“Attending church was a priority for my family growing up, but I never understood the gospel or how to be authentic with my struggles. My sin and separation from God revealed itself in different ways as I grew.
“Early in life, I started searching and longing for affirmation from adults. When I was about 11 years old, I was introduced to pornography, and this would be the beginning of a long struggle that would also skew my understanding of relationships and how I related to women.
“My high school years were a rollercoaster. I experienced affirmation and success through athletic, academic, and musical achievement, but made decisions that landed me in juvenile detention at the age of 16. I still remember thinking that my life was over and irredeemable, and I struggled with depression and suicidal ideation at the time. But God was busy planting seeds.
“In college, I wanted to find a church, but I also very much wanted to go out and figure out the college lifestyle. I pushed boundaries with my girlfriend and started binge drinking and experimenting with drugs. When I was at church, I felt overwhelming conviction and guilt. I thought if I was choosing sin, I shouldn’t be at church, so I just stopped going altogether.
“I graduated and moved to Dallas, eager to figure out what the city had to offer. For two years, I found professional success and a home in the running community, but I still felt unfulfilled, regretful, and hungover. I was doing things that people around me said would bring me happiness and joy, but I wasn’t finding that.
“I started dating a woman who challenged me with one question: ‘What’s your relationship with Christ like?’ I didn’t know what to tell her. I’d never been asked before.
“After wrestling with the question for a while, I entered re:generation, Watermark’s recovery ministry. I thought I could go, check a box, get healthy, and learn what this whole ‘relationship with Christ’ looks like. I thought I had one, maybe two, problems to fix. The first night at re:gen, I listened to men openly confess vulnerable and hard things. In my mind, I knew that I needed to do the same, but I’d never said the words aloud or confessed before.
“Before it was my time to share, I thought, ‘If I say these things out loud, I’ll be rejected. I won’t be welcome.’ I was so scared, but I confessed to my pornography addiction and expressed that I wanted to figure out my relationship with Christ. I was met with care! People looked me in the eye and prayed for me. They prayed for me because I confessed! I walked out of there that night with a sense that a weight had been lifted. I had to go back. Something gave me more peace than I’d ever felt.
“When COVID hit in March of 2020, every distraction in my life was ripped away. The only two things I had were re:generation and work. This unpredicted season gave me time to start reading more Scripture. I started to understand what Paul wrote in Romans – that we all fall short of the glory of God. I learned that He is faithful to forgive us our sins. I learned I couldn’t earn my way into a right relationship with the Lord. I can’t do enough good things to cleanse all my sin. I can’t live a perfect life.
“I finally hit my knees and said, ‘Lord, I can’t do this on my own. I need you in my life, and I want to fully surrender to you.’
“That’s when things started to change. My dating relationship ended because I knew I needed to get healthy and focus on my relationship with the Lord. I became a member at Watermark to be under the authority of elders and be surrounded by a biblical community.
“As I prayed and reflected about what got me to that point, I thought of the question I was asked nine months prior, ‘What is your relationship with Christ?’ I wished somebody would’ve asked me that when I was just coming out of college, if not earlier, and I wanted to do that for others. I found an opportunity to do just that at The Porch, Watermark’s young adult ministry. I now get to serve with others who are also dedicated to making the name of Jesus known to the young adults in Dallas.
“Surrendering everything to Christ was life-changing! With community, serving, and marriage, I’ve learned how to make Christ the foundation of everything. There are still struggles, but my life feels revived just by understanding that I have a direct relationship with the Lord where I can come to Him with everything. The Lord knows what I need before I even ask, and I am just called to be faithful.”
Join Chris and hundreds of other young adults at The Porch every Tuesday and at Launch, a weekend retreat happening this Labor Day weekend. Learn more.