One afternoon while playing this silly playground game Chris ‘caught’ a girl and when he did, she turned and yelled, “Stay away, ugly!” That phrase, which also included an obscene word directed towards Chris at the time, altered the way he would view himself for the next 30 years. Never before did he ever consider himself an ugly kid, but at that moment, with such harsh words spoken, his self-esteem plummeted.
Chris came to know Christ in 1990 after attending a Bible study at Graceway. From that point on, while knowing in his head that something was different, the negative feelings of himself wouldn’t go away. When hearing teachings of how the heart is wicked and there is nothing good about us as people, while not meant to come across this way, only reinforced what was already believed about himself: that he could never live up to the expectations the Christian life has.
Several years ago, he hit a low place in his life. Sitting on his living room couch as he wept, he shared with his wife the struggle he had dealt with for so long. He wondered how he could be leading other people when he was filled with such feelings of self-loathing.
Months later a breakthrough occurred while attending the Ultimate Leadership conference in Fall of 2013. This conference is one that helps people to overcome personal obstacles in order to be successful. Waiting until the last day to open up with the group, he began to share with individuals around him the weight that had been carried for so many years.
Sitting there, vulnerable, in a small, stuffy hotel conference room, one of the men in the group spoke up and said, “Chris, I want you to know that you remind me of Jesus. You’re an enjoyable person to be around and I imagine that Jesus was a person that was enjoyable to be with.” People around the room began to encourage Chris, words of positive affirmation flowed from them and the best part – they wouldn’t let him talk back. He couldn’t deflect. He couldn’t take what was being said and make it about something else. And for the first time, Chris was able to accept the kind things being spoken to him.
The Great Commandment in Luke 10:27 calls us to love the Lord your God with all thy heart and to love thy neighbor as thyself. For so long, Chris had tried to love others, without being able to love who God had made him to be. Just a couple weeks ago while attending a high school reunion an old acquaintance said to him, “The thing I most remember about you is that when I would go to make fun of you, you would make fun of yourself even better.” Chris looked at him and said, “You’re right…and I’ve been working on it.”
Chris is working on loving himself and who God made him to be. The lows that were once experienced are not as low. He is more self-aware, he is real, he is sharing his story. God faithfully reminds his people of how much he loves us.
When Chris was finishing telling his story he said, “He created me to be me. I’m unique – and that’s awesome.”