The week I turned 18 I moved out of my parents’ house. By no means did I have a hard life. I have a great family. My grandparents are Dave and Joyce Meyer, so I was definitely raised to know right from wrong, but I wanted to live life my own way. So I just gathered my stuff and I didn’t come back.
A few years earlier, during my freshman year of high school, I’d started hanging out with a new group of friends, and I wanted to spend all my time with them doing things my family didn’t allow. The more I rebelled against God and my parents, the more my life spiraled out of control.
By the time I left home I was already smoking pot and drinking, and had even used cocaine. Eventually, I tried every drug you can imagine: crack, heroine, whatever was available. I sold drugs. Went to jail a couple times. Anything I could do to run away from God, I was absolutely doing it.
I had an apartment and my friend Nate moved in with me. We did everything together. We drank together, did drugs together. Everything we had, we split right down the middle.
At that time drugs were more important to me than anything else in my life, and that created a lot of issues. Nate and I moved around to different apartments because we’d get kicked out for being loud. Our neighbors called the police on us many times. It was pretty common for them to come into our apartment, handcuff us, and search for drugs.
One night I was feeling pretty down. Nate and I had been arguing, and I was tired of dealing with police. It had been years since I’d considered talking to God about anything, but I decided to pray, and God told me that if I didn’t go home that night, I would never go home.
I called my mom at 3 a.m. and my dad came to pick me up. I wouldn’t say they were overly excited to have me back. I had issues with honesty and had lied to them many times. Nobody trusted me. I have a little brother and two little sisters who didn’t want anything to do with me.
For a couple of months, I pretty much locked myself in my parents’ house and didn’t come out. I started attending church, got a job, and did community service after getting arrested on some previous drug charges.
While I was getting my life back together, Nate overdosed on heroine and died. I just knew that could have been me. And I knew that I needed to dive straight into God’s Word and never look back.
Even though I’d spent so much of my time and energy running away from God, He showed me that He still cares about me. I’ll never doubt His love again. Today, I have a great relationship with Him. I can’t imagine making a decision about my life without going to Him first. And I’m extremely grateful He gave me a second chance, and an entirely new life.
It’s amazing what I’ve been able to receive while living my life God’s way. About a year and a half after I moved back home, I met my wife, Tanna, at church. We started dating and got married. Our 3-year-old son, Jeremiah, is the best kid ever. I can’t wait to get home every day and spend time with him. I’ve also earned my family’s trust back—my entire family.
In February 2015, I was asked to share my testimony at the Joyce Meyer Ministries conference in Phoenix, Arizona. I don’t like to talk in front of people, so I was pretty nervous to get up on stage. But I felt very honored that my grandma asked me to do it. My knees were shaking, but God was helping me through it. And I knew there were people there who needed to hear what I was going to say.
See, I grew up in a family where our whole life was about God, but I never really tried to maintain a relationship with Him personally. Whenever I got into trouble, my mom would always try to drag me back into being obedient. But some kids just need to learn their lesson on their own—and I was one of them.
That day at the conference, I shared Proverbs 22:6. It says, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (NKJV). That’s a pretty solid promise.
If you’re trying to teach your child or someone you love to follow God—and they’re doing everything they possibly can to avoid Him—don’t be discouraged. Don’t lose hope. Keep on praying. Do what the Holy Spirit shows you to do, and then leave it in God’s hands. He loves them too. And He’s got their back.