Okay, so when last I posted, I had just dropped the bombshell that I started drinking in the summer before high school started. I know, I know, not much of a bombshell. After all, that's around the time that a lot of teenagers take their first drink or get drunk for the first time. I don't think I noticed anything different than anyone else with those first few parties. I mean, I got drunk, but I didn't think of that as a problem. After all, that's what most everyone at those parties was doing...getting drunk and making fools of each other. We were young and invincible and having fun, right? I remember numerous nights of drunken stupidity, and I even look back at some of those memories with fondness...not because of the drunken shenanigans, but because of the friends I was involved in those shenanigans with. Nights spent around a campfire, nights spent sleeping on a sunbed in the middle of a basketball court stacked two or three high with fellow teenagers, lol. Back then, the drinking wasn't a focus, but a distraction from everything going on around me. Not that I had anything too badly, just that things were different for me in many ways.
I have always been something of an outsider. Even with friendships that I have had for years, there has always been a feeling of not quite belonging. Most of that is mental, dealing with my own issues of not knowing my biologic father. Some of it is an enduring battle with depression, I still fight to this day. You would think that the many friendships I had would have helped those feelings, but anyone who suffers from depression can tell you that that doesn't truly help. The only thing which will truly help depression is to treat the depression. I refused to admit to a problem, though, and the alcohol began to be my treatment. Slowly but surely, my focus started to change. Not in a matter of days, but in a matter of years...
I'm going to take a slight step away from the path here to tell a story about my first brush with Christianity, and one of the main reasons that I turned my back on it for so long. I was a member of a group of kids who hung around at a local church ran youth program. For the most part, I was unfailing in my attendance there. I was a little younger than 15 when I started going, and it was when I was 16 that I turned my back on it. I went to church, I went to youth events. I believed I was a part of something big. One night, I had told everyone that I wouldn't be attending the group because a movie was opening which I wanted very much to see with a group of friends. I ended up being back in town much earlier than I had intended, so I decided to stop in and say hello to the crew. I walked up the steps with a smile on my face and a spring in my step, and walked back down a little later with a broken heart. You see, I was wearing a Metallica t shirt. As I have stated before, I have always had a love affair with music...at that time in my life, I was into Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth, as well as other bands. I walked into that building with a love for God and those around me, despite what shirt I was wearing...and was told by a member of the church, a man who represented the church, that my soul was beyond redemption. Now, I know that it was most likely a joke, but with the problems I already faced...it broke me. I won't blame anyone for my life and the mistakes that I made, but I can say without a doubt that that was a moment which defined almost 20 years of my life. I wanted to tell this story not to complain, not to put down, but to enlighten. As Christians, we are held to a higher standard by God when it comes to how we treat others. We are told to love. Sometimes, as Christians, as well as humans, we need to stop before we open our mouths. Think before we speak. And always remember that WE are not the one who shall decide who is deserving of Gods' love...that judgement belongs to a much higher power than any of us can ever hope to be. Please, remember, everyone is worthy of Gods' love, and it's on us to show a path, not to force, but to lead through love, patience, and understanding. Love is the binding force...if we use it as it is meant to be used, it is also a powerful tool. After all, look at what Gods' love for us accomplished!
I've recently discovered a song that has been a focal point for me in the decision to do this blog in this way. It's by a man named David Crowder, who looks like a hobo, or a redneck, or I don't know what. He's got a long, scraggly beard, usually wears a truckers' cap, and has a love for God that is out of this world, and that comes across in his playing and his passion. I leave you today not with my words, but with his:
Here's my heart, Lord
Here's my heart, Lord
Here's my heart, Lord
Speak what is true