Sunday, January 30, 2022

Faith Like a Child

"Dear God, surround me as I speak..."

 I've been a blogger now for over eight years. I've written many articles that have touched many lives, provided entertainment, and encouragement. What I'm about to write will hopefully be the most profound thing I'll ever write.


I went to a Baptist church when I was a kid. I was baptized when I was 11. At my baptism, I was asked to give my testimony. I regaled a time when I was three years old, my mother taught me how to get into Heaven. She said, "all you need to do is ask Jesus to come into your heart." Three years old. How could I have understood what all that meant? Faith like a child.

It wasn't until many years later that I really became a Christian. I said the prayer many times; confessed my sins many times; asked for forgiveness about a million times, but it wasn't until I was 41 that I learned to surrender, and truly have faith like a child.

I had the benefit of being born into a good Christian home. Not everybody has that chance. But like most children I learned to mute it out after a while. I saw so much good and so much bad at my church. Eventually the bad consumed the good and left me with a lot of bad and uncomfortable feelings.

I've had a hard time with churches my entire life. Youth groups were always hard because of my social anxiety and general awkwardness, but moreover, they were composed mostly of the same kids that picked on me and made fun of me at school. I was always the outcast. In the winter of 1989, my freshman year in high school, our church took a ski trip. My mother insisted I go, in fact, most of my Christmas presents that year were for skiing. I had, not even one friend on that trip. On the ride up, I sat next to the pastor who told me I was talking to him too much and asked me to stop talking. On the slopes, I was all by myself, never having skied before. There were a few seniors that were teaching us to ski.


When we moved to Oregon, there were surprisingly no bullies. We went to a different church every week, searching for the right fit. Eventually I just got so sick of it, I stopped going altogether, for multiple reasons. I've never really started going like we did when I was a kid again.

My senior year of high school, I started developing depression and PTSD from all the bullies back home in California. I started therapy and treatment. That summer after my senior year was the worst summer ever. I had so much anger in me that it prevented me from enjoying myself, enjoying my life. In 2000 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. The definition is confusing, but basically, to me, that means you are more prone to depression vs. manic episodes. Such pain. My life spun out of control; going down, down, down to the eventual bottom. I applied for social security twice, and was denied twice.


I went from job, to job, to job. I'd start, then I'd get fired, sometimes for reasons not even disclosed to me. And I lived all over the place:  with my parents until I was 23, then I got my own apartment. It was the first time I had ever lived my myself, outside of the brief time I did when I was in college.  At 24 I was on a bit of an upswing, so I upgraded my apartment, but then fell flat on my face and had to move back in with my parents. I lived with my brother for a while, before moving back in with my parents. I got another apartment for just under a year, and then moved back in with my parents again. I did not get along with my parents while living with them. There was so much animosity, we were butting heads all the time.

Then one day my counselor reached out to me and said "I think I might have found housing for you." It was a tiny one-bedroom apartment with no amenities. I turned it down at first, but then reconsidered given my options. I moved in and immediately felt free. It was my place and everything in it was mine! The apartment was subsidized by HUD and the rent at the beginning was $3.00. This was based on my income at the time which was $0.00. I was so grateful to get this place. Unfortunately, the problem with jobs persisted. I think I counted about 25-50 jobs in a ten year period.

Then came April of 2015. I was without a job, behind on my bills, and couldn't ask my parents for money, again. I said a prayer, and then I said "I just can't do this anymore. I'm done. I've got nothing left." Well, I found a job. I hated it at first but then I got really good at it and it later led to the job I have now which is the best job I've ever had. All because I surrendered. I gave it to God. And in my mind I was calculating the odds, adding up all the complications and I said to myself "God will come through." I cleared my mind and I felt like Luke Skywalker did after he fired his shot into the Death Star. Confident. I was counting on God not letting me down.


These days, superheroes are popular. It seems every blockbuster Hollywood produces came from the pages of Marvel or DC Comics. That day in April of 2015 was when I was endowed with my "superpower." No I cannot leap tall buildings in a single bound, fly or run faster than a locomotive. Instead, I now have this sixth sense. When faced with an ominous problem, I feel something, like a voice telling me God will take care of me, that things will work out. He sets my mind and my heart at ease. I can remember each time it happens.

My job is very stressful, taking care of peoples' mortgages during a pandemic; taking care of their homes. Recently management has been talking about adding a new metric in order to make a bonus. To date, I've never hit this metric. I started to panic when I first heard this was going to be expected of me to make my bonus. Later I was able to stop obsessing about it. Then, I felt God tell me everything will be OK as long as I don't worry. In my mind, in only a second, I analyzed the situation and realized that it would be wholly illogical for God to take away my apartment and my livelihood, given it was all from Him. And that's what this whole testimony is about:  faith like a child. "God feeds the birds every day who seem so insignificant in this world. He will take care of you. You just have to trust him," - something my brother wrote me based on Matthew 6:25. There is only one word I can think of that best describes this phenomenon:  hope.

I am in no way perfect in my life or in my faith. I panicked like an unbeliever when I heard they were considering adding this new metric (which hasn't even been officially added yet). But God comforted me, made me feel better. I wrote this article because I feel like I've never really shared my testimony outside of my baptism. I also wanted to communicate the idea that a testimony can change. It can get better, more detailed, and touch more lives. That's not to say if your testimony does not have a lot of details, it's invalid. But I believe in conviction, evidence and proof, and that's what comes with you give up your life to Jesus Christ.