From Doubt to Devotion: Jay’s Story
by Jay Medenwaldt
I did not grow up in a Christian home. For the first eight years of my life we attended church somewhat regularly, but only because of pressure from extended family. We didn’t actually follow Jesus or do anything you would expect of a Christian. When I was eight years old, we moved away from family and pretty much stopped going to church altogether, even on Christmas and Easter.
At age eleven, I had serious doubts about the existence of God, and didn’t see the need for Him. While I was playing a game with a friend, I gave God an ultimatum. I told God that if He didn’t help me win, I would stop believing in Him. Yes, this was childish, but I was already questioning the existence of God and looking for a reason not to believe. As far as I was concerned, I was self-reliant and God was not necessary for me.
For the next few years after I explicitly rejected God, I was a terror. I was rebellious and extremely selfish. I stole whatever I wanted, constantly fought with my family, smoked pot, and was on the verge of doing much more serious drugs. I completely disregarded the rights and feelings of other people, and even had serious homicidal thoughts. My parents were afraid of me and considered sending me to live with my grandparents.
When I was about fourteen or fifteen, I came to the conclusion that the beauty and complexity of the world was a sign that God does exist. On some random, barely memorable day in my late adolescence, I decided to believe in God. I started to pray before bed and tried to be a good person (by my own definition), but that’s about it.
My new belief in God was essentially meaningless. I believed God existed, but I was embarrassed by it, kept it private, and didn’t make it a priority in my life. I just figured God wanted me to be a good person, which meant I could break or bend any rules I wanted to as long as it didn’t cause too much harm to someone else. Everyone who knew me would have said I was a good person, even a role model for younger kids, but nothing could be further from the truth…
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