“I knew that Jesus was the son of God,” said Derek Marucci, “but I didn't understand what that meant for me. I grew up thinking God was a distant judge who I had to please to keep Him happy with me. I was a pretty good kid growing up and didn’t get into much trouble. People just had a good view of me, and that’s where I found my identity as ‘the good kid.’ I thought as long as I had enough good to outweigh my mistakes, I’d be able to keep God and others happy.
“Throughout college, I occasionally attended church. I didn’t see myself as a sinner. I didn’t see a need for a Savior. But I thought going to church is what God wanted me to do, so I went. While I struggled with pornography, I still thought waiting until marriage for sex was an important moral thing. When I did cross my boundaries with a girl after graduating, I started questioning myself and my morals. I had a strong belief that what I did was wrong. I felt like God was disappointed in me and that I’d let Him down. I fell into a depression because I thought I had failed God.
“During that time, a mentor of mine encouraged me to investigate Scripture and to find a church when I moved to Dallas. I found Watermark through a Google search and began attending on Tuesdays and Sundays. There, I really learned about my sin and how I could have a relationship with God. I decided to pursue membership, and in the process, I was asked, ‘On a scale from one to ten, how certain are you that you’d get into Heaven?’
“After I answered with ‘seven,’ I was shown scripture that revealed the central message of the gospel, and a light bulb clicked in my head. Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins, and that is how I will have eternal life with Him in Heaven (Romans 6:23). On the scale, I can answer ‘ten’ because I am confident and certain that Christ’s gift to me is eternity. That is when I accepted Christ into my heart and surrendered my life to Him.
“With surrender came new habits and decisions to be obedient to the Lord and His Word. In re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, I was able to uncover and confess sins I’d kept buried for a long time. I denied my struggle with same-sex attraction, and it was a relief to finally confess and be open about it. I had the opportunity to share and process with others in a way that pointed me back to Christ.
“I also learned that I idolized my career and found my identity and worth in my job. After seven years of schooling, I was overwhelmed and depressed with what pursuing my career would take. I was finally able to be honest with myself that I wanted something different, and the only thing keeping me was the thought of others’ opinions if I left. But God graciously revealed to me that my worth and identity come from Him alone and that pursuing this career was my effort to give myself value.
“I’ve been transformed to see myself the way God sees me and learned to cherish my walk with Christ. Now, years later, I am serving in re:gen and helping those who share my struggles. It was always helpful for me to share when I heard from someone else who battled with similar sins. I get to let them know that we’re not defined by our sins.
“God has blessed me with mentors and friends who’ve helped mature me and my faith. And, in this new season of life, I am learning to surrender to the Lord in a whole new way with my marriage to Missy. I don’t have to hide anything, and I can be myself with her because she knows my struggles. Because we both know and trust the Lord, I can openly confess to her when I sin and fall short, and I’m not fearful of judgment. I know she will point me to Him.
“Simply: My life has just changed. Before, I tried to earn the approval and acceptance of others, but now I can live differently. I don’t want others to be impressed with me or my story, I want others to know Christ. That’s my whole mission in life now.”