I was born in Sugar Land, Texas where I grew up going to church between two homes. My parents divorced when I was not even a year old and my Dad remarried when I was two, so I never knew anything different. I’ve only recently realized the impact that growing up between two churches had on me. This instilled the knowledge that there was not only one way to do church. I grew up seeing and practicing in two different expressions of church.
Growing up in a divorced household also made me feel like I didn’t have a real home. My Dad assured me, “You have two homes!” But that wasn’t particularly encouraging. The longing for home remained deep inside me. Growing up between two houses led me to find home not in a place, but rather in a person—God; who was the only one that seemed consistent no matter where I was.
Though I grew up in church and was baptized at the age of eleven, I was fourteen when my faith came alive. I was at a youth group retreat. I had been a regular Christian, but not a faithful Christian. During one of the worship times, I sensed God saying to me, “I want you to either get in or get out. No more half-hearted faith.” I emerged from that weekend inspired, my heart full. I thought to myself, Why do we go on retreats and emerge with spiritual highs that only last for a little while? I found an answer in Acts 2:42. We spend retreats devoted to teaching, fellowship, meals, and prayer—no wonder we feel awe! I reasoned, What if after the retreat, we kept doing this? So, after this retreat, I began avidly reading Scripture.
Throughout high school, I rooted myself in one church where I became very involved in the youth group, made my closest friends, and played drums in a musical group that reshaped the worship practice of the whole church.
I went to college at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas to pursue the things I loved. I studied Biblical Text and joined a church with my best friends. This church exposed us to a more charismatic worship style, which we found new and inspiring. We became part of a college small group and our community grew wider and deeper. I began leading one of these small groups. By the end of college, I was engaged to a girl I had met in the group and joined the college ministry staff at the church. The summer after graduating, I directed a discipleship school that the church hosted for college students. In the winter, I married the girl.
We lived in Abilene together for nearly two years. These years were difficult. I found myself vocationally stuck at this church and spiritually exhausted. I had sung so loud, I’d lost my voice. My relationship with God grew dull. During this season, I found my voice again in liturgical traditions. Praying prayers with words that I didn’t have to stir up was deeply refreshing and I began following the liturgical calendar. My wife and I both felt dissatisfied and stuck in Abilene, so we made plans to move to Seattle for graduate school.
Moving to Seattle held much hope for me. I hoped for a church community to grow in, for vocational connections as I pursued a Master of Divinity at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, and for renewal in my marriage. Less than two months after moving to Seattle, my wife asked for a separation and then shortly after filed for divorce. I was broken and alone in a city that was entirely strange to me. I found care that first year through the church I had joined. Some of the leaders walked with me through that difficult season and encouraged me that God still blessed my call to ministry. The church helped me afford to go to counseling where I found healing and renewal. I also found a great deal of support through classes and friends at school.
Throughout my time in Seattle, God’s persistent grace and kindness have continued the work of healing and preparation. In school, I have learned to integrate theology with models of developmental psychology and cultural engagement. In church, I have practiced gifts of teaching and leading in worship. In relationships, I have continued to heal and grow. Today, I continue seeking to grow in relationship with God and live out my calling to serve and shape the church.