Last week, I shared about some of my early years, when things really became rough in my life. It was in this post - http://www.chrisjarrell.com/2010/10/25-years-ago-on-102785.html
Here is the second part of the story.
In the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I began the transition of living with my dad and step-mom. A part of this transition was a transition to a new school, I was attending West Potomac, but moving over to the city of Alexandria, I began to attend TC Williams High School (the school from the movie Remember the Titans).
During this transition, I thought I was going to get an opportunity to start fresh and start new, I remember thinking my life would be different, things were going to get better for me. So after starting my sophomore year, I found myself meeting and hanging with the guys who were doing drugs or could get me my drugs. One of the things, I loved about TC Williams was it was an open campus, in other words you can go off campus as long as you came back for classes. Parking was off campus. We had lots of freedom to go do what needed to do and come back.
Well I would go off of campus or go to someone's car, get some hits in or drop a tab of acid and head back to class. Lunchtime was when everyone left for an hour for lunch, I would go and hit a bong either at someone's house or smoke a couple joints at the old abandoned church that was across the street from the school. This became my life, my daily routine.
During this time, I really started to look at porn magazines and started see girl after girl. I had a few serious girlfriends but not very many. I also a lot more freedom with my dad and step-mom. I had a chance to go out a lot more and party more freely. So every weekend, I would find a party or create one of my own and drink...drink until I was totally wasted and then smoke some pot or drop some acid on top of that. A few time I did shoot up with heroine.
I was addicted! I was addicted to drugs, alcohol, porn and girls. I also started to get involved in theater as well, started acting. Theater became a outlet for me, I could be someone else. Also, I could hide behind a character or a persona. Also, several of my friends were involved in drama, so it was good way for us to hang out and do our thing on stage and then go smoke pot afterwards or drink or whatever else we wanted.
During this time in my life, I started to become very callous and hard towards people...looking back I think I had a hatred for people. I was afraid they were either going to hurt me, abuse me or shut me out so my only defense was to hate them and hurt them before they hurt me. This is when my anger and rage began to become more apparent and the fruit that anger and rage started to come out through violence towards myself and others.
Where I lived with my dad, was in a high rise apartment where several people my age or older than me lived, of course they all either did drugs or drank heavily, so I didn't even have to out to drink, I could just stayed around our building and hung out with these new friends especially some of the older guys who always had the best stash of pot I ever hit! Awesome pot that they grew and I was able to learn to grow as well.
Honestly, I really don't remember a whole lot from my tenth-twelfth grade years.
Here is what I do remember, having sex, looking at porn, doing drugs, drinking, partying, slacking at school eventually dropping out in my senior year, stealing my parents car, driving all over the place without them knowing it. In other words, I was totally completely screwed up...I also vaguely remember trying to commit suicide a handful of times. This included and not limited to standing on the tenth floor of my dad's balcony about ready to jump down to my death, I had a friend who pulled back over the rail before completed the task. Swallowing a whole bottle of Tylenol, ended up getting my stomach pumped. Trying to stab myself in the chest with bar b que skewers, it took both my dad and step mom to pull my the skewers away from chest. Swallowing a bottle of finger nail polished, which I just gagged up. I was messed up, I was not in my right mind...
Also, during this time I started attending a church. My brother, the one who left my house when I was 12. Well he was a live in caretaker at a church in the area and invited me to come to a youth service. I had no clue about church, never been, no idea who Jesus was, God any of it! I went! There were girls there..WIN! People were nice. They had food.
I would start out just going to youth, my dad would take me and drop me off. Have the time, I was stoned or tripping when I went. One thing, I remember was a the youth pastor, who kept reaching out to me, kept talking to me. I was very resistant to him at first, but eventually thought he was alright. So I started going to Sunday School, usually I went hungover. I also start doing other church functions, usually while I was high.
The youth pastor was always persistent, always called, always was checking up on me. He had a genuine concern for me and knowing what I know now, he was showing me the unconditional love of God. Today, that youth pastor is my best friend Mike Colon. He tells me now looking back at that time, that he honestly never thought I would make it to the age of 18. I was also the only youth that ever tried to beat him up (already mentioned my anger and rage issues.)
God started doing a work in me and I didn't even know it.
One of the biggest moments where that became evident was when I was throwing BYOB & BYOD party at my dad's place (remember it was in high rise apartment building -18 floors to be exact) Our apartment was a three bedroom apartment. Out of my infinite wisdom at the age of 17, I decided we should have live band at this party---nothing can go wrong with this idea right? We were a bunch of teenagers, drinking, smoking pot, dropping acid, shooting heroine and some were doing coke and we had a live band ---oh there were about 100 of us packed in! Nope nothing could go wrong.
To make this story short, cops were called, some notified us that cops were called and everyone disappeared in their own direction. A few of us stuck around and the band left their gear. While the cops never made there way up to our apartment...that night I got busted...not by the cops, I got busted by God.
I was so drunk, so high...so screwed up that I found myself on the bathroom floor ready to end my life either by overdose/alcohol poisoning or me wanting to take my own life. However, that night and in a moment God had me looking at my reflection in the mirror. As I looked at the mirror and as I looked at myself...I saw two things: I saw myself deteriorate begin wasting away, physically, mentally and emotionally. I also saw lives around me being destroyed because of my actions. Then it happened, I had first encounter with God, no he did not allow me to see His face or didn't speak to me with loud booming voice. He spoke to my inner core, my soul say I have something greater for than this. I want to take care of you and get you through this stuff.
On that bathroom, I had my GOSPEL MOMENT, where the Good News of God's Grace and Mercy became so real and tangible to me. Where I sense God's love and arms wrapped around me..where I felt like someone greater than me would take care of me and help me through the mess I made of my life. Someone who would free me of this PRISON I found myself lock in. On that bathroom, in a moment I called out...I actually cried out to God to help me through this. That if he allowed me to live through this night, that I would not touch another drug or drink another drink alcohol again and that I would give my life totally to Him.
I don't remember a whole lot past that those words, what I do know is that I woke up the next morning not puking my guts out or feeling cloudy in my head. I woke up like nothing happened, clear minded for the first time in a long time...I woke up with weight lifted off of me. I did not turn back to drugs and alcohol at all after that night.
I was still screwed up and messed up, I still had my struggle with girls and pornography. I still wasn't into school.
My senior year, I started to dating this girl who graduate back in June. I "LOVED" her so much, I meant every moment with her, including those moments I was supposed to be in school. We were very sexually active. I thought she was "the one". We actually were planning to get get married or so I thought.
We broke up like three or four times but always got back together to find ourselves in the same place. We also went to church and youth group together.
During this time my addiction to porn continue to grow and foster, of course I suppressed it. It was something I looked at in private. But I did not realize how much of a hold that pornography had a hold on me...this became another dark PRISON I found myself in for a long time to come (I will share more about this in part three of my story). If I can be candid and real: Pornography is an addiction, it is a sickness, and you are heavily involved you need to get help. You need to allow the light to shine in that dark place. Allow God to redeem you and show you His grace and mercy in this area of you life. Also, if you are a parent of teenager, this is something that is becoming more and more of an issue with teens.
At midway point of my senior, I pretty much stop going altogether to school, with that I wasn't going to graduate (eventually about a year afterwards I got my GED).
It was also in the middle of my senior year, January 1992, was the time I broke up for good with the girl I was so serious about and it was during that time I met another girl (2 weeks after I broke up with the girl that was "the one".) I met another girl.
I met this girl at a youth retreat, she was a friend of another girl that I knew from church. They have know each other for awhile and went to school with each other. The girl that I knew invite this girl to church a few times, (I never met her though during those few times) and earlier in January this girl put her faith in Christ after growing in the Jewish faith.
On February 1, 1992, my life radically change and began to get better. That girl that I met at that youth retreat was Lora, my wife of 17 years. Looking back to that time, I don't know what she saw me or why she agreed to go out with me. Others that knew me and knew my history advised to stay far, far, far away from me. People told her to avoid me and don't get near. I guess I am thankful for her rebellion. We have been together ever since.
Not too long after that time, I decided that I need to get serious about my faith, so in March of that year, I was praying and seeking the Lord's will for my life. Since, I knew I wasn't going to graduate, I ask the Lord to give me direction for my life, I needed direction. I had no idea was next for me.
The Lord, was kind and gracious enough to speak to me during that March evening. He spoke to me through Scripture, Jeremiah 1 and through that still small but confirming voice. God was calling me into ministry, He was calling me as He as called Jeremiah to minister back to his own people, he was calling back to the place where I grew up to the people who were like me, broken and hurt. He was calling to youth who have or are currently going through similar life experience I went through. He was calling me to cry out and stand up for those who were broken and abused.
It was that calling, that time that the trajectory of my life started to move me forward. But before I could truly move forward, there was the past I had to deal with and confront and there was a bunch of baggage I had to unload.
I am going to end this chapter here..and pick up the third part next week. But before I do...here is the baggage and the junk I had to deal with...bitterness towards my mom (unforgiveness issues), anger (my reaction to things was very destructive), insecurities, forgiving myself of stupid mistakes of the past, and pornography the issue that I "kept to myself".