Growing up in a Christian family, my mom being the oldest child of famous evangelist Billy Graham, I couldn’t figure out where I really fit in with the family. So in the process of finding that out, I got into the wrong crowd. I did things that I shouldn’t be doing and all that culminated when I was 16.
My family gave me an ultimatum that if I continue living the way I do then they don’t want me out of the house. So I lived alone and with friends and led a wild lifestyle filled with girls, drinking, and drugs. By this time, my mom, who is a well-loved member of the community, had several friends who offered to help them ease the burden that they were experiencing because of me.
There was this one man who talked to me about the riot act and he reminded me that I was ruining my life, that I was hurting my parents. We were there at Burger King and for the first five minutes of our conversation I already knew where our talk was going and I just tuned him out.
A year later another man approached me and offered to be my confidant. He didn’t lecture me but assured me that he would be a listening ear in case I need someone to talk to or need money. Afterward, we started talking about sports and I remember I left that conversation feeling very different from the first. The first one made me feel accused whereas the second made me feel loved unconditionally.
From that conversation, I felt that something was missing in my life. I felt empty inside even after I’ve done everything that the world asked me to and after I’ve pursued everything I needed to pursue. I started going back to church where I was told that Jesus already secured everything for me: the pain, the happiness, the self-value so I don’t need to pressure myself to secure all those things.
Then I remembered the story about the prodigal son and it resonated in me. I was attracted back to God at 21-years old thanks to the unconditional love my parents showed me. The way they love me was an accurate picture of the way God loves sinners that I knew I could go home and be received.