BY CHANCE CHAFFIN
My sophomore year at WSU was a tumultuous one. I lived in a house on my own for the first time. Well, I guess I had six roommates, but I lived without parents or RA's keeping track of me for the first time. I had complete autonomy of my actions. Buy one get one free pizzas at Pizza Perfection at midnight? Sounds good. A beer on the roof before a football game? Sure. Chili and potatoes 5 meals a week in the dead of winter? Yummy. Beer pong on the front porch during that one weird 70 degree day in March? Of course. Without a doubt, most of my roommates and I were under age, but the thing was we had our own private property where we could do whatever we wanted. We could even tell a cop he couldn't come in unless he had a signed legal document.
We felt invincible, and for the most part, legally we were.
So we did what we wanted, when we wanted.
Keggers, day drinking at the dunes, 40's while playing xbox, we even had a Saturday afternoon jeopardy drinking game complete with a couch for each of us to lay on in the living room. In August it was perfect, in September and October we couldn't believe how much fun we were having, but by late November it began to catch up with me.
During all the parties I felt great.
Afterwards, I felt hollow.
However, I couldn't simply stop, because what else was I going to do?
I lived in a house where all the other guys were going to push me towards one thing: partying. And that’s not because they were bad guys, one of them was a groomsman in my wedding. At this point, it was all they knew. So, I kept partying. Why? Because for a few precious inebriated hours, I felt invincible instead of defeated.
Sometime after November an old roommate from my freshman year invited me to go to church with him. Music is the one thing I remember from that first service and it kept me coming back. Funny enough, Maria Royall (which wasn't her name yet back then) sang in those days and she's a great friend now. I credit her and her voice for keeping me in the church long enough for God to do something. Eventually, I joined a village and started to feel a sense of community.
These people loved Jesus and maybe they even loved me.
However, I didn't let them in. I didn't let anyone in.
My roommates didn't know how empty I felt. I didn't tell them. I kept up an act that everything was fine. My village didn't know how much I needed them. I didn't tell them. I kept up an act that everything was fine.
My most painful moment of that year came the week of Easter. My village leaders invited the whole group to Good Friday service and then dinner afterwards. I left my house without telling my roommates what I was doing while they were setting up for the night’s festivities. I attended a really emotional service and had a fun dinner afterwards with my village. Someone dropped me off at my house and I proceeded to go inside and jump in on a game of beer pong. Just like that. From communion to beer pong in what felt like under 6 seconds. The next day I was a little hungover and the emptiness sank in. I remember sitting in my room alone for a long time not knowing what to do. Praying God would do something in me, change this path I followed. I needed Jesus and a community I could be honest with, and I knew it.
Saturday night, after praying and begging God for something different, I went back to the same routine. We partied, and if I remember correctly that night played out rather epicly as far as parties go. I woke up the next day in the living room very hungover after passing out on one of our couches. The incessant shrieks of my alarm reminding me that I should do what I can to get the smell of alcohol off me because my ride for Easter service would be here soon. My church friends, who dropped me off at my house on Friday night, had no idea what I'd spent the last two nights doing. I didn't tell them that day either. I just tried not to wince too much at the sun outside and enjoy all the girls in pretty dresses.
I felt broken and low that Sunday morning. Every time I lifted up my hand during worship I felt like a liar. And honestly, I felt the same way every time I took a shot at a party that weekend. Lies in my life began to tear me apart no matter which side I ran to. Then the sermon happened, and to be honest I don't remember the whole thing.
But I remember the story and the impact it had on my soul.
The story of God coming to earth as a man. A man who loves me dearly, who holds power over sin and death. A man who can cure the sick, feed the hungry, and forgive the sins of the world! This man loved me and He loves you too. His name is Jesus, and He holds power over the things that are killing you because He overcame death in its most wretched form. He brings you courage when you only know fear and His spirit is one of truth when you only speak lies. It occurred to me that His life, death, and resurrection meant everything.
There in that lonely moment, the creator of the heavens and the earth reached out to a hungover kid in the crowd and said, "Come with me, I love you, you are worth it to me, and I am worthy to be followed."
God is good, He is worth it, He loves you dearly no matter your mess, and He overcame the grave Easter Sunday to prove it.
If you connected with this story and want to speak with someone about it, email firstname.lastname@example.org.