Today we’re featuring Part 2 (the final installment) of Eric Posadas’s story about his return to God after a long time far away.
It ends well. :)
In case you missed Part 1, read it HERE.
While I felt at my lowest, I’d see a genuine smile on my way to class from a guy I didn’t know. His face would light up when we’d cross paths, and he’d flash his smile so sincerely I couldn’t look away. All I could do was smile back and say hi. Then, one day in the cafeteria, he walked over, shook my hand, and said it was time we met. We sat down and had lunch together. In those few minutes, he felt like my best friend. He invited me to church, and I respectively declined. So he handed me a mini bible, a flyer with his church’s info and said he’d be praying for me. The semester ended, and so did my encounters with him.
The following semester, a girl from my home town suddenly reached out to me. We’d been friendly, but never romantic. I was invited into her home to hang out with her family. They lived in a country house out in the plains, and the two of us would chat on a swing set and watch thunderstorms roll in. All the while talking about life and where we saw our future. Not necessarily a future together; just the paths we were on and where we wanted to be. She, too, would talk about God, and I would change the subject. She would always change it back. For some reason, she found herself interested enough to date me. Aware of the estranged life I was living. Knowing I was broken. I think she felt she could be the one to help me.
But, inevitably, my downward spiral swallowed her up, too, as I brought her down to my level. Kicking back alcohol and hanging with a crowd she’d never surround herself with if it wasn’t for her starry-eyed interest in me. One day, she woke up, looked around and had the strength to get back on track. Her choice meant leaving me behind, and she begged me to follow her. To walk with Christ and be redeemed. But I respectively declined. So she said she’d be praying for me. The semester ended, and so did my encounters with her.
All the while, I felt the nudges from God. The messengers and the messages were too punctual to be coincidence. The calls to surrender from more than one influence were too timely to ignore. But, I thought “giving my life to God” was giving up control of my life I had worked so hard for. I earned that control with pain as a kid. These things made me feel good and after all that pain, I wasn’t going to be denied these pleasures. There was no way I was letting it go. Not for Mr. Genuine Smile or Ms. Semester Romance…not for God… not for anybody. And if I ever felt helpless, it was because I put myself in the situation. I wasn’t at the mercy of anybody else.
That lifestyle and mindset continued to work for me up until Jodi (now my wife) and I started dating, and our relationship reached the “serious” status. She’d talk about going to church or praying together, and it would make me mad. Hearing things like “let’s pray about it” or “God has a plan for us” really angered me. And, even now, when I think back, I don’t know why I felt that way. Any religious talk would trigger that feeling. Almost as if I had a piece of the devil in me…annoyed and aggravated to hear the name Jesus. I had moved from being uninterested to intolerant. My defense would be to shoot all the logic I could toward the topics she couldn’t answer through her faith. And her lack of response was all the fuel I needed to stoke my fire. I was anti-religion, borderline agnostic, flirted with atheism at times, and probably would have stayed that way if it wasn’t for Jo’s strength, patience, and persistence.
It was through her crying one day after one of my bursts of disgust for religion talk that I opened my eyes. I had all this hate and anger and aggravation towards talk of God and her relying on this entity I couldn’t see or feel…physically or emotionally. I would get so annoyed when she’d want us to pray about situations. What was praying for a sick friend going to help? Her diagnosis wasn’t terminal and her body could fight off the disease just fine. God wasn’t needed for that. Doctors were. Why pray for a person having a hard time with an event in her life? Suck it up and find a way to cope. God wasn’t needed for that. We’ve all been through messes like that. And we came out alive.
Then, I saw her breakdown. Tears flowing, body going limp. Like she’d just given up on me. She didn’t argue with me this time. Voice cracking, she simply told me she wanted to marry a strong Christian man. And without saying it, she made me realize maybe she didn’t want to marry me.
The next Sunday, I went to church…for her, to be honest. For her, not for me. And the following Sundays were much of the same. I was uncomfortable and out of my element. Round Rock Church of Christ praised God through singing, not the devout prayer I was used to. But I’d continue to do my best to be by her side. Eventually, I actually began to let my guard down and really became aware of the service and sermons.
I gradually felt more accustomed to the singing at RRCOC and other differences from what I had known as a kid. And for the first time, I felt I was spoken to. I felt I learned something. I walked away one Sunday and thought, “wow, I never knew that.” A few Sundays in a row, I thought Justin was talking directly to us. “How’d this dude know I was going through this exact situation?” Weird. And people actually cared to try to know me after church. Weird.
I felt interested again. Curious. And the stance against spirituality weakened over time. Jodi and I could have conversations about God, and though I wasn’t 100% comfortable (I’m still not), I wasn’t angry. I had questions which were answered in a way that made sense to me. My doubts didn’t make me evil. And I felt the little kid in me who thought Heaven was attainable start to surface again.
And then one day at church, a song was so beautiful it almost brought me to tears. And I had no idea why I felt that way. So moved. There was a baptism while the church sang Hallelujah, Hallelujah. And I didn’t know what was going on with me, but I felt my chest was going to burst. I started blinking rapidly to hold back my tears for this stranger being baptized. A complete stranger. Yet, I felt so drawn and so emotional. I can whole-heartedly say I felt as though I was being summoned.
A soft voice calling my name. Me tugging at my TMNT backpack, looking around and realizing I hadn’t made it off the porch. Looking up at a gentle grin. A man standing near me, holding the door open, and giving a nod towards the doorway.
No more darkness.
I was baptized two days later.