At one point in my life, I was totally lost, hurt, and devastated. I can’t believe how far I had traveled away from my purpose in life, and how far back I had to journey to find it again.
In 2002, when my friend died of an accidental heroin overdose after leaving my college apartment, I collapsed into a severe state of shock and depression. I lost track of what was real for months after that. I had always thought a little bit of partying was cool. I thought drugs and alcohol were innocent fun. I thought as long as I was succeeding in college, life could be just one big party centered around fulfilling my desires to have a good time. I actually began believing that drugs were a gift from God, because how could they be bad, when I was feeling so absolutely high all the time.
But then when my friend died, I was left in such an empty, alone, and lost place. I felt like a shell of myself, and I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Everything I had believed in was wrong, and I didn’t know how to get to the next stage of my life. I felt like such a liar and failure, and where was I supposed to go next? I knew I didn’t want to go backward, but I didn’t know where the path forward began either.
I was in jail going through trial for my friends accidental death, when a church sign-up sheet slid under the metal door of our churches cell block. I was desperate for anything that could change my life at the moment. I figured I had nothing left to lose. I was looking for any answers as to why I was such a mess, and if God could help me overcome the struggles I was in, I was all for it, so I wrote my name on the sheet.
Later that evening, the jailer came and escorted a group of us to the recreation room where the church service would be held. It had been years since I was in a church service, but I tried to avoid comparing this experience to some of the bad church experiences I had growing up, and I took a seat in the back row, and waited for the volunteers to arrive.
The door to the cell block opened, and in walked an eclectic group of unique souls I never would have thought would have been “Christians” or “Church People.” These people looked cool, and acted like the type of people I would have hung out with on the street. They were going places, and doing things that sounded exciting to me. Except there was one major difference between them, and me: When you looked in their eyes, they had visions of hope, excitement, and were full of exciting ideas they wanted to do with their lives. When they looked at me, I was an absolute mess and just wanted a second chance at life.
As they led the church service, I sat in awe watching them wearing an orange jumpsuit. I had felt so lost and depressed, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. Suddenly for the first time in months, I felt hope and inspired because finally had a new vision of who I wanted to become once I got my life back. As church service ended that day, I remember thinking to myself while looking at those Christians,
“Whatever those people have found, that made them act that way, that’s what I want to build my next life around.”
These same volunteers would come to the jail a few times a week for the next year I was there. The better I got to know them, the more I understood their secret recipe for being such incredible people.
I remember asking them, “How did you become such inspirational people? And how can I do it?”
And they’d respond, “We just follow God in our lives, and he does the rest. We find God through the bible, and we try to measure up to the standard Jesus set with his life. If you see greatness in us, it’s really only because you can see Jesus in us, and it’s his greatness you see. Accept Christ into your life, and he will guide you on the same journey that we are in now.”
It took me 4 months of questioning them about Jesus, but I finally decided, I have nothing to lose, and I accepted Jesus into my life because I didn’t want to feel lost anymore. Once Jesus became my guide, and I had a strong support group of friends around me to hold me accountable, I began to climb out of the horrible depression I was in, and I began the most fulfilling journey of self-discovery, hope, joy, peace where I was able to find myself.
So how do you become a Christian?
Step 1) Find a tribe of Christians who inspire you, and immerse yourself in their community.
Step 2) Accept Jesus into your life; learn more about him through his teachings in the bible; and then follow him with all of your heart. Listen to him, and discipline yourself to find him, and I believe it’s the only way to maximize your potential in this life.
Step 3) Once you’ve begun to find yourself, when the next generation of lost ones enter your world, do your best to lead them to the same answers of self-discovery, hope, joy, and purpose of life that you found when you were lost and hurting.
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