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.
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.