“I remember how tired I was from experiencing broken heart after broken heart. It was a time of constant disappointment.” – Edward Barrett
“Can you describe the love you have for your mom?,” said Edward Barrett. “Can you articulate the feelings you have about her? I cannot because I had no relationship with my mother until I was 24 years old. I spent two decades trying to fill the void in my life with whatever made sense at the time. Each year I sunk a few feet deeper in a growing hole of despair and developed very warped thinking about love.
“My parents divorced when I was about a year old. When I turned five, my brothers and I were taken to a children’s home where we lived for a while. There was a young lady who served there, and she showed me kindness. Is what a mother’s love was like? When I was seven years old, my father married my step mom. I lived at home and we went to church on Sundays, but the rest of the week was not peaceful.
“As a kid, my grandmother shared the gospel with me. I trusted Christ because I didn’t want to go to hell. I didn’t understand what Jesus did for me on the cross; I just wanted fire insurance. As I got older, I had some knowledge and reverence for God. But I never read the Bible, which meant I could not put any stock in what it had to say.
“In high school when my sex drive kicked in, I started looking for love in all the wrong places. My struggle with finding my worth in relationships with women began, and it continued through my late 20s. I’d meet a new girl and give everything I had to ‘love’ that person. I might have seemed caring, nice, and attentive, but really it was selfish and totally unsustainable on my part. Because my hope and aspirations were wrapped up in the relationship, when the dynamic changed, I was completely deflated. I lived and died by what women thought about me.
“In 2011, my world crashed and burned again because another relationship ended. That’s what drew me to re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry. In recovery, you’re asked to create an inventory of your sin struggles and the instances when you have harmed others and others have harmed you. I was so nervous about sharing all my baggage with other people. But the guy I shared my story with was so gracious and shared Romans 8:1 with me. That’s the first time I’d experienced someone serving as the hands and feet of Christ. I finally understood that God knew all about my baggage, and He loved me anyway. No longer afraid, I decided to be ‘all in’ with the Lord.
“When I fully availed myself to the discipleship that was offered at Watermark, I learned what abiding with Christ really looked like. I spent time in God’s Word and discovered how to walk in it and depend on Christ. God filled the void in my life through His people. Strengthened by their encouragement, I committed myself to maintaining purity until marriage. It’s been an up and down journey since then, but when I stumbled I had people in my life who helped me and showed me grace.
“Today, I’m working on establishing a relationship with my birth mother and taking advantage of every opportunity I have to love my family. In the last 16 years, two of my brothers have passed away – the first in 2001 and my younger brother last year. Both losses were so tragic for our family, but I am thankful for the difference God has made in my heart since 2001. I’m able to be strong and care for my parents because of the vibrant relationship I have with Christ now. We are still grieving, but today I have a group of believers who walk on this journey with me. I can talk to them at any moment, and they help me return to God’s Word and lean on my relationship with Christ.
“Because of the changes God has made in my life, I’ve also been able to establish a heathy relationship with Claressa Norrell, whom I am marrying in October. I see so much of Christ’s love in her, and she’s the best picture of faithfulness to the Lord that I have ever seen. Building a relationship is not easy, but I have peace now because I find fulfillment in the Lord and not what others think of me. That has allowed me to be a better leader.
“If I were talking to a guy who was looking for fulfillment in relationships, just like I was, I would want him to know about the peace I have in Christ. I remember how tired I was from experiencing broken heart after broken heart. It was a time of constant disappointment. When I finally trusted Christ and started to practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer and time in God’s Word, I found that the void in my life was filled by Christ. I understand the truth that I’m not promised happiness in this life, but God does promise me joy in Him. That joy has truly given me peace and fulfillment. God’s love is more than enough to sustain me.”