Like many at First Alliance Church (FAC), I grew up here in Calgary in a Christian home; my family prayed together, read the Bible together, and equipped me and my three younger siblings with good, strong foundations for our faith. One experience that really stuck out was praying for my uncle who had a lot of health problems when I was younger. I remember asking God to heal him almost every night, and my joy when God listened.
Growing up I struggled with fighting deep-rooted insecurities about who I was as a person, my ability to make and keep friends, and constantly comparing myself to others and seeking their validation. That led me to isolate myself from others or do things at “shock-value” to attract unnecessary attention to myself. I spent a lot of time believing I was an outsider and didn’t have what it took to fit in. Always a positive thinker, I didn’t let those things get my spirit down, but really struggled with self-confidence.
Growing in Community
I had a few close friends who pushed me in my walk with Christ, encouraged me, and gave me hope that the Lord wanted to shape me for His purpose and His Kingdom. I really took hold of my faith in grade 12, started pursuing a deeper relationship with God, and made Him a big priority in my life. The summer following graduation I dedicated my life to Christ and was baptized at the church my family and I attended in Texas. That summer was truly an exciting time for me, and I told myself that I was ready to learn and grow, but I was still immature and arrogant. I got accepted into the engineering program at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and moved there that August.
Shortly after starting classes, I got plugged in with a small group, and was mentored by an older friend, Nate – a huge blessing. I was pursuing Christ and was curious to learn about Him, but my heart wasn’t in the right place yet. I still had a lot of insecurities and part of me still really desired that acceptance and validation from others. Because of that and peer pressure, I started drinking, smoking weed, and going to clubs and parties – all things I’d told myself I’d never do. I wasn’t applying myself in school and fell behind. This went on for months and I remember feeling empty and misled. In second semester I received news about my brother that crushed me about the example I was being and led to my parents finding out about what was happening. I’d broken a lot of trust and upset the people who cared about me the most. I realized my huge mistake and began to make a lot of moral changes, but I fell further and further behind academically. I received mostly Cs and Ds first semester and failed all my classes but one in second semester. I was placed on academic probation and felt ashamed and discouraged that I would have to retake most of my first-year courses.
Hope and Healing
Through all this, my small group community pushed me and helped me grow, and over the summer I moved into a house with 4 incredible men and women of God. I experienced so much healing and growth, and had a lot of time to reflect. My biggest mistake had been choosing to let the wrong people influence me, and the biggest lesson I learned was the importance of a strong Christian community to sharpen you and support you no matter what’s going on. I was in a state of hope and healing for a few months, but my financial situation finally dawned on me at the end of the summer. The only way I could stay at Queen’s was to take out 10s of thousands in student loans. I spent a lot of time in prayer and decided that for a program I had failed most of, I wasn’t prepared to do that. Within a week and a half, God brought together everything necessary for me to return to Texas for a gap year to find some direction.
As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
Leaving the community that had gone through everything with me that year is up there as one of the hardest decisions I have made. In Texas, I worked, saved up for school, and paid my parents back a large amount of it to reconcile some of my mistake. I received unbelievable direction, and God continued to bring amazing community into my life. I found another small group, another mentor figure named Matt, and was diving into my faith more than ever. Being home with my family allowed me to have a lot of needed conversations and was foundational for the next season.
Everything that happened that year ended up pointing me towards moving back to Calgary. Having been accepted into the Welding Engineering Technology program at SAIT, which I’m about to finish, I’ve been in Calgary for a year and a half, and God has been doing incredible work in my life. Some situations have cause me to grow and some to slip up and fall, but I have an assurance that the Lord has been with me through it all, using me and working through me for good. I have been continually learning how to surrender my insecurities to Christ, and through Him have experienced a radical transformation in my faith, my character, and my ability to connect with people. This season especially has me filled with hope, and many things are forcing me to put my complete trust in God. My faith feels more real than ever and I know that no matter what happens, it’s going to be an incredible journey experiencing it with Christ.
Written by Rod Carpan
Rod’s story was first published in the Spring 2019 issue of Storyline magazine.
No matter what your story is, there’s someone else who needs to know they aren’t alone in their journey. That’s why we share stories of God at work in our ordinary lives here at FAC – whether it’s through our weekly handout, blog, a video or our quarterly Storyline Magazine. If you’d like to share your story, fill out this form and we’ll be in touch with you.
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