“I was raised in the church by faithful, believing parents and was baptized at a young age. I could even recite Scripture and Bible stories, but I didn’t know what a relationship with Jesus was like. I saw the Bible as a history book and only prayed before baseball games and meals.
“In school, I had a hard time fitting in. My parents were both on staff at the schools I attended, and I always felt as if I had an extra set of eyes on me. Through good behavior, I aimed to please others and earn approval from friends and my parents, and eventually befriended one of my coaches. We spent a lot of time together when I was at school. At the end of the school year, I learned that my coach, and unexpected friend, took her own life.
“I’d never experienced a loss like this, and in an effort to handle my grief on my own, I kept my depression and suicidal thoughts to myself. I thought life would be easier if I weren’t here with this pain. Around this same time, I was introduced to pornography by a friend, and I quickly began secretly escaping my pain with this momentary pleasure.
"In my junior year of high school, one of my best friends passed away tragically, and my mom was diagnosed with cancer. As these hard situations started to stack up, I questioned my faith and the goodness of God. I was going to church and singing songs like, ‘How Great is Our God,’ but I didn’t believe it. I thought that if He really were great, I wouldn’t experience this pain.
“So, I turned away from God. I decided to focus on myself and do what I wanted to do. I sought affirmation from friends, sports, achievements, and dating relationships. Even in college, when I had the opportunity to live one of my dreams and play college baseball, I was numbing my pain with drugs and alcohol.
“Everything changed in 2020. I thought my senior year of college was going to be the best year. I expected continued success in baseball, but in a matter of a few days and a phone call from my coach everything was taken away. I was suspended from playing my senior season, due to my sin and depravity. I was wrecked. My identity felt shattered, and anxiety and depression started to take an even stronger grip on my life. I started to numb the pain through drugs and alcohol.
“Looking for more, I started coming to The Porch, Watermark’s young adult ministry. I’d slip in during worship, sit in the back, and avoid talking with anyone – and I’d be the first out the door at the end. I did that for a while, slowly listening and learning from the messages, but there was no real change in how I lived my life.
“Jump to the ‘Snowpocalypse’ in Dallas in the winter of 2021. My apartment flooded, and I was left couch-hopping with a small bag of clothes. Eventually, I ended up completely alone in a hotel room on a Saturday night, and I just remember thinking, ‘Where did I go wrong? There has to be more than this.’ And I made a lousy God of my own life.
“At this moment, I felt conviction for my sins. I remember praying and apologizing to God, asking for His forgiveness, and begging for Him to save me. I surrendered it all to God and asked Him to radically change my heart. I had done it my way for so long, but now I wanted to try God’s way.
“The next morning, I came to a Sunday service at Watermark and befriended the guy sitting next to me, who invited me to re:generation, a recovery ministry at Watermark.
“For the first time in my life, I confessed sin at an open group in re:gen the very next day. In the weeks (and now years) following, I experienced real life change. God gave me the desire to step away from my sins and addictions, be a part of a local church, and surround myself with a biblical community.
“Six months later, when another one of my friends from high school passed away unexpectedly, I was once again brought to my knees. I’d dealt with news like this before, but I knew it could be different this time with the Lord. I wanted to learn how to still trust Him in the midst of pain and suffering.
“I met up with Josiah, one of the staff leaders at The Porch, and through our conversations together, he suggested that I start serving with The Porch. I thought he was crazy! Six months ago, I was addicted to weed and pornography, and now I’m being asked to serve at the church. I had no idea what I was doing, but I just showed up, eager to serve God.
“In the last two years, I have learned how to share the gospel, memorize Scripture, and tell the story of God’s grace in my life. I can see the power of God through my weakness. He showed me my gifts and gave me opportunities to use them. He broke down my pride and arrogance through patience and admonishment from faithful Porch volunteers. I am learning to trust Him with my mom’s health, my grief, and every part of my life.
“If anxiety, depression, and addiction are struggles for you, and you haven’t surrendered your life to the Lord, I want to tell you this: Jesus isn’t just your ticket to heaven. He can save you and radically transform your life now.”