What Defines You? To whose family do you belong?

This is part one of my story. It’s about how I came to be a co-heir with Christ.

I was two years old when my parents decided that they could no longer be married. An event that I was oblivious to at the time, and one that would define my childhood.

I grew up with a mother who could best be described as a ‘hippy’. At that stage she was the black sheep of her family. The eighteen year old rebellious daughter of a Baptist Reverend, who in some people’s opinion had made ‘one too many mistakes’. My earliest memory is somewhere in Thailand, it was while Mum had taken me out of primary school so she could drag me around South East Asia on one of her benders. I only remember seeing Dad once before the age of twelve, he had moved to Perth to pursue a lucrative sales career. I never remember Mum having a full-time job, however there was always a roof over our heads, whether it was in the Ashburton Flats, (which were renowned for being the worst set of commission houses in Victoria), or squatting in an unoccupied house out in the cold hills of the Dandenong mountains. Along with a house, there was always a fulfilling meal placed on our table each evening and clothes placed on our backs. Mum was an excellent provider, and never missed out on a church food bank or a coupon handout for the Saint Vincent’s de Paul charities. And so my opinion of the church from as far back as I can remember was one that revolved around helping the needy. My mum had unintentionally taught me that we called ourselves a ‘Christian Family’ in order to get the aid of the church. It was okay to confess Jesus’ name with our lips, but deny Him with our lifestyles.

Throughout my childhood I had many father figures who appeared at various times. Most of them can best be described as addicts to idols. Idols that mainly presented in the form of habitual elicit drug use. Although mum successfully went cold-turkey around the time that I was thirteen, she failed to let go of the ‘bad-boy boyfriend’ mentality and most of the men she dated were bad news, for her and for me. To my benefit I was only ever beaten once, however marijuana, cocaine and heroin where indirectly part of my daily life well into my teens. My mum had unintentionally taught me that even though I should have my own high ethical ideals, it was okay to pursue intimate relationships people who didn’t share the same ideals.

One of the few positive Christian influences on my childhood were my grandparents. In particular my grandfather who always encouraged me to attend Boys Brigade at his church and play in a Christian junior cricket team. This interaction with other children led me into ‘Fuel’, the youth-group that met fortnightly at the local baptist church. Over a few years I had become heavily involved, to the point where I was leading some of the younger age groups and had finished the year long ‘student leaders spiritual development course’. Although I thought I was fuelled for Christ it was the girl’s that really fuelled my motivation to go to youth.

High school was a place where I didn’t have an abundance of friends, but the ones I did have were top quality. Dad had come back to town and I had the opportunity to live with him for a couple of years. He had married again, and had been divorced again. It might be easiest to say that God’s and his perception of women didn’t see eye to eye. It was during these high school years that I realised that I had a natural ability interact with girls. From thirteen to twenty I continuously chain-dated young girls and fed my desire of self-fulfilment. I was only ever satisfied with myself when I had a girlfriend. Secretly I was collecting emotional and physical baggage that I will regret for the rest of my life. I had successfully taken Mum’s lead and lived a healthy Sunday life at church and the rest of my week was inundated with unrepentant sin.

I moved out of home when I was sixteen years old and two years later I almost failed year twelve due to my priorities laying ‘elsewhere’. After year twelve I stopped going to youth, and also church, my girlfriend(s) were much too time consuming. At twenty years of age I finished a long list of part-time jobs by applying and being accepted as a Medic with the Australian Army. Little did I know this was to be the turning point of my seemingly insignificant childhood.

The first Sunday of boot camp was a compulsory church service where we learnt what a military chaplain does. Ironically I thought they had a rather mundane job. The second Sunday of boot camp we had the option of either going to church or remaining behind to finish polishing brass and ironing our polyester shirts… the decision was easy. It was that second Sunday that I heard the Good News preached from Mark’s gospel and a genuine, selfless desire for reading the bible had been lit for the first time in my life.

This time at the Army Recruit Training Centre was most definitely the turning point in my spiritual walk. For the first time I craved the words written in the bible. Sure I’d probably read most of it before, but the words came alive and every moment I had spare I found myself emerged in the wild world of the text. Not that I would have admitted it at the time, but in retrospect I would say that that time reading the bible was an influencing factor in passing my recruit course.

I recognise that this is becoming a bit too long for a single blog post and I congratulate you if you have made it this far. I will endeavour to write a follow up post and continue to share my story with you.

In the near future I will tell you how the Army has thrown many obstacles in my way as a Christian soldier. I will show how through Christ I have been liberated from being captive to the sin of idolising women. I will share how I met the lady of my dreams and married her in January 2011. The most important lesson that is to be written about is one that my mum has taught me. Through her rejuvenated spiritual walk my mum coincidently taught me that we are not defined by our past, but we are defined by our relationship with Christ. She taught me to rely on God’s grace and it is by that grace that we find a way to be reconciled with the Lord.

Colossians 2:10 reads “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

10 thoughts on “What Defines You? To whose family do you belong?

  1. Josh, I am SO encouraged by your story so far, and I’m sure I will continue to be by the rest of it. Through all these things God has been moulding you into the son of God that you are today, and He will continue to shape and mould you, which is exciting!
    Thank you for sharing your story with us!
    Thanking God for you today, Josh! Thanking Him for His faithfulness, mercy, grace and love, and the way it’s being reflected in your life.


    1. Josh B says:

      Hey Rachael. Thanks heaps for all your support both in prayer and friendship. I can’t wait to see what we will all be like when the shaping and moulding is complete!

    1. Josh B says:

      Thanks for your feedback Sally. hope the Melbourne winter has treated you well and you are looking forward to the warmer weather ahead. God Bless and hopefully I will see you sooner rather than later!

  2. Linda Searby says:

    Joshua, I’ve read this twice today and I also really appreciate your honesty. It is wonderful to know that we are defined by our relationship with God. Confronting and relevant.

    1. Josh B says:

      Thanks heaps mum. I really appreciate your feedback. Love you tonnes and can’t wait to come home again 🙂

  3. Glenn says:

    I appreciate you being so candid about your childhood experiences Josh.

    As you get older you see more of the shades of gray that color our life stories.

    I’d like to add that if there is one defining thing I remember about your mum, it is that she had a deep sense of compassion, not just talked about but lived out. Criticism of those suffering from their substance abuse, of youthful rioters, of broken families, you know it is all too easy, because society already does it. What takes guts is to criticize one’s peers, those who cause misery through their inaction and hypocrisy. Everyone has their flaws, but your mum was a friend to those that many others would only avoid, judge, and condemn.

    1. Josh B says:

      Hi Glenn, it’s been a long time. Thanks for your comment, it’s very insightful. I remember our bike rides that would often go for what seemed a whole day. They are great memories. Mum has always been loving and caring and as you say unwaveringly compassionate towards the people who society would reject. And more so today. I suppose in writing this testimony I was trying to distinguish between morality and spirituality. I think mum would agree that although she had high ethical and moral standards, for many years she was quite spiritually ill. Thankfully Christ settled her debt once and for all so she can be defined by His conduct record and receive the glory that only He deserves.

  4. Linda Searby says:

    Hi Josh, and Glenn,
    Really nice to hear from you Glenn, I’m glad to know that I didn’t just leave you with all bad memories. Your own insight and compassion is humbling… again.
    I guess I can’t help seeing some irony in this, but life at times is such a paradox. I guess I have come to a place of realizing that striving in itself can’t get me where I want to go, that I can’t change my past either, but that I do have more choice over where I want to go … to some degree:) hmm.
    The truth is that my life has been somewhat out of control at many stages, though not all, I am hopelessly flawed, some of my own doing, some not. But I am not proud or ignorant of my mistakes, only grateful for grace and mercy, compassion and humbled. I don’t know if I can do better than I am doing, or have ever done, but I am being sanctified.
    I love you guys for being a part of my life, your contributions and love, kindness and forgiveness. They contribute to who I am. Love is the greatest of these. If I have any challenge it is to walk in love and forgiveness, and not to be a hypocrite.
    I love your testimony Joshua because I think it is very brave to tell it from your perspective. Of course, Glenn’s, and also my own, perspectives are different but I can’t be defensive about yours. It is just that… yours.
    Thank you Glenn for your kindness.

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