By Eric Roberts
Adoption. A young college student made a choice to give me up when I was born. Six weeks later, my parents, who could not have kids, brought me home. They would go on to adopt 5 more children.
Growing up, I found myself needing approval, lying to cover up failures, and wresting with feelings of rejection. My parents spent less time with me because I tended not to get in trouble and other siblings needed more of their attention. As a family, we were involved in church from my early years until we moved from New Orleans to a small town in Mississippi the summer before I started high school. While I believed in Jesus and had prayed to accept Him as a child, my desire for approval and the culture shock of leaving the city for the country started a difficult road in my life. I began drinking in 10th grade and started down the path of crossing sexual boundaries with girls.
Around this time, I began to struggle with depression. I felt a hole inside and no matter how much “fun” I tried to have, the hole felt like it was growing. Things didn’t change in college. My depression and anxiety got worse and a number of times my mind went to the idea of suicide.
In the middle of my junior year, my mom passed away on Christmas morning. I was numb and didn’t know what to make of life. I poured myself into school and graduated. After working for a year, I decided to attend grad school. During my first week, I ran into a girl I hadn’t seen in a few years and we hit it off. We moved into together six months later and in a year we were married. Four months in, she started sleeping around. I was devastated and, in time, divorced.
The Real Adoption Process
The next 4 years of grad school were a blur of papers, teaching, working, a couple of inappropriate relationships, counseling, anxiety medication, near bankruptcy, and drinking. As I wrapped up my last year of grad courses, I was dating a practicing Hindu. I tried every way to justify the relationship because we matched so well. One day, however, she said “I will never believe in your God and I will never read the Bible.” Immediately I felt my whole inner being shake and all I could hear in my head and heart was “are you going to choose Me or her; the Eternal or the temporal.” For a week I fought those thoughts and feelings but in the end, I said “God, I’m choosing You.” We broke up and within two months, God had moved me San Antonio for a job and my old life was left behind. I confessed my sin and, on my knees, prayed to start over with Him.
Over the next several years, I experienced tremendous growth, including getting off of anxiety medication, paying off my significant credit card debt, serving at church, and leading worship. In the Fall of 2008, I accepted a job opportunity in my company that brought me to Dallas. I was ready to go deeper with the Lord and excited about the change.
The Test of Trust
After attending Watermark for 8 months, I started leading worship for Re:Generation. In the spring of 2010, a routine doctor visit revealed a softball-sized tumor in my chest. The doctor told me that given where the tumor was located, there was a risk that I could lose my voice and full function of my right arm. Despite that news, I felt peace. Real peace. All of the time God had been working prepared me for this time. The surgery went as well as it could possibly go. For the first time in my life, both my head and my heart were able to grasp the fullness of God’s abundant love. How? Through His people and His mercy. I was served lovingly by so many people during that time. My community group guys, close friends, family, people from work, people I’d never met – all showed me God’s love in a tangible, real way. My heart for people changed. My perspective on life changed. My gratitude changed. Anxiety was broken. Fear was defeated. I’ve never been the same.