By Wade Souza
My story begins at rock bottom. At the end of myself: desperate, hopeless, and helpless.
In spite of graduating with honors at the University of Kansas, rejection after rejection painfully mocked each freshly submitted resume. My live-in girlfriend and I had mapped out every detail of our future together, except for the part where she broke up with me over the phone. Years of "growing up" with all the answers left me living in my parents' basement - trapped by failure, frustration, and the fine line between my expectations and "the real world." I found myself following a habit that I resorted to as a child, literally waking up and running to my parents' bed at night to cry or be comforted. Only this time I was 23, hating myself more than ever. If I did not escape my own prison, my life was literally going to be the death of me.
I desperately moved to Dallas for a fresh start in December '09. Little did I know the new life I would ultimately find. I arrived in Dallas knowing no one and started a job as a boot camp instructor at several of the local parks. I trained for several months at Anderson Bonner Park without knowing the big, boxy building across the street was even a church, until one of my boot campers invited me to The Porch.
I took her up on her offer and will never forget hearing "How He Loves" for the first time. I had grown up in the church, but abandoned my faith and worshiped myself and followed my own selfish and destructive desires throughout high school and college. I had become a dead believer (or non-believer). I did not have a relationship with Jesus, was not actively pursuing Him or His Word, and my life reflected self-centeredness in every way imaginable. I experienced fleeting pleasure in the form of athletic and academic success, drunkenness, the bar scene, sex, porn, betting, and relationships, but each of these ultimately enslaved me, rather than offering the hope inherent with surrendering my desperate and darkened heart to Christ, the Light of the World.
At one time, we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of our God appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. – Titus 3:3-5a
Today, my story is His story. God has transformed my mess into His message of grace, hope, and love. He has redeemed my deepest pains and restored my bitterness and brokenness. Through authentic community, I have confronted the areas that entangled me, while receiving loving and sincere encouragement every step of the way. Fully grasping the gospel and Christ’s love has transformed my life and the truth I’ve found, as part of the body of believers at Watermark, has set me free.