I grew up living a fake life disguised as a good Christian guy. I was raised in a Christian household and encouraged by my parents to be a worship leader. I was taught all the right things to do and all the right things to say. I believed in God and learned about Jesus as a child but instead of taking the lessons I learned and letting them mold me, I learned how to use them to manipulate and hide what was truly happening in my life.
When I was a teenager, I walked away from God and church. By the time I turned 19, I realized that the life that I was living was not reflective of the lessons my parents had taught me. I knew I wasn’t who God wanted me to be either, so I went back to church.
Playing the Right Part
I attended a church with one of my friends and I was quickly encouraged to get plugged in, so I started playing music there. Soon enough, I was leading worship for a sizable college group on Friday nights, at the satellite campus on Sunday mornings and again for the Sunday night worship service. I was easily leading about 2,000 people a week. This was huge to me! Though I was at church 3 or 4 days a week and my ministry was growing, my personal relationship with God was shrinking. But I was still very good at hiding my struggles, so my disguise remained intact.
Eventually, I began working for this church and soon after I started a relationship with a really great girl there. Everyone around me, even this girl, thought that I was the perfect Christian and I was doing a pretty good job at playing that role, until four months into our relationship, my girlfriend got pregnant.
This was the first hole torn in my good Christian disguise.
In order to be in the church’s good graces, I stopped leading worship while my girlfriend and I attended counseling and got a checklist of things to do. Sadly, I already knew exactly how to put on that good Christian disguise, jump through every hoop and over every hurdle in order to make this process go faster. Once again, I said all right things and did all the right things. I spent my entire life talking the talk and this time was no different. Though I seemingly changed on the outside, nothing was changing inside my heart.
Hiding More Lies
My life went on like this for a while. After finishing our counseling and having the baby, my girlfriend and I got married. I no longer had my job at the church so I got a “regular job” and returned to leading worship as a volunteer. The new job brought on a lot of stress. My co-workers became my new community so I dealt with my stress the way they did; I started drinking. And while I started drinking to bury my stress, I had really turned to drinking to bury my lies. It was easier to drink than to deal with the façade I was living.
I was able to keep up the disguise and balance my drinking and my church life for a while. I thought I could handle it until one night I was driving drunk and completely wrecked my car. Yet another massive hole was torn in my good Christian guy disguise.
This is when I realized that something had to change.
There I was, a popular worship leader at a mega church who got his girlfriend pregnant and had a DUI that could have killed someone. I thought that I had hit rock bottom but it only got worse.
Beyond Rock Bottom
I spent the night in jail. The next morning I called my wife to pick me up and realized I had no idea where I was. When I finally got home, I emailed the leadership at my church and told them that I was sorry, I messed up and I was done. I spent the next 11 months in court for my DUI and worried more about the financial burden of my actions than any of the spiritual ramifications. My disguise was ruined and my family and I went from being at church several times a week to every other Sunday. Eventually I stopped going altogether and my wife started taking our daughters without me.
One day my wife came home and told me that she wanted our daughters to feel safe and that she no longer felt safe with me. That was the moment that I realized that I didn’t just have a few lapses of judgment but I was living an entire lifestyle of stupidity.
There were no more holes to tear in it, my disguise was ruined.
I did not want to lose my family. The thought of going from seeing my wife and children every day to possibly once a week was devastating. That reality changed everything. I could not run or disguise myself anymore.
Removing the Disguise
We needed a change, so my family and I started attending Sandals Church because we were told it was a place where we could be ourselves. Someone told me, “Come as you are. No matter how jacked up you are, just come and focus on Jesus and let him do the rest.” I found that to be totally true.
My wife and I got involved in a small group that truly cared about us. The other people and couples in our group weren’t perfect, but they really wanted to see us succeed and wanted to be a part of our journey. This was new. These were people who wanted to take our hands, get deeply involved in our lives and walk with us down a road that many of them had traveled before. There was no way for me to wear a disguise with these people. When people are that up close and personal, you have to be real.
It was then that I realized that in my running and disguising myself, I wasn’t running from my problems but I was running from God.
I thought the scariest thing was people finding out who I truly am, when it was actually almost losing my family because they had no idea who I really was. This is what saved my marriage. My wife and I no longer had to walk alone but we had a family who wanted to help us figure out life. We survived by being real with others because that’s where God works.
My wife and I now host our own small group. This group of people who were once strangers are now becoming our friends and we don’t just love each other at arm’s length but are right there together every step of the way.
It’s great being at a place in my life where I can be honest about my struggles and allow God to heal them.
I would love to say that I no longer make stupid choices (because I totally do), but the difference is that when I make them now I’m quickly reminded by those around me of the road that I should take instead. It turns out I don’t need to lie to be loved and that makes that good Christian guy disguise completely pointless now.