The most difficult thing about writing my story is trying to find a good beginning, and deciding where it ends. I don’t really get a chance to look at my own life like a story. It’s more like a series of struggles and hindsight. I can’t really say that I’ve “arrived” anywhere. I’m more of an unlikely hero who hasn’t really done anything very big in his own eyes.
When I was a teen, I used to have these weird dreams about having superpowers, and using them to escape mysterious captors against incredible odds. That’s a pretty good metaphor for my life. I’ve always been talented. I could sing ever since I was little. I also had a knack for learning things quickly. I suppose, those were my 2 superpowers. Everything else is dedication and happenstance.
When I was in my early 20’s, I got married and started trying to go to church regularly. I believed that God was who he was. I just never really lived for him or took him seriously. Before that, I wanted to be a rockstar and a DJ. I worked at a nightclub on the weekends and pretty much did whatever I wanted. My wife was the same way. We were just 2 party animals, trying to pay the bills. For some reason, I felt a call to change. I assumed that it was because I was getting older, nearing my mid-twenties with no real career and no plans for the future. My band had broken up, and the club I worked at was getting dull. I felt that I just needed to “grow up”, get a better job and start going to Church.
So I did all those things. I got a job as a salesman at an electronics store, and made good money doing it. I wore a tie everyday. I left the club scene, and stopped partying. I stopped smoking weed. I cut back on my drinking. I did everything I thought I was supposed to do. I think I made it about a month and a half before I started having serious problems.
My wife didn’t like the changes. She wanted me to go to college so I could be more like her friends. She wanted to talk about old philosophers and feminism. She wanted to read old poetry, and books on Marxism. She wanted something I didn’t understand. I just wanted to be an adult, and I felt like I was failing. I felt like we were growing apart. So I decided to take her out to a New Year’s Eve Party.
I don’t remember much about the party except that it was the last time I was blackout drunk. I remember buying 2 pints of tequila, making a fool of myself, and one of my friends helping me into the house. I remember the room spinning. I remember being sick and asking God to help me. I remember him saying back to me, “No. Because you never listen to me anyway.”
That was the scariest moment of my life.
The next day I decided that I was going to take God seriously. I wanted to get rid of any and everything that would pose a threat to my following God. So I started deleting the porn from my computer, throwing away my CD collection, getting rid of scary movies, anything I could think of. I actually got into a few fights with my wife over the radio. I was becoming sensitive to the lyrics in the songs. I remember I almost crashed one day while we were fighting over the station. I think that would have been a good day to die.
My life was a battle everyday after that. I began a 9 month descent into a lonely and dark place as my wife fought me tooth and nail on every decision possible. She just wanted to be in total control of everything, and my new lifestyle wasn’t making things any easier. it wasn’t that she had changed. it was because I hadn’t noticed before. I had changed. We were sleeping in separate rooms, and She finally kicked me out in mid-October. I waited for her to change. but she had found some other guy and was pregnant. We divorced 2 months later.
Man was it cold that year. I slept in my van for 3 months before i decided to leave town and try to make it somewhere else. It was hard because I was the worship leader at the time. I was getting pretty involved in the denomination I was a part of, and my Pastor was expecting me to step up to a level that I didn’t know I wasn’t ready for.
When I left in 2010, I had already been “XERO” for some time. I had a short run podcast about Christian Rap. I had began to produce music for guys I’d met online, and was offered a touring spot with a rapper in the same state. I ended up sleeping on his couch for a few months while we toured all over Michigan. It was because of him that I was able to play on the Alternative stage of Big Ticket Festival in 2011. Things seemed promising at the time.
What I didn’t know was that no one was looking out for ME. I was more of a helping hand for others, a supporting act, a ride….. a resource.
I made a lot of video blogs and stuff during that time. I fantasized about joining The Edge Urban Fellowship in Grand Rapids, but I never really made it that far. I was always needed by the group to drive to all these random places for shows. The whole time I was hoping to catch a big break or at least get paid enough to print CD’s and T-Shirts so I could gain some of my own fans.
I was feeling used up and irrelevant, and I wanted out. After all that time, I was still lonely, sad, and was barely making it. people know my name through word of mouth, and because of my work on the podcast back in the day, but no one was hiring XERO as an act. I was just a sideshow for the guy who was ACTUALLY getting paid. I wasn’t even really growing spiritually anymore. I had incurred so much debt from NOT making money that I lost my license.
I was also dating a girl who had been a fan of mine in secret for years. I was heartbroken when her family moved to the other side of the state. So I left, got a job at a factory, and started working toward freedom. I rented a room so I could have some time to myself. I was tired of living on someone else’s couch. I think all I did was work 12-14 hours and drink myself to sleep during that time. I was miserable. I joined the worship team at a local church, but I quickly found out that “Church” wasn’t going to solve my problems.
When my girlfriend got kicked out of her mom’s house, I moved her back to my side of the state, and in with me. We got married the next day and have been together ever since. Some days, I believe that she is the only reason I’m still sane. There is a lot more to my story before we get to present day, but it’s really more of the same: being mistreated, ignored, making poor decisions, while trying to pretend I have this awesome music career on the side. My life has been hard, lonely, and unfair. God has and always will be my source of hope and strength in this present world.
The only thing that helped us to understand God better is constantly praying to him, talking to him, reading about him, and experiencing his word in action. I’ve learned more about God in tragedy than in comfort. I read about him a lot. Especially in the Old Testament. I got to know the historical Jesus, not just the one in stories. And I lost a lot of my religion in pursuit of truth. I can say that I’m a much better christian now that I’ve let go of superstition and tradition, and sought to understand as much about the historical bible as I can. I enjoy apologetics, and biblical teaching from www.thenarrowpath.com, The Christian Research Institute, and other grounded sources.
I anyone wants to be like me, I’d have to say, “Please don’t.” Go to school and try to make a modest living doing something reasonable, not music or entertainment. Don’t chase after money. Don’t work your life away either. Find love in it’s simplest form, and capture it. Don’t be a coward. Don’t scoff at wisdom and don’t chase after glamour...it’s an illusion. And finally, pursue God with everything you have at your disposal. He’s worth it, and he’s the best friend you will ever have.