Editors note: This blog post was originally published October 25, 2014 on my former blog Road to Twenty-Something.
As my right hand hit the send button on my digital Washington State University application, my left hand aggressively flipped-off my low rising bedroom ceiling.
“Fuck you, God,” I whispered. “I’m in control.”
I was confident I had made the worst decision possible. I had no knowledge it may be the best.
Eight months later, I’d leave who I was in that moment behind me. But before then I was vulgar, offensive, and hurting.
I wanted to be my own savior, and that meant being the antithesis of what I thought that label was.
An omnipotent dead guy with intangible returns wasn’t going to do anything for me. An living flawed self with tangible results would.
You see, this idea came about because of the environment I grew up in.
I was raised with an incredible amount of support and positive influence. My mom was a hardcore conservative Christian. My dad was whatever she wanted him to be.
I had aunts and cousins who also invested what they could in me. It wasn’t much, but it was all that they had.
I was well off for it.
But the good didn’t stop the bad from taking over. Dysfunction was rampant throughout my childhood. Beginning in middle school, and escalating through high school, that dysfunction overwhelmed everything else.
A lot happened in a few short years and my family began to rapidly deteriorate. A darkness seeped into each of our souls.
Personally, I don’t believe this circumstance was entirely unique to us. But a common problem doesn’t make the infliction any easier to handle.
So, deeply hurt and extremely ashamed, I ran away to school.
Initially, I had applied to several private colleges. I was accepted and determined to go.
Then I decided I didn’t desire any affiliation with the thoughts, the behavior, or the lifestyle that my family had instilled in me for so many years.
I wanted out. I wanted to be different. I wanted to look in the mirror and see the exact opposite of who I was at the time.
So, I picked WSU because I knew I would be accepted with my higher than average GPA and I had heard a lot of bad things about it’s culture.
I wanted to use that culture to my advantage. So, when I moved out of the house, I decided that I needed to drink, I needed to have sex, I needed to do drugs, and I needed to score a high salary career.
Yep, I used stereotypes as guidance. But, hey, I was home schooled for a bit. Cut me some slack.
I powered through the motions of High School graduation and summer, then I split.
My parents were worried and I had broken dozens of relationships, but hey, I was hurting as much as them. I really didn’t care.
Oddly enough, none of the thing I planned on doing to change myself happened during my first semester. They were available, but my interest was diverted by other things that roadblocked my intended path.
I met some awesome people that happened to be Christian and happened to truly understand the Bible and happened to know how to honestly apply the text to their lives.
I had claimed to be Christian too. Most of my life, actually. But it was more of a mask than anything truly life changing.
I’d decided at that particular point in my life that I didn’t want anything to do with it.
Despite this, I began to learn some new things. My idea of what Christianity signified began to change.
My idea of transformation and what it needed to be subtly shifted.
This shift included community.
If you read my blogs or social media posts frequently enough, you’ll hear me harp on community a lot. But, seriously, it’s a big deal.
During my struggle, I started attending these community building activities called “Village.”
Villages are gatherings hosted by Resonate Church. Meals are made and conversations are had. Nothing is weird. Nothing is awkward. It’s just an awesome way to connect with open-minded people.
With this, I had a lot of time to reflect and, in the midst of the chaos that all freshmen experience out on their own, I began to discover what 19 years of life experimentation deemed constant.
My constants were things like journalism and coffee. My constants were things like talking intentionally with people and being transparent.
I was looking in the mirror and seeing the exact opposite of what I had been before. But it wasn’t what I was expecting. It was so much better.
In the midst of this, my family continued to dissolve. I called home constantly. I tried to apply what I was learning to the situation.
In an eight month span of time, I visited home seven times. Before the first, I realized I had no control of their situation.
With that realization, I surrendered all of my control to God. It was the first time I’ve ever done that. It definitely won’t be the last.
While I didn’t entirely understand the ramifications of what I did, or how to explain what I was feeling to others, I rededicated my life to Christ.
Faith became a major player in my life again.
For the rest of the year, I rattled about an inconsistent lifestyle. The entire time, I was trying to be my new self in my old world.
I was continually asking “What if?”
That question came with it’s own set of problems, but none that compared to the ones I had before.
As the year progressed, I learned what I was passionate about and began to gain a vision of the man I was intended to become.
Still a boy, I was quickly whipped into shape.
You see, Freshman year was an incredible time of personal termoil and personal growth.
By the end of second semester, I was satisfied with who I was. My hurt was significantly lessened.
The Gospel had been presented to me, I had been presented to community, and that community was intentional. All of that radically changed the trajectory of my life.
I honestly don’t know where I’d be, or who I’d be, or what my trajectory beyond today would look like if I hadn’t flipped off my ceiling and said “Fuck you, God.”
I mean, I like to imagine God, in that moment, looking at my gesture and smiling. I picture Him knowing His intentions for me and rolling with the punches.
I might be wrong, but I like to think he works that way.
If I hadn’t moved to Pullman, I wouldn’t have found Jesus. I wouldn’t have found community. I wouldn’t have found me.
If I hadn’t moved to Pullman, I wouldn’t have a future. I wouldn’t have a direction. I wouldn’t have the strength that would get me through the rest of time.