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The main purpose of my quest was to relieve the pain - Dave M.

 

From my earliest childhood memories I just knew that God loved me and felt that I was special in his eyes. That may be considered peculiar since I was raised in an Italian Catholic family, filled with plenty of anger, guilt and a lack of forgiveness.

In 1997, one year after my daughter was born; my wife and I started having marital problems. The conflicts caused pain and the pain started a spiritual pursuit of God. The main purpose of my quest was to relieve the pain and to find MY interpretation of God. After all, it could not be what I learned as a youth.

My journeys lead me to different churches and retreats. Each one added value in helping me define, “nope, that’s not what I am looking for”. At the same time, because Jesus was the Lord I was praying to, they all did bring me much closer to the Lord.

When my wife and I moved to South Orange County in 1994, the movers told us about this great church in a tent. I always knew that this church called Saddleback was the right place for me, right place for my family, but in retrospect I was scared to turn control over to Jesus. My wife was non-committal and it was difficult to get her to attend church before and after our daughter’s birth.

With in the period of 3 years of marriage counseling, the only thing that I found that helped heal and let got of our hurts and resentments was praying together. After 3 months of success, we started getting along much better. That is when we silently communicated, “OK, God thanks for your help, we have it from here”. As we regressed back into our hurts and pains, I could not get my wife to agree to pray together again. That is when I knew it was over after 3 years of counseling and 11 years of marriage.

I had no idea the pain to follow would greatly exceed the pain I had experienced. That initially brought me further from the Lord, but eventually with the help of programs like Hope for the Separated Man and Divorce Care, the loving leaders guided me to reconciling with Jesus Christ. Finally on January 19th, 2003 I decided to stop doing it my way and do it God’s way with the public act of faith called baptism. From that point forward the Holy Spirit has convicted and moved me in ways I never would have known possible.

By developing the habit of being in God’s word, I came across the book of Romans. Paul talking in chapter 5 about pain and trials bringing us to faith and joy resonated with my heart:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectations of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3–5

God knew he was not going to waste this pain. I was just in preparation for service.

I have connected and developed male relationships like I have never had before. I focus on how I can be faithful to God versus what can God do for me. I love and serve others in ministry, at work, at home and in my small groups. I have a burning love for Christ and his children.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be silent, and know that I am God”. When I take the time to let God speak to me, life just works better. I am so grateful for that Jesus Christ wants to have a relationship with me, grateful for the being able to share my shape by being in service and grateful for the church family. God is so good and I am so blessed to be part of his family.

   
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