If I were to be totally honest, I spent most of high school as a total jerk. Ever since I was a kid I heard about this God – this all-powerful ruler of the universe – who you were supposed to be on His good side. And He had this list of things that He wasn’t down with.
It wasn’t until middle school or early high school that I realized I started wanting to do a lot of those things. I wanted to say things and do things and think things and feel things that I wasn’t supposed to. That made me realize that if God hates these things and I like these things, then He must hate me. So my response to feeling rejected was, screw it. I’ll just live for myself.
I made myself feel better by making other people feel worse. Now it makes me want to vomit because of the words that I said to my mom, or the ways that I have hurt my friends, or demeaning words that I said even to little kids that are were 7 years-old. It was all just so that I could feel better.
The worst part of it was I would dress well and look good, so I would strut around campus and I think I was good at pretending enough that people actually thought I was a really good guy and most of them liked me. And then, I would just hurt them. And I would often just get close to people to make sure that I had closer friends elsewhere so that they would think I was important to them, but they knew that they weren’t that important to me.
Well, after high school I went to France for a few months and met this girl who was a Christian who was studying there. I watched her relationship with God and it just seemed so real that she really loved God. I knew that she had flaws, and that she wasn’t perfect, but watching her life, things eventually started to make sense. Everything that I had learned since I was a kid that Jesus died on the cross for my sins.
It finally dawned on me that God knew that I was going to like some of the things that He was not down with. And He knew that it would mean that I would be separated from Him and there was nothing I could do about it. So He sent Jesus to come and live a perfect life and die and pay the penalty that I owed that He knew I couldn’t pay and through that I would be able to have a relationship with God based on nothing else but His love. It was such a disarming experience and a realization and have those walls that I put up for years just melt away.
Since then, I’ve been experiencing the freedom to be able to love people without fear of being rejected because I am accepted by Jesus. Being able to love people and let them know that they matter to me and that my security is in God. And just being able to live in that comfort of being loved by Him knowing that there is nothing I can do to make Him love me more. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me less. And there are times that I still struggle and mess up and do bad things and I hurt people and I just feel like God hates me or is disappointed in me. And I just remember, God knew this would happen. He knew I couldn’t be perfect on my own and that’s why Jesus came and what He did for me. The security of that has been so wonderfully freeing.
Joy-Gen is a California native who graduated from the University of Southern California in 2008. Currently, he serves with Cru at the University of Hawaii, Manoa campus.
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