Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

3.01.2011

Once Dead

It was one of those strange, inexplicable, convoluted internet paths where you later cannot remember or rationalize what exactly you were doing, how you got to what you were doing, or why you were doing it. I had ended up on You Tube, and I was watching some clip. The content of the video was fine—typical of You Tube’s inane offerings—but that wasn’t what kept me from clicking out of the video. No, it was the face, the man on the screen, who kept me riveted. Here he was, acting as happy and carefree as a kindergartner, but his face--his face. In his face, I saw his heart, and it held so much pain.

His form was emaciated. So horrifyingly thin that it was painful to look at him. His hair was big and styled, forming a very peculiar headpiece for a man. His face was pierced many times through with holes, with metal jewelry threaded through the punctures. His voice had that whining feminine tone to it that so many men today have chosen to adopt to proclaim that they are not men. Finally, his clothes—overly stylized and overly feminine—completed the picture.

I noted that the video I was watching was from 2009, and I had some sort of gut feeling that he could not have possibly survived another two years in the path that he had chosen, but I clicked on his channel page anyways, hoping against hope. A shock ran through my system, however, when the page loaded. The wallpaper? “God is Holy.” The videos? Prayer chains, verses to live by, and wishes for a happy birthday to Jesus. This was radical. Anxious to uncover this mystery, I soon found a video entitled “CRISIS.” So I watched. I watched an emaciated, pierced, tattooed man breaking down as he recounted how his mother and he were being forced out of the house his father had built.

Johnny was beside himself from financial troubles, health troubles, and mental troubles—he was nervewracked, stressed, emotional, unstable, and lost. Here he was, humbled, sick, lost, and desperate: it was as though he had been turned inside out, and instead of wearing the mask of a face and skin, he was wearing his heart. Pierced and struggling, sinful and black, ghastly and haggard. Only three days later, however, he posted another video, and suddenly, he was a different man, mellow and full of joy that, try as he might, he could hardly express. His financial crisis had led him to call his pastor, and within twenty-four hours of turning back to God, he providentially had a place to sleep and live.

I only watched a few more of his videos, but in each one, I saw change. I saw him weeping as he took out his piercings because he “didn’t need them anymore.” I saw him rejoicing and dumbfounded that God had completely taken away his addiction to bulimia. I saw him give up his feminine clothes and decorations. And then I watched one of his most recent videos, and my eyes filled with tears. Now before me was a man with neatly clipped hair, a trimmed goatee, a wonderfully healthy body, and a face that held no metallic distractions. I was pulled in straight to his eyes—peaceful, joyful, and full of the love of God. Once again, I didn’t see a face or skin or hair—I saw his heart, and it was beautiful, plump, and pure. “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips (Psalm 63:5).”

This took me back to my own transformation at the age of three. However young that might seem to you, I remember the moment in the back of the car the day after Resurrection Sunday. I remember that I submitted my life to God, that I gave back to Him what He had rightfully owned all along. That I lost what I could not keep, and allowed a new Captain to man the ship. As young as I was, my heart was as destructive, malnourished, rebellious, and black as Johnny’s—it just had not had a chance to manifest itself so vividly on the outside. But that moment that God washed my heart clean and white and pure was as miraculous and as transformative as the scenes I saw on You Tube. And that is why I wept, because Johnny reminded me of myself, both before and after Jesus saved me. His joy and excitement brought back the vivid memory of my three year-old self careening into my aunt and uncle’s house, desperate to tell every single person of the incredible gift I had just been given.

The understanding came later. The commitment, the baptism, the spiritual disciplines—those all came later. But the joy, the freedom, the relief, and the peace--that was instantaneous. So whether you are the "before" image of Johnny and the three year old, or the "after" image, don’t miss your opportunity. Choose you this day Whom you will serve, and then get out there and share the good news with others in obedience. Johnny would have been the last person I would have chosen to walk up to and witness to. Thank goodness God doesn’t work like that, because if He did, I would have been the last person He rescued.


We have drawn the winners of our giveaway! Thank you all for entering and for putting such thought into those great questions. We'll be getting to them throughout the year, so keep watch!

Congratulations, Samantha--you won the blog design from Ara!

Elizabeth and Abby each won a charm.

We'll be getting in touch with you ladies shortly!

Photo Credit: Ex-In Transit

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

11 comments:

  1. Amazing post! Without even seeing the videos, I'm rejoicing for Johnny! And you're right: he's all of us.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! What a powerful story! Thank you so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. How powerful our God is!!
    I actually won something? Thats amazing! I haven't ever won something before in a giveaway!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Debbie Lynne--you and the angels! ;-)

    Source of Joy--welcome and thanks for commenting!

    Elizabeth--Are you relating the power of God to salvation or to winning the giveaway? ;-) haha...I know what you meant.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Beautifully written, my friend. Thank you so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jasmine--I feel as though I should thank you and all my readers for letting me share. How cool is this blogging gig where I get to type out what God has laid on my heart lately, and then be blessed with people reading it and providing words of encouragement and wisdom about it? Thanks for commenting! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Mika -
    Talk about exciting - it is always amazing to see a life transformed by God! What a great story!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I know, Sarah! Totally! Doesn't that just put a spring into your step?! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello!
    You keep a very lovely and intelligent blog, I would like to say!
    However, deep down I feel a bit hurt by the way this post started off. (I felt like it was saying, "stylized hair and clothes? Can't possibly be a Christian.") I sort of took offense to this as some of the most admirable, loving, and respectful people I know carry off that sort of look.
    I'd like to hear more about your opinion on this, if you don't mind replying. (Also could you provide a link to the Youtube channel?)

    Have a lovely day,
    Lida

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lida,
    Thank you so much for commenting and expressing your concerns. I value the fact that you would give me a chance to explain myself.

    Honestly, I did not intend to convey the belief that overly styled and big hair and overly stylized and overly feminine clothes make it impossible for someone to be a Christian. These things were but two of many things I noticed--the first and foremost being the pain that was so evident in his eyes.

    I do not believe that if you carry off this sort of look you cannot be a Christian. (I curl my hair and love cute clothes as much as the next person!) I do, however, believe that a true Christian will desire to bring glory to God MORE than he will desire to bring glory/attention to himself. The other point I was attempting to delicately portray was that this man was involved in a homosexual lifestyle. It wasn't just that he styled his hair or put thought into his clothing--he deliberately dressed himself up to look more feminine than masculine, rejecting God’s design for him.

    Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart. I do have a tendency to be critical and judgmental, but my desire in this article was not to stand in judgment of all people with stylized hair and clothing. Instead, I was pointing to these things as two out of a score of other symptoms that all added up.

    I debated over whether or not I should post the You Tube channel when I wrote this article. I elected not to include it, because Johnny has kept all his old videos up, and while his recent videos are wonderful, I cannot vouch for his old videos and do not feel comfortable linking people to that.

    I hope this clears things up for you. My first and foremost reaction to Johnny was love and concern, not a scoreboard of what he was doing right and wrong. Perhaps I did not do a good job of conveying that in this article, and so I thank you for bringing this up.

    Mikaela

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you for clearing that up for me. Obviously homosexuality is a whole different matter with many different opinions on that matter, but I do agree with you that we shouldn't put ourselves or our looks before God.
    I do struggle with this issue quite a bit as a lot of people I know in real life (at church, no less) tend to judge people if they dress oddly or speak differently. I realize that they're just struggling with different issues than I am but I worry that people such as Johnny would feel resentment for Christians if all they get is judgement.

    Thanks for replying so quickly!
    Lida

    ReplyDelete

We love comments like we love sunshine and chocolate and chubby babies!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin