A Youth Worker Believed In “Hormone” And Jesus Changed His Life
By Tom Hammel • SoCal Network • Irvine, California
In my early teens I just didn’t get it spiritually. There was a deep void inside of me, a longing that simply wouldn’t stay satisfied. I tried to fill it with drugs, sex, money, and other stuff. I was on a spiritual search using material things and nothing was resonating in my soul. Along the way, I started going to a Christian youth group. I didn’t have any interest in God, but I did have an interest in a girl. She went and so did I. Every week her ridiculously cheerful youth pastor, who I later found out nicknamed me “Hormone” to his leadership team, would tell me the same thing, “Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life.”
I had no idea what that meant. And quite frankly, I didn’t care. However, around this time, things in my life were getting worse. No matter how hard I tried to push away the anger, bitterness, loneliness, depression, and pain, it snapped back at me even harder, like it was connected to some invisible rubber band. I didn’t blame God for my circumstances because I didn’t even believe he existed. In that moment, I was alone, broken, and with the one person I hated most on earth: myself. I was dangling at the end of my rope, and in a moment of desperation, I reached out.
On my back at two thirty in the morning I prayed for the first time. It went like this: “Jesus, if you’re real, like that youth pastor says you are, change me. I don’t like who I am anymore.” And in that instant, I went to sleep.
I woke up the morning after this first spiritual encounter with God as if I had gulped in my first breath of life-saving air. My whole purpose changed, a purpose that I didn’t even know existed. I stumbled out of bed, fumbling for my clothes to make it to my paper route on time. It was my cover for drug money. Somehow, I walked the paper route sober that day. I should’ve still been high.
I knew that something deep inside my soul had shifted. I was scared, and I didn’t know what to do next, but I did know I was open to something I wasn’t before. My lungs were clear. My mind was clear. I noticed the crisp, cold air that morning. I noticed the bright blue sky. It was like how a person describes the first time they put on a pair of glasses after their eyesight has grown dim over the years. The colors are beautiful, vivid. And this is how I knew I had a new purpose. I was like a snake shedding its old, flaky skin.
All of this wasn’t without some growing pains. What else was clear to me that morning was the heaviness of my past. Suddenly, everything I was doing seemed off—unappealing like food you no longer enjoy. My friends at school noticed right away. There was a lightness about me, a softness. I wasn’t angry. I couldn’t explain it well either. All I knew is that I wasn’t alone anymore.
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I went to the school resource police officer and told him everything. He was stunned. He had never heard of a junior high school student living the way I was, using and selling drugs, planning a murder, and then willingly confessing it all.
I just wanted to change; I told him I needed help. He offered to come to my house and watch me flush all the drugs down the toilet and then get me enrolled in a drug rehab program. We called my mom and after school, he met my parents at the house. I knelt by the toilet and dumped each bag of drugs into the water and turned the handle.
I called the phone company and changed my number so nobody in my drug circles could reach me anymore. My parents filled out the paperwork for rehab, and I waited upstairs in my room while they finished with the police officer downstairs. Everything was happening so fast.
My older sister came into my room and asked if I was okay. I hated crying, but the significance of the last twenty-four hours suddenly overwhelmed me, and I cried while she sat with me. I wept over my brokenness, my sin, a new feeling of shame.
More than that, I cried because I finally felt hope.
Whatever faith you have right now, know there is a design for your life. God has a purpose for you. He didn’t drop us on this earth only to turn and run. God knows just when we need saving. And in those early morning hours in January, He took a 14-year-old boy (aka “Hormone”), beaten down, addicted, anxiety-ridden, depleted, starving for attention, love, wholeness—and He saved me.