How I Found God Again
Nicholas Ruff: The bullying happened everyday. They were talking down to me about my family, about my upbringing, about the fact that I was adopted. They did everything they could to make me feel terrible about myself. There were some days I would run away from home just so I wouldn’t have to go to school. Everything that I felt in my heart at the time was that believing in God was a lie.
My name is Nicholas Ruff. I’m 29 years old and I’m from Ewa Beach, Hawai’i. I lived in a nice happy home, my mom and my dad, and later on, my brother. I was adopted at a year old. I’ve always felt that “adopted” was just a term.
There might have been times in my life where I would question who were my parents, really. I never seriously tried to look into it because my parents always made me feel loved. My parents, they were part of the foster care system so, they took care of a lot of babies, premature, mainly—maybe one or two years old. So I saw a lot of babies come in from different walks of life. Sometimes they would be very malnourished and just not in a very good state. And we would essentially nurse them back to health.
“It Did a Lot of Damage”
My middle school years were probably the worst that I’ve had in my life, so far. I was heavily bullied, especially, in sixth and seventh grade. For some reason, a bunch of kids did not like me. Whether they were hurt inside and they had to inflict it on others or they just didn’t like the way I was, they did everything they could to make me feel terrible about myself. It did a lot of damage to my self-worth. They made me hate going to school.
In middle school, I went to a Catholic school. I just never felt God in that place. All the kids were very mean. I think it came to a head late in seventh grade when I, finally, just was fed up. They were talking down to me about my family, about my upbringing, about the fact that I was adopted. The bullying happened every day. There were some days I would run away from home just so I wouldn’t have to go to school.
Everything that I felt in my heart at the time was that believing in God was a lie. And I would express that to my parents, often, to the point where we got into arguments. I would mock my parents about their faith. I would be very, very mean. I would hurt them because of the hurt that I was feeling inside.
In high school, with a new environment, came new people. They were all atheists. They didn’t believe in God.
They didn’t believe that God existed.And that was the crowd I fell in with. As a young teenage boy, I became an atheist. God wasn’t a major player in my life. He didn’t factor in a lot into my life.
“I Still Wanted To Believe”
So even though I was an atheist, part of me still wanted to believe…because of my upbringing and because of my parents, they wanted me to believe. Deep down inside of me, I wanted to believe. During the emptiness of my faith, I felt like I couldn’t. I was too afraid to.
I was introduced to the Church Of Christ by a friend. I met her on Facebook. We were both fans of this one particular thing. And we had both joined the same group.
“I Made Peace With The Trauma”
One day, she invited me to come to the Church Of Christ. And I was like, “Okay.” I [felt] like I’m at the point where I could use God in my life again. I [felt] like I need something to center myself around, just a moral guideline. At that point in my life, I had sort of made peace with the trauma that I had, the anger that I had felt in my teenage years. I had let go of all the baggage that I had against God, against religion, against faith.
At the Church Of Christ, the minister was very humble, direct, and to the point. You could feel the conviction in his voice. And that struck a chord with me. I was taking baby steps, essentially. Just trying to feel God in my life again.
“That Was My ‘A-HA!’ Moment”
The main factor that edified my faith was going to Bible study. Hearing about the beliefs in the Church Of Christ and reaffirming the things that I always felt to be true at the time, but I didn’t know it until I heard it from the minister. One of those things was about the truth of Jesus Christ, the truth of God, who They really were. Well, that was essentially my “Aha!” moment. As an atheist looking for some kind of answer, this is what makes sense but this is not what Catholics believe in. But in the Church Of Christ, this is exactly what I was looking for. This is exactly, this…it made sense.
By the time the Bible studies ended, I just knew in my heart, my faith had been growing a lot. And I just knew in my heart, this is the right place to be. There’s a lot of great people here. And I feel God here. This is the home for me that I want to be a part of.
Nicholas was baptized in the Church Of Christ on October 26, 2019.
“God Is My Everything”
I would tell people to give the Church Of Christ a chance, especially atheists. I believe it addresses all the issues that a lot of atheists have with a lot of different [religions]. There is no hypocrisy in what the Church Of Christ believes. It’s all entirely biblical. What’s keeping my hope alive is God, essentially. I have my faith and my family. The ability to look at the world and say that, “This isn’t all there is. There is something better on the horizon.”
God is my everything. I couldn’t imagine a life without God anymore. Especially having lived without God for so long. To not be alone is everything, especially having felt what it was like to be alone, to intentionally isolate myself from God, from a lot of people. Just knowing now that I’m not alone is everything. Just having the people in the Church, and having God on my side, and having people that I love, is everything. My story of faith is…one of perseverance.
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