Dylan was baptized at the Naples Campus on July 24th. This is his testimony.
I want to start out by saying that God is so good, and I cannot believe I am where I am right now. This time last year I was just stepping into the Christian life and discovering who God is.
When I was a boy, my family was a part of the Catholic church because that is what we did by tradition. I remember Sunday school and other forms of teachings where the idea of God was fascinating, but I never had a relationship with God. In 3rd grade, my parents separated and filed for divorce, and I lost all connection to the church and any hope of finding God.
My father remarried when I was in middle school and my mom remarried around the beginning of high school. Both of my parents underwent divorces again, and each separation became easier and easier. I had become so used numb to it. Whether it was the boyfriends and girlfriends or husbands and wives, I was used to people coming and going in my life and I convinced myself I was okay, which was the first step into a dark path.
I hit my lowest of lows when it came to my senior year. I had just finished performing at a football game and my mom was driving me home and she told me that her husband, my step father that I looked up to, had been beating her for the past two years. I had no idea how to think or feel. I was in complete shock. But I stayed strong for my mother like I had always tried to do, and called my dad for help. For my entire senior year, we ended up living with my dad and his girlfriend at his house, where my mom took my room and I slept on the couch. At this point of my life I became envious of every family around me, especially here in Naples where everyone could seem so “perfect”. I became very "me-centered” thinking that I was the only one who could solve my problems because of how I had been let down by so many others.
At the time I wasn’t aware, but I was suffering from extreme abandonment issues and didn’t know how to handle relationships in healthy ways. I looked to the world to ease my sadness and pain, partying with friends, trying to find satisfaction in women. But none of it made me feel better; if anything, it made it all worse.
Sadly, I couldn’t see any of this in the moment. I was dead, emotionally and spiritually. Then, by God’s grace I met a girl who invited me to her youth group where I heard a very heavy message about heaven and hell. It made me really think about where I was at in life and where I wanted to go after this earthly life.
I began praying again and attending church with my mom more frequently. I met more Christians and asked a lot of questions. One day I was in the car with my mom and I was having extreme anxiety and I shared that with her. She prayed over me and when she was done, this overwhelming feeling of peace passed through me and I began to cry because it was such an amazing feeling. I had come to the end of myself and I truly trusted in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I went off to college and joined a church, beginning to form my own faith. I didn’t feel like it was something I had to do, but a relationship that I actually wanted with God; I wanted to be a part of His family.
Of course, I still have struggles and failures, but the way I walk is much different now with Jesus in my life. He makes me feel and know that I am worth it; because He died for me so that I could have eternal life. He reminds me every day that He loves me no matter what happens. Without Him, I would not be up here (getting baptized) today, proclaiming my faith and sharing my story. I can truly say I now have a mind, heart and eyes for the Lord. I have come to the understanding that God knows what is best for me and that even when it is hard to say, “OK God I’ll do it,” it is a more rewarding way to live. Whatever I do for the rest of my life, I know it will glorify God, be for my ultimate good, and focus on expanding his Kingdom.