A Life in Progress – Joshua H.

I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home with parents, siblings, and even most of my extended family constantly and consistently point me towards Christ. I received Christ at a young age through the guidance of my parents and was nurtured in the Lord throughout my childhood and into adulthood. However, as I got older, I realized that the truth I was constantly hearing was not taking root in me. I knew all the right answers, but I placed my value in being a good student and a good kid rather than in being a child of God. I was baptized in 8th grade, which is right around the time I picked up a guitar and felt a calling to use the skills I would learn to lead musical worship. At the same time, however, hidden sin and addictions began to take root. As I was continuing to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and serving Him, I was neglecting a critical piece of the Christian walk – my heart

In my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with bone cancer. This did not shake the knowledge base I had, but I spent the time of my treatment shutting down all my emotions for the sake of survival, and I have continued that practice until this season. I was unable and unwilling to engage emotionally with my day-to-day life, and as a result, I withheld that part of my life from the Lord as well. Without the truth I knew actually piercing my heart, I was striving endlessly and consistently burning out in every circumstance I found myself in.

This cycle of sin, depression, and burnout has been my story for my entire adult life. I had brief glimmers of hope, but it was impossible to hold on to when I struggled to believe any of the truth I knew. This cycle and despair eventually led me to the Colony of Mercy. I was graciously allowed the 4-month leave of absence from the ministry I had been serving for several years, and I took a leap of faith right into the Colony.

Since being here, the Lord has done the slow and careful work of revealing areas of unbelief and false belief that led me to the negative behavior that propelled me to the Colony. This process has been surprising, painful, encouraging, and relentless. I learned, for example, that I have a big ego problem. This idolatry was so buried beneath the layers of other sinful behaviors that I was shocked to discover it in my counseling sessions. I hid this idol behind false humility that made me feel more holy and made others like me. My new awareness of this idolatry has helped me take my blinders off to other areas of sin in my life.

One of the unique parts of the Colony of Mercy has been what I’ve heard referred to as the “pressure cooker.” You bring 40 guys from all different seasons of life, and all different addictions, to live and work together for 4 months and there’s a certain level of chaos. But the Lord has used these men to encourage me in my own journey and show me parts of His character I may have never learned otherwise. The Lord has blessed me with “friends that stick closer than brothers” and I praise Him for that.

About a month prior to graduation, I experienced an event that shook me to the core. I remember feeling like I would never be the same again, that my time here was a waste, and I lost all the progress I had made. But God used the chaplains, the staff, and fellow Colony men to check on me, encourage me, and counsel me through it. Each one showed me the love of God in ways they don’t even know. I learned through this that dealing with trauma without falling back into unhealthy coping mechanisms is actually possible and yields so much life. God gave me His peace that doesn’t make sense and showed me His faithfulness yet again by surrounding me with brothers who love me and care for me.

The Colony of Mercy is a difficult program that yields beautiful, victorious lives centered on Christ and His glory.