My story began in a land far, far away called Livingston, Montana. I am one of twelve children (#9), was homeschooled from start to finish, the son of a pastor and was born into a home where the gospel and God’s truths were taught to us from day one. But even in a home filled with Christ and with two loving parents that lived out their faith daily for all to see, I was as lost as the day is long. From an early age I was bullied and believed that I could not be loved or accepted, and that I would never fit in. I convinced myself that the only way to achieve any of these things was to morph into whatever the person standing in front of me deemed acceptable. And that is how I lived for many years. I memorized all the verses, knew the correct answers, read my Bible just enough to squeak by if anyone asked, and followed the rules to make sure nobody ever doubted me and my “salvation.”
When I hit high school, I got a job at the local DQ and quickly found a new batch of bullies and people that, in my mind, I needed to appease. I found a girl that seemed to love me and I loved her, but I could never reveal those feelings because she wasn’t a Christian, and if I let that out someone might question me. All of these pressures, lies, and insecurities catapulted me into a world of depression, emotional pain, and suicidal tendencies. It wasn’t until a few months before my 18th birthday that I truly surrendered myself to Christ. I remember being on the verge of suicide that night, and I told myself that night would be my last…
But God had better plans. I woke up the next morning and I could hear my parents upstairs and, like they did every morning, I knew they were praying for their children. In that moment the light came on; I cried out to God, and I accepted the truth that had been faithfully calling to me my entire life. God sealed me that morning, but I still had years of recovery ahead. I graduated high school in 2011, moved to Bozeman, MT, then to Lincoln, NE, and then to Oklahoma City, OK, in August 2015. I know I just hit fast-forward on a good chunk of time. If you want to know about those years, ask me next time you see me wandering around. Believe me, God did a lot in those years.
In the fall of 2016, I found myself attending a church in Yukon, OK, called Covenant Community Church. Heard of it? There I found a group of people that not only cared about me, but they genuinely didn’t expect me to be anything other than who God created me to be. Now, I thought I had dealt with all of my identity issues. I mean, it had been at least six years since I had accepted Christ, so surely I’d gotten it all worked out, right? Well, no. Over the past two years God has used the body of Christ at Covenant in big ways. God brought people into my life who asked me the hard questions.
They dug down deep and wanted to know the answer behind the answer. They introduced me to tools that would make me go back and face why I was putting up walls between me and the people around me. They took the time to care about who I really was. They peeled back the layers and helped me realize that I could be loved, accepted, and that I’m not the only one with skeletons in the closet. They were Christ to me and still are to this day. From late night conversations at the Bottrell’s to sitting on Landon and Lindsey McGee’s roof for hours, God has used people to reveal to me who I am in Christ. I thank God each day for these people.
And, finally, to bring you up-to-date, a few months ago I was convinced to attend a six week Sunday morning class on identity. As I walked into this class my pride told me that I wouldn’t learn anything new, that I already knew who I was. I was wrong. Yes, I have heard all of these things before. Yes, I memorized many of these verses in my childhood. Yes, I have worked through a lot of baggage. But through that class, God revealed burdens I was still bearing, shame that I was allowing to dictate my responses in certain situations, and pride that I was not willing to put to death.
So, who am I? I am completely accepted (Romans 15:7), I am unconditionally loved (John 16:27), I am totally forgiven (Col. 2:13), I am eternally saved (1 John 5:11-13), I am blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3), and I am free indeed (1 Cor. 3:17). That is who I am.