Published in  
Volume 2
February 22, 2023

06 - Living Proof

It was a normal Sunday morning for everyone else. It wasn’t Aaron’s first time in a church pew, but it felt like it may as well have been. It seemed the church felt similarly; stares from surrounding members solidified his feelings of being an outsider. People were staring at his tattoos and dreadlocks, hesitant to speak to him because of his rough demeanor. Past his appearance, like many of them, laid a restless heart that was desperately seeking new life. 

 Up to this point he had seen no evidence of God in his life and felt that if God were real, He certainly didn't care about him. He questioned that if God were real, why did his dad pass away when he was only five? Why had he seen his mom get beaten by multiple boyfriends? Why had so many of his friends died from overdoses? Why had his life been filled with so much more hurt and sorrow rather than love and peace?  

From the beginning Aaron remembers experiencing a life that many people aren’t fully aware of, let alone live through. His childhood felt like a constant cycle that always led back to itself. The abuse he witnessed after his father’s death and the instability of home left him full of anger. He fell in love with skateboarding at a young age as it quickly became his outlet and safe space. He spent countless days at the skatepark learning tricks and learning life. It was a place he could take out some of his anger and talk with his new found friends. As a healthy outlet in many ways, it wasn’t perfect. The searching teenagers left to their own devices found out that getting high seemed to be enough to numb the pain. This discovery took Aaron down a road he never anticipated traveling.

Aaron has said all he wanted to be growing up was an active member of society; someone who was involved in his community in a positive way. That dream seemed far away during the years he spent chasing his drug addictions. Instead, Aaron found himself robbing people for drug money, ultimately leading him to spend six months in jail. After time, he found a halfway house and began a new journey of healing, getting sober, and easing back into the society he still had a desire to impact.

Aaron knew he had to meet his requirements at the house, one of which was to attend weekly meetings, with an option for church to count as one. After relapsing, he was on his last chance at the halfway house, but knew he was on his last chance with much more than that. Relapsing again was not an option. He knew it meant returning to a tortured life of addiction, if that was even a life at all. When the house manager invited him to go to church, he felt he was at the end of his rope and agreed to give it a try–if not for him, for the house manager who was always faithful to encourage him.

During worship that morning Aaron stood back in a trance as he watched all the people singing to God. He wondered how they all knew the words to the songs and how he was somehow so excluded from this unified group of people. He felt like every person in the sanctuary all had something in common bringing them all together. Singing stopped, seats were taken, and the pastor took the stage.

The words he spoke felt as if they were from more than just the pastor himself; they felt like they were meant just for him. How did the pastor know what he was going through? How did he know specifics about his heart and mind that even Aaron couldn’t understand?

Thoughts were racing through his mind. He wanted to rebuild his life; he knew he needed to. He wanted relief from drugs and freedom from their hold on his life. The pastor offered an invitation to receive salvation that morning and without much hesitation, Aaron knew this was the time. An overwhelming presence came over him as he prayed along with the pastor. The new reality of his life began to flash through his mind as he recounted his previous life only to see Jesus was there through it all. Not only was He always with him, but He was willing to forgive him, heal him, restore him, and redeem his story. If Aaron expected anything from that morning at church, this wasn’t it. He asked the Lord for a new way of thinking and a mind free from addiction, and that's exactly what he was given.

He walked out of church that morning a new creation. His life changed forever.

His prayers are no longer just for himself. Reading the Bible daily, he is applying the words he’s reading and seeing it in action through his life. He’s loving on people who don’t deserve it and striving to remain faithful to those who do. God has removed the constant longing for drugs, and since that day Aaron hasn’t looked back. Not only did God remove the craving, but He changed the way his mind worked. He remembers walking out of the building that day and for the first time in his life truly feeling clear-headed.

Not only did God restore his heart and mind, but He also restored Aaron’s love for skateboarding. Aaron’s halfway house was less than a mile from The House of Ride Nature. After accepting Christ, he started coming around more to skate the ramp in the back; only this time found much more than he ever did at another skate spot. He found community and fellowship with like-minded believers. He found a family. He found a home. Fast forward to a year later, Aaron is actually living in the Ride Nature men’s discipleship home. You’d be hard-pressed to find him without a smile on his face as he welcomes others and is always willing to serve however needed.

Aaron has far exceeded his dream of being an active member of society, he has become a member of a family. And more than just a member of his local community, he’s a member of his local church and even more importantly the body of Christ. God doesn’t always take us out of our situations, but He always saves us from them. He breathes life into the walking dead and replaces pain with healing, mourning with dancing, and addiction with freedom. And Aaron is living proof.