Behind-the-scenes: Tyler and I are made of a similar cloth: stubborn. We met years ago through staffing a Christian camp and it became apparent we had a lot to learn from one another; however, this similarity is what has kept us involved in each others’ lives for five years. Tyler has also maneuvered through countless barriers and overcome obstacles not many could face. But, the powerful piece is this: he continues to believe in the dreams God has set before him, despite the heartache.
What parts of your story do you want told?
“The parts that will help people…
Because I feel like that is a big part of God’s purpose for that stuff… It gives purpose to the suffering, so I want to share whatever serves God’s purpose.”
Where did Jesus come into the picture?
“I remember the first time I heard about Jesus, I was on a road trip in a big RV. I didn’t know where we were going, but someone mentioned His name. But, the first time I saw Him evidently in my life was the day that my dad was arrested. I was six or seven and it was Christmas Eve. He got arrested with a carload of meth that was bought with my college savings money. I overheard my mom talking about it, and I don’t think they knew I was there.
But when I look back on that moment, I see Jesus being there with me. He was protecting me from everything that moment could have been.
For a lot of people, when something like that happens, they can get bitter and angry. It wasn’t that I wasn’t angry or hurt, but I heard God say, ‘I have better for you than this.’ In that moment, I knew. I didn’t want to be like that.”
What has God written on the Tablet of your Heart?
“I think it goes back to that moment, when God first entered my life, because that is where a lot of who I am comes from—the good and the bad. I look back and I see “being a man of God,” and “reliable” being written on my heart.
He also wrote on my heart that I am the start of something new in my family and in my life. I definitely take that and run with it in my own ways, but when it comes down to it, He has written breakthrough and change of brokenness. I am the one that is going to bring about healing, and a family that seeks after Him, not from self or drugs or gambling.”
What did you want to share?
“There are things that have happened—like when I was a kid, my mom was almost murdered, twice. And the moment with my dad. I found out that I had a bunch of money saved up for college, but it was all drug money. That was really hard to believe, and it made it hard to believe that I could become anything… They chose their struggles over me. (And I understand now how hard that can be. But, at the time, everybody was choosing something over me…but God was still choosing me—which is mind boggling).
I was bullied heavily through middle and high school which made going to school really difficult. People spat in drinks. Called me names.
Family would treat me like an animal. Burns from cigarette butts. Bruises.
I have just been failed by people, by everyone who should have been there. It makes it really hard to have faith in people, and to love people, and trust people. And it shows me how incredible it is that Jesus has been there, the one constant.”
Why did you continue to choose Jesus when it could have been so much easier to choose other things?
“A lot of times, it felt like the right answer. What was wrong was clear to me. I had all the wrong examples someone could possibly ask for, but Jesus was the one thing that felt right.
When I got to see more of who He was, I got to see the hand He had in my life. It was an easy choice. I always know He is the right choice.”
Is your life story a barrier to joy?
“Sometimes, I look back and cannot believe what I see.
I ask myself, ‘how have I made it to this point?’
Jesus is the only reason I am still here, and what He has written on my heart is the only reason that I am who I am.
I think I had to see all of the bad in the world in order to understand how good God really is.”