I used to believe in Jesus, a long time ago, when I was just a kid and I didn’t know any better. When I was a little boy, I believed in lots of things: like magic, and make-believe, and growing up happy with my mom and dad. When you’re young, you believe all sorts of stuff. It isn’t until later, when you become an adult, that you question all the things you once believed.
My dad left shortly after my first heart surgery, and although my mom did her best to raise my brother and me, she never fully recovered from her own damaged childhood and her lifelong struggle with the demons of depression. Two months after I had my last heart surgery, when I was fourteen years old, I walked upstairs one morning to wake my mom up, but it was too late. She left a suicide note next to the gun, but my brother and I never really knew why she did it. The last three words I spoke to her, on the night before she killed herself, were: “I hate you.” And she smiled at me and said: “I know you do, but I love you.”
The next fifteen years of my life were spent in the closest thing I’ve ever known to hell. I was consumed with thoughts of my own suicide, paranoia, constant alcohol and drug abuse, and a trail of broken and empty relationships. I survived my mom’s suicide, but I hated living so much I looked and acted like I was already dead. By the time I turned thirty, I no longer wondered if I would kill myself, I only wondered when and how I would kill myself.
It seemed, even in the darkness, that Jesus kept haunting me with his presence. No matter how far I tried to escape him, there he was. Just before I decided it was time for me to finally end things, I met a stranger who became a really good friend to me. This guy walked beside me, when I was at my very worst, even though he was a Christian and he went to church and all of that religious stuff. We hung out for two years and when I finally came to the end of my insistence on living life alone, I went to his church one night, and it was okay, and I accepted Jesus into my heart. And Jesus was happy to return.
I now believe in the Real Jesus, not the counterfeit I constructed for the majority of my life. The Jesus I read about in the Bible is nothing like the image I had of him before I actually knew him. I believe today in the Revolution of Jesus: a revolution of kindness, mercy, grace and compassion. I believe love is a gift from God, not to be kept and admired, but to be cherished as it is given away.
Today, gratefully, I am still alive.
And today, I believe…