This is a companion to my music background and site history; both share some details in common, but feature different emphases. I recommend interested visitors to read both. In short, each relatively briefly describes experiences in my life through different lenses, much as each of the Gospels relate Jesus’ life and influence through different lenses. However, just as one eye doesn’t function quite as well on its own as it would with the other, so may one story here not be quite as effective without the other.
My family and I had never committed to a church, and I didn’t grow up with any strong Christian values or traditions. I had hardly known about anything in the Bible or about most any doctrines/beliefs. For years, I didn’t even know of my need for a Savior, and nobody in my family informed me, anyway. Even worse, if they actually did at some point, I thought nothing of it at the time. So, what kind of background do I have, then? Or do I have one at all? Well, I certainly don’t have a religious background. Which may well actually be a good thing, because real Christianity is not even a religion! It is a relationship with God. That, I’ve now had, by God’s grace and love. I can feel confident now calling myself Christian—“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, and your household”, says Acts 16:31 in the Bible. Exactly how did my journey called life cross and merge into the path to God and faith, however? In short, I wouldn’t have arrived where I stand now spiritually, without friends, music, storms, and definitely God and the death of my self.
I’m Set Apart - 2000 To 2003Note: Listed years are approximate dates when the chapter occurred in my life.
Perhaps all along, I had had some sort of internal inclination toward seeking God, but I just didn’t know it at first. Unknowingly, during the middle of my time in middle school, and especially during my first year in high school, I formed and strengthened values that God commands us in the Bible to uphold. I realized back then that generally speaking, I didn’t exactly fit in with my peers. More specifically, for example, I shunned vices that seemed common, such as premarital sex, lust, drinking, and drug abuse. Where is fun in such stupidity? What’s the point of drinking and/or drugging oneself to a high, only to come crashing down? Where’s the rationale behind trying to drink one’s problems away, when in actuality, the problems never go away, and instead multiply? What’s the point of harming one’s body and mind with such substances that are largely illegal, anyway? And the point of raping and/or fornicating? Is it for pleasure? Rebellion? Minutes worth of “pleasure” are not worth the longterm guilt, shame, and health complications that premarital sex give almost without fail. And as for rebellion, what’s the point? Committing vice, just to rebel: What does that accomplish in the end? Nothing. I knew all that even before reaching middle school, yet some live their whole lives without ever learning that, or worse, they reject that. What a shame! We all can do so much more than just live for the moment, living to fulfill just ourselves. I knew that even before I found God, and if I could help others to know that, as well, I certainly would. Who knows if He had worked on me without my realizing it, helped keep me away from the sex and drug scene in adolescence? I don’t know. All I knew is that I felt different from most everyone else, set apart. A few years later, I would learn that we as Christians are to set ourselves apart from the rest of the world—we’re in the world, but we’re not to be of it.
One Drop Of Hope, From One Book - Spring 2003
With the exception of my staunch views on sex, I have had a mostly open mind, willing to consider new perspectives on things, or familiar perspectives that I hadn’t given much thought to in the past. Well, a probably uncommon perspective I assumed toward suffering, thanks to the help of 1 book, Alexandre Dumas’ The Count Of Monte Cristo, unknowingly brought me closer to finding God. I had to read that book for my ninth grade Advanced Placement Preparatory (AP Prep.) World Literature class Spring Semester 2003, my least favorite class of all time, with my least favorite, and strictest, teacher I’ve ever had. I struggled immensely in that class, almost collapsing at times under the weight of stress and the work load. But that class was not the only problem I contended with that semester.
Ongoing at the same time were various problems in my family, stemming from my family’s acquired custody of three of my cousins, during Spring 2002. Noticing the suffering my parents were going through because of that decision to take them in, weighed me down heavily, not including my own less-than-grateful initial reaction to it. I started hating home, and consequently loving school much more, as a temporary escape from my family’s problems. But having to take my horrible literature class, ruined school for me as an escape. I had nowhere to run anymore, and so pain eventually swamped me, especially after an incident in the spring, in where I managed to ruin whatever chance I may had had, at a relationship with a girl I had liked since seventh grade. Wow. With all of that combined, I felt like an utter failure, and felt as if I probably wouldn’t had minded hiding from the whole world. Would anybody had cared, anyway? I felt as if everyone who knew me, just knew me superficially, as merely a smart but too quiet and shy guy. Never had I felt so alone, even among a large student body, and never had I felt so hopeless. I felt as if life had pierced gashes into my side, causing whatever hope I held, to gush out.
I Don’t Lose All Hope
Before my last bit of hope could flee, however, I caught hold of it, and steadied myself as best as I could. “The Count Of Monte Cristo”, I thought. “Edmond Dantès! What happened to him in the book?” I then mentally ran loosely through the plot of the book, as I understood it. Edmond’s jealous friends conspired to have him accused of treason, which caused him to have to languish in jail for over 10 years. While in jail, he eventually begins losing hope and then starving himself to death. However, he then meets a new friend who had been building a secret escape tunnel, Abbé Faria. Faria also describes to him a secret treasure worth millions of francs. Over a period of years, Faria mentors to Edmond, and they both continue work on making the escape tunnel. They conspire to escape together, but Faria ends up dying, asking Edmond just before death, to go on without him. He does and successfully escapes. He later locates the secret treasure and uses proceeds from it to weave complex plots, to exact revenge on his former friends who betrayed him early on. Essentially, they all end up financially ruined and/or dead, ensnared by their insatiable greed for money.
Good Things Come To Those Who Wait
I wouldn’t advocate seeking revenge, but I still admired Edmond, for his perseverance. To survive in jail for years, for a crime he didn’t commit, and then be able to patiently, calculatedly, ruin his accusers, simply takes significant perseverance. But to think, he almost let himself die while in jail. Another of the novel’s protagonists almost kills himself, in fact:
One of Edmond’s true friends, Pierre Morrel, almost commits suicide, because he didn’t feel he had the strength to keep going, in the face of mounting bankruptcy of his shipping firm, Morrel & Son, and of therefore a soon-to-be ruined reputation, as well. His ships kept sinking at sea, along with oft-crucial business deals. But Edmond (in anonymous disguise), knowing of his misfortunes, saves his reputation just moments before he pulls a trigger on himself, by providing him with a duplicate of a ship (even with duplicates of cargo) he had heard been lost at sea. In addition, Edmond had previously bought control of Morrel’s outstanding debts, and paid them off for him. “Good things come to those who wait”, I sensed is a theme in Edmond’s and Morrel’s situations, as well as throughout the whole book. Edmond and Morrel almost didn’t wait long enough, however. I didn’t want to make that same mistake, or the even worse mistake that one of Edmond’s enemies makes after being ruined by revenge, killing himself. No, The Count Of Monte Cristo helped me to see there’s a light at the end of the dark tunnel I had been lost in, and it’d help me see value in suffering itself, not just as something to wait out in hopes of something better happening afterwards, but as something that could itself help, to boost my ability to appreciate joyful times when they happen. I believe we can’t know how to truly appreciate joy, without knowing sorrow and suffering first. I know I sure would not had fully appreciated the ray of sunshine that would bathe my life starting in October 2003, had I never experienced such frigid rains in 2002 and early 2003.