I always wanted to be popular. In junior high, that just meant dressing like the cool kids, so I sagged my pants and wore certain tees. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but it was the beginning of a reckless lifestyle that almost took my life. That simple act of changing my clothes put me on a journey of trying to be someone I wasn’t.
In high school, dressing like the popular crowd was no longer enough, so I started smoking weed. After a while, I joined a gang. Then I started selling drugs.
I wanted the money, respect, and sense of belonging that everyone else seemed to have. And I’d do whatever it took to get them. I managed to finish high school without accomplishing anything good.
My parents begged me to come back to church, to seek God. But church wasn’t for me. Everyone there looked so perfect, like they never committed any sin or had any fun. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to go out, smoke, have sex, and make money the fast way. Since Christians weren’t supposed to do those things, I avoided Christianity.
It was a costly choice. By the time I was 22, I had been arrested six times. I felt like a complete failure. I was sure I was the worst person in my family, and nobody would even give a dollar for me. I could see little hope for my future—I was an undocumented person. Family members had brought me from Columbia to America when I was five but never went through the process to have me documented. That meant I had no legal opportunities to make something of myself. I couldn’t even get a job unless it paid me under the table.
My life continued spiraling downward. The mother of my child took our son and left me, saying she didn’t want to be with someone addicted to drugs. Feeling more alone than ever, I found comfort in the very things she despised—weed and pills.
Walking home one night, I met some friends who’d heard rumors that I was a traitor. They had decided to teach me a lesson. I tried to defend my case, but they jumped me and began cutting me with a box cutter. At first, I didn’t feel the cuts because of the adrenaline pumping through me, but then blood began to pour down my face.
I screamed at them, “What have you done? Why would you do this to me?” I’d thought they were my friends. They backed away, and I ran toward home.
A man outside my apartment building came to my aid. He laid me on the ground, put pressure on my wounds, and called 911. If it hadn’t been for him, I could have died. He told me later that he’d been ready to leave when something told him to go back to the apartment. I know now that the Holy Spirit placed him there to help me. God was looking after me, even at such a low and rebellious time of my life.
After that experience, I realized I should have listened to my parents. I should have sought God, but instead, I had run from Him. I had turned to everything but the One who could help me be who I was supposed to be—and none of that had worked.
I remembered a verse from childhood: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV). Could it be true? If I followed God and lived my life for Him, would He make sure I had everything I needed in life?
I decided to give Him a chance. “God,” I said, “I’m going to listen to You and do whatever You say. I’m going to trust that what You say in Your Word is true. I want to know You and to live a holy life. I’m putting my life in Your hands.”
I submitted myself to His Word and His will. I quit smoking and cut off my friends, as I knew they would only lead me back to a reckless lifestyle. I started reading the Bible and repented of my sin. I got baptized in the name of Jesus. I did everything I heard God tell me to do, and He faithfully kept His word. As I focused on Him, He gave me all I needed and desired. He opened many doors for me.
In 2012, by God’s grace, I was granted residency through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA). My criminal record should have kept my application from being accepted. Even my lawyer was certain my application would be denied. But I trusted God instead of my lawyer, and He worked a miracle. Now, I have a wonderful job at a Christian hospital where I get to share His hope and love with others.
But God has blessed me with more than just material things; He’s also filled me with His Holy Spirit. He continues to pour out His love and give me His peace and joy. Because of Him, I’m no longer depressed or anxious. I no longer feel alone or ashamed of my life.
Today, at 27 years old, my life is full of hope, despite my past. For years, the world told me I’d never amount to anything, but God proved the world wrong. He believed in me, even when everyone else had given up. He has restored and preserved my life, and He has blessed me beyond measure. I don’t need anything else. He is enough.
He’s enough for you too. God doesn’t play favorites. What He did for me, He can do for you. Give Him a chance.
Psalm 37:4 makes this very clear. It says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” †