativity had been a birthright so to speak in my family. It was permissable to be a "victim of society." It's a curse we as a family are doomed by and it will never change, "deal with it." I did, just like my family has done and then took it to a new level. I became the most victimized and negative person the family ever produced.
What followed was a life of hatred and contempt of the world, alcohol abuse, adultry, a divorce of my wife of 16 years, failed relationships and several suicidal moments where I placed a gun to my head. My friends didn't want me around often and even my most bitter family members thought I was "too negative." Maybe you know someone like me? Perhaps you are me?
Stepping Over The Faith Line
I could write a book on my life. What I've done and seen. Life has been very interesting and sometimes incredible. Even being an angry minded person, I've had a lot of proud moments. I've literally saved a couple of people's lives in the course of being a police officer. However, there hasn't been a more life changing event than what I experienced on June 16, 2011 when I gave my life to Jesus Christ.
In short, at the beggining of 2011, my girlfriend became reborn. She totally submitted her life to Jesus. I accepted her for doing it, but didn't respect her for it. Go figure, the woman I finally found that I wanted to be with, changes! Why? Why do you have to be this fanatical and bizarre Christian? Why can't you just be "normal?" What is this "reborn" thing? Why do you have to be "reborn?" I had tons of questions and frustrations with it. Afterall, I was a "Christian." I went to church, sometimes. I believed in God and that Jesus died for my sins. I pictured those to be "reborn" as just an overzealous group of Christians who raise their hands to the sky and smile a lot. That's not "normal" in my book. At least, that's what I thought.
A week prior to June 16th, my girlfriend told me that she was ending our relationship because I was too negative to be around and at times she was finding herself getting pulled back to who she used to be, totally negative. Her giving her life to Jesus and being around me wasn't working. She had to choose and she chose Jesus. I knew before that my life was out of control, but this was the punch in the nose that made my eyes water! God had be pursuing me for years and I hadn't listened. He had been trying to call, but I didn't pick up the phone. Now, He had struck me in the heart and I heard Him!
A friend of mine had introduced me to a non-denominational church which was quite different than my Methodist turned Catholic background. Through him I met the senior pastor, John Fuller. I liked John because he was very inspirational and non-judgemental. I never fully committed going to the church, but I knew I enjoyed it. On June 16th, devastated by my life and now the loss of the woman I loved, I went to John. I felt like I needed "something." What happened from there was the most defining thing in my life. He helped me step over the faith line and give my life to Jesus Christ!
There is a line in the sand so to speak. It's the "faith line." On the one side it is a life that is run by you. In my case, when I was in charge it was a roller coaster to say the least. I drove my life right into the ground. I believe we all do eventually in one way or another. Some just resign to this life. On the other side, there is Jesus. Once you truly step over, you let go of the steering wheel and let Jesus drive. It's can be scary! He may take you on some wild white knuckled rides, but fear not! He will never crash! When you let him take you where you're suppose to be? He will take you on the most beautiful route you have ever seen!
Through my life, I played with the faith line. I did what I called the "Holy Hokie Pokie." I'd put my right foot in and take my right foot out. I'd put my left foot in and well, you get the picture. Contrary to the song, that's not what it's all about.
When I used to think about things as "supernatural" I would envision ghosts or some unexplainable miracle on a large scale. However, God displays His supernatural powers numerous times a day. Some seem to think if it isn't "grandiose", it isn't supernatural. I can tell you that in my own experience, that God's love and power has more awesome by what some consider "subtle."
On the day I gave my life to Christ, it wasn't this earth shattering moment. A bright light didn't appear and angels didn't fly down from heaven with trumpets play beautiful praising songs. Although I felt much better, the only thing that happened to me was that I was drenched in sweat. I apologized and told Pastor John that I don't know why I'm soaking wet. He smiled and said it was the Holy Spirit starting to work inside of me. All I knew was it was immediate and it was profuse!
Shortly after this, Pastor John asked me if I had a "good bible." Jokingly and yet sadly I said, "Yes, it's practically new. It's hardly used and in great shape." He meant did I have a King James Version (KJV) or did I have a New Internation Version (NIV). I didn't know there was a difference, but he showed me that it was easier to read and understand. Since I didn't, he gave me one.
About an hour or so later, I pulled into a parking lot. I don't know why, but I felt the urge to reflect on what had just happened. The bible Pastor John gave me was sitting on the front passenger's seat. I wanted to see how this NIV was better. When I opened it randomly, it was on Psalm 116. What it said was exactly what I just did. I was stunned! I believe God was showing me that He did hear me and He was there for me! It was a confirmation that totally changed my life! There are 2,390 pages in this bible and when I open it, this is where it was. This isn't ironic, this is God!
1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”
5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
A couple of days after this, I was struggling with being insecure about some personal and relationship issues. I was drawn back to my new bible. I immediate opened it up and it was at Ephesians 6:10 which talks about putting on the full armor of God. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment of struggle. Again, it was God's message to me. These verses were my first experience with the supernatural power of God.
It hasn't stopped there. God has shown his love and supernatural powers several times since June 16, 2011. He has taken what seems to be hopeless circumstances and shown favor. What some think is subtle is grandiose when it is your life. Only through supernatural means can Jesus Christ change and heal the heart of someone. There isn't a self-help book on the market or a therapist or anything or anybody that can bring the forgiveness, peace, healing, love and overall total transformation that Jesus can when you ask him into your life.
God's Calling. Will You Pick Up?
As I reflect back in my life, I can clearly see now how God's been calling me or trying to get my attention throughout my life. He gives us a choice to either answer His calls or ignore Him and go on with our lives. How "ironic" is that that even when some of us "sort of" believes, that we go to Him when we or someone in are family is sick or there is some circumstance in our lives that we seemingly need a miracle in order for it to work out? Why do we wait until then?
God wants a personal relationship with you. Does He "need" one from you? No. He exists with or without you. However, He "wants" a relationship with you. He wants you to be apart of His kingdom. When I think about that, all I can say is "wow!" He loves me so much that He desires to have me with Him! He sent His only Son to save you and me so we can be forever with Him! Did you know that if you were the only person on this earth, God still would have sent His only son to die for your sins? If that does not make you think, do you know that Jesus would have died for just you? To me that is remarkable!
I am no better than anyone that might read this. I struggle with might priorities at times and unfortunately put God on hold. It is a choice that I make daily to expand on my relationship with Him. There are times when I don't take His call because I'm on another line so to speak. Many of us get wrapped up in this world and say, "Just a second God. I'll be right with you." However, what if it were Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Donald Trump or some other multi-billionaire calling you wanting a personal relationship with you. They wanted you to spend the rest of your life with them. They wanted to give you abundance, shelter you and love you. Would you answer that call? Probably an "no brainer" huh? Of course you would! It's funny because God is richer. He has things far more valuable than money could ever buy, but we put Him on hold. Sometimes, we don't answer at all.