I have been coming to Bridgeway for over a year and have been a member for about six months.
For the first 40 years of my life, like the Israelites, I was wandering aimlessly through the desert-figuratively-speaking.
Shyness,social anxiety, and depression have always been a constant in my life. Well, at least as far back as I can remember. I was so paralyzed by fear that instead of doing or saying something that might jeopardize the image of perfection I was trying to convey, oftentimes I remained mum, about almost everything.
This fear carried over into adulthood and bled over onto all the areas of my life, including my marriages, of which there have been two. I was never satisfied with myself. I hated who I was. And as a result, I was dissatisfied with everything in my life. Job-hopping seemed like the answer. It wasn't. The jobs weren't the problem, my heart was. Going outside my marriage seemed like the answer. It wasn't. Again, my heart was the problem.
I had grown up in "the church" so I knew all about Jesus and the stories of the Bible, but sadly that is where my walk(if you could call it that) ended. I honored God with my lips but my heart was far away from Him.
After my second marriage ended, I continued to try to find validation and purpose in my relationships with women. I was trying to fill an eternal void with a temporary solution. Thinking it was walking me out of the darkness of my sin, shame, and depression, I eventually discovered it was walking me into deeper darkness.
Then, in 2008, at the height of my rebellion against God, He used the most unlikely of people to breathe the truth of His Word into my life. He used the very first girlfriend I ever had, the one who broke my heart and left me devastated 20 years ago, to relentlessly encourage me. She told me God had so much more for my life and she eventually persuaded me to move back to Oklahoma from south Florida, where I had lived for 3.5 years.
I moved back in with my parents in June of 2009, still very broken and very depressed. Three months later I became suicidal after my car's engine rendered itself useless. Actually, it was my neglect that was to blame-something about a lack of oil or water, unsure which.
Regardless, I was ready for my life to end. I remember driving my father's car just looking for an opportunity to pull the car into a tree or oncoming traffic. Only by the grace of God, I did neither.
I told my friend that I had given up on life and she arranged for a mutual friend of ours from our past to track me down. I avoided him for two weeks before I met with him. He told me how God had miraculously restored his marriage, despite his infidelities. And for the first time in my life, I opened up completely about all my sin and shame.
Shortly thereafter, I arranged dinner with my parents, and with tears streaming down both of their faces, and mine too I'm sure, I shared all of my sin and shame with them as well.
From that day forward, God began healing me. And today, at least to me, the man I was five years ago is unrecognizable. Depression is gone. A lot of fear is gone. Shyness and social anxiety are still present, but they are no longer prevalent. After being a lifelong follower, God turned me into a leader and gave my life purpose.
In February of 2013 I began coming to Bridgeway. I am so thankful for God leading me here. My knowledge of the Bible and the nature of God has greatly increased since coming to Bridgeway. I am so thankful to be under the preaching of Pastor Sam. My prayer life has strengthened considerably during this time as well.
To God be all the glory.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ..."