After writing the first 4 parts of my story I have received an overwhelming amount of requests asking to bring my story up to the current day. Well with much anticipation, I now present to you the most recent update to my personal life story. There is still much to be said as growing in my spiritual walk was fraught with many challenges, struggles, and spiritual victories. Let us first start where we left off.
My last chapter ended where my life changed at Cornerstone Community Church. I had discovered a new direct relationship with my Lord and He had purified and made me whole in many new and significant ways. I, at that time, received new strength, authority, abilities, and gifts and felt completely transformed in every way. Even though I experienced a complete life spiritual change, I unknowingly had a great deal yet to learn and grow through regarding my spirituality as I battled major “strongholds” and “bondages” that held me in slavery in many ways. For those that are unfamiliar with the term “stronghold” or “bondage” I will take a little bit of time to explain these concepts because understanding them is important to understand the story to its fullest.
In our lives, we often give Satan and his minions permission to take effect or control in and over our lives in many ways. When we intentionally or unintentionally give Satan the right to do this, we have created what is called a stronghold. Once a stronghold takes root and begins to control us and our actions it can then be called “Bondage”. We often choose to accept or allow 'Strongholds and Bondages' in our lives as we go through life and expose ourselves to the spiritual influences around us (ex: going to a psychic or using a Ouija board) while other 'Strongholds and Bondages' can even be inherited from birth. An example of a stronghold/bondage that influenced me in obvious ways would be: When I had killed myself in high school, for a period of two weeks after I felt an overpowering pull tearing me toward death even though I did not desire to return.
Once we give Satan a “legal right” to influence our lives it can become quite overwhelming and difficult to control or remove. There is complete victory over 'Strongholds and Bondages' through Jesus if we do take the right steps.
Satan uses strongholds to directly tear us away from our walk with God, he implants doubt, inflicts personal pain and blame against God for that pain, introduces self-hatred or denial, depression, cause addiction etc. There are many damaging ways our enemy (Satan) influences our lives through 'Strongholds and Bondages'. From birth, I battled sexual strongholds that drew me to sexual bondages that pushed me to suicidal tendencies in my life. Other strongholds were also introduced through my 'New Age', psychic and other twisted backgrounds. I believe intergenerational bondages helped lead me down my 'New Age' (old age) journey and my personal “bondages” and “strongholds” played a major role in making my personal journey quite difficult. It took some time to defeat my bondages and claim victory in my life and it was quite difficult to operate as you will soon live under the control of my 'Strongholds and Bondages'.
As an aside, I personally discovered that once you become a Christian, Satan pulls on your strongholds even harder when compared to before you gave your life to receive your new spiritual “God-given” inheritance. This is for a reason. When you become a Christian you instantly gain direct power through Jesus over Satan in every way (even though you may not know how to yield this power as of yet) and because of this Satan often fights through your old bondages to try to control you, discourage you, get angry at God or bring you back to where you were in your spiritual journey before you accepted Christ. The warfare at first can become quite powerful, as you will read in my story and it is for these reasons why it is important to surround yourself with other Christians that can help you through these influences. Especially if you came from a 'New Age' background it is important to surround yourself with Christians that understand these spiritual principles and can pray for and encourage you to personal victory in your life. There is no better feeling in life than having a stronghold lifted from you that has been plaguing your existence for a period of time. Everyone has a stronghold or bondage in their life; there is no exception and with God we can all claim freedom, deliverance, true joy and victory over any demonic influences in our lives, no matter how deep. My story proves that.
For the record: Strongholds quickly become deep “bondages” that control your life if you do not address them as they occur. Things as simple as overeating or as complicated as death, depression, or bitterness and anger can become far more difficult to claim victory over the stronghold has had a time to “take root”. The first step to freeing yourself from your 'Strongholds and Bondages' is to let God and His spirit take control in your life so that He can inhabit you and walk into you, leading you to healing. Holding your thought life captive is also a first step to your freedom.
There are plenty of great resources and groups that educate and equip you to gain victory in this realm:
Neil T Anderson’s book: “The Bondage Breaker” is a book that walked me through my beginning understandings of Bondages and Strongholds. In this book, Neil educates you in ways to win against Bondages and Strongholds that play a role in your life. He also provides prayers that simply work and strategies to assist your first steps to freedom. I find most people read the first half of the book to understand the principles I have been talking about, then jump to the end to say prayers for freedom as instructed by Neil. This strategy is ok to do, I have found.
A more thorough healing ministry that has completely transformed my life (and the life of many others I personally know) has been “Cleansing Stream Ministries”. Cleansing Streams travels far deeper in spiritual healing and through Jesus defeats spirits as dark and deep as Death, Depression, New Age, Suicide, Poverty, Sexual Sin, and more. Some bondages are best to be broken in a Church setting or with a team because demonic attacks can become quite high if you are trying to remove bondages from your life all on your own. If you bite off more than you chew in spiritual warfare without any ministry support, you can quite often find yourself confused and falling deeper into trouble. I strongly suggest if you are seeking freedom from deeper bondages that have controlled your life, to get plugged into a team that can help deliver you and not just go about fighting a “deliverance battle” on your own. Yes God can do anything in our lives and he has healed many without a “church” for support, but His power is also exemplified when we gather as a team and work together to defeat our enemy. There is an invisible war that goes on every day in our lives that is not unlike World War II and I would much rather fight with others alongside me than try to battle it out on my own.
It is for this reason why Cleansing Streams is most definitely a course that anyone should take and it has been a life-changing experience for me. The people there understand warfare, intercessory prayer and have seen many through deliverance. I am glad I went through it because through it God has really done miraculous works in my life.
Ok now getting back to my story. I had just been saved and was experiencing many awesome spiritual changes in my life as God began healing me from my past. It was a process that took time and during this time, spiritual warfare was often rampant. The first thing I had to do in my new spiritual walk was to re-learn how to live and discover how to utilize the new gifts that God had given me. I likened my spiritual walk at that time, to being given the keys to my most favorite sports car but still not knowing how to drive it, or utilize it to its fullest potential. I had much to learn and much heartache ahead of me while I learned.
Even though as a Christian I had been given an inheritance of victory over any attack from my enemy (Satan), the spiritual attack in my life continued to grow on a daily base. This time though, the attack that intensified was different than I used to experience. Satan could no longer influence me directly like he once did when I was not a “saved” Christian because I was now under the direct protection of God (even Satan’s creator). That did not stop at his attempts to control and discourage me in every way he could though. In fact, as you will soon read, things got rather miserable for quite some time.
Satan’s new tactic turned to utilize my old strongholds in order to negatively impact my spiritual walk and future. He did succeed in many ways, but over time I learned how to defeat him and find victory in Jesus.
Every Christian that grows to become strong in their direct relationship with God goes through times of temperament like this. The dark forces of our world want nothing more than to turn us off of the path that leads us to Jesus and our freedom in the spirit. Our new freedom in truth acts directly against Satan’s influence in our lives and intimidates him I am sure. He knows what our full potential is as Christians and will stop at nothing within his power to make sure we never learn of it or discover it. It is actually a good sign when you fall under attack as a new Christian because it shows that you are truly important in the spiritual kingdom. Knowing this doesn’t help you through the hard times too much though. Times still can be hard.
What does spiritual attack feel like? If you have ever felt voices operating in your mind that try to discourage or emotionally abuse you and make you feel down, useless or depressed for no apparent reason, you will have known one form of spiritual attack. Attack does take many forms and this is just one of them. Remember when Carol fought against Gary and I when we were taking her into the hotel room to permanently free her from the spirit that was possessing her. Spirits fight with all of their might to stop her from achieving personal freedom and her heavenly inheritance. They rose up within her with fear and trepidation of what was about to happen, when really what was about to happen was the best thing that could have ever happened. This is another form of demonic attack or control.
These spiritual laws have always been in existence from the dawning of time or the “fall of man” and will continue to be there until our Christ’s return or we make it to heaven. So be encouraged to hang in there and expect attacks as you journey as a Christian (or even non-Christian) and be on your guard and surround yourself with those that can support you spiritually. The 'New Age' movement teaches you can become your own god. I would much rather have a direct relationship with the real God that created everything we see and know compared to weak 'New Age' practices to handle demonic attack in our lives. I compare the two as the difference between an energizer battery and a nuclear power plant. Simply plug yourself in because the Creator carries a far greater charge than anything we can ever muster, no matter how strong your 'New Age' powers or training will be. Many have learned this first hand. I am just one.
All through my first few months of being saved, I found myself “double-minded” quite often. This was yet another form of demonic attack on me. At times it was as though there were two parts of me in utter conflict: one side saying one thing and another saying the opposite. The first followed a path of my past life 'Strongholds and Bondages', for example: “don’t go to church you don’t need it, become enlightened in 'New Age' energy instead” and the second reflected my new redeemed life calling me down my new victorious path with Jesus. The two in conflict did get quite confusing especially because Satan often used my own voice as part of his deception in my life. It is hard to not listen to your own voice in your mind because you know it is leading you astray. Another stumbling/healing block was that as a 'New-Ager' I relied heavily on intuition to guide me in and out of danger but even my intuition began to betray me at times and it was often hard to fight against the negative influences in my life. I was going through a great learning curve and healing process that took a great deal of time, effort and energy. I made many severe mistakes through this dark and confusing time of my life and inflicted much hurt on myself and others. I now wish life could have been different because I was about to head into the darkest time of my life. Redeemed and enslaved.
Part of my biggest struggle is that I had to wait for my “old man” to die. What I mean by this was that even though I was completely redeemed and saved, I was still plagued by old habits that used to control and harm me (the Strongholds). The “old man” was a direct result of my old bondages that had to be broken with God’s help, and it is the “old man” that helped hurt so many people that I cared about.
Ok, I now built up the courage to say it, let me share with you my largest most personal spiritual struggle in my life at that time. Remember when I killed myself in high school because I was feeling terrible about some of the things I had done? In truth, I had not done anything “too bad”; I hated myself for relatively poor grades at the time (for example), I had low self-esteem in many ways, but most of all I hated myself for an uncontrollable urge and all-consuming 'Bondage' that controlled me all of my life as far as I could remember. I was controlled by an uncontrollable compulsion to be physically / sexually intimate with the opposite sex. Some of you may say: “aah no big deal, we all go through it” but for me it was different. It was spiritual and quite often against my better judgment and even primary self-will. Even though my strongholds are what controlled me, I hated myself because of them. This is hard to explain and hard for many to understand. It was like a cocaine or gambling addiction. You gamble uncontrollably and end up losing your life, home and family but you keep doing it. Even though you hate yourself for your actions and uncontrollable compulsions, the next time the opportunity presents itself you are yet again down the path to self-destruction, feeling much like you are acting against your own will. For me, it was much like swimming upstream on white water rapids. I could kick and trash against the current but no matter what I did I kept getting swept away against my will. I felt uncontrollable; the spiritual/physical compulsion was so strong. At times I just wanted to kill myself just to be free of the bondage because I couldn’t seem to escape it any other way. In the past when people fall into bondage like this they slit their wrists because of their feeling of hopelessness and uselessness. I instead stopped my heart with my mind.
What was most difficult and confirms the fact that I was in spiritual bondage was the fact that when I found my self in certain situations, voices in my head would start tempting me and even convicting me of acts I had not yet committed or acts that I have committed in the past. Telling me I was useless and unable to resist. This might sound familiar to some of you. I felt completely controlled and often abused in every way and at a loss for any kind of reason or resolution. I often felt as though my mind, spirit, and flesh were no longer under my own control and all were working against me. It was absolutely dreadful. This bondage was then tied to other bondage that affected my life. Depression was one. When the sexual bondage showed its face, depression and suicidal tendencies were always close to follow. I felt utterly useless and incapacitated under these bondages at times. It clouded my thinking and often lead me to make poor decisions in my life. I am sure if you have ever battled a deep personal addiction to anything, you will understand at least what I mean when I say I felt like I was being controlled by a force larger than yourself. It was quite disconcerting to say the least, especially when you couple it with deep self-loathing all through the process.
What I did not know all through my life was that my self-hatred was pointed completely in the wrong direction. I should not have been hating myself (the victim in the situation) bur fought directly against my aggressor (Satan). The one that was trying to (and successfully) influencing my mind to the point of personal collapse. If I had realized this and many other things that I now know and understand I would have been far better equipped to handle this bondage in my life. Life is a learning curve and no matter where we are we always have something new to learn. The self-hatred that I awarded myself simply worsened matters, allowed my enemy to defeat me and became my undoing in many larger ways.
My emotions when under these influences were those of: helplessness, punishment, deep hurt, betrayal, and self-hatred. I did not identify till much later that the thoughts and voices that would control my mind creating “double-mindedness,” (fighting my own thoughts and the thoughts of a third party influencing my thought life) tempted me to make damaging actions. It would actually be exactly the same thoughts and voices that would go through my mind convicting me of acts that I had committed in my past (recent or distant) and making me feel useless, powerless and undesirable. In essence, the same spirit that tempted me to sin was the one that personally assaulted me when I was down. This is a standard Satan tactic. He stabs you in the chest to make you bleed and then kick you when you are down. What a loser! I am sure you can identify with this in some areas of your life.
For the record: Being a Christian does not automatically make life easy or free of spiritual attack in any way, remember sometimes it intensifies. Being Christian just gives you victory over the war and tools that you can utilize to declare victory, but every Christian must go through a learning process to find out what these tools are and how to yield them. Remember the sports car analogy I used earlier. We all may lose battles along the way, but the victory has been won and the victory has been Jesus, we now can accept his inheritance.
Unfortunately, I did not learn how to walk my new Christian walk or utilize my new Christian weaponry and strategies until I had already deeply hurt some of the most important people in my life. If there was one thing I would change about my past, it would be the decisions and actions I had taken while under the influences of my life long bondages. It kills me inside knowing some of the people I have hurt along the way. These experiences left us all deeply wounded. God has been steadily healing me from my past and now I live almost completely restored. I thank God for his mercy and grace in my life. My past has also molded me to become the man I am today so I can not curse my past completely, I have learned a lot and I am glad I can share my victory with you.
I would like to share with you some of the things I have learned along my journey. If you would like to skip this Chapter is it completely ok. You won’t miss any of my personal account.
My first step to defeating this 'Bondage' in my life was to learn to leave or flee from a situation that might lead to temptation. I have learned that once a 'Stronghold' or 'Bondage' has taken root into your life and you are in a position of being tempted, there is almost nothing within your power or will that you can do to stop it or your actions. Bondages can and will control a person at times. Christian or not. It is a legal entry point for Satan to affect your life that is why it is so important to defeat them, what ever they are. I used to think it was possible to fight my bondages by meeting eye to eye in my personal battlefield but I learned repeatedly no matter how strong I felt, I would still lose in such a battle. Some times it is just best to flee, regroup yourself and allow God to work in your life. Bondages simply need to be removed and not fought against. Victory is yours for the taking if you go through the right steps and learn how to exercise God’s will in your life to freedom. Don’t blame yourself for your bondages; just defeat them in Jesus' name. Cleansing Stream Ministries will methodologically teach you how.
Also by leaving the direct impulsive situation that binds you, you will then be in a position where God can help restore and bless you while showering you with His authority and healing into your life. In essence you will be starving the fire while you extinguish the flame. For example: If you have an ice cream bondage for example and simply can’t control yourself when you are near ice cream, simply don’t buy ice cream when you are at the store. When you get home it will be easier to fight when the craving comes. Well, actually maybe not easier but at least you will have some safe distance between you and the bucket. Quite often by the time you get into your car to surrender and go to the store, God can begin to work in your life and work against the temptation. During this time you can also use God’s word against the temptation the same way Jesus did when He was tempted. The Bible is full of statements and promises that we can call upon to defeat the enemy in our lives. Also it is great to surround yourself with friends that understand and can be there any time of the day or hour of the night to support you and help you choose a different path than eating ice cream. I have personally found that every bondage in life is counterfeit for a larger spiritual void somewhere in life. For example much of the sexual intimacy I craved was a deep craving for spiritual intimacy with my maker, but since I did not know how to have a deep relationship that way, Satan used this to attack me and bind me to actions that in the end hurt me. Now that my sexual bondages have been replaced by God’s spirit and will. In my life I no longer face the temptations I used to and quite frankly I get more filled by God’s spirit when I worship then I ever did with any act I committed in bondage. I am far more complete now than I used to be.
Filling a deeper spiritual need with a bondage is like filling a square peg into a round hole. If it is forced, it will still go in but will leave you damaged and not only yearning for the next “hit” but also yearning for true healing. Many people get used to only using square pegs in round holes and stop searching for the true spirit to fill the void. Please let this not be you in any way. I now know the difference and now that I have experienced the fullness of it, I will never choose to turn back. Quite frankly I honestly didn’t know what I was missing.
One other profound exercise that really helped me recover from my spiritual attacks and ground over my enemy was when I learned to truly consecrate (give) all of my bondages to God directly instead of try to handle them myself, or pray directly against them. In essence I would take all of my pain, sin and strongholds and in my heart wrapped them up in a little “bow wrapped” package and left them at Christ’s loving feet. He then took my pains, sins and bondages up and took care of them for me. I never needed to look back for it. I could have gone back and taken them at any time because God is a gentleman but I learned to not look for them again because I knew God would fill those desires and need with something better that He had created.
This was truly difficult to do because at first I felt empty inside, like a major part of my identity or personality was all of a sudden taken a way or missing. But this was a part of the healing process. I asked God to fill the emptiness with my spirit and never 'look' to take the old bondages back and He did. The key I find is that I did not look back for my old sins and I let Jesus transform me into a new whole and complete creation. Because of this the bondages were not only loosed from my life but they also didn’t return. My round hole was filled with a round peg and I had no need for a square one any longer. Sometimes healing happens immediately, other times healing comes over time. Sometimes God just steps down and intercedes while other times He desires us to go through a learning curve to freedom like through Cleansing Stream Ministries (and Ellel Ministries). At any rate if you keep searching with him and taking steps to freedom, praying and educating yourself, and surrounding yourself with people that can help you, you will find freedom in your life from any sin and bondage. Just put God first in your life above all other needs and you will find He will fulfill all of your needs completely. It is a learning process and at times it can be difficult and even painful but it is all worth it in the end.
Oh yes, also be careful what you pray for because God does answer prayers in ways we might not first expect but ways that is truly best. For example, if you ever ask God to make you a “better person” you can expect hardships along the way to help challenge you to grow to be a better person. If you ever pray for God to “give you patience”, expect your patience to be tested with certain events. That being said, for every trial God lovingly brings into your life He will also award you with the strength to see through it - that is if you allow Him. Many people ask God for a deep spiritual walk with him but when He sends them challenges that bring them closer to Him, they often curse God. Through trials and blessings Jesus is with you at all times, so be free and find peace in all circumstances. God will sustain you, and if you ever experience circumstances that are painful beyond what you can bear then quite often those circumstances are a result of an attack of your enemy. At those times you can pray against them and also have victory. Telling the difference can be difficult at times but over time you will know and God will speak directly into your heart His perfect truth as you walk through life.
A brief note on repentance: True repentance is not only saying “God I messed up” but it is also choosing to never go back again and intentionally turning from your old ways. This is a learning curve that took me time and repeated tries to achieve on a regular base, that alongside with not asking for my old bondages back. With time, perseverance, and prayer, I did succeed and so can you if you are being challenged. I used to be completely controlled by voices and convictions in my mind, now the voices are thankfully no longer. I have been free for quite a number of years and do not expect to fall into spiritual slavery again. It is part of my / your inheritance as Christian. God is faithful and He has healed me completely. He can and will for you. I am here to help if I can.
I will now continue the chronicle of my life for you: When I was a new Christian and still bound with the bondages that once held me, Satan’s spiritual attack on my life was absolutely intense. I knew at that time that I was going to be used as a vessel of God’s peace but that didn’t make living through the struggles any easier. If you face trials, be encouraged because it is a direct sign that you are truly important in God’s kingdom.
When I was in college I fell madly in love with my best friend Lisa. It was not intentional at first as we were both dating other people at the time. Through our time together in the second year of college, we both became inseparable. We studied together, shopped for groceries together, terrorized (joshed) store clerks, all in our small college town of Sutton, Ontario and shared in many innocent good times, laughs and joys. We shared in our spiritual journeys together and had open communication about any topic; anything and everything that was close to our hearts we would talk about. We had a very emotionally healing relationship for one another. We truly understood each other and in time could finish each other's thoughts as well as sentences. As I type this out it is no wonder why we had fallen in love with each other through our time of growth in friendship. She was truly amazing and I quickly grew to love her in every way.
This would be a fairy tale story if in fact was writing a fairy tale, however we do live in the real world and life is far more complicated than a fairy tale isn’t it?
By the end of college, I had been dating an old high school girlfriend for about two years. Everyone who knew her loved her and protected her. In many ways, she was like the little sister that everyone liked to have. I realized by the end of college that I was dating her for the wrong reasons (I will not get into that here) but we did share a very close relationship together. Lisa (my college love and wife to this day) was also dating another individual for the previous five years and over the years they seemed to have been growing apart. She was ready to end her relationship with that friend during college.
Putting everything together in your mind and knowing now in advance the bondages that I fought, I think you can foresee the nightmare that was brewing. I fought surrendering to my emotions for Lisa and breaking up with my present girlfriend because the last thing I wanted to do was hurt her. This was a naive action on my part because by the end of second year the inevitable occurred as Lisa and I fell deeply in love with one another and were sharing in a relationship that was not only emotional but physical in nature. Lisa and I had an incredible relationship as our deep friendship nourished every part of one another: emotional, spiritual and physical.
Now some people might say “aah no big deal” at this situation but to me it was everything! I knew deep inside that I always would hurt the people I loved and cared most about. I felt like I'm not deserving of a deep relationship with anyone. This circumstance confirmed my self beliefs and personally shattered me like a large pane of glass. “How can I live with myself when I hurt all the innocent people that are important in my life? What kind of person am I? Why can’t I simply control myself and make good decisions in life? I am not worthy to live. The world would be better off without me.” These were some of the thoughts and questions that went through my mind.
This time marked the beginnings of the darkest period of my life.
I was suicidal all over again. There were voices that were not my own continually screaming and shouting in my mind, assailing me with angry accusations, convictions and hatred. If they originated in the natural world I would have tried to cover my ears to at least muffle the sounds but the spiritual voices of accusation and abuse originated in my mind and even sometimes used my own voice. This attack mixed with my own personal attack, began to reduce me to emotional ashes. I continued to make poor decisions in my life that darkened my journey and confused my path even further; further hurting the ones that were important in my life. This then deepened the attack and worsened my perceptions of myself which then once again deepened the spiritual attack to an even higher level. I was stuck in a negative loop that I simply could not escape. I felt like I was boat adrift without a rudder in the middle of a tsunami storm. I felt broken, bashed and battered as poisonous waste entered my hull and made my vessel begin to descent to the bottom of the cold murky depths of the ocean. I was helpless fighting against it as I was spiraling out of control and had nothing to hold on to. I was crippled and was ready to completely surrender to the darkness that was consuming my life as a self-punishment for the things I had done. I was worse than sludge and felt that I deserved any darkness that came my way. I am sure God was just crying for me as He shared in my pain at this time. I was consumed daily with emotions of regret, remorse, anger, betrayal, and more, the negative spirits that would speak in my mind would compound my problem by belittling me and confirming my feeling of uselessness and hopelessness. I was continually confused and disoriented with each waking day. I even felt deserted by God as I was learning to walk my new deeply disturbed Christian life. And this was just the dawning of the worst season of my life.
I got as active as I could in church and did find refuge there. I would almost go almost every day of the week and surround myself with people that cared for me and could help tear me out of my spiritual entrapment by praying for me and educating for me. I thank God that Cornerstone Church was there because I don’t know where I would be now without them. Through Cornerstone I began to re-learn how to walk as a Christian and understand what was going on in my mind and around me. I had still a long and difficult path ahead of me but at least I was learning. The spiritual forces in my life fought to control my every action, thought and deed and at times I felt I was fighting a losing battle while other times I felt like there just might be hope for victory. The warfare was 24 hours a day 7 days a week without ceasing and during this time I quite often felt like I was wearing away like paper shoved between two rocks and left to weather. While other times I was being strengthened by my Lord (especially through worshiping Him) and felt like I could persevere. During this dark and confusing time, I made many poor decisions and actions that to this day I regret. The days weeks and months to follow were filled with an up and down road with victory and despair as I was continually challenged often beyond what I was able to bear. Making good choices and bad, my life would never be the same. During the following year, I learned truly how difficult life be. I have thought repeatedly since those months that if there was a time in my life where I could take back and change, it would be this time and the dark times to follow. But is it also these times that helped to sculpt me to become the man that I am today, and for these reasons I must accept them as part of my past.
College was now coming to a close and I was under many pressures. I struggled to complete the two most traumatizing and hardest scholecular years of my life because the staff at our small school fought against me every step of the way. Many did not like me and would intentionally make acts that would sabotage my success. On top of my present relational circumstances, I was also fighting the compounded problems of trying to recover from my deep and powerful 'New Age' past. I did not want to fall back into that path even though many of my 'New Age' giftings were still prevalent in my life.
After I concluded college things continued to get worse. I had to move back to my home town, over a two hours drive away from my college location and Lisa (my future wife to be) had to move back to her home town in Sudbury about a four-hour drive away. All in total we were now living 6 hours apart, desperately in love and both deeply wounded from past events. By moving I had become completely removed from the church life and support that was helping me through my difficult time and now I felt even more desperate and alone. I was not adjusting well to living at home again with my parents and my parents were actively trying to remove me from the influences I had while in college. They were doing so because they saw changes in my life that in their opinion was for the worse, but to this day I do not understand what changes they could have seen in me because I knew that I had only changed for the better (other than the struggles I was in). Maybe they just didn’t like the way I was growing up, I don’t know.
I longed to see Lisa (the love of my life) again and would do just about anything to make this happen; even if it was against the will of my parents at the time. I purchased a car and drove to Sudbury to stay with her a little while, in her mom’s basement apartment. Her family did not make me feel welcome in the least either, in fact, they once banished me from being with her because of their misconceptions of me and instincts that I was going to hurt her again. Which happened, but that again is another story. My parents were equally as judgemental toward Lisa so we had no refuge anywhere we went. I began wondering: If our relationship is “meant to be”, why was everything in our world working completely against us? I now know of course that we were under severe attack because God had a great mission for our lives together. I also do not know what personal history was being worked in Lisa’s life at the time or what if her bondages contributed to the circumstances, but things were not easy that’s for sure. While life continued to worsen and parental social pressures continued to pile up, I was continued to be filled with just about every other negative emotion one can think of. I began feeling as though God was no longer anywhere near me and that He had completely deserted me. In fact, in my darkest hour, I remember lashing out at God and actively trying to abuse Him because of the desertion and demonic convictions I felt. I told Him I hated Him with everything I had. I cursed Him out loud with my lips. I had become a far cry from where I was just months earlier before my “great fall”.
In this time I continued to follow my bondage past and found myself in positions that continued to yield havoc on everything I held dear. I felt helpless, alone and once again continuing down my negative spiral. I was ready to leave this world without hesitation but it was not my time. The voices and conviction in my mind were deafening and I couldn’t shut them out. I was completely confused and ready to give up altogether. It was only Christ that held me together.
This picture comes to my mind when I think about my total despair: I felt like I was in a sinking ship that was tossing and rotating as it uncontrollably lurched to the ocean floor. As soon as I thought I uncovered my way up or a way out, everything would shift and I would find myself completely disoriented. I would have to start searching for an escape all over again. I felt like while trying to escape, the ship was still sinking and as it sank, the “water pressure” around me would crush my soul harder, and harder making it harder to breathe, live and operate. I was becoming a vacant shell of myself and drowned with absolutely no escape. My days were plagued and my nights were dark with spiritual influence all around me. I just wanted to die because I saw no way out. No way out of my circumstance and no way out of myself and my own existence. I thought the world would just be better without me. I was deep in depression but still striving to somehow keep things together and pull life into some assemblance of a whole as God labored by my side without me knowing it.
There was even a time out of complete self-defeat that I entertained letting it all go and allowing my mind to slip itself into insanity. Become a streetwalker that roams aimlessly, as lice pick at his chin and teeth rot in his face. The surrendering to this existence seemed almost more peaceful than what I had been struggling in. Let the world think what it will, at least if I gave up, I could give into the demonic influences and let them win. Maybe then the attack would subside. For the first time I understood how some people get to that point in their lives. I thought being a Christian was supposed to make things easier? I now know it does and lifting myself out of this circumstance with God’s help was not easy at first but God does grant all of His children victory if they just learn how to claim it and exercise His will in their life.
Through all of this time, God was sustaining me. God understood that my anger, self-loathing and curses because He was experiencing them through me. He knew my frustration intimately and wanted to do nothing more than rescue me from my circumstance. It was hard for me to see this, but His loving hands were guiding and supporting me at all times.
The downward spiral continued. Financially things began to really crumble. Lisa and I were both behind on our bill payments because we had just finished college, had no work while writing exams and living off of personal credit to sustain us until we got ourselves on our feet. Lisa and I decided that wherever I would find work we would live. I found work in my old home town of Kitchener Waterloo and we moved in to an apartment by the end of that month. Family and all other influences continued to work directly against us during and after our move and we had no support in any way.
Choosing to move in together made things a little easier but also added to my confusion because I knew the way we were living was in sin. It seemed like we had no other choice but this existence (again) created a new tear in my life. Satan was using this as a leveraging point to deepen the bondage in my ever-growing desperate spiritual life. So now on top of everything else, began a new mental battle. I knew we should get married and God was calling me that way, but in my mind, we were living in sin and we should fix that first. But then how could we because we had no other option. We needed to live together out of necessity and if I moved out or back into the family I didn’t want to succumb to family pressures or sabotage our relationship. Lisa in her vulnerability as a “baby Christian” herself kept telling me that if we loved each other that it would all be ok, but part of me knew something was wrong with this, but I knew no other way. I was so torn and confused it was not funny.
Oh how I longed for that fairy tale experience of courtship and marriage but that seemed far from ever being a reality for the two of us. I wanted desperately for my family to share in our journey, joys and relational / marriage success but every time I made an attempt to include them I was met by a brick wall of obstinance. How can my parents dislike someone I love so much? Why can’t they see the beautiful person Lisa was? This was killing us and killing me because family was important to me. I even asked continual questions like: Am I not seeing something I should be? Are my parents seeing something I am not? They are my parents and they might know. Through these self-doubt questions, my family would place doubt in my relationship with Lisa. But I loved her so much and I felt God moving in our life. Once again I was so confused.
Through this time as I was trying to make amends with family and move forward positively in life, my parents disowned me from the family for the actions I was taking (living with Lisa and such). It seemed like no matter where I turned I could not get one single break or victory. When I called back to old friendships at Cornerstone Church for advice I was fed difficult and confusing messages. 1) I needed to remove the sinful circumstance I was in because they knew it was hurting me but at the same time though 2) They could not marry me because we had not been through any pre-marital counseling as of yet and that is important to a sustained marriage.
I desperately asked them to marry us but their hands were tied. Which then placed another doubt in my life. If we were meant to marry why would the church that I was “saved” in not even marry us? They knew my circumstance. In hindsight I perceive this time as just one place, one of the many places where “man’s wisdom” in the church fell in the way against “God’s wisdom” in our life. It is bound to happen because even pastors are only men and might not make all of the right decisions in life. I am not blaming Cornerstone at all because who knows, maybe they just weren’t meant to marry me, I don’t know, they were following God’s direction in their lives to the fullest. I tell you it is wise to go through pre-marital counseling but it is more wise to simply follow God’s direct will in your life if you are astute enough to hear it. We once went to a pastor of counseling and He gave a blend of good and bad advice to us. This soured my taste toward pre-marital counseling in general. I think there are very few people that could have handled Lisa and my predicament well.
So here we were. No one would marry us but we needed to get married at all costs, even forgetting family if we had to. Even against my doubts or confusion, that is the way I was being led. At this time I read thoroughly through my Bible looking for God’s direct advice in my life and tried to find every reference about marriage and respecting family and God and realized that the best thing to do was to get married and face the consequences as time passes. Even though the world’s stats said we were bound for failure because everything was stacked against us, I felt God leading us to “tie the knot” anyway. I am glad He did.
I am sure you don’t need me to say but I will say it anyway, the spiritual attack surrounding my marriage to Lisa was simply HUGE. From voices in my mind and battling past bondages in daily life, to worldly circumstances around us or battling the feelings of betrayal, dishonesty and pain. The attack on our lives and spiritual journeys was simply HUGE. Times were extremely difficult and clarity of thought in my life was by far not seen. I desired desperately to make amends for past hurts that I had inflicted on Lisa and others in my life. I wanted desperately to resolve issues with my parents as I was taught that God can work through them but they were completely against me. Should one get married under these circumstances and commit the rest of their lives to such warfare? And why would God speak differently to me than other churches, my parents and other spiritual leadership in my life. I was torn and desperate for a resolution, peace of mind, and victory over the demonic. I just wanted things to be well. But this seemed impossible. I needed a church family… no, correction: I needed a miracle.
By the way, all of the above happened within a short period of weeks. Not months.
Lisa and I decided despite everything to get married but I struggled doing so without involving my family because family support was an extremely important asset to me. I have always had a close family upbringing. I also struggled of course with getting married when so much bondage and baggage was over my head. Getting married seemed so right by the eyes so I decided to trust and be obedient to him and get married for better and worse. At this time of course my parents were completely against us getting married and Lisa’s parents were equally not as supportive but at least they might have made an effort to support us or attend. Just to confirm that I was on the right path I asked God for specific signs to confirm that Lisa and I should wed, and God gave me all of the signs I requested except complete peace about the decision.
Lisa convinced me the night before our wedding day (out of her concern for my long term relationship with my parents) that I should make and should communicate our plans to marry the next day. It was a wise decision but turned out to be a major mistake. A two-hour conversation in a restaurant foyer ensued, that left me even more confused and frustrated then when I started. They knew me from childhood and knew exactly how to implant doubt into my life. My parents begged us to wait at least 30 days so that they and extended family can adjust and have enough time to try to communicate with us and sort things out. I decided to follow their advice for hopes that it would help draw us together but that was not how it worked out. Over the next 30 days my parents did not make a direct effort to resolve or communicate things. I did receive a few calls from extended family that gave divisive advice for our relationship because I am sure they were acting out of how they were already swayed from my parents before calling. None of them knew Lisa or the situation we were in. My extended family now getting to know Lisa through the years absolutely love her and see her as a great addition to my life. I knew this was the way it should have been from the start but hearts were hardened like Pharaoh’s in Egypt when Moses tried to let the Israelites go.
Deciding to delay our wedding left both Lisa and I feeling completely ruined and traumatized. We were both personally falling apart at the seams. I just wanted to cry and die at the same time because the pressures of life had built to become too much to bear. Both of us were complete emotional wrecks. We have recovered now though and now living a life of happiness, clarity and freedom. I will get to this soon enough. Over the years my relationship with my parents, extended family and my in-laws have been healed in every way. God has worked many miracles in our lives and our present successful marriage is a miracle in itself. Many that know us and shared our walk have told me this and I do completely agree with them.
After all of this, Lisa and I decided to marry roughly 30 days later in a small church in Oshawa Ontario without notifying any of my family and giving hers last minute notice. We were wed by the father of one of Lisa’s closest college friends: Roxy. It was a small wedding consisting 7 people: Myself, My Wife, Roxy, a high school friend of mine who’s boyfriend worked with me at the time, a high school friend of Lisa’s that kept close all through her years, the pastor that married us and His caring wife. Oh yes, and a cousin on my wife’s side of the family. He decided to come only because it was “convenient for him” with traffic and work. Honestly, I think he just wanted to take rumors back to the family but that is a whole other story.
Our wedding was a beautiful event and we took no part in the planning. All planning was all taken care of by Roxy and her parents. They all did a fantastic job it was a blessed experience for both me and Lisa. All totaled the complete costs of our wedding day totaled only $200 including gas money to drive to Oshawa and wedding papers that needed to be purchased. Even that was a complete financial stretch for us at the time. If anyone ever says to you they don’t have the money to get married, don’t listen to them. If they truly wanted to badly enough they could easily do it like we did).
As beautiful as our wedding day was I still personally struggled a little with it because it was not what I had at first envisioned for such a glorious and monumentus day in my life. I wanted to at least tell my brother so that he could try to attend but He was still living with my parents and I knew that contacting him would be divisive in itself. I truly wish at least he could have been there.
Roxy had a personal friend take pictures of us for free that day so that we would have a record of the event; thank you Roxy. We had our reception at our favorite jazz lounge back in Kitchener that night “The Walper Pub”. That night was one of the only true radiant lights in this difficult time of our life. It was great to be married. As painful as the events leading up to this night was, it was great to have that day as a part of our life.
As an aside: As recovering 'New Agers' at the time, Lisa and I both sensed many amazing sensations when the pastor was marrying us. When he spoke the will of God into our lives by marrying us we literally felt God molding us together as “one flesh” as He promises in the Bible. When I grew up I thought the term “one flesh” was just a pretty term used in the Bible but as we stood there at the front of the church we both felt very powerful sensations. It felt like sensations, experiences, bondages and giftings we had kept from childhood were invisibly and immediately shared between the two of us. We both left the front of that church feeling completely changed and not quite the same way we did when we entered the church. This experience was absolutely wild to partake in and I had no idea I would feel so much from a marriage day. I should have guessed, but at that time I had no clue. There is truly a spiritual difference between a wed relationship and an un-wed relationship.
This powerful spiritual moment also brought a new dynamic into my relationship with Lisa. We now were directly connected in a spiritual sense. When she was sad I felt not only empathetically sad but I also felt genuinely spiritually sad because I was now directly connected to her in every way. It made recovering from our past easier as well as much harder and more painful. Once again a fairy tale life would have been preferred :). We both felt spiritually off balance until we adjusted to our new reality. I find it quite amazing on how God’s spirit works intangible yet invisible ways. To this day I could be many miles away and know what emotions my wife is experiencing at times.
Being married now marked the beginning of a new era. Not easier, just different. Now that Lisa and I were not living in continual daily sin, God began to work in new ways in our lives. We also had to begin the long journey of healing from our past. Lisa and I had a hard start at first as we were both recovering from our individual and collaborative pasts. We not only had relationship struggles to deal with (many of the details I will not get into at this time) but I was also stuck with trying to heal from my bondages and other struggles on my own. These struggles existed through our entire first years of marriage and to give a vast understatement, made our lives difficult. There was so much healing that was needed, so much pain and spiritual strongholds to overcome and so much learning ahead of us. Things evolved steadily and quite often too slowly for my liking but hey, not all things happen in “our time” do they. Healing happens when it happens. Honestly, quite often we can get in our own way of healing or restoration. There were many hard lessons ahead.
Financial trouble, family trouble, church difficulties, health, if you could think of it we were going through it. Lisa and I simultaneously (in our first year of marriage) faced every item that normally would break up a relationship and it is simply a miracle of God’s grace that we made it through. The first three years of our marriage were by far the most difficult. I do recall in our second year of marriage we told our experiences and struggles to one of the pastors of our new church at the time and after hearing our history he stated bluntly with raised eyebrows: “and you guys are still married?”
If it were not for the fact that God was the head of both of our lives and we both kept seeking him individually, I am sure we would not be together to this day. He was at times the only bond that tied us together. Without Him there would have been no way our marriage could have lasted. Lisa and I never lost love for one another but there sure were difficult times that made love seem quite distant.
God is the one that married us and He was the one that healed, protected and walked with us through every step of our lives together. Our successful marriage is a testament to His glory and grace in our lives as it was His spirit that carried us through. I find that Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit are the three most important assets to be sought after in a successful marriage. Just for fun I will share with you a poem I wrote when Lisa and I were going through difficult times that helped keep things in perspective:
Like the touch of a rose upon my lips
I stare at your ageless sweet glaze.
Your eyes shimmer white,
And the candles break light
Of our love lived in golden days.
Your hands tremble old,
So frail and so cold.
But your beauty will never hinder;
For you’re the love of my life
And the day of my days
Any pain in my heart melts like cinders.
When I cherish you all,
And I hold you so close
I fell as though our hearts beat as one.
With just a touch of you skin
And a stroke of your soul
I know our lives have only begun.
We have traveled so far,
I can now see the end
And I sense that your breath is now short;
But I will meet you soon
And we will fly like a loon
Till we land in God’s heavenly court.
Life has been hard
And it struck us so deep
I know soon it never will be,
As painful as now
Follow me and find how
We can live with our Lord flying free.
Praise you... Darkness...
When things were their darkest quite often I would spend a great deal of time worshiping my Lord. In these times He directly healed me with his spirit and transformed my bondages to strength. It was His work and his Work alone that has granted me the freedom that I now quite often take for granted. Years ago I wrote this small poem that describes my musical and worship experience. I share it quite often with my music students as it puts the expression of music into quick perspective:
The piano’s my canvas
My fingers my brush
My soul paints the picture
I would like to say a couple of other things about spiritual alignment and how it has helped our marriage survive and grow over the years but I will keep to the foretelling of my story at this time. I have stored up spiritual wisdom over the years that I will share in this section of my website. I hope you enjoy them and find victory and peace by using the concepts that I share: Click Here
Click Here to go onto the final installment of my story. Lisa and I now live victoriously over our past and have a completely renewed relationship that is healed in just about every way. I am not saying there is not a bump along the way but God has done an awesome work of restoration in our life. There were still difficult times ahead as you will soon read, but it was all worth it.