Healing My Brokenness

In the midst of God working in my heart, teaching me about serving and generosity, He was working in other areas of my life. My battle with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and depression had been raging on all the while these other things were happening. I had decided a while ago I needed to do things differently than in the past. I began seeing a counselor as a way to start doing some of the hard work in getting to the bottom of my battle with anxiety. I had little foreknowledge that God was about to do a miracle in the middle of my brokenness.

Ever since being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, prescription medications have been a part of my daily existence. Originally, these were the only thing which put a stop to me spiraling out of control. So I would not say that I am anti-medication by any means. I do believe they serve a certain purpose, but far too many times they become the only form of treatment. There is also this tendency to stay on medication for far too long without seeking other forms of treatment such as counseling.

So in the middle of God doing such a work in other areas of my life, I felt this need to attempt and work through the anxiety without the help of medication. I believed that getting off of my anti-anxiety medication would allow me to try to properly process anxiety using what I learned through counseling. So I began the journey of weaning off of this medication with the proper support of close friends and my counselor. I also ended up telling my doctor partway through the process who also supported me.

NOTE: I do not recommend doing this without the proper support. This is my story and I share it in hopes of encouraging others. I am not recommending this as a course of action for others. I waited to tell my doctor because I was afraid. Ironic, I know. Now I do wish I would have told her earlier in the process. I believe it would have been easier if I had done so.

During this time of weaning off medication, I pushed myself to do things I normally would not do. I traveled out of state with my friend Wilkey to lead volunteers in launching new Life.Church campuses. This does not seem like a big deal for most, but traveling was something which would invoke lots of anxiety for me personally. I believe in the cause of Life.Church so much, I was willing to put myself in the middle of a storm to lead others to become fully-devoted followers of Christ. I was willing to set aside something I loved, my comfort, for something I loved even more, reaching those who do not know Christ.

Initially, I only wanted to be free of my anti-anxiety medication. After making it through the process of weaning off my anti-anxiety medication, I also wanted to be free of anti-depressants. So, again I went down the road of weaning off of this medication. My doctor had instructed me in the proper step down methods, amounts, etc. NOTE: This can be extremely dangerous if not done properly. This was extremely difficult time for me.

Fast forward to today, where I am now off of ALL of my prescriptions. Praise God! Once God had granted me freedom from anxiety medications, I began to dream about what God could do through my story. A part of this wondering included being completely medication free. This was something I was told was not possible.

Knowing that God could use my story as a means of hope for others pushed me even more. I began to surrender my story so God could tell (His) story through the lens of my life. Once I got to this point of surrender, everything else begin to snowball, in a God way. This past weekend I celebrated my six month anniversary for being medication free! Here I am continuing to tell my story, in hope that (His) story may be made known to all.

Pursuing Your Dream

Photo by  Andreas Wagner  on  Unsplash

So here I was with a mountain of debt , several app ideas, and little understanding of what it would take to make the apps a reality. The problem was I needed these apps to show to potential clients and to make money. Little did I know at the time, I had way too much riding on these ideas. I was asking these apps to do way too much, I had no clear path to make even one of them a reality, and I needed income.

Push Pause

In the middle of pursuing my dream, I had to push pause for a minute. The combination of attending Full Sail University, subsequently leaving Apple to focus on Full Sail, and the newly minted pile of debt from Full Sail put me in a very desperate position. I needed income and was feeling somewhat hopeless when God revealed to me that He had already given me what I needed. Out of obedience, I begin to use what He had put in my hands to provide an income. I began applying the skills I learned while at Apple Retail to start earning an income.

And while this business was not quite what I had imagined, it was a way to meet some of my basic needs. So I pressed into building a customer base. I hated sales as a general concept, so I tried to find any way to tell others exactly what I did in a non-sleazy way. I help people with Apple products…I would tell them. Word got around and referrals became more common. It was never quite what I wanted it to be and for good reason. God never intended me to stay there, I was just passing through.

My time spent helping others with their technology was largely a form of giving. While I did get paid, I was better at giving then I was at finding ways to earn a living as a technical consultant. I guess in the back of my mind I always knew what I truly wanted to do. As I continued this journey, a good friend named Nathan introduced me to a place where my technical skills could impact the “Capital C” Church.

Give, Give, Give

It was here, serving in the IT department at Life.Chuch where Jesus began something new. I began by configuring technology for new employees or new campuses. My troubleshooting ability and my familiarity with Apple products served me well. I began to see a side of Life.Church that I had never experienced. The more I served the more Jesus worked in me. Soon, I was part of the team and serving was something I needed. To see God use your unique talents and abilities to change lives brought me to a new place in my walk.

It was not long before I was traveling places to help launch new campuses. God introduced me to a new friend named Tyler a.k.a. “Wilkey.” Tyler saw something in me and invited me to come alongside him as we lead local volunteers to launch campuses. It was here where my dream began to change. It was here where God began to heal my brokenness. I was now a part of the IT Volunteer Leadership Team at Life.Church.

Infectious Culture

The more time I spent serving at Life.Church with Wilkey, the more I grew as a leader and more importantly as a follower of Jesus. My time serving was as much of a gift to me as it was to the church. I have always embraced generosity as one of my core values. But being in and around the team at Life.Church Central offices brought this value to a new level in my life. I saw these people living the organizational values and it changed me. Typically as someone gets closer to an organization, they discover things which let them down or disappoints them. The closer I grew to my Church, the more I could not get enough.

Many times pursuing your dream looks different walking forward verses looking in the rearview. I can now see how I needed to push pause to watch God provide. It helped me learn to persevere. I needed to learn more about what it is to serve and give. It was here God healed my brokenness. I also experienced a culture, I have never experienced before. It was here, God refined my dream.

Defining Your Dream

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Defining Your Dream

It takes courage to put a stake in the ground and define your dream. There is a lot at stake and it is much easier to just leave things unsaid. Placing specifics around the who, the what, the why and the how of your dream puts a person in a place where they could ultimately be disappointed or hurt. Dreaming is a bit of a double-edged sword. Part of dreaming is this safe, utopic-like time filled with warm and fuzzy feelings. The other side of dreaming involves a conscious self-realization which allows one to really specify what they believe God has put them here for. Both of these types of dreaming are valuable and required for the full life which Jesus spoke about so many times in the Bible. Here in this article, I hope to put my stake in the ground. I hope to do what I would encourage each one of you to do which is to dream with intentionality.

Pivotal Moments

Back in 2008 I was working for Apple, when a series of events unfolded which became turning points in my life as a believer and my career as a mobile developer. In a six month period of time, I learned I loved apps and wanted to work in this field. Second, I saw my church, Life.Church, release the Bible App which would change the way many engage with the Bible forever. Third, I started down the path towards a career as a mobile developer. Looking back it is easy to see, but walking through the events I had no clue just how pivotal these events would become in my life.

My Love for Apps

Oh wow, it is 2008, the iPhone is still a new piece of technology, Apple launched this app on the iPhone called the App Store and I am awestruck by this combination of events. App developers of all kinds are seizing the gold rush of the App Store by publishing their apps to the App Store. I am determined to stay on top of all the latest and greatest apps in the App Store. I was working for Apple Retail which gave me plenty of time and made this task super convenient. Being the resident App expert at our Apple Store gave my time there even greater meaning.

Life.Church Releases YouVersion

So here I was enjoying the glory days of the App Store and the iPhone when my church, Life.Church, releases the Bible as an app. Much like Bobby Gruenewald, I had longed to engage in the Bible in a more consistent way, but I had struggled to do so because I did not always have my Bible around with me wherever I went. With the release of the Bible App, I was now afforded the convenience that many have longed for. The Bible was now with me everywhere I went. The App was gaining unbelievable traction in the App Store and it was an exciting time to say the least.

The accessibility of YouVersion was a wonderful convenience, but was not an overnight game-changer in terms of my daily walk with God. I would say my Bible engagement went way up, but it took some work on my part to engage with the Bible on a daily basis.

My Time at University

In 2011, I started down the road towards my dream of becoming a mobile developer by enrolling in the Mobile Development Bachelor of Science at Full Sail University Online. In many ways, I believed this would give me the credibility to enter into my career as a mobile developer. At this point working at YouVersion was only a nice, warm and fuzzy type dream. It sounded like a wonderful, great idea, but the dream had no legs at this point in time. Over the next few years, Full Sail University would prove to be more of a burden than anything.

Empty Promises and misplaced attempts at validation

At the end of a few years at FSO, the program had drastically failed to deliver on what it promised. My class of sixteen students was the inaugural class for the Mobile Development Bachelor of Science at Full Sail University. Out of a total of sixteen students, I was one of four left in the program who would make it to the final academic year of the program. The other twelve had dropped out due to a university program which was severely lacking or for personal problems.

The staff and administration at the university were unwilling to listen or act on any input I was providing them regarding the new mobile development program I was attending. I was without any portfolio pieces to begin my career and I now had a huge mountain of debt which was overwhelming. The promised portfolio projects did not exist. In the software world we call these projects vaporware.

Perseverance

The program was no longer delivering the quality education the school promised and instead of graduation getting closer, it seemed farther away. I was spending an absorbinant amount of time each day on school knowing these projects were useless when it came to future employers or clients. Fourteen hour days back to back to back were commonplace. I could not hold down any sort of work due to the time commitment needed by the program. I was too far into the program to just back out. I owed well over $40,000 in FSO school loans.

Tough Decisions

Here I found myself at a crossroads of sorts, keep going to school knowing it would do little to help me land work, or pursue other avenues such as building my own projects. I had several ideas in mind, but I had put these aside while I got what I initially thought was proper applied computer science education. I was burning the candle at both ends and I had little to show for the time or money invested with FSO. At this time, I had no intentions of working for anyone else. I had lost all hope of working for Life.Church, after applying to work for Life.Church many times without any potential leads. I wanted to build my own products and possibly take on independent contract work. This was my dream.

Recognizing Pivotal Moments

So here I was, my dream had effectively stalled. Instead of bringing me closer to my dream, I had managed to put more obstacles between me and my dream. Each of these events were turning points in the pursuit of my dream or my Chazown. Realizing my vocation, watching as YouVersion was released to the world, and my time at university all taught me things and all point towards my Chazown. By taking time to look back at these now, it is easy to see God at work. I can also see God pointing me towards something I could not see at the time.