Personal Testimony – Ryan Wellner
I worried a lot. Still do, but back then I worried about anything and everything and I would think about whatever it was constantly. For the most part, I was a good kid…not a great kid…but a good kid growing-up! I had the middle child syndrome, so I did whatever it took to steal the attention away from my younger brother or older sister. I was the kid with the short temper, bad attitude, no patience and a lot of obsessive compulsiveness. The inside of my head was a disaster zone. I wouldn’t back down from anyone or anything…if someone said I could do it…or it couldn’t be done…I did it anyway…either to break the rules or prove them wrong.
I was raised in “the traditional” church, and like a lot of kids at my age at the time; I felt force-fed with religion and stereotyped all denominations to be like the church I was attending. Until one Sunday my pastor at the time had asked me to join him in delivering prayers and communion…I had become the youngest assistant to the pastor at our church (little did I know at the time, that he was trying to set an example to the other misfits that apparently looked-up to me). Being the assistant to the pastor had greatly effected me…so I’m not sure if his plan backfired or not, but I do know that I was seriously considering seminary, and have always toyed with that notion…scary isn’t it? Dan and I could have been roommates!!!
But all that was shortly lived. I was ready to leave High School by my sophomore year, because the girl I was dating at the time was graduating and I was going to be left behind. All my friends were upper classmen so when they graduated I really didn’t know too many people from my own class…but by my senior year, I was introduced to what would soon become my closest friend…marijuana. Oh…and don’t forget the constant flow of cheap beer and cocktails at weekend house parties with the kids whose parents weren’t home! I did however, by the grace of god, graduate from high school. Yea me!
College came…college went…in just four or five short months. I had seriously gone with the intentions of getting out, and was looking hard for the first ride I could find to New York or Los Angeles…and at the ripe “fully grown-up, I know more than my parents cuz I’m an adult” age of eighteen, I was in a car with a guy I just met, a suitcase full of clothes and a pocket full of five hundred dollars, as we made our way to L.A. California! (Being a father, I can only imagine now what my poor parents must have been going through)
For those who doubted me and said that it couldn’t be done, I proved them wrong once again and lived out there for quit sometime. But unfortunately the ride wouldn’t last and it quickly turned into a downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse. Apparently I have an addictive personality as well…but I found that every time I shot-up, snorted, smoked, drank or popped the pills, that the constant worrying and the constant thought processing would slowly dissipate. For those brief moments I felt at ease…I felt (what I considered), normal! Strangely…even on this wayward path of self-destruction, I would pray constantly. I didn’t know then, but I know now that in those days…God was carrying me through Hell and it couldn’t have been easy, because the devil was grabbing at my hands and tempting me daily!
Eventually, like the parable of the lost son, I slowly made my way home.
I was living on my own having the time of my life, so when I came back home, I had nowhere to go but my parents house…it was an adjustment to say the least. I was staying under their roof with the intentions of a temporary stay…both at their house and here in town. But the Lord had other plans. Shortly after my return, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, which spread over time like an insane prairie fire. She lived an incredible five years fighting the whole time…everyday…and unfortunately I don’t have the words to begin describing how amazing my mother really was. I never gave California a second thought…Honestly! My focus and my heart had changed dramatically in those five years. My mother was dying without a choice, a woman who deserved to live, as her son was consuming drugs and alcohol and living a somewhat healthy life and then one night through her…I met this guy named Jesus. A man I was raised to know, but a man I had never known!
One night around three or four in the morning, after a long night of closing down the bars, I came stumbling through my parents front door and as I sluggishly made my way to my bed, I heard my mother carrying on a conversation with someone. I assumed it was my dad, but as I peeked in on her, I saw her talking to a man I had only heard stories about. Her eyes were closed, but HIS eyes were wide open and HE looked through me with a sorrowful look, a look of disappointment. It was a sobering experience and as I went into my bedroom, I fell face down on the floor and began to weep and pray simultaneously. I challenged HIM, I yelled at HIM, I cried to HIM, I reached out for HIM…and HE loved me. He told me that while I was trying to kill myself, He kept my eyes open and my heart beating. That when I rode home from California feeling alone, that HE was sitting right next to me, and though I blamed HIM for all that I was feeling and going through…HE blamed me for nothing! That’s how awesome Jesus is!
Shortly after challenging Him, He introduced me to Becca. I thought she was a Volkswagen driving-bandana wearing-artsy-new age hippie, but again I judged too quickly and found out she was in something called Young Life…and listened to Christian music. Three months later, we were engaged.
I met Jesus and conversed with HIM, but I hadn’t accepted what it was that HE was asking from me, I simply ignored HIM. And after my mother lost her battle with the cancer, I blamed HIM for taking her away from me and fell hard into depression and alcohol again. It was ugly…too ugly to stir back up again, but through this drowning in my self-pity, I almost lost my marriage and my newly born son…I was forcing out all those who loved me…but their was still one person left who was holding on tighter and tighter no matter how hard I tried to kick away. My life around me finally caved in and the walls I had been building with blocks of sin were finally crumbled around me as a stood weary in all the debris and disbelief of what had happened.
I’m not going to go into detail of how exactly I was saved, but I am more than happy to share it with you individually sometime. It was amazing, dramatic and glorifying as Christ literally carried me out in front of a seminar full of people.
I have been married to Christ for about three years now and my marriage to Becca has been the best it has ever been. I tell you all of this so that you’re aware of the ability and true majestic and magnificent power of our Lord as HE changes people with calloused hearts on a daily basis. I still sin…and will continue to sin everyday. There is no way around it unfortunately in this world that we live in, and many days I still worry, but no matter what the trials are that we find ourselves in (and there are many I have left out as well as those trials I’m going through now), I know that our savior is always with me. When I feel down and out and on the verge of losing myself again I run like always and get High. Only this time I get high off the WORD…I get high off of my small group and my inner community of Christian friends…I get high off the worship music as we praise our Lord Jesus…I get high off serving others…I get high off working with youth whether its those struggling with the same demons as myself or those here at our church and watching their willingness and openness to Christ and most importantly…I get high off of GOD’S love for me…because the only thing I am addicted to now…is Jesus!