Him: My life has been fairly normal, growing up. Through my adolescent years, I had a good family, a few good friends, an enjoyable extracurricular life. Though I am not athletic in any way, I had fairly enjoyable teenage years, as most public school guys would have.
The one thing I did not have was a good foundation, or any foundation really. But I don’t want to confuse you when I say foundation. What I mean by that is that I really wasn’t grounded in anything. I didn’t go to church. I didn’t care what consequences my actions caused, of any degree, and I just wanted to do what I wanted.
Sounds like a good idea, right? What could go wrong?
Well….a lot. I find that as I get older, that my story can resonate with a lot of people. Meaning that I have met quite a few people that went through the same things I did, though a majority of the time I felt I was alone in my struggles.
I made a lot of stupid mistakes. I struggled a lot with how I treat people. It may not sound like a cliche struggle to go through, but it is one that has affected everyone that I have met. I started finding myself seeking satisfaction in the attention of others, whether that be positive, or negative. So the easiest way to do that, was to poke fun at others’ faults, brag, and overall carry a large amount of pride.
This was a sure way to get others attention.
A large mistake that this lead to was finding my identity and joy in the women I was with. Sex was a large struggle I had to tackle. I would find myself idolizing everyone I would meet by how they looked, how I interacted with them. So anyone who showed any interested in me, I would pursue them in the most negative way possible. I made a lot of mistakes, hurt a lot of people, and devalued myself to the point of breaking the mirror of my self-image.
I wasn’t until I did a lot of re-evaluating and other trials that I found myself again, and found Jesus. That story could be entire blog post in itself, so I will save that for a different time.
I have come to terms with all of my mistakes, and I am confident in myself, that God has given me a second chance. I know that God put me through these trials and hard times, so that I may use my stories to inspire, encourage and minister to those who have made the same mistakes as I have.
My name is Jake LaMotte, and I am a Worship & Leadership Ministry major in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Her: My life was pretty normal too, but in a different way. I grew up in a christian home with a youth pastor for a father. My dad was always busy with youth events and stuff. Neither was around much, and they were emotionally unavailable when they were home. So I grew up in the church with all the possible programs you can imagine; Awana, SEMP, youth groups, Kids Games, youth retreats to Grace Adventures, and my personal favorite, my dad’s version of Survivor, to name a few. I was your average church going, middle class kid.
I knew stuff about the Bible. I knew all the stories, I was amazing at memorizing scriptures. I had even accepted Christ as my personal saviour at a very young age, and multiple times after, just to make sure. I had built a spiritual foundation, but it was only surface deep.
Yet something wasn’t right. As amazing as my parents are, I wasn’t taught to pray, read my Bible, or do devotions on my own. To make them personal habits. Mostly because I was rebellious and stubborn minded. I needed to learn things for myself and even though I love to read books, I always had a hard time reading the Bible because it was just boring to me. Sad, I know. But that’s the truth, as I saw it.
So after graduation, I refused to enroll at bible college both my parents and my sister went there. I instead went to community college and met the wrong kinds of people. I also got a first shift job that required I work on weekends, so I was removed from the positive and loving environment of my home church. For two years I missed out on church. Just last year was when I really hit my lowest.
I met a boy.
He was a man in most respects. He definitely wasn’t the Christian he claimed to be though. For the next 7-8 months, I was conflicted, struggling with a sexual relationship. Last August was when I finally gave in to God and cut all ties with that guy.
I have struggled since then to find myself and my identity in Christ. I have completely turned my life around and I can see now that I am home. I am enrolled at the bible college, and I am right where God wants me to be. I can finally “hear” God and see all the amazing new opportunities for growth and for my future that He is giving me.
I know that God intends for me to use my experiences and mistakes to minister to my friends and to others through encouragement and guidance. And I am super excited to see where God leads me next.
My name is Alex Lorenz, and I am a Human Services major here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Us: Jake came to the same bible college right out of high school. I took a less direct path but found my way back as part of the healing process.
I was having a hard time making friends since I’m an introvert. Jake welcomed me and helped me to open up to others. We started hanging out more and more because he has a similar sense of humor as my siblings, so I felt comfortable being around him.
One of our first real times hanging out we ended up at the Bitter End coffee house at midnight. Needless to say, no actual homework was accomplished that night.
On the way back to college from the Bitter End, I opened up to Jake and shared about my recent past. This was oddly easy for me. Pretty much from the time I met him, I felt so comfortable around him that I trusted him enough to tell him my story.
The response I got was one of love and understanding. Turns out, we had experienced similar hardships. Jake then told me about this ministry that he was involved with locally. This ministry goes into the West Michigan schools and educates students about the importance of waiting until marriage for sex, in a sense that it is healthier mentally, physically, and spiritually.
This sounded like an amazing opportunity to get involved and share our experiences with kids so they could avoid making the same mistakes. We both are able to share with kids and share with our friends as we continue to pursue our renewed purity.
When Alex and I started our relationship, we were wondering what direction God was taking us as we continued to pursue him together.
This past week, God has led NotoftheNorm ministries in a new direction, leadership wise, and a current author of NotN, Evan Bailey, is now at the helm. Evan informed me of this decision, which compelled me to ask him how I could assist in anyway.
Long story short, I am now the Director of Social Media for this new push of our ministry. As I told Alex about this opportunity, and something clicked with both of us. We felt compelled to share our story, encourage and minister to people through our words on NotoftheNorm.
We are beyond excited to join this team and continue this ministry to encourage God’s people with biblical truth, scriptural encouragement, and ultimately bring God all the deserved honor and glory!