So, I was always the guy that believed he was a "good kid". I followed the rules, was nice to people, and did whatever good deeds I could so that I could be someone people liked. I drew my own personal line in the sand and said to myself "As long as I don't cross this line, I'm good. If I avoid doing drugs, breaking the law, or hurting anyone than I am a good person". The problem is, I didn't realize how some of my behavior could lead me down the wrong path. I had incredibly low self esteem, combined with diagnosed depression and anxiety. I was hospitalized throughout high school for trying to take my own life. I ended up in unhealthy relationships, started drinking, and became a much more negative person. I couldn't see that I was walking too close to the line, and that by doing so I was crossing it in ways I couldn't recognize.
One of my relationships was extremely unhealthy on both of our parts, and after a while she became physically abusive with me. My low self esteem and youthful ignorance led me to decide to try to fix the relationship. But after six months of it, I reached my breaking point. One night, she was hitting me more than she usually did in an argument. A combination of negative emotions overtook me, and I ended up hitting her back. She ended up calling the cops, and I spent the night in jail. I remember sitting in the cell completely lost. I didn't understand how I could have fallen so far. I had family who were in and out of prison, and I didn't make the decisions they made. But somehow, I lost myself and messed up. I was ashamed of myself, and didn't see how anyone could ever look at me the same way again.
I realize now that I was prideful, and God used this circumstance to prepare my heart for Him. Around this time, I started doing community service at a church. It wasn't a good church, but I found myself thinking about God when I would do my service there. Next thing I know, I'm talking to Him while there. All of a sudden, I'm talking to Him when I'm home. Then one night, I just felt Him. I knew He was there, and I couldn't describe the feeling of peace that it brought. But I was still ashamed of my past, and I didn't believe that He could ever forgive me.
When I finished my community service, I decided to start looking at other churches to see if they could help me understand God in a way that I couldn't before. I found Northpointe, and it was here that I was able to learn about the saving grace that we are offered thanks to Jesus' sacrifice. Even though my entire life had been sinful in a way I hadn't realized until it was too late, He took on my punishment with his perfect sacrifice, and as long as I chose to devote my life to Him, I could be forgiven and be adopted into His kingdom. It was a no brainer to me, and so I was baptized and devoted my life to serving Him however I could.
God started softening my heart six years ago, and he has set me free and changed me in ways I never would have assumed possible back then. I am now a student at Bible college learning more about Him and how I can use my gifts for His kingdom here on Earth. I'm no longer the foolish boy I was back then, and it all started with the grace that God offered me. Grace is a powerful thing, and when we show grace to others, it shows a picture of who God is to them. No matter what circumstances a person is in or how they have lived in the past, anyone's life can be changed through God's redemptive power. It all starts with grace.