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In Genesis Chapters 37 through 50, we see the making of a Man...a man of influence...a man of significance. Joseph was a Man placed in one of the most powerful positions in  all of Egypt. God raised him up into a position of prominence in a foreign culture, hostile to his faith.

God has placed a similar calling on each one of us...Joseph finished his life well...ultimately using his gifts, talents, abilities and acquired experiences for the sake of saving his loved ones...God has gifted us with an opportunity to do the same...

But, much like Joseph, our character will be forged by adversity...adversity will either make us bitter or better, depending on our perspective...Quality of life is dependent upon attitude...The scriptures tell us that godliness with contentment is great gain...the secret to happiness is not getting what we want, but wanting what we already have...

What a great epiphany it is for each of us, when the light bulb goes on and we realize that we are in no way lacking and that God himself is forming our character for a significant role in which we impact people's lives for eternity.

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Rob’s Testimony
March 1, 2014

 Rob’s Testimony

Because the years have enabled me to have some perspective…I know that what I was always longing for was… acceptance, belonging, and significance…The Bible says, “that in Him we live and move and possess our vessel”…in other words, we know who we are and why we are here…Like many of you…I had to learn the hard way that I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for apart from God…and yet the hard way was necessary, because it was the only way that I would be emptied of self-sufficiency to see clearly that what I was striving for, was already staring me in the face…If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead…you will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10)

The family I was born into was characterized by generational sin…a legacy of loss passed down from generation to generation. My parents and their parents before them, had bought the lie that true happiness came in the form of fulfilling drives, lusts and desires…that of course, could never be fully satisfied…Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life…living for what looks good, what feels good and what makes us feel self important…This was my family’s normal…years of striving to fit a square peg in a round hole…wrong ways of coping with life’s pain…perpetuated and passed down from parent to child…Like me, they did not understand that their hearts were longing for what the Psalmist spoke of in Psalm 73:25-“there is nothing on earth I desire besides you (God).

Both of my parents were born into families where addiction was prevalent and practiced…Alcoholism was most prominent… but really my parents and their parents self medicated their pain in a variety of ways…alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, love of money and materialism, unhealthy and co-dependant relationships, self-sufficiency, as well as trying to buy peoples love and acceptance. All of these ways of coping reared their ugly heads during my childhood.

My mother entered into a relationship with my father on the rebound from a failed marriage…She had been the victim of a date rape at age 21 and became pregnant…she did the expedient thing to cover over the ugliness of the situation and married the man who raped her…She grew up in a home environment where appearance was more important than truth…

My dad grew up with an alcoholic and physically abusive father…His mother was an enabler that would attempt to keep the peace at all costs…My dad had an unhealthy motivation to perform, seeking approval from His dad…but His dad was distant…never engaged in the family in any real way…Spent all his time trying to chase away his own demons…trying to find solace at the bottom of a bottle and taking out his frustration on his kids…My dad would eventually try to bury the events of His childhood, through his own battle with the bottle…Although my dad, at one point of his life, because he had no other choice, entered into a recovery process…He never allowed himself to see the value of confronting and entering into the pain of his past to find healing on the other side. Only on a couple of occasions and in passing did my dad open up to me and share some intimate details of his painful past…which included being hit over the head with a hammer, by his father, and being made to bury his younger sister’s aborted child in a milk carton in the back yard.

My dad excelled in sports and academics, graduated high school at 16 and earning an engineering degree at 19…He couldn’t get out of the house quick enough, and although he left ugly circumstances at 16, like the rest of us, he took all his unresolved pain and problems with Him…the cycle perpetuated…my dad begin trying to find what he was looking for, apart from God…covering up his pain with alcohol and unhealthy relationships…

My mom, still dealing with the aftermath of a failed marriage, date rape and unwanted child…and my dad with 5 failed marriages under his belt by the time he was 28, met, dated, married and tried to pretend away the past, ill- equipped for the present.

When I was born, On the surface, things looked good…My dad was considered a brilliant, up and coming, aeronautical engineer…My mom was a beautiful former model…a great trophy wife that completed the picture…they had the supposed American dream…status, stuff, and the right social set…But neither one of them were mature enough or equipped to deal with my older brother, let alone, a new baby…Their performance and appearance based foundation coupled with their unresolved issues…created a hostile and bitter environment…My dad didn’t want to parent, so he isolated and relied on the bottle more…

At age 4 and a half…their marriage failed and my dad left…this didn’t seem so weird to me at the time…it was my normal…My dad had never been engaged before… him leaving didn’t seem so different…

Interestingly, it was during this time that I began praying…I felt insecure and unsettled…I knew their was a God and that I needed him…It wouldn’t be until years later that I would actually know this God…but at this age and for many years, I would have a ritualistic laundry list of prayers that I would rattle off each night.

During this time my mom and dad rebounded into some very unhealthy relationships…My dad’s involvement in my life was sporadic at best…I learned years later that my dad’s way of coping, was to isolate himself from the sources of what was causing him shame…seeing me was an uncomfortable reminder of how he failed as a father…Proverbs tells us, “that isolation seeks it’s own way”…Running away, may make things easier for us, but it in no way makes things easier for those who love us…

Initially, my mom had terrible choice in men…again, she would throw off reason for the sake of expediency…she was in survival mode…but failing to think beyond the emotion of the moment, makes us vulnerable for putting ourselves and others in harm’s way…which is exactly what happened…

My mom picked men who were controlling and abusive toward her, as well to my brother and I. One man she shacked up with, beat me with a belt over 20 times for getting one mark wrong on a 1st grade school paper. I also watched him beat my brother across the face until his ears bled…One traumatic event, that still vividly plays in my head, is my mom attempting to escape from this man in her little yellow Datsun 510 sedan, and watching this 6’ 8”, 300-pound behemoth of a man shoot the tires out of her car with a shot gun… 

Not long after this incident…My mother and this man were the victims of a tent fire while they were camping in Mexico…They both suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns. My mother got out of the hospital first (I was staying with my uncle). This gave here the opportunity to escape…the opportunity for a new start.

Needless to say, at this time, although I couldn’t verbalize it, I was struggling with feeling rejected and abandoned, as well as feeling as though I could not trust people…even those I depended on the most…

My mom’s next choice wasn’t much better…a gang member filled with machismo…as a young boy I remember Him waking me up from a dead sleep and pointing to His blood stained, white t-shirt and telling me-“This is what it means to be a real man.” 

Not long after this failed relationship, my older brother was sent away to live with His dad…He set fire to our bedroom…that coupled with several other incidents, convinced my mom that she could not handle him 

After this relationship failed, we relocated to an apartment in Huntington Beach, CA. My dad still had little involvement in my life…My mom was trying her had at being a single mom…She was waitressing, doing a pretty good job of supporting us, but she was struggling…self medicating with alcohol and diet pills.

Over the years, and up until her death, my mom would trade habits…mostly alcohol and gambling (so would my dad)…and although I was able to work through personal issues… to honor her and make peace with her, my heart still grieves because she never made peace with herself…relinquishing control and surrendering her will to God, was something she would not let herself do…She died a painful death, imprisoned by her fears…

At age 7 God used me as matchmaker between my mom and step dad…I had saved up my allowance ($2) and wanted to take my mom to Captain Jack’s in Sunset Beach. My mom and step dad were acquaintances because he used to frequent her restaurant…As we were crossing the street toward the restaurant. We ran into him…They were making small talk and I asked her if He could come and eat with us. She said yes…and God began doing a work…

My step dad was a broken man, mourning the loss of His own 7 year old son, a year and a half earlier to leukemia. He told me, that at first it was very hard to look at me, because, I reminded him of the little blond boy he lost…But he said, eventually the reason he fell in love with my mom, is because he fell in love with me first.

My step dad was a gift from God…He treated me like His own, while leaving that little bit of distance for my paternal father to step up and take on His role…He was engaged, involved and fun…and although I don’t have his hard wiring, I get my demented sense of humor from him…To the best of His ability, He provided the sense of ‘Home’ my heart was longing for…

In the midst of all this good, there was still a lot of struggle and hostility. My brother and sister were born…seemingly creating a new family unit that made me feel like I was on the outs…My step dad did his best, but I just never felt as though I was really a part of the family…felt as though my mom used me as the target for frustration because I was a painful reminder of her past…Sometimes I felt as though she would be happier if I was not in the picture…I felt insignificant…like I didn’t measure up…Although I was smart and athletic…I struggled with timidity…couldn’t win the battle between the ears…It wouldn’t be until years later that I would understand the truth of Romans 12, that my thoughts needed to be transformed by the renewing of my mind…

At age 11, my biological father, confronted with the prospect of losing His seventh marriage,  entered “Care Unit” for his alcoholism…while he explained to me that he was getting help, he said something to me he had never said before…He said, “I love you.” We began to have more of a relationship at that point…and although It was never the quality of relationship that I had idealized in my head…I was able to make peace with it and accept it for what it was.

As a freshman in high school, I had a terrible baseball tryout, and although I officially made the club…I rode the pine and only played in one game. This rejection played into my thought processes…for years I would be plagued by these thoughts of insignificance…I felt like I was the ”Almost Guy”…almost smart enough…almost good enough. 

We relocated when I was a sophomore and things became more hostile in my house…I increasingly became my mom’s target…Puberty and a new school brought me something I never had before ‘popularity’...I sought solace in my new found friendships and isolated myself from home as much as possible…My drinking led to a DUI accident at age 17…this made the front page of our community newspaper and got me kicked off all sports teams…I spent 10 weekends in Juvenile hall…Although uncomfortable and painful…in retrospect…this was one of many events in my life that God used to reveal my desperate need for Him…That I was indeed poor in spirit and powerless to manage my life apart from God 

Not knowing how to deal with my own pain…I resorted to my family’s method of choice…avoidance and self-medication. At age 15 I began drinking and got involved in sexual relationships…I had been exposed to pornography at age 4 and that triggered an unhealthy perspective…for me…relationships and sex were need based and for the sake of my personal pleasure… 

This exposure to pornography and an unhealthy view of relationships and sex…would unfortunately lead to James 1:15 playing out in my life…evil desires lead to evil actions…evil actions lead to death. My unhealthy perspective of life and relationships and the role sex plays in them, led to the death of a marriage and the death of a child…

In my early 20’s I was stuck in survival mode…I had a failed marriage, in which I had been verbally abusive and controlling…I tried to drown the sorrow of that pain with booze and more sex…resulting in an unwanted pregnancy…At this point in my life I was still praying…I had a form of godliness(but denying its power therein)…Comparatively I would have considered myself normal…I had a morality…there were certain lines I would not cross…abortion was one of them…

But because I was the foolish man who built his house upon the sand…the emotional storm caused my form of godliness to crumble…Proverbs says ‘there is a way that seems right unto a men, but the end therein is destruction’…I was dealing with life, the accepted cultural way…the same way my family had always dealt with things… Trying to control my circumstances and deal with things the world’s way, instead of surrendering to God’s will and dealing with things His way…

It was during this time that Mary Beth and I met…both coming out of circumstances where we felt very rejected and lost…two lost people with no capacity for a healthy relationship, finding comfort in each other’s arms…to say our relationship was rocky, is a big understatement…we didn’t just have baggage, we had storage units.

We placed incredibly unrealistic expectations upon one another and built up a tremendous amount of resentment…we placed way too much dependency upon each other and I did not trust her enough to fully devote myself to her…

We began living together…began playing house…during this time I decided that I didn’t want to be a flake anymore…I was going to pull myself up by my bootstraps and make something of myself…Up until this point…I felt I had the ‘anti-midas’ touch…everything I touched turned to crap…So I set some goals…determined to dig myself out of my failed past. It wasn’t until years later that I would begin to grasp the simple profound truth of Matthew 6:33…”seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. 

All this time I still longed for that sense of significance…belonging…acceptance…always longed for family…Katelyn being born out of wed-lock was a motivating factor to start getting my stuff together…

A couple years later, I thought we had arrived…respectability…new house…new car…beautiful daughter…we had even grown somewhat in our relationship, because we had weathered some storms together. Everything should have been good…but this was the emptiest time of my life…I made it to my mountain top and once I got there, my thought was…is this all there is? I had accomplished some goals, but was still saddled with all the unresolved sin and pain of my past…

This was a tormenting, yet valuable time for both myself and Mary Beth…I new I wasn’t right with God…I knew I wasn’t right in my relationships…but I was afraid to confront that pain…and I didn’t really know how to…

I began asking Mary Beth a lot of questions…because she had at least a nominal Christian upbringing…I was afraid I was going to go to hell…Prompted by the Holy Spirit, I went and bought  a Bible, attempted to read Revelation and Ezekiel and began to (literally) scare the Hell out of myself…

It was in essence a 6 month deprogramming program…at the end of which I was confronted with the truth of who God was and what Had done for me…I realized that Jesus went to that cross for me…and now I could embrace that truth and surrender my life to God, or continue to live a lie and self-medicate myself into the grave.

It was during this time that I was also confronted with the reality of the kind of legacy I was going to leave behind to my new born child if I did not honestly confront my past and my present.

Also, during this time, my recovery began, and although I would not have been able to verbalize it, I begin understanding my need for discipleship. MB and I not only began to grasp the reality that we were indeed “poor in spirit,” we also began to own that our lives were unmanageable apart from God.

Through a nominal Christian friend God led us to church home where we received solid biblical teaching and began developing supportive friendships…It was also during this time that I came aware of the value of being part of a small group…where I received modeling and mentoring that enabled me to surrender more and more of my life to Christ’s care and control…

At this point the Lord orchestrated a crossroads in my discipleship journey. Throughout our relationship I had been was very deceptive and had held a lot of things back from MB… I began to understand that If I was to ever be the man I wanted to be and the husband MB deserved, I needed to come clean with her about my infidelity during the time we were living together up until the time we were married.

I sat one night in a church service…under the conviction of the Holy Spirit…knowing I had to go home and tell my wife things that would not only hurt her, but tear down an image of me that she had always held…I was scared to death, thinking it would destroy my marriage and family…

That night as I rolled around in bed unable to sleep…I kept trying to find reasons to not tell her…but the pressure was too great…so I confessed to her in a way that I would not recommend to anyone…I woke her up out of a dead sleep at 2 am…It was horrific…as the details spilled out…she ran from the room and went into the bathroom and vomited.

I felt better, but she felt worse…At first I thought I made a mistake…things were strained for a couple weeks…but what Satan meant for evil God meant for our good and His glory…There was an intimacy and a genuineness in our relationship that began to develop, that had not been there before…We began to develop real intimacy and began acting as a team… as partners…we began truly building our lives upon the rock.

I have left our a lot of details, but for the sake of time, I’m going to sum up-

The enemy comes to steel, kill and destroy; but Jesus comes to give us life, and that more abundantly…

We have both been involved in this discipleship…this recovery… for a number of years now…it is an ongoing journey…a relationship where we must abide…we must stay connected to God and God’s people, so that we can put off the wrong worldly ways of coping and put on God’s ways…

Through the relationships and resources God has brought our way…we have been able to progress and grow in a discipleship journey, that has not only imparted healing to us, but has empowered us to be salt and light…partakers of the divine nature and Great Commission ministers. We no longer, as Paul said, “Live like unbelievers in the futility of our minds.” We know why we were created and why we were redeemed. We can answer the age old questions-“Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” 

To this day we know that we need to continue to intentionally live our lives according to the principle of Psalm 119:133- “Lord direct my steps so that evil will not overtake me.” It is Biblical principles and Holy Spirit empowerment that overcomes unhealthy ways of dealing with life…We now look at life through a lens of victory, knowing that the same power that rose Jesus from the dead has taken up residence in us.

By the ongoing willingness to surrender to God’s way and His word…I have found these two things, among others, to be experientially true…God will give us beauty for ashes…strength for fear…and If we delight in the Lord He will give us the desire of our hearts…

God gave me…gave us…a new legacy…acceptance, belonging, family, purpose…Again, I now know why I am here and what I am to do…

Filed under: Character

1 COMMENT | POST A COMMENT

On Sunday, March 2, 2014, Patience Kirabo said
Thank you for sharing. I am blessed for reading this.

 



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