Written by Tim Carey
I felt like all I ever did was screw up. I started to hate myself all over again. I never felt close to God, because I thought He viewed me with the same hatred that I had for myself. Knowing what I know now, I understand that the problem was that I had deeply rooted baggage that simply going to church couldn't fix. Then something happened that changed my life.
Growing up, I had been to more funerals than most people have in a lifetime. I saw 6 family members laid to rest in a 5 year period. I also gave the eulogy at my best friend’s funeral. I remember telling people to not get too close to me, because I felt like everyone I was close to ended up dying. This is when my isolation and depression would begin.
Death would also describe my spiritual and emotional life. I was filled with depression and hatred. Hatred for myself and for the others who made me feel worthless growing up. I wanted so badly to fit in and be accepted, only to be rejected again and again. I always tried to be something I wasn't because I hated who I was. I spent a lot of my time locked in my room not wanting to see or talk to anyone. I put posters up to cover the holes in the wall that I would punch after another day of being bullied. I was in a dark place. My anger was a mask on the outside to cover the pain I felt on the inside. I wanted to change but didn't know how.
As a last resort, I decided to turn to God and return to church. I was still depressed and filled with anger, but wanted something in my life that could fix me. I hoped church could do that for me. I wish I could say that everything changed for me right away but it didn't. I spent the first couple of years of being back in church trying to be a "good Christian." I tried to change my behavior and fix all my sins to make God happy. It was a never ending battle. Every time I'd fix something, two more things would pop up that I needed to clean up. I got to the point that I almost gave up. I thought to myself, how could God possible love such a horrible person?
It was Easter 2004 and my Pastor at the time gave an inspiring message that spoke to me in so many ways. He spoke of how the despair of the Friday when Christ was crucified and hope was lost, turned into the joy of the Sunday when Christ rose from the dead and hope was restored. This message spoke to me because I had lived most of my life with the despair and hopelessness of that Friday 2,000 years ago. It was during that message that I felt God speaking to me and telling me that my Sunday was coming. My hope was coming. My joy was coming. Then, I felt an overwhelming feeling of love and peace come over me that day. It was a feeling I couldn't describe, and had never felt before. The weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. On that day, God never shamed me for all my failures, but He welcomed me with open arms saying "Welcome home, my son."
It’s been 12 years and I have never looked back. God accepted me as I was, and transformed me into who I am. I stopped living with a religious mentality of do's and don'ts. Instead, I live with the love and grace Christ died to give us! Everything changed when I realized that God never wanted my good behavior or good deeds. The only thing He ever wanted from me was me.
While I viewed God as a last resort, He viewed me as His first priority. His love is what saved me. Not rules or regulations, but the love of a Savior who loved me when I didn't even love myself. A love so powerful that it raised me from the dead and turned my darkness into light!
My road to Christ was a long and bumpy one, but God never allowed me to stray further away than His love could reach! He always was there for me even when I didn't recognize it. God started placing people in my life that truly helped me to see what He saw in me. He gifted me my beautiful wife Andrea who in my darkest moments, accepted me for who I was. She saw something in me that I couldn't see buried underneath all the pain. Just like Christ did. Without her, I would have been lost.
My story is about my pain being overwhelmed and taken over by the power and healing of love. God's love. As followers of Christ, we are all storytellers, and this is my story. In reality it's God's story. I'm just blessed to be able to write a chapter in it.
WRITERS GROUP/ GRACE JOURNAL
Part of Grace Church’s heart and mission is to inspire an awareness of the finished work of Christ. We are driven to help others deepen a renewed understanding of the finality of our Savior's sacrifice. As believers, we celebrate and share in the privilege of being an active and significant part of HIStory - The Jesus Narrative. We have been given a unique opportunity to share this narrative with others through insights of a grace engaged culture. Using powerful individual stories collected and woven together with the common thread of Christ, our hope is to display and honor the personal and ardent love that our Savior has for each of us.
It's our sincerest hope and desire to use the Grace Journal as an inspirational teaching tool, a demonstration of a life lived in the knowledge of our identity in Christ, and as a resource for our church family as well as those outside of our church.
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