And Now, I Have Hope
By Tony Thorsen
I tossed the idea around for nearly a year before getting baptized. My parents had me baptized as baby. And as I considered being baptized again at Grace, one side of me kept saying, "You've already been baptized. No need to do it again." But the other side of me kept saying, "Yeah, but it wasn't a personal choice."
It doesn't take a full year to sort that argument out. A lot of the delay was that I just wasn't sure where I was in my walk with Christ. Even though I felt more in tune with Christ, I was still wrestling with God and my faith, which was mainly due to a lot of life experiences and unanswered questions.
Anxiety, depression, anger, stress, you name it, have plagued me most of my days. Aside from OCD, I have had a number of other health issues that have peppered my life, as well -- some that are still with me to this day -- and I have reached out to God more times than I can count for help, but never received the healing and relief for which I prayed.
So, I found myself wondering, like most people do, "God, if you love me so much and want the best for my life, why do I continue to struggle? Where's the relief? I give, I serve, I pray, I attend church, I read my Bible...what more do I need to do?" After feeling like my prayers remained unanswered, I changed my prayers from, "God - Please help!" to "God - I'm done. I don't have the strength and desire to keep living, nor do I have the guts to take my own life, so please, just do me a favor and take me out of this world. That way, I can still be with you when I die." Obviously, God did not answer that prayer either, and I'm certainly glad he didn't.
Somehow, I managed to turn my life around over the last year. And honestly, it wasn't some extraordinary feat of human strength on my part to keep going, so I really can't take credit. I firmly believe it was a combination of giving up alcohol completely, the continued love and support from my family and friends, getting involved with Men of Grace, going through Fight Club, volunteering at Wheeler Mission, and getting involved in the Way of Discipleship. I think those things, coupled with figuring out how to let go and lay everything at the feet of Jesus, helped me turn things around. I think I'm finally starting to fully understand my favorite verse, which is Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." Prior to this year, I think I had that verse mixed up with Tony 4:13, which states, "I can do all things by myself."
What ultimately led to me being baptized is that I was ready to start anew. I wanted to wash away the old, and I basically said to God, "All right. My bad. Let's try this again." Yes, I still struggle with my emotional health, but not to the point where I want to just end it all anymore. Now, I have hope, I have faith, and I have the desire to keep going. I realize there are people who not only depend on me, but are rooting for me. I know that God is in my corner not only fighting with me, but fighting for me.