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Quest for Affirmation Goes Awry

“I felt dirty, broken, lost, just in utter despair.”, recalls Julian.  

Julian grew up just outside of Detroit and was raised by his loving mom and Christian grandmother who taught him about Jesus, but he didn’t know his father.

Julian remembers, “Growing up, I wanted to know my father on a more father son relationship. You know, I wanted to know, you know who he was, know things about him, but I never had that opportunity.”

Despite being raised in church, as Julian grew older, he began searching for his own identity.

“I used to listen to a lot of heavy hip hop music,” says Julian, “I would just listen for hours every day, and I would ingest these negative quotes, negative lyrics and thoughts into my heart. I used to idolize these rappers, and I used to think bad was good, I used to think drug dealing was cool.”

He started imitating what he listened to and before long Julian began dealing drugs.

According to Julian; “I Got a batch of marijuana and I bagged it all up. It went, and I did it again. And that continued for a while and then I was into drug dealing.” Says Julian.  

As his drug dealing intensified, so did his own drug abuse.

“Cocaine was my first like addiction I would seek it.  I would spend money on it. I would do it all by myself in my room.” Says Julian.   

Julian continues, “Cocaine had an elevating buzz but quickly it dropped. And you were depressed, and you had to keep doing more and more and more to get that, literally a 30 second fix. But after that you were in complete depression. It was so bad, and you just kept going for that next one, the next one and it went so fast you had to keep going keep going. And it was just you get burnt out.”

While attempting a fresh start in Florida, Julian got hooked on oxycontin, which cost him his job and his apartment. He then moved back to Michigan where his pill addiction led to heroin.  

Julian sadly reflects, “Heroin took everything I had but my life, any kind of relationship that was good for me, it destroyed. Any opportunity for good for a job, it destroyed. I eventually went from living with a friend, to hopping hotels, to the homeless shelter to homeless shelter, and then from a homeless shelter to the street.”

Julian continues, “Walking down the street, knowing you have nowhere to lay your head down at night, is it the worst feeling. I remember, just wanting to break down and weep and cry. You know from just, just walking exhausted from walking, wanted to lay down you know. But I had no bed. I had no home.

I wouldn’t even look at myself in the mirror, I would use a lot in bathrooms, and I would avoid the mirror. I knew the person I was looking at wasn’t me, I knew it.  And I didn’t want to look at that person because I was ashamed, I was just discouraged at what I let myself become.”

At the height of his addiction and hardships, Julian remembered what his grandmother taught him about Jesus.

Julian reflects, “I had this feeling within me, this knowing, that my only way out was Jesus. I knew it because I tried to get myself out. I tried to you know when I came to the point where I wanted help I would try, but go lower and lower, and I was in utter despair. So, one night I was in a hotel room with some very bad people and I laid down between the bed and the wall and I cried out to God. I said God please take me from this cesspool a sin. I need you please help me. And 20 minutes later I was in handcuffs.”

Julian was arrested on old shoplifting warrants, during his time in jail he participated in Bible studies and was eventually released to a program called teen challenge.

Julian remembers, “We were at a church service. It was an evening church service. And after the service they had table talk. The gentleman leading the table he was just you know speaking these scriptures and all these things and I was so thirsty for what he was saying. I couldn't get enough of what he was saying. I was leaning forward just drinking it up. On the way home from that service.  I looked up to the sky and I said God I'm all in. I said forgive me. I said let's do this. From that moment on I was born again for the next three months I was in my word every day, all day.”

Today Julian is married with a son and is a part of a thriving church community. He now sees God’s love for him through the way he loves his own son.

Proudly Julian says, “Now that I'm a father it's drawn me closer to God in my understanding in my intimacy with him when I'm alone with God, it feels like when I like hug my son, you know?

God uses fatherhood to strengthen us. He also uses marriage to strengthen us because for me to be a good father I have to be selfless. I have to serve my son and that's what love is love is selflessness. I need to serve another and lay down my life for another. And love doesn't seek its own. And that's what we're called to do as Christians to love.”

Julian continues, “I'm living a life that I don't deserve. And I definitely did not earn, but my life reveals the nature and character of God. He's so good. He is so merciful. He's so patient. When you give your life to Jesus. It doesn't matter where you are. It doesn't matter what you've done. He's coming for you and He's going to bring you home. There's nothing He can't do. He'll make a way out of no way, he did it for me. He'll do it for anyone. He really will.”

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