“My parents were never together, only long enough to conceive me. It was their first date and they never went on another one. Nine months later I came along and my father didn’t know I existed.”
This is how Chris recounts the beginning of his life. It’s a life filled with child abuse, pornography, drugs, sex, and chaos.
Chris’ mother informed his father of his birth when he was eighteen months old. She didn’t tell him at first because after their one evening together, he married another woman. She knew it would strain his marriage. She also wasn’t sure if Chris would be accepted into his father’s new family. But she thought Chris should have a father. A few years later, that father was divorced.
The man Chris’ mother thought her little boy needed wasn’t exactly what most people would hope for in a father figure. He rarely helped with finances. At best he saw Chris every weekend; at worst it could be months.
When Chris was two, his mother moved them into his grandmother’s house. Two years later, the grandmother accused her of abusing Chris so they moved into a small basement apartment owned by a single woman and her son. The son was two years older than Chris.
“He was often left to watch over me,” Chris says. “As we grew up together, probably around the age of six, he started molesting me and showing me porn. He continued to do this until I was about nine, when I realized what he was doing.” His mother never learned what the other boy was doing to Chris and they moved on to different apartments and houses.
Chris was in anger therapy when he was six. He threw chairs at teachers, fought with other children, and was totally out of control with his emotions. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one who was out of control.
His father punched him in the face when he was nine. The punch was the result of a bad parent teacher conference where his father learned Chris had a D in math class. When they returned home from the school, his father threw him on his bed. When Chris attempted to get up, his father hit in the mouth, splitting his lip open.
“Being punched in the face by my father as a nine-year-old still hurts to this day, and I’m twenty-five now.” After that incident, he says “I was shut in my room for over a week, only being allowed to leave when I needed to use the bathroom. When it was time to eat, he opened the door and handed me my food and then shut the door again. He wouldn’t talk to me or allow me to call anyone.
Turmoil and chaos
“There was also a lot of emotional damage inflicted over my teenage years. At times, when I screwed up, either on a test or if I skipped school (one time), my father would go six to twelve months without talking to me. I scratched the rim on his car once at a family gathering and he called me a disgrace and failure in front of the entire family.”
His mother was only a little better. When he did something she disapproved of (such as taking another person’s side in an argument or talking back to her) in his teen years, she kicked him out of the house. He would sleep on park benches or stay with friends for a week or two before returning home.
“I often felt like I wasn’t safe with my mother or my father, thinking that neither of them loved me. So I tried killing myself a few times.” He attempted to overdose on pills and suffocate himself. He also smashed his head against walls and considered jumping to his death from balconies.
At age 18, Chris moved out of his mother’s house after a fight between the two of them. He lived out of his car for three months until he saved enough money to afford an apartment. For the next four years, he says his “life was filled with alcohol, drugs, and using women for my benefit. If there was a party, I was there. I was my own god and lived for myself.”
During that time, he worked at Costco during the day, often smoked weed at lunch, and partied at night. He used alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, mushrooms, and pills to get high. He was also addicted to pornography and sex. Looking back, he says he “was a sorry excuse of a male.”
A providential friendship
In 2007, Chris dated a girl who had a manager named Kyle. Chris and Kyle were both interested in music, soccer, beer, and partying. They became good friends, spending many nights together drinking and doing drugs. Their friendship lasted for about two years and then Kyle stopped calling.
A year had passed since they’d last seen each other and Chris sat in his house depressed. He’d just broken up with another girlfriend and was planning another night of drugs and finding a new girl to sleep with. He was in the middle of dialing a drug dealer to buy more cocaine when Kyle called and asked him to hang out. “My heart honestly didn’t want to,” Chris said, “but for some reason, we ended up hanging out that night.”
Kyle apologized for not being a real friend. He apologized for never returning calls or texts. He apologized for ditching Chris. But he also wanted to tell Chris something. He wanted to tell Chris how he now loved Jesus Christ.
After that initial get-together, Kyle pursued Chris whenever he could. He read the Bible with him and watched sermons from Pastor Mark Driscoll. Chris says reading the Bible was the last thing he wanted to do but he felt something was pulling him to it.
Through studying the book of John together, Chris says, “I started to see my actions, and how they affected others. I started to see that apart from Jesus, I’m hopeless and a mess. I saw that he ruled all, not me. Jesus told me that although my earthly father was non-existent, he would never leave nor forsake me. He showed me how I had fallen short of what the Bible commands.”
On January 11, 2011, Kyle went over to Chris’ house to spend another evening talking about the Bible. Chris had questions about how he was feeling. “I felt like two forces were battling over me. I had been listening to the voice and presence that was telling me to read the Bible and talk to [God] and things were going well and feeling right. We prayed, cried, and confirmed that I was saved.”
“I remember God telling me shortly after being saved that he is my Father and that he will never forsake me. It still brings tears to my eyes and blows my mind that the creator of heaven and earth would feel that way for me.”
From partying to serving
Chris’ life changed a lot after becoming a Christian. He went to parties with his old friends but didn’t get drunk or do drugs. When he felt like things were inappropriate, he would leave. Old friends told him he was just going through a phase and Christianity was a joke and a fallacy. The sinful partying life still occasionally appealed to him but when it did, he prayed and spent time with his new Christian friends.
Another temptation that still remained strong was pornography. He says, “The biggest struggle was, by far and away, porn. It took me praying, breaking the device that I was watching it on, crying on my knees, and crying out to the Lord to rip that desire out of me. He answered that prayer.”
Chris joined Kyle’s Community Group right away and says it’s been helpful. “It was a safe place to go and talk about what was happening in my life as a new Christian. I could talk about anything and not be judged, but helped.” He also started serving on the security team at Mars Hill Ballard a month after he was saved and was leading one of the teams two months later. A year after becoming a Christian, he was managing all the service teams at the 7 p.m. service.
It was through serving that he met his wife, Abby. “Her story is about as opposite of mine as it gets,” he says. “Her family, as far back as she knows, are solid Christians. Her father is a Lutheran pastor and is the opposite of the father I grew up with.”
For two years, Pastor Brandon Anderson and Kyle watched over Chris. “They helped me understand what pursuing a woman biblically looks like. I prayed and fasted for a week before I even talked to her.” They spent time getting to know each other at church and in group settings. After he got the okay from her parents to date her, they started going on dates. “By dates I mean grabbing coffee and walking around Green Lake.” Chris says, “We probably walked Green Lake 100 times while we were dating. I wanted us to be careful; I wanted to get to know her while still making her feel safe. If we weren’t walking Green Lake, we were serving at church or hanging out with her parents, who are great.”
Three and a half months after Chris and Abby started dating, they were engaged. Four and a half months later they got married. Chris says that as a result of pursuing friendship first, God has blessed their marriage and helped them to be best friends.
Their marriage hasn’t come easy though. Chris says God has allowed some heavy trials to come their way over the last year, but it’s caused them to lean on him more than ever. Two weeks after they got married, Chris and Abby returned from their honeymoon and Abby became very sick.
The doctors didn’t know what was wrong; they thought it could be cancer, the flu, some sort of disease, or just food illness. They really had no idea. Finally Chris and Abby found out she had acute mono, which attacks the spleen and liver. She was on bed rest for almost three months while she had fevers of 106 degrees and couldn’t eat or drink without it coming back up. Her liver was failing, she was jaundiced, and her spleen had nearly quadrupled in size. She was miserable.
“Her parents started talking to me about her passing away and going home. They wanted me to know they would be there for me. The doctors thought she might not make it either. It was a difficult thing to swallow because we had only just been married.”
But Abby didn’t pass away. It took about eight months, but she eventually regained her health.
A changed man
“The James sermon series has been timely. It’s taught us that life will not be easy all the time. Trials will come, but we need to stand fast and trust and rejoice in the Lord in all things. Through the trials we have weathered, we’re excited for what God has planned for us and how he wants to use us for his kingdom.
“Jesus has taken me from being my own god, to worshiping him, the only God. I acted and lived like I was in charge of everything. I had a serious ego that had me using people for my own benefit. Now, I find joy in serving [Jesus] and his people. He has, without a doubt, given me a new heart. Jesus has saved me from addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, porn, and myself. Jesus has absolutely and radically changed me. His power and majesty is mind-blowing to me.”
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