Silencing the Inner Critic
(Please listen to David’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
God has brought me through so much, especially the past four years since I’ve been saved.
And that shocks a lot of people because they say, “Man, weren’t you go to church all your life? Weren’t you at a private Christian school or your life? Weren’t you playing soccer at a college that is known to be a Christian college? Isn’t your family Christian?” All that stuff. And I was like, “Yeah and identified as Christian.” It’s one of those things. I was like, you know–when I was young, I said the prayer, you know. I repeated after the pastor; I got fire insurance. I’m good. I’m saved. I know I’m going. But, intimacy with God? I’m not sure what that is.
So, this is my life God, right here. When things are going good, then I know You and I, we’re good. But when I need You, I need You there. Like I need You there God, okay? Like things are not going well here. You know, this relationship is not going with this girl or hey, God, like, you know, I’m not getting playing time so God, what’s going on? Did I mess up somewhere? Really I became my own judge. I became my own God in a way. Because I saw myself as a person that knew what was right, that I knew what was wrong. But what’s the difference between what happened in the garden with Adam and Eve and what I was living? I was living my life in a manner that I knew what was good and evil. I was my own God in a way.
I don’t know. I just, I was just someone who…I wanted to be the best person I could be. I wanted to be the best soccer player I could be so that I could serve others, genuinely. But not just serve others, but also gain a platform. You know, there was a motive; there was an ambition behind it all. And that’s what our culture celebrates. You know, be the best version of yourself. You know, your success comes in what you do. Your success comes when you have a platform to help people and to share with people. Your success comes when you buy these things. Your success comes when you have a certain following. Like, that’s when you’re successful. Right now you’re not successful, in other words. So I was tormented. My inner critic inside of me was eating me up every single day.
There was a teammate of mine who had actually lymph node cancer his freshman year, and he came back after a year and a half. This was about my junior year of college. He was just so loving, but he was just, almost glowing. It was incredible. And I was like, “Hey man, like, What? What’s going on in your life? Man, if I were you–you just had cancer. You can’t even grow your hair back right now. Like, if I were you, I would be bitter at the world. If I were you, I would be just, I would hate my life, honestly. But why are you loving life? Why do you? Why are you serving in ministry stuff? FCA international soccer? Why? Why are you doing all this stuff?” And he’s like, “Man, because I encountered God while I was in the hospital. Man, He’s real David. And you know, there’s this retreat called College Advance for FCA, you should come.” And I was like, “Well, I don’t know, man. It’s a Christian retreat. I don’t really feel like, you know, being preached at or anything like that.” And he was like, “Dude, it’ll be fun. There’s games. All these teams are coming with us. There’s about 25 of us. You’d be 26.” I was like, “Okay. I guess, I guess I’ll go. Like, I’ll go as a favor in a way.” You know in my heart I was like, I’ll go for you. I’ll go for you, bro. His name was Seth. I was like, “I’ll go for you, Seth.”
I just remember the second night I was just yeah this is, this is interesting. This is good. And I need this, you know, to feel better about my life. I need this to be encouraged because I’m at my all time low. I’m honestly just super depressed. I feel lonely. And I’m coping with alcohol, coping with pornography. I’m coping with the attention and affirmation of women. And it’s, it’s so draining, it’s so deteriorating, and I didn’t even know who I was. I remember I would say that every night. I’d be like, “God, if you’re there. I want to know who I am. Because I don’t.” And at that event that night, I was like, “God, if, if all this is real, and if You’re real, I need You to show up. Because I hear of miracles. I hear of people experiencing You. I hear of just all these things, but it’s almost like a legend that you share with someone. It’s almost like a story that you share with someone. Even my friend, like, he’s sharing a story that Christ saved his life and that his whole life is different now, and he’s living this way. Like, that doesn’t make sense to me God, but if you’re real, I need you to show up because otherwise, I don’t know about any of this. Like I-I-I dare say that, I doubt in Your existence. I dare say that, I don’t really believe in You.”
Once I came to that acknowledgement–that I really don’t believe what He says in His word. I really didn’t believe that He is a way maker, that He is a promise keeper. I really didn’t believe that He’s a good, good Father. And when I came to that moment, finally something broke off of me. It was a mask of what my parents, my family, my friends said, this is how you need to look in life. This is how, this is how we look. So you need to conform to this. But isn’t that the same way of conforming to the world? By conforming to people around you? That’s the same thing! It’s traditional. It’s religious. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s that spirit that says, Hey, because you grew up in this, this is what you’re supposed to become. Like, in that moment, I literally felt arms wrapped around me like a hug. And the hug was like, of a father. I’m never gonna forget that moment. It was just, just so real that I just felt whole. Like, I felt just like time stopped. Time ceased to exist in that moment. And I was in the presence of God.
I was in awe and wonder, and I couldn’t help but to just cry and just be like, “Lord, You’re here. And You’re real! Like, You’re actually real. Like, You’re Someone; You’re not just an IT. You’re not just an illusion. You’re not just a thought that someone created. You’re not just a theory, a legend that I’ve heard about. You’re real. Like, You’re actually Someone and You’re here, and nothing else literally matters, but this moment…being with You.
When I came to that moment, finally something broke off of me. It was a mask of what my parents, my family, my friends said, this is how you need to look in life. This is how, this is how we look. So you need to conform to this.
And then I heard a voice. It was an audible voice.
I had never really heard Him speak until that moment. That moment He said to me, “David, I love you as you are. And I want you.” That was the core lie inside of me. I wanted to be seen. I wanted to be wanted, because I was always a disappointment growing up. And so for me, that core lie was, “not enough.” No matter what I did, I was not enough. And that was a core lie in my heart. But God says, “No, you are. I created you. I love you and I love you as you are and I want you.” In that moment, there was a huge shift in my life, my heart. It’s as if my spirit woke up. It’s as if literally everything is now different–your priorities, your life. Because why? Because I no longer had to carry the burden that I was the God of my own life.
And it’s such a beautiful thing because I started just praying, and I’m like, “You are here. And You are love. And You’re now living in me. And You’re now with me always and You always have been with me, even when I wasn’t seeking You.” Like, that’s insane to me. And it’s really cool because my first and middle name is David Emmanuel. So David means Beloved. Emmanuel means God with us. Beloved, God is with us. God is with me. Everything that I do in my life is to be intimate with Him. Because if He says, “I am the way. I am the truth and I am the life,” and we’re looking for which way to go…really what we need to do is to pursue “The Way” and that’s exactly the way that He’s gonna lead us. Like, if He is the way, that’s the pathway He’s gonna lead us. That is the direction that we need to walk and live our lives.
I thought truth was just only supposed to be in your head and not in your heart and what you lived out. I believe many Christians, or people who identify as Christians, are in that space and under that spirit of religion. What Christ wants with us is a relationship. You know, like, what a friendship is, what a brotherhood is. Like a father-son relationship, so intimate and so loving. It says in the Bible that, “He is love” and if He is love, the way we can love like Him is that He has to be in us, with us, right? That intimacy, because we invite Him in, we can allow people to see into us, and they see Him.