7 Minute Read
The Death of my Dad
I always called myself a Christian, but never read my Bible. I lived in sin by partying, spending countless hours in strip clubs, and almost all my alone time was spent rating porn stars. I wore a smile and could make others smile, but I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
One year, death came knocking, but not on my door, on my Dad’s. My hero, my best friend, was dying. For almost a month my family went through a tormenting phase of life. He had pneumonia, and the flu, but beat those. Until one night, I asked him if I could take my little sister to a movie to get both of our minds off things. It was that night when a missed infection on my dad’s heart broke and traveled up towards his brain causing him to have a stroke.
That was the last time I would get to see my best friend’s smile.
Once he passed, I was empty and had a literal voice in my head saying, “Nobody cares”. The devil was winning. On one particular day, the loud voice in my head had talked me into a decision, there was a bus coming, only I wasn’t interested in riding it, rather I went to step in front of it so that the pain would go away. The voice screaming “nobody cares” was selfish, loud, hurtful, and it was lying.
I took one step onto the edge of the curb and stopped. An even louder voice, gentle but direct, reminded me to go home and call my sister. I listened, I went home, called my sister, and she was sobbing on the phone as was I. She informed me that she was going to commit suicide that same day. I told her I was too, and she asked what stopped me? I said to her that she did, and asked her what stopped her, which she replied that I did!
Something supernatural happened that saved both of our lives that day, brought us together, and started to mend our broken hearts.
After all this, I went on my first military deployment and a major coping-mechanism for the pain was pornography. I leaned on what I knew, and I knew I liked porn. A big question I had during this time was “How do I grow stronger in faith when I am feeling so hurt?” It is so easy in life to suppress, suffocate, disguise, and cover up feelings. But then on the flip-side, it is so much harder to experience life, to be vulnerable, to trust and to develop a relationship with God and the people around you.
At that time in my life, I had distraction after distraction thrown my way, I slept with women every other weekend, I drank excessive amounts of alcohol and would wake up alone in places with no idea how I got there. I woke up with the same emptiness in my chest and was never free from the hurt.
The whole time I was trying to heal, and I was doing it the world’s way and not God’s. I was trapped this way for years. The only positive thing I had in my life was the brothers I served with. They held me up when things were hard. I was fortunate that God placed them in my life for that season.
Looking at the Pain
I found rest and recovery when I called out to God for help. I was under water for such a long time that I never thought I’d get out. I felt like Peter in the Bible when he sank into the sea, afraid for his life. And just like Peter, when I called on Jesus He reached in, pulled me up, and kept me close to Himself.
I had one year left of my enlistment and I decided to live alone, just me and my dog. I had to create separation to let God in and let God work on me. I attended a church nearby and although it wasn’t a place where I felt at home, they did have a good teacher. One day he spoke about decisions and that we can choose to love God, or we can choose to love something else, but the point is we have a choice. I chose that night to give to God everything that I thought defined me: my relationships, my habits, my addictions, my lust and my issues, I gave them all to Jesus and chose to live in a way that would reflect that.
I went four months with no porn, I was reading my bible and I was in the gym more frequently then I had ever been. I met a girl and it was the first time I fell in love with a person rather than an image.
God used her to show me what was real and got me planted into my first church home. While we broke up later that year, her time in my life really laid the right foundation for my growth today. That’s where I met some of my best friends. These friends continue today to help shape me and speak life into me.
I got into my first Life Group and God gave me some of my best friends through it. I started to see how men of God acted and loved their families. I saw a model of manhood that gave honor by how others are treated. We celebrated high-moments with one another and came together during one another’s lows.
It takes a body to make a church and that was my first-time seeing God move.
No More Porn
During that time I discovered my pornography issue wasn’t as uncommon as my shame and guilt tried to tell me it was. We have weaknesses because we are humans born into sin. So, I started to search for help. Jesus says that those who seek, will find. I found Proven Men and bought the introduction book, and it was enough to move me from what I considered unbreakable chains to a life of light. It motivated me to not be held down in shame but to reach out with everything that I had. Everybody that came to group knew my struggles but our areas of weakest are the places God is the strongest.
I started letting people borrow my Proven Men book and sharing with them my freedom. I prayed constantly for direction and spent time with God, praying and then listening. When he spoke, I moved.
I transitioned out of the military and into a new mission. Pursuing life with my loving God and Father. Today, I am working to become a church planter, as I chase after the life He wants for me. God sees the light when all we can see is deep darkness, keep trusting him and watch what mountains move.
I pray that my story motivates you to lean into those that love you, to be vulnerable with your peers, to lead from a place of humility, to place your pride to the side and let Jesus speak. More than anything else, He wants a relationship with you.
A word for those who are hurting
If you’re hurting from depression or loss, reach out to loved ones, reach out to your pastor, face that fear because on the other side is freedom. I went to a counselor for help and started being open with friends I had in the military. I am thankful for the friends I had in the military. Regardless of differing beliefs, they have always been there for me.
A concept that we need to understand is that pursuing Jesus is a process, nobody is perfect, the perfect man died on the cross for us. We will never be Jesus, but we can certainly love others like he did. In my pain, and in my mess, I was deeply loved, even though I couldn’t love in return. Matthew 22:37-39 reads, “He said to him, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. During my hardest season, I didn’t know how to love anyone but receiving love is what saved my life.
Pursue receiving love.
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Justis was born in Texas but grew up in Colorado and currently resides back in the lone star state. Justis is a military veteran served in the Air Force is a current student working on his BSW as he is majoring in Social work. He is the church planting intern at his church in Texas. He is pursuing a life focused on Jesus and wants to share his love for life with whomever God puts into it.
Justis is outreach focused, relationship driven and wants to see God move in people’s lives. He believes that every person has a name, every name has a story and every story matters to God.