When I was 15, I went to my first live music concert with my youth pastor. I was struggling with a 20-hour-a-day video-game addiction and a consuming obsession with women through promiscuity and pornography. I used those as escape from the deep sense of inadequacy, loneliness, and emptiness I felt. On the outside, I was arrogant because I thought no one else cared about me, so I pretended I didn’t need them to. At that concert, I met the lead singer of a band called August Burns Red, and shortly thereafter, I felt God for the first time while I played music on stage at the church I was attending.
When I got to the University of Texas the following year, I learned more about God from two guys who taught me how to pray, what the heck a Bible was and how to use it, and how to open up about my struggles for the first time. That next summer, I entered the 12 steps for my addictions and got healed from the inside-out, working on the hurt underneath the surface–fears, angers, broken relationships.
For the next two years, I taught other people about God like those two guys did for me and took other people through the 12 steps as a part of their healing process. I played bass in a band that had similar music to the kind that was at my first concert. I tutored teenagers and helped them overcome obstacles in their lives that kept them from doing well in school. And then I graduated from college at 19 years old with honors and a dual degree in Communication Studies and Psychology.
That summer, after volunteering for a non-profit throughout my last semester in college, I went on Warped Tour and helped out to the exact same kid I was when I was 15–alone, empty, addicted, struggling, pretending. I helped them overcome their addictions and struggles with what I’ve learned through my own journey, and I connected them to our community so they wouldn’t have to walk through their faith or recovery journeys alone. Shortly thereafter, I started working for that non-profit full time, and now my two coworkers are the youth pastor that brought me to my first show and the lead singer I met there.
God has interwoven every strand of my story to this point here at HeartSupport. I found a cause that gives me a deep sense of purpose because I get to use what I’ve been through to help others have a freer and fuller life. And every day, I fight so that we will overcome together.