"It takes a village to raise a child."
Growing up in a broken home, I didn't know who I was and had to grow up quickly. With my mom working so much and my dad out of the picture, I tried to discover what it meant to be a man. I tried to become like the "tough" guys around me and on TV. I valued what they valued, said what they said, and did what they did. The problem was the people I was imitating were men because of their age, not their character. Their character mirrored that of the world, and because I was mirroring them, I started to reflect the values of the world without realizing it.
On the outside, I was the rowdy kid, but on the inside, I was struggling with my identity. I defied authority often, especially male authority. Every year from 4th grade to my first year of high school, I got suspended. Not once, but twice. I was a real knucklehead. But the whole time, I was just trying to figure out who I was and what it meant to be a man.
Thankfully my mom raised me in church. I became a volunteer at Legacy when I was in middle school. I felt like I found a home; I found mentors who would patiently teach me how to be a man of faith. They helped me recognize and separate my traumas from my identity. Because of what God is doing in Legacy Church, I discovered who I was in Christ. But it took lots of time for me to realize it and lots of patience for those pouring into me (believe me, they needed it).
Volunteering at the church was huge for me, but I always felt called to ministry. However, I was scared; whenever I thought about working for the church, I couldn't help but feel unworthy. I often thought, "I'm too messed up to be here." I allowed this thought to cripple my faith, which often held me back from stepping into who God called me to be. It took me a long time to realize it's not about a performance, goodness, or even brokenness; it's about your heart. You don't need to be perfect to serve God. You just need to give your heart to Him, everything else will follow.
I am a testament to the saying, "it takes a village to raise a child." Because of my Legacy family and the mentors within, I am no longer unsure of who I am. I would not be the man I am today without the support of my church family, and I am honored to serve my community alongside them.
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