Just for some background info, I’m 15 years old right now, and a sophomore in High School
I’d like to start off and say that I was raised in the Catholic Church. But like most cradle Catholics, sadly I had no idea of what the Church taught and thought that all the split-offs of the Church were just places with different names. However, nothing really happened of note until I went into 8th Grade. I was transferring from a Catholic school to a public school. That first day of 8th Grade was one of the most important in my life. On the plus side, I met some great friends. On the down side, these same friends would corrupt me and influenced my insanely naïve mindset, which produced some bad habits and unique personality traits that are extant to this day (like my cynicism and sarcasm). At around the same time I discovered pornography. Not like Playboy or Hustler, but Victoria’s Secret. Now I know that’s a far cry from publications like Penthouse and Maxim, but it was just as bad. I had no previous exposure to anything like this before, so imagine the effects it had on my mind and the way I viewed women. I would literally lust over each issue (my mom had a subscription) for HOURS. Days even! And when that got old, I just scoped out the girls at school, drawing even more gratification through low-cut shirts, mini skirts, tight pants, full-busted sweaters, you name it, I lusted over it! Even worse, I developed a habit of masturbation around the same time as well, which only served to exacerbate my objectification of women even more. I was so trapped by this that my average was 3 times a day! Can you imagine that? I was so obsessed with instant gratification that I never denied it for a second. And I lived like this every day for about 2 and a half years. While that sphere of my life was a huge black spot on my record, a spot of equal size was developing in my social life. Now I know me having a social life is a bit of an oxymoron, but I actually was pretty talkative around my friends now. I used to like a hermit, but one of the good things that happened in public school was that I began to be more social. Anyway, I was the funnyman of the group. When my friends got together after school, I was the life of the party! It was never any wholesome or good conversation that we had though. See, my life had basically dissolved into 3 different, totally separate, touching but never overlapping, mini-lives. It breaks down like this: I had my Church life, where I was very pious and went through all the right motions on Sunday (people thought I was the holiest kid on the block, including my parents, oh the irony), my home life where I was just a smart kid who got good grades and was a good kid in general. Then there was my school life. Ooh, boy oh boy was it different from the other two! I was so unchristian in my behavior, that there are probably atheists and axe-murderers with higher moral standards than I had. Let’s see where can I start? As previously mentioned, I lusted heavily over every attractive girl I saw. In addition, I would be the first to tell a perverted joke (that’s what she said, etc…), I would always use the most profanity out of all my friends (pretty much every other sentence had a vulgarity in it), I would always be the first to put other people down for my own pleasure, and I was incredibly rebellious in speech and action. I will never forget the time at King’s Island when me and a friend were talking about music, and I saw a gravestone with Jimi Hendrix engraved in it, and I gave it the finger. I wish now that I could take that back, because that still bugs me, that incredible mark of disrespect towards one of the greatest musical innovators in history. And in the midst of all this, I thought that I was a good person! Can you believe that? I thought that all people acted the way I did, and the only people who thought any different were the religious nutballs on TV. Now that I’ve given you the basic background, I can now tell you how I was, for all intents and purposes “born again”.
It started in the winter of my freshman year of High School. My mom (I’m sure the LORD inspired her to do this) talked to me about joining this youth group called Student Venture. Of course I opposed it. I said that the only people who did that stuff were fanatics, and I didn’t want to be associated with those kinds of people. I remember saying specifically that “it’s not my thing”. However, my mom (God bless her for it) kept pressing me about it and finally, one February evening, I had nothing going on, so I just decided to go to one, and try it out. I was blown away. Much to my surprise, I actually liked it! The leader there was someone who was high-powered enough to be a TV fanatic, but cool enough to be able to relate with people my age and not sound “old-fashioned”. His name is Dan, and that first night started a chain reaction of events which changed my life. We talked on that night about Dan’s own struggle with pornography in High School, and how when Jesus died the curtain in the Holy of Holies was torn down the middle (it was 2-3 feet thick). Thinking back to this I think it has symbolic value in my own life, but more on that later. After that first meeting, I went back every week. Eventually I heard about this thing called Getaway, which was a huge youth conference down in South Carolina, on Myrtle Beach. I wanted so bad to go to that! That Getaway was the single most important event in my life so far BAR NONE. Nothing in my life so far has wrought such a big, and positive change in my ways. God really moved me down in SC; I was bedazzled with His glory!
continued in next post