Podcast Version of my testimony
It was just another disagreement. My brother and I had lots of them. However, the way my parents dealt with us was somewhat different than the way most parents deal with sibling rivalry. Instead of disciplining my brother and me for fighting, we were both told to go to our rooms and draft our arguments. I was about six years old. Both my parents are trial lawyers in Georgia and as soon as I developed the ability to speak, my parents began teaching me everything they knew about rhetoric, public speaking, and debate. If my brother and I fought, we were told to present our case before them. If I wanted ice cream, we had to first give several reasons as to why I should be given ice cream and how it would most benefit us and them (not all the time). Growing up, my parents sought to do everything possible to make sure that I would follow in their footsteps. If my parents asked me to do something, I could always say no, provided that I could argue my position well enough to convince them. If I wanted to fight with my brother, I better first make sure that I would be able to defend myself oratorically before my parents, otherwise I would get spanked. The motto for my brother and I growing up was always “survival of the quickest witted” and from my earliest memories, the art of speaking and argument was something that I excelled in. A few decades later, my brother has followed in my parents’ footsteps and has become a leading prosecutor in Atlanta.
I can not stress enough how grateful I am to my parents. My mother was at every parent teacher meeting and I never questioned whether or not my father loved me. I have awesome parents and I am eternally grateful to God that I was born into the family that I have been born into. I still talk to my parents almost everyday and my wife is literally a daughter to my parents. The following testimony is not a slight against my parents rather it is a confession of my own sinful heart. My parents have always been great examples of integrity and love however, I am a sinner and when I was old enough my heart began to act on its own desires.
Early on, however, I began to follow a different path, one that would lead to much wickedness, anger, deceit, and violence. Before high school, when my brother was outside playing sports, my favorite past time was reading various articles in the Encyclopedia software that my parents had gotten me on my computer. From Aardvark to Zymurgy, I enjoyed learning new things. From strange places to weird animals, I loved to read! Dinnertime in my home always consisted of heated debates between my brother, parents, and me. Though we argued and yelled it was never personal, it was all fun and games. We would debate about politics, religion, philosophy, and most often the various cases my parents were trying at the time. When I was twelve years old, I would experience my first of many bouts of severe depression. Before my first episode, I was a very happy and content kid. However, after my first bout with suicidal depression, I would never be the same. By the time I was in High School, I had already experienced a multitude of episodes of severe depression. I was ashamed of them as they often left me longing for death. Because of my shame, I never sought help or confided in anyone about them. Once I got into high school, in a desire for some sense of community in the midst of my bouts with extreme loneliness, I became heavily immersed in the gang-culture, specifically an infamous gang known as Crips.
By the middle of high school, I was very well known among my fellow gang members due to the types of activities I was willing to participate in. Due to my privileged background, I always felt the need to prove myself to my gang friends, and so I quickly became recognized as a man who was willing to do “whatever was necessary.” Razor blade in my mouth, occasionally a .38 at my side, and everything from weed to crack in my pocket to sell, I was lost. My parents provided for me well, but one of the side affects of my depression episodes was a severe need to spend money for comfort. So, I sold drugs to make extra money without my parent’s knowledge to feed the symptoms of my depression. That’s how I rationalized it, but the truth was I simply loved the notoriety. Oddly enough, however, I lived in two different worlds at the same time. During school hours, I was on the mock trial team, and I continued reading exhaustively, yet at night, I was selling drugs and running the streets.
I would debate with my parents over dinner, and later smoke weed with my friends as we recorded music. During my high school years and then later into my early adult years, I was well known as a battle rapper. By 18, I had a few record deals open up to me and for a while, I paid all my bills by winning freestyle battles in the underground circuit of Atlanta and other major cities.
It was during my junior year of high school, 11 years ago that I met my future wife. On the track to become valedictorian, beautiful and intelligent, I fell for her quickly. Eventually, I began to spend less time in gang activity and more time with her. Of course, she was completely oblivious to the other side of me. All she knew was that both my parents were attorneys and that I was an intelligent guy in her Latin class. Eventually, all of my gang friends either died or got incarcerated for various activities. God preserved my life throughout this season as there were many times, I should’ve lost it.
As time went on, I would eventually graduate High School. I did very poor in my classes, but scored reasonably high on my SATs and was able to get into college.
It was my first semester in college when the Lord called me unto himself. During my first semester of college, I finally decided to seek help regarding my depression. I had already attempted to commit suicide several times, and I was worried that if I didn’t get help, I wouldn’t survive much longer. It was at this time, at 18 years old, that I was diagnosed as being bi-polar. Here I was, an 18 year old, being told that my depression would never leave, but only managed with medication. Manic Depression is a different kind of depression than most people are familiar with. It is not simply an emotion. It is the felling of losing control of your reality and spiraling downward into a black whole without any way of preventing your fall. Shortly after this diagnosis, I was reflecting on the hopelessness of my situation and contemplating once again on ending my life and the ongoing struggle. I hated God more than ever and verbally cursed him regularly for the past 6 years. I was on my way to back to my dorm to end my life when I happened to come across a Rap concert in the middle of a large field on the college campus. As I listened to the music, I learned that the artists were rapping about Jesus and what they called the gospel. I laughed at the artists and began to continue my way to my dorm room. As I began to leave, one of the artists who were in the middle of rapping on stage, jumped off and ran directly up to me. He was extremely friendly and asked me if I would be willing to get lunch with him the following day. His friendliness and desire to get lunch snapped me out of my depression, and I went back to my dorm confused as to what just happened and why I agreed to meet with him. For the next several months, this young man and the other men who were part of his campus ministry began reaching out to me regularly. I was hard on them, constantly seeking to poke holes in their faith but they stayed with me. Eventually, through a series events, they lead me to Christ, and I experienced a radical conversion. At my conversion, the Lord also called me to preach and minister the Gospel, and I have sought to do that ever since.