Wayne Gray’s Testimony
By Wayne Gray
I was raised as a Christian and as such I thought I knew the Bible pretty well and had a good understanding of right and wrong. I thought I knew what I needed to do “get” my spot in heaven and what others should and shouldn’t do.
It took me many hard lessons and years to learn that all I really knew was right and wrong from a religious viewpoint.
I have finally come to the realization that true Christianity is about a relationship with our Heavenly Father and living in that relationship.
It was easy to learn what right and wrong is, but much more difficult to actually live out what I knew was right. Hence, my difficulty with religion, and my own shortcomings.
Growing up, I was convinced God must be disappointed in me since I always failed to live the perfect life. I had been taught that if you were in the right denomination that would assure you of your salvation; if you could live up to what they interpreted the Bible to say about living “right.”
For me the problem was that the “right” denomination didn’t give me any more power to overcome evil than the head knowledge I received from and by being religious. Being religious is only a façade anyway since the only people I was fooling were the ones who don’t really know me anyway!
What did all this mean to me? Well, when I got out of high school, my thinking went like this: “Since I’m missing out on all this fun and I’m not meeting God’s expectations of me, I might as well go out and party!”
I believed that because I’d grown up in a fairly strict household (i.e., no drinking, etc.), the world was passing me by and I was missing out on all the fun. In my spare time – mostly some weekends – I would go out drinking and partying with my classmates.
I didn’t do a lot of drugs then because I needed to get good grades so I could be as close as possible to my idea of “perfect.”
Looking back on my college years, it didn’t make sense to strive to get good grades just because it was the thing to do, and as a result, to neglect having a good relationship with my heavenly Father.
I kept the partying under control during college, and I met a young gal. Believing we were in love, we decided to get married when we got out of school. Things were great for a year and then began falling apart. She began seeing another man; I moved out, got a different job and eventually moved from Nebraska to Colorado. Neither of us was walking with the Lord; we ended up getting divorced.
While I was living in Colorado I met Marilyn, who loved doing many of the same things I did – including partying. Hey, why not? Now that I was out of school, I didn’t have to get good grades anymore.
My job took me back to Nebraska; Marilyn moved there with me and a year later we were married. We began investing in real estate, all the while, still doing the party scene.
Eventually, things got boring in Nebraska, so we quit our jobs and moved back to Colorado. I was working the real estate issue full time now, but in 1988 the market went south and our income went south too; we went bankrupt and lost everything – but we still drank and partied through it.
I got a full time job on the east coast and we packed everything up and moved back east. This is when the drinking and drugs really began to take a toll. The short of it was we got sober through AA. It was a Godsend; He began slowly pulling us both back to Him. As we got sober, we got solidly back on our feet. Then God began tugging at us to move back west.
In 1993 we moved to Olympia, Washington to make a new start – without drugs and alcohol. Soon after that, Marilyn discovered she was having a re-bout of cancer. For me this was coupled with dealing with Marilyn’s anger at having lived through an abusive childhood. During this difficult, dark time, I began looking closely at my past and the seeds I had sown.
We did not have a church family at that time so I leaned heavily on the AA program and God – as I understood Him from my childhood. It was only God that got me through it because He knew I was leaning on Him and looking for a better life.
We were both seeing secular counselors for ourselves and our marriage. For me it did little for my healing other than to rearrange my thinking and make me aware I was failing to meet Marilyn’s needs.
Communication was a big issue for me; I didn’t know how to communicate with Marilyn in a way to build her up and not trigger her into anger. So in fear I would usually stay quiet, hoping somehow “things” would just be okay.
Approximately a year after we moved to Olympia we met some friends in AA who invited us to church. We began attending on a regular basis. It was another Godsend!
Our heavenly Father put the people around us that we needed and we began our healing journey from the past. It has been a real adventure ever since!
We experienced a number of ministries, including Cleansing Stream, Neil Andersons’ Seven Steps to Freedom, Breakthrough and many, many prayer sessions.
In 1997 we were introduced to Restoring The Foundations (RTF) ministry, which has made a huge impact on my life and our marriage. This was the answer I had been looking for all of my life: “How to live the way God has called us to and not feel like a failure at it.”
Through RTF I was able to break off the pornography of my past, the perfectionism, the religiosity and all of my ancestral sins. One big thing it helped me realize is life is not about being perfect or being in the perfect church or the perfect religion (believe it or not, none of them are); it’s about having a relationship with my Heavenly Father.
Through RTF I’ve learned how to live life and live in God’s grace. I’ve learned how to forgive others – especially Marilyn – and how to live with the past she had to live with.
Communicating with less fear has been critical in our relationship. I now have grace for other people and know that God has a call on my life… and I am actually walking in it.