James Daman | Guest Writer
My name is James and I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who has overcome sexual sin and anger.
The person I am today is not the same person that I was eight years ago when I walked through the doors of Celebrate Recovery. I was a broken man. I was living a lie, I had no idea what God’s path was for me, and I didn’t know the truth about who I was. I didn’t know what it meant to truly have a relationship with someone, especially Christ. This is the story about who I was and who I am now.
I grew up in the Midwest, the son of a pastor and for many years, I felt like I couldn’t be honest. Even as a child, I felt like my behavior was constantly monitored and that I had to mask who I truly was. Everyone in my church knew me as the Pastor’s kid, so if I misbehaved, it was immediately noted and reported back to my Dad, who was the pastor. This happened so often, that my Mom took over my Sunday school class. I guess she was tired of hearing about my behavior and needed to manage it constantly. I also had a severe speech impediment as a child; it was so bad that I couldn’t even say my name. When I would stutter at home, my little brother would hold my throat just so I could talk, which for some reason, always helped.
I was relentlessly bullied as a child due to my speech impediment and the fact that my family didn’t have a lot of money. This made school brutal, I couldn’t find much solace at home because my parents divorced when I was 9 and told me that I had to choose which parent I would live with. I chose my Dad, but he worked a lot and wasn’t home much, so when I brought home good grades, no one was there, except the TV and video games. The bullying and loneliness I felt as a child made me feel like I was lost in a black box, where I couldn’t find the exit. I knew I needed to get out, but couldn’t. The divorce made things very difficult at home.
My life at this point was tough, I had family members in my life that would constantly curse at me say things like “I wished you were never born.” However, God had his eye on me because he put someone else in my life.
I had weekly appointments with my speech therapist and counselor. God put her in my life to show me what unconditional love meant! I took solace in the time we spent together. She helped me gain confidence in myself and overcome my stutter. I got more involved in my church and went to a church camp for most of the summer. At summer camp, I made so many friends and I wasn’t bullied at all; I felt transformed in this environment and accepted Christ into my heart in middle school. I was heartbroken when I had to move on to my last year of middle school without the support of my speech therapist due to changes in the school district. Starting school again, meant summer camp was over and I soon lost touch with the Christian friends I met.
I had a few friends my last year of middle school but I was still bullied constantly. I spent most of time outside of school playing video games and most of my time in school planning how I was going to beat them. During my transition from middle school to high school, I was introduced to the “cool kids” and craved their attention and because I spent so much time with them, we became like a family. I felt accepted and not threatened by my peers for the first time besides church camp. I noticed that they paid the most attention to me when I emulated everything they did, including things I’m not happy about. I got even more attention from them when I took things to the extreme and went even further than they did. Looking back on this period of my life, I realized these “friends” really took advantage of me. I never got back what I gave them.
Krissy Field | @KrissyMField
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
I suffer from anxiety. And I’m not talking about occasional times where I’m worried about things. I mean I have a perpetual feeling of unease. It might be about something. It might be about everything. It might be about nothing at all. This is something that I keep very secret. I do not like people knowing, so it’s not something I talk about. Only a handful of people know and they don’t even know to what extent it is. I am anxious, right now, as I type this. But, God laid this on my heart to share. I tried to get out of it, but He wouldn’t let me. So, here we are.
For as long as I can remember, I have had some sort of anxiety. Worry was always the word we used for it. I can remember my parents saying “Don’t worry about it!” But, that was so much easier said than done. I tried. Oh how I tried to just quit worrying. But there was always just something that I could find to have concern over.
When I was in high school, I was having some real stomach problems. It finally got to where I needed medical help. The doctor figured out that I had a stomach ulcer. And it was concluded that I had given myself the ulcer from worrying. And I think, as an adult, what was there to worry about that much in high school. EVERYTHING.
Matt Coker | @MatthewSCoker
My name is Matt Coker and I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with pornography, overeating, depression, and co-dependency.
I’ve given my testimony a quite a few times in the past few years, and I’ve always focused a lot on what God has saved me from. But now that I’ve got some significant clean time under my belt, I plan on also sharing what God has done with me since. But first, let me tell you how I got here.
Usually, when I give my testimony in person, it's when I'm standing in Celebrate Recovery meeting. And not many people tend to come to CR because they have a problem with pornography. But statistically, 80% of the men and 50% of the women have viewed pornography in the last month and 50% of the men and 20% of the women look at it habitually, addictively. In fact, that's true of ALL men and women.
So, the odds that you reading this right now have a problem with pornography are high.
I'm about to say something that might shock you, but I beg you to read until the end. Don't jump ship when I say this, because it's hard for me to admit, but a necessary part of my story: I’m a registered sex offender. And when someone wears that label, people immediately assume you have done the worst, most disgusting, perverted, devious things a human being can do and you are endangering them and their children just by existing.
So, what did I do to get put on this list?
Jeff Weddle | @anti_itcher
“Hey, look at the cross-eyed monkey!” yelled the girl in front of me in the lunch line. Everyone turned to look.
Yup. I’m cross eyed. The official word for my eye problem is Juvenile Retinoschisis. I’m legally blind. I can’t drive. I can’t recognize faces well. I am not, however, a monkey.
Kids love to point out faults in others. I had an obvious fault they loved to pick on. I had a few good friends, but my larger experience with people is that they were all creepy jerks.
I tried as often as possible to melt into the background. If I don’t get noticed, I won’t get picked on. I kept my mouth shut. I also observed people so I could find their faults in case I needed to rip on them to defend myself.
By the time I was in junior high, I had sarcasm and ridicule down to a science. They became my most redeeming qualities. Friends would sit next to me just to hear my hilarious diatribes against teachers or other kids. I was a jerk, but a funny one.
Joseph Brazil | @blackdog575
We’ve all heard of them. Chances are you’ve seen them on Sunday morning, or your kids go to school with one or two. They’re just different enough from others their age, yet they’re difficult to single out of a group. Strangely, they’re the only classification of today’s youth commonly recognized by an acronym: P. K.
They’re the behind-the-scenes, Sunday morning utility players, who always seem to get those inglorious, but always essential, tasks, such as moving tables in the fellowship hall or spot-checking the bathroom trashcans before Sunday School.
I’m one of these P. K.’s., being born to parents who willingly entered the front lines of ministry. I owe them a great deal of thanks for understanding the need to raise up children to follow after Christ personally, not just by example or because it’s what they were being paid to do.
Ellen Martin | @ellenmartin03
Because the ministry of The Back Row focuses on healing, I will tell my story of healing. I cannot summarize everything Jesus has done for me. He is continually transforming my life. I am so incredibly grateful for and humbled by all He has done and continues to do.
I’m currently 23 years old and completing my Masters of Education degree. I grew up in a Christian home. I have two younger brothers – aged 21 and 17. I accepted Christ when I was seven years old at a Christmas Eve service at my church. I did not know how much that small prayer would affect my life. In fact, I still have lots to learn. I was baptized at age ten at my grandparent’s cottage. Life has been an incredible and crazy journey ever since.
I attended a Baptist church from when I was six until I was twelve years old. After a series of events, my family was asked to leave the church. At that time, I realized I had a decision to make. I could either stand up for Jesus for the rest of my life, or succumb to the devil’s wishes and turn from the church.
Throughout my teenage years I struggled with honouring my parents. We were close during my childhood, but I struggled with trusting and listening to them once I reached my mid-teenage years. Emotionally separating myself from my parents left me feeling unloved and unwanted. As a result, I ended up seeking love from the wrong people.
Brian McKay | @RealBrianMcKay
When I started thinking about the overarching theme of my life as a Christian, it became readily apparent what I should write about.
Doubt. Perfectionism. Overthinking.
These are all issues that I deal with on a daily basis. It sounds like a lot, but they're all connected.
It really started when I became a Christian at age 10. One of the things I've always dealt with is a kind of obsessive personality. When I was young, for example, I loved Pokémon. I loved learning about the U.S. presidents. I wanted to know everything I could about certain topics. As a Christian, it kind of continued. I wanted to please God more than anything. If I did something I considered sinful, I asked forgiveness immediately. The problem was, I convinced myself that pretty much everything I did was sinful (which, I realize now, it wasn't). I felt that if I sinned, God was just kind of standing there, slowly getting ready to walk away unless I repented. I just never wanted to do anything that dishonored God. Like, I understood that I was saved by faith, but I still had this underlying feeling that if I didn't repent immediately, I wouldn't be right with God enough to get to Heaven.
The real, brutally honest testimonies to God's redeeming power from people on The Back Row.