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
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
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.