For my entire academic life, I’ve always the been the shortest person in the class. Elementary school was where I discovered that being short could be considered a defect. Imagine a five-year old boy surrounded by eight taller kids. Laughing at him, pushing him. Teasing him.
I could still see their faces as if it was yesterday. Their cheeks were red because they were laughing so hard. At me.
My world shattered. No one had ever treated me this way. Stunned and utterly confused, I did not know what to say and my inability to say anything at this point only made them laugh harder.
Wounds. Everyone has them. Some wounds we can easily put a bandaid on and move forward with our lives. Others cut so deeply into our souls that we never entirely forget them. And for better or (in my case) for worse, we change in the attempt to never experience these wounds again.
The first time I tasted humiliation, it hurt so much that a part of me made an agreement: I was insignificant. I let that statement begin to define my identity. That is the power of a wound.
The lesson I learned from these terrible experiences was that only the person who gets picked on gets hurt. I made a vow that if someone was going to get hurt, it would not be me. I developed skills to pinpoint people’s weaknesses and exploit them. I often targeted the weakest link in the group – the outcasts, the least attractive people, the dumbest – whoever was easy to make fun of. Before anyone could target my weaknesses, I took the initiative to redirect the ridicule on someone else’s.
That is how I survived. That is how I gained value and became friends with others. I was known as the funny guy. Someone you didn’t want to mess with unless you wanted to get a verbal beating. And I was really good at it. This is how I posed through life, hiding behind that mask at the expense of others.
The downside was that I burned too many bridges this way. I hurt friends, family, and girlfriends, who consequently became ex-girlfriends. The wounds I inflicted went deep. When I accepted Christ in 2004, I was twenty four-years old and I knew God forgave me of these sins. I also knew these people forgave me. I thought that was all that was needed to move on. My soul felt renewed, free to take flight and soar as I got to know more about a cool dude named Jesus.
But maybe twice a year, I got shot down with flashbacks of loved ones I harmed. I often reacted shouting to myself in the car during a regular commute, crying as the guilt would overwhelm me. I heard these words coming out of my mouth: “You’re so stupid. You hurt people. How can you live with yourself?” That childhood agreement was stuck in my head: I am insignificant.
It would take me hours, sometimes days, to recover. I was confused. Dazed. Numb. But God forgave me, didn’t he? These wounded people forgave me. What was going on?
When I attended the Wild at Heart Bootcamp, I discovered I was under attack from an Enemy that is relentless. For the first time in decades, I saw those eight taller kids with their red faces. I immediately told my closest friends, who I refer to as my Band of Brothers, about these memories. And that evening, they prayed over me. They pinpointed all those damning forces – guilt, fear, doubt, and hate – and with Jesus Christ at the center of all this, we banished that darkness from my life.
This was nothing like the movies where you see frightening spirits and cultish dudes throwing holy water bombs. No, this moment simply involved the sincerest prayers for Jesus to be with me as I relived those terrible memories. I remember hot tears streamed down my cheeks, full of shame and anger. Then, I felt this invisible, weighted burden I’ve known and carried since the age of five lift off my shoulders.
As God continues to reveal this spiritual warfare in my life, I’ve been breaking the agreement that I am insignificant. I reject that lie, and I embrace the truth. That God gave me a distinct voice. That I have something important to communicate, that God chose me for a crucial part in a larger story.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
I come alive by telling stories in a way that resonates with others. John 10:10 reminds me that Satan is very afraid of who I was destined to be and what I can do if I was focused on my mission. I am loved and blessed with so much. I am valued. My strength does not have to come from putting others down.
No, my strength is knowing God placed me here for a very specific purpose. He has given me a name. Storyteller.
And with this mission, I have experienced miracles. God has called me to bring His Kingdom to others with stories only I can write and speak about. Because of this freedom and value I have in him, I haven’t looked at pornography in over a year – a milestone for someone who had been addicted since the age of twelve. I’m more focused on fighting for my family more than ever.
I’ve been developing an increasing awareness of when the Enemy is nearby. As the war wages on, I still hear those familiar whispers: “See? You’re stupid. You’re worthless.” And that’s when I tell the Enemy who I really am.
I am a son of God. My name is Storyteller. I am on a mission. Satan, you may try to pull this stuff to distract me. To discourage me. But I am here for my brothers. I’m here to fight for my wife and my kids. We are here to advance God’s Kingdom, so my message to the Enemy: Get out of our way!