Monday, May 7, 2012

my life without Jesus

photo: Rick Harrison

I'm going to write about something which I normally don't.

There's a special place of hatred in my heart for religious cliches, and I abhor regular cliches.  I like to preach in church, but I don't like to be preachy ever in life.

But this morning I was asked a question that made me think, and it's worth writing about.

"What would your life be like without Jesus?"

I don't think I'd be dead or in jail as the common answer goes.  I was raised too conservative and middle class for that.

Not much would have changed through junior high, though there would probably be fewer embarrassing photos of me singing in church with my siblings and wearing matching outfits.

But high school would have been different.  I was insecure and desperate enough for attention, even as a Christian, I can only imagine what I would have been like without the moral compass of my faith.  This isn't to say that non-Christians don't have a moral compass, just to say that I know my faith was the only thing preventing me from making some really stupid decisions back then.

With some certainty, I can say that the majority of my time would have been spent trying to convince girls with low self-esteem to sleep with me.  I wouldn't have tried for the popular ones or the drunk ones but the ones who really seemed to need me to give them a sense of value because that's what I wanted from them in return.

That probably sounds incredibly predatory, but it's true.  It wouldn't have been intentional manipulation.  I would have bought flowers and been sweet and romantic.  But I would have been so middling and acquiescent that we would have believed each other soulmates while we both collapsed inside.

My low self-esteem probably would have led me to be unprepared if my romantic advances worked, and I likely would have faced a pregnancy scare.  I can almost imagine the conversation between two shattered teenagers failing to plumb the depth of their actions, too immature to cope on their own.

I doubt I would have learned to play guitar.  In fact, I probably would have stopped playing music after my parents stopped being able to afford it.

I might have experimented more with alcohol and possibly pot, but I probably wouldn't have stuck around in those scenes.

You would probably find me writing bitter, emo rants on the internet . . . er, more anyway.

My weight probably would have ballooned to a dangerous level as shame spirals and addictive eating would have followed each other.

Hope would likely be the most notable absence from my life.

While imprisonment or untimely death did not seem likely for me, despair was almost a certainty without Jesus.

Deciding to follow Jesus didn't make me a good person.  It showed me that I was far worse than I even realized.  Even writing this, I cringe wondering what people who have always thought of me as "nice" will think of my once potential destructive path.

Following Jesus paid for the debt of my soul-defining internal corruption and invited me to live in a new reality.  It showed me that trying to be exactly what a girl wanted was the same as lying to her and that we both deserved more honesty and integrity in our relationships, even if it meant needing to be with someone different.  It planted in me a creative seed that brings me great joy to share with others.

I would have chased more money, but instead I can be counted rich in family, lifelong friendships, and joy.  I would have pursued more fleeting pleasure, but instead I share love with an incomparable wife and darling daughter.

I have fought to become healthier, losing over 30 pounds since my heaviest and having the courage to get right when I slip up.

I believe in a better tomorrow because I do not control my own destiny.  I spent too many fruitless years trying that.

I wanted completion because I was not whole.  I wanted meaning in a chaotic world.  I wanted love when I was drowning in loneliness.  I wanted truth to cut through noise and bullshit.

Jesus is all of that and more to me, and I am thankful that I am not living the life I would have had without him.


  1. Than you for posting this. Unlike you, I live in this question because I am still so susceptible to the siren song of the things that used to define me - not that I prefer that life, far from it, it was just easier then.
    I respect your transparency and willingness. And congratulations on your weight loss! And for nabbing such a catch. She's ministered to me so much...I already adore her.

    1. You're welcome. Thanks for reading it!

      There are definitely seasons of the Christian life, and I used to be much more burdened by my past sins. Forgiveness is immediate, but it takes years to realize.

      Thank you for your kind words! We are equally grateful for your friendship.

  2. Some parts of this felt like you were telling the story of my high school years. Thanks for writing this and starting a thought-process for me.

    1. No problem. I'm glad that it was meaningful for you.

  3. Thankful for His grace in your life. You are an incredible husband and father and I know it's because of the work Jesus did on the cross and you living in that truth. I love you so much and am looking forward to the refining journey God has in store for us.


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