My goal in sharing my story is to show how God has transformed my life and to give hope and inspiration to others. I was raised in a small town in Florida and grew up fairly sheltered. I was an only child and grew up without a father. I was actually physically bullied through much of my middle school aged years probably because I was socially distant, had a poor choice of friends and did not excel in sports. I decided to focus on weightlifting in high-school in order to defend myself. One natural trait that has always served me well is perseverance. I transformed myself to be a very strong and fit weight lifter, and my goal of warding off bullies worked very well. Through high-school, I also excelled in academics, an ability that continued into college.
I was overjoyed to enter college and did exceptionally well my first year. Actually, too well: academics were so easy for me that I decided to focus my attention elsewhere, the party scene. My initial intent was not to be too immersed in college parties, yet I had not learned to set any limits in high school, so it quickly took over my life. Drinking heavily turned into other bad habits and although I thought I had made a lot of friends at college keg parties, I would realize that when I hit my rock bottom, they were not friends. About half a year later my habits of going out to bars and night clubs grew so bad that I was unable to maintain my job or my academics for that matter. I found myself without classes, without a job, without money, and health problems. I quickly lost my so called friends and was too ashamed to call on my family for help. My family did eventually help me get half way on solid footing, yet I had lost my spark. I lost confidence in myself and quit weightlifting.
One day I was walking around the college campus (I had reenrolled) and a stranger asked me: “Do you know where your going when you die?” I said: “I have no idea”. He responded: “You can know.” I was inquisitive enough to ask and broken enough to not argue. This brokenness led me to Jesus and although I have had back slides, I never turned away from God again. When I say God transformed my life, I mean God transformed it. It was not religion. I started to genuinely care about people, forgive others, including myself. I realized I was made for much more than to struggle. I was made to thrive, inspire and to be inspired. Fast forward to today, I have a family: a beautiful wife and a wonderful son. I have a career and I am committed to serving God and others!
My main word of advice is do not underestimate what God can do in your life. Where you are at now is not where you are going to be. Avoid getting stuck in a negative mindset. God is capable of radical transformation and there is no reason why your life cannot be transformed.
Steven, what a great story. I too had a moment in school when I was just a skinny kid and wanted to be able to stick up for myself. Even though I played sports ok, I still was slightly bullied too and I totally understand your desire to lift weights in order to defend yourself. Isn't it amazing that with you, me and so many others who have made significant changes, especially with our Faith, that we all tend to get humbled during our "story?" Though hitting a rock bottom in our lives isn't the most desirable thing, it is something that many people have to go through before we can actually have a Check Your Game experience when we examine our lives and decide to get on a new and better path. I appreciate your humility and transparency in order to share this moment that changed your life for the best! Thanks again, Gary.