My first freshman year (as I call it) in 1990
What you are about to read is only a small portion of my life. The events that you are about to read are events that took place starting at the age of 14 to where I am at now, which is 24 (I'm now 30). There is no way I could possibly fit my entire life experience concerning the theme this issue is focusing on without writing a book, so I tried to keep this as short as possible.
- 11/21/2004 -
A lot has happened in my life in the past few years. "Finding Mikey" Part 2 will be written in the months to come.
- Mike - 2012
Have you ever thought about why you are the way you are? Why you think the things you do? What experiences molded you into what and who you are today? The story you're about to read is a "short" story about my life and why I am the way I am right now as I type.
My grandma and I in 1989
As we all know, life is a mysterious thing. The things that make up this world, the universe, and life in general and the phenomenon's that may occur in an individual's life cannot and never will be explained to the mind's comprehension, especially if you share your experiences with other people. It would be impossible to explain to someone why we're here, why they should believe in one ideology or another. No one can make someone believe in something they might find stupid or incomprehensible. So what is it that makes you and I believe in what we believe in? Have you ever really thought about it? Well, the reason why I believe in what I believe in is time, influence, and experience.
Firstly, to you fellow Christians out there who might be reading this: are all of you Christians because you were taught as a child to believe in God, or because you truly believe in Him and want to believe in Him? Growing up, I always accepted without questioning "my belief" in God, but why? Well, because I didn't want to burn in hell, why else? Duh! Who wants to think about an afterlife in a fiery pit with pain and torment? Not I, and I'm sure a lot of other people, Christian and non-Christian, will agree. But is that really a reason to believe in God; fear? Some of you might argue yes, and that's sad if you believe in God for only that reason in my opinion, while others may have a different opinion.
In the beginning... Growing up in a Catholic environment with my family was definitely an experience I will never forget and will always look down upon. Why? Because of the things I had to go through and endure within my religious family. I'm not going to waste time and space on the things I dislike about Catholicism and all other religions, but the two things I cannot stand about the Catholicism teaching is the infant baptisms and the first communion practice (Receiving the body of Christ symbolically). Well, what's the point to the infant baptism? "To take away the original sin we are born with" you say? Where in scripture does it say an infant needs to be baptized to go to heaven if he or she dies before he or she is an adult? How could a child who has just been born even know sin or know what sin is? Must one not have knowledge on a subject before he or she can realize what the subject is, which in this case is sin and God?
When I was younger I remember when my little brother was going to receive his first communion, and I decided to give my 2 cents worth to him. I was 14 at the time, and this was a period in my "rebellious" years where I questioned "my beliefs" and Christianity and Catholicism. (I want to take this opportunity and thank all the bands that influenced me to question Christianity and on everything else that I was going through in my life at that point in time.) I calmly questioned my brother, and asked him if he actually understood what he was about to do. Though he had a certain "understanding" that my parents and the priest were teaching him, did this 8 year old truly understand what God was all about, what a Christian was, and what he was about to do? Did he even know scripture? Of course not! No child is truly going to understand it all at that point in time. All 8 year olds want to do is play war, play video games and watch cartoons; well, that was me anyway. Maybe there are exceptions, but I haven't met any in my 24 years of existence. Of course, later on that day, he went up to my parents and started asking them questions and had told them all the things that I had mentioned to him. You talk about pissed-off parents! But what's the freaking point in making a child go through something that doesn't have any significance in his growth into becoming a Christian? I also did this first communion ritual, and did that save me from questioning and from turning away from God in that point in time? No! How can Catholics keep this religious teaching that isn't even in scripture? It just doesn't make sense to me, and it never will. It isn't even scripture based, though I didn't know that then, I do know this now, so I just don't see the point. Maybe I'm being a little harsh or bitter, but hey, this is my opinion, so all you Catholics that may be reading this, just bare with me, these are only a couple of my many observations about the Catholic Church that I disagree with.
Once again my grandma, and me being ornery as usual
Fear..... How many of us have heard; "You're going to hell for doing this." "You're going to hell for doing that.", or any other phrase along those lines? I can recall numerous times when my mother and the other religious in my family stating a phrase like that, especially when it involved my music, and boy, did it piss me off! Do people, namely Christians, who see the covers or the names that a lot of the metal bands have truly know or understand where the band is coming from? No! Do they read the lyrics and try to understand? No! I'm sure there are exceptions out there, and I applaud thee, but through my experiences in life, I never encountered an individual, family or not, who actually wanted to sit down with me over a nice hot cup of coco and have an intelligent conversation about the music I worshiped then and why I liked it, not one!
In my opinion, some of the reasons why parents and children have stupid arguments about anything, not just listening to a style of music, is because: A) the parents forget that they too were rebellious little wankers who were just trying to fit in and trying to find themselves, and B) the majority of society has no communication skills, and that's sad! How can one learn or grow without communication, by either questioning or by understanding the opposing individual and by talking about each others differences? Ah, another form of fear. How so? What one does not understand, the majority of the time they will fear, or just turn their back on the possibilities of actually being able to keep an open mind and understanding the differences the individuals may have. But as most of us know, society tends to work in a pretty closed minded-way.
One of my earliest memories as a child that involved fear that made me believe in God was a comment an aunt of mine said to me when I was around 6 or 7. She told me that whenever the lights went out, like in a storm or whatever, it meant that the devil was coming to get you. Can you guess what happened who knows how many days later? The lights went out and the first thing that came into my mind was that the devil was coming to get me! How crazy can you get!? In a frightened little voice, I remember telling my cousin to call our aunt to come and get us. He was like, "why?" I was just like "JUST HURRY UP AND CALL OUR AUNT!" I was terrified! Thinking back on it, was she really just joking around? Who knows? But when you're a little twerp, who is vulnerable and gullible, you're going to believe the people you trust the most. But seriously, why would you want to believe in anything because of fear? That would suck, in my opinion. You should believe in whatever you choose to believe in because you want to believe in it, not because of fear, don't ya think?
Grandma, me, and my mom
When I started questioning the faith and the religion that was passed down to me since my birth, I slowly ignored, pushed back, and abolished the fear, and decided to try out "Satanism" and other occult related subjects, and decided to taste all the other things that life had to offer. Okay, you've got to remember now that I was only 14 at the time, so a lot of my "beliefs", questioning, and new interests for the darker side of life was actually an influence from the bands that I started getting into, mainly King D./Mercyful Fate. So what happened next?
A new path in life...... The first thing that I started doing when I began to question God's existence was that I began to accept the lyrics that I had read from Mercyful Fate, Slayer, and other bands that were either Satanic or that had lyrics that involved the questioning of religion, God, etc... Then, as time progressed, I started reading the Satanic Bible and other occult related books. So what happened thanks to these influences? Well, for starts, any shirt and any metal band that had a saying or a picture that was against God or anything religious, especially towards my family's beliefs, slowly started becoming a part of my life. Next thing you know, in my eighth grade year and in my first freshman year, rumors about me being a Satanist started spreading like wildfire, especially within my family and in school. I never claimed to be a Satanist, people just assumed I was because of the interest I had in the occult and for the style of music that I listened to, but that doesn't make you a Satanist, you retards! That's why in the interviews in this issue I asked the individual's interviewed whether or not they thought metal was the devil's music, and as you will see, opinions varied. Has anyone out there who listens to metal ever been asked why they like metal and why they would want to listen to "Satanic" music? I have been asked that since the beginning of my metal years, and I am still asked, and I must say that it gets really old. Ignorance, I tell ya! Now another change in my life was about to occur. I was moving back to Anna... again.
When I moved back to Anna for the hundredth time, this individual who was heavily into metal, who wasn't afraid to express himself, moved back into a town that was overpopulated with rednecks/hicks, the religious, black wanna-be's, in short, a lot of closed-minded people who didn't understand or try to understand who I was. A whole new world started opening up for me, and did I love it! Once again, rumors all over the school and town started being spread. "Oh my God, have you seen that satanic guy that just started going to school here?" People were being so freaking immature about someone who was different than they. Churches, mainly the Pentecostal church, started spreading rumors that I was going to be killing people, raping women, sacrificing their pets, selling drugs to the youth; anything you can imagine, it was being spread. I even had a preacher's son come and talk to me one day about whom and what I believed in, which was rather humorous too! But why did people think these things?
Because I had an image put on me, as a Satanist, just because I listened to metal, had shirts that had satanic imagery, and because I dressed up like King D. on Halloween. So here I was with inverted crosses, shirts with demons and what not, and of course adding how I felt towards Christianity, so you know, I can't blame people for thinking this, but it's just sad that people tend to judge people before they get to know them as individuals, you know? So how did I respond to all this attention? At first I loved it, but who wouldn't like an image that caused fear and misunderstanding in people's minds? Heck, I was only 15, so of course I loved it! But as time progressed and as I grew older, it got really old. Of course I still had my personal beliefs and "hatred" towards Christianity, but I didn't show it as much as I had earlier in my youth. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times; the world would get along so much more if people would accept and respect people for who they are and not for what they believe in; but of course, that will never happen. But do you know what I loved the most? No matter how much people feared me and misunderstood me in school, after they got to know me, they started accepting me and even started liking me, especially the teachers, but of course, there were still exceptions. But why did they start opening up? Because I was a crazy individual, with a different attitude, a different sense of humor, had a different way of thinking, and beneath all this imagery that the people saw and put on me, they finally took notice that I was just a nice guy who loved an extreme style of music, who wanted to get along with everyone and make everyone smile. The first thing people noticed about me when they saw me was this big stupid grin on my face that said; "hello", and that's where my number one philosophy that I've kept since childhood comes in. There are way too many jerks in this world, so why would I want to be like them? When a friend of mine says to me, "How could you like or even talk to that dude?" Yeah, maybe certain individuals can act a little different or dumb, but they're only human. I will admit that I don't like to correspond with people that are annoying or just plain ignorant, but you now, it's sad. It's just truly sad. Why are they that way? Maybe they were screwed with as a child, and that negativity made them that way? Maybe they experienced something in their life that made them give up on life? You just have to question and think about why people are how they are before you criticize, judge and put them down, you know? Just try and get along people!
Now let me comment on the negativity people tend to unleash upon you and me.
Have you ever seen a person's face when they "attack" you in a negative way, and you counterattack in a positive way? I've been "attacked" in many negative ways since childhood, and when I responded back in a matter that they didn't expect or didn't understand, do you know how stupid I made that jerk feel that was trying to put me down? When you attack a negative with a negative, you will probably get a negative result, well, unless you consider beating the crap out of someone positive, but I never was, and am still not a physical kind of guy. I've always thought fighting was for jocks and rednecks, who have a low self esteem and have nothing better to do than prove themselves and to other people the "power" they posses. I always used my mind and my communication skills to get out of immature confrontations. You should have seen all the people's faces in my past that "attacked" me in a negative way when I responded in a more positive way; it was rather unusual and they didn't really know what to do.
Wuss up esse?
The unexpected, a short period, a growing point...... As time went on, I was 15 at this time, I had met some people in high school who were also into extreme music (punk/metal), but they had opposite beliefs, they were Christians. "Christians who listen to extreme music, how can that be?" I thought to myself. I mean, wasn't metal and other extreme music against everything Christianity stood for? Well, that's what was being put into my head from my family and others in society anyway, so that's what I accepted as truth. So here I was, Mr. "Satanist" hanging out with Christians, listening to Christian metal bands like Mortification, Tourniquet, Crashdog, The Crucified, etc... , along with my King D., Obituary, etc.. As time went on, I became curious and started asking them about their beliefs as Christians and how they were "allowed" to listen to such extreme music. As the friendship with these individuals grew, my opinions about Christianity started to change and I became what I never thought I would ever become; yes, you guessed it, I became a Christian, and not like my parents had taught me, I definitely wasn't Catholic. But that's not all that I became. For almost a year, I was a very closed-minded, homophobic, Bible thumpin' jerk! I would take my bible to school and read it in class instead of paying attention and doing my work. I would condemn anyone who didn't believe as I did. I took my Mercyful Fate back patch off of my jean jacket and drew Jesus on the back of it carrying his cross. I mean I totally went off into the deep end of things. Thinking back at that little experience, it just makes me laugh at how ignorant and closed minded I was, but luckily, things changed.
The struggle, the questioning, a whole new outlook...... But then something had happened that was to change my life. While I was this condemning little prick, though I know I made people turn away from me, but didn't care, I almost lost a very close friend of mine, and I did care! One of the things Matt and I always loved to do was argue on my "faith." Everything I tended to say to him, he would always question, and the things he said to me would sometimes make me think, but of course, not without condemning him and putting in my 2 cents worth. We constantly argued to where he just didn't want to be around me anymore, and that sucked, considering he was my best friend you know? (I want to take this time and thank one of my best friends, Matt Hariss, for truly being a great friend/brother and for opening my mind.) For the months to come, Matt and I would usually argue on things concerning the Bible, homosexuals, God, people's beliefs, etc... and after the numerous conversations/arguments, I actually started to think like never before. I actually started growing up so to speak (I was 17 going on 18 at this time). I quit accepting things so rapidly. So here I was, questioning my faith, praying to God to show himself to me, or to show me a sign, and just trying to figure out what I believed in and what I stood for, when one day I just said "Screw it!" I decided that I was going to believe in myself. I never witnessed any miracles, or so I told my self and actually forgot the miracles I did witness as a child while living in Mexico concerning my little brother and SIDS.
But thinking back, if I would have seen an Angel or whatever, I would have believed in God for the wrong reasons, so it wouldn't have been called faith, and that's what Christianity is founded on; well besides Christ. Shortly after, I got involved in Existence. As I mentioned in my last issue, this was a band and a period in my life where I questioned everything concerning God and Christianity, with real thoughts, not just rebellion. During this time in my life, I considered myself an agnostic/atheist, though my hatred for Christianity was flaming like never before, but why? You know, there could be many reasons behind the anger I was feeding. But thinking about it, one of the reasons I think I still had this anger inside was once again an influence of the bands that I truly enjoyed listening to. But another reason why I hated God/Christianity was because of the fact I felt betrayed. With all of the chaos in the world, all the conflict within myself, death, all the negative things that were being done in the name of God, and because of all of the hypocrisy, how could one not be angry when one is focused on just those things?
Basically, I was letting all this negativity and hatred eat me from the inside. Though I was truly a happy person, I still had an emptiness that I just couldn't fill no matter what I did. As time went on, my mind kept on growing, still questioning everything, analyzing myself, and the people around me. Asking why people believed in what they believed in, asking myself why I believed in the things I believed in, still wondering whether or not God existed. You know, basically just trying to find a certain truth behind our existence.
One cold El Pecado night in 1997
Almost a year later, El Pecado formed, and you know, I deeply regret printing out the lyrics to this band's first 2 demos, not only because of the negativity I preached, but because of the people I heard I influenced with my hate filled words. No matter how "strong" you say you are, you will always be influenced in one way or another by the things you see, read and hear. During this period, my hatred and anger for Christianity was definitely at its peak; well, at the beginning of El Pecado anyway. This was a period where I almost did something that I definitely would have regretted for the rest of my life. (I love you grandma, and I am sorry for all of the things that I said to you and about you.) There for a while I was concentrating on becoming pure evil. I burned inverted crosses into my arms and did things that I will not get into. But why did I do these things? I was just so pissed off at everything and everyone that I was letting all the negativity and all my thoughts get to me. Then around 1996, I started asking myself; "What the hell are you doing? This isn't you." I decided to quit acting like a child and started growing up mentally. Instead of concentrating on being "evil" inside, I started looking for inner peace and started looking at how I could better my emotional distress. (But if you want to read why I was full of anger read - Sex, Drugs, Booze, and Metal, Man! In the non-printed section of this site. Mike - 2012)
Being true... What is being true? Who is true and who is not? What human has the right to judge another? How many people have you ever met in life, who are actually true and walk what they believe in? As some of you may have guessed, you know that I'm mainly talking about Christians and Satanists. What about the people in life who go from being a Satanist to a Christian or from a Christian to a Satanist? What makes people go from one extreme to another? As you will read in most of my interviews, a lot of people have different opinions on this question. I've had people call me fence walker, and have had people stating that I have multiple personalities, due to my ideologies changing throughout my life, but why? Why would people call me this? Why would people say that I have multiple personalities? I know who I am, and I know what I am about, and that's being true to my self no matter what I believed in, in that period in time. No matter what your opinion is about life and about certain ideologies, you never know when and what deciding factors are going to change your present ideologies. People that go from one extreme to another are just trying to find themselves, like any other individual on this earth, who they are, what they represent, if anything at all.
Time passes, my mind and heart are definitely more open than in my past...
So here I was, on my way up to Cornerstone (a big Christian Music Fest), talking to Josh about my beliefs and why I believed in the things that I did, and why I could never believe in God. I walked around and met all sorts of people who were actually pretty interesting, especially Lament. Lament is a death metal band from Mexico City. I approached them to see if I could get an interview, and I really didn't want to have to translate an entire tape (Have you ever heard a Mexican talk? They talk pretty fast I tell ya!), so I started talking to them in English before anything else. As the conversation grew, I just started feeling sorry for the guys because their English wasn't all that great, so when I finally started talking to the guys in Spanish and told them that I was from Mexico City as well, they just let out a sigh of relief. Another thing that I found humorous though was that I lost the tape of that interview and some notes that I needed for this issue, which sucks! I just thought I'd share that with you, but back to the point. During Cornerstone, I only interviewed one band. A lot of bands just seemed too preoccupied, so I decided to wait and see if I could get a hold of some of the bands that I wanted to interview through e-mail. So far, I've been lucky. After Cornerstone was over, I took off back towards Ironton.
On my way home (I was by myself at this point), a lot of strange thoughts started popping into my head, things that I wouldn't normally think of and things that seemed to make me cry. I'm not going to go into full detail about all the things that kept popping into my head, but let's just say that it wasn't normal for me. So there I was, driving home, thinking like never before, crying every so often, when I started thinking if this was God trying to tell me something. I was like, "Nah, what the hell am I thinking?"
Daniel y Miguel en Mexico
As the days went by, I would always think back on that trip home from Cornerstone, always wondering why those thoughts popped into my head, and why they would have such an impact on me. During the second week, I started asking questions, as if I were talking to God. You know, looking up, wondering, dwelling, the usual. Later on I borrowed a book entitled "The Care of the Soul" which I never really got a chance to read, except for the intro because later on that week I gave it away.
A moment of questioning, confusion, sorrow, but most of all, my moment of truth..... It happened during the third week in July and I was driving up to Osage Beach, MO to visit a friend. I was driving along when I suddenly saw a hitchhiker. After hearing a lot of crazy stories about hitchhikers, I wasn't really fond about picking this guy up, so I kept driving along. As I got further down the road, I got an urge to go back and pick this guy up, so I did. He was quiet, short, he looked like he had just gotten out of bed, and he was covered in tattoos. I started up a conversation with the guy about pot, which of course led to other topics. He started telling me why he was walking and that he had just gotten out of rehab. Then we started talking about the tattoos he had and about the one I had. Then we both started showing each other our scars that we had and how we got our scars. Then the scars led into a conversation about vampires and how the scar around his wrist was somewhat related to vampires, which was a pretty cool story. Then we started talking about the occult, beginning with my experiences, following his, which were pretty incredible, considering he's still alive. He had a scar around his neck to prove his experience, and the story behind that scar was pretty interesting and insane. All in all, he was a pretty cool guy, but then came a conversation about the stuff that I hated talking about the most: the reality and the horrors this world tends to unleash. The first thing he said to me before he began his conversation was that he felt like he could tell me anything and that he felt really comfortable around me. In a way I wish that he wouldn't have brought up the things that he did, but as I found out later, there was a reason for it.
He started telling me about how he had just gotten out of prison. He started telling me about how his dad molested his daughter and how his wife blamed him, so he became an alcoholic and so forth after she left him. About an hour had gone by at this time and we had been talking about a lot of the things we hated in this world, his sorrows, and about my own, when suddenly I looked at the guy and said; "It sounds like you have a lot of inner stress in your life." And he was like; "Yeah, I do." So what happened next was something that I definitely wasn't expecting. I started telling this guy about God and started telling him certain things that were in the Bible.
This conversation lasted about 20 min. due to us arriving at his destination. Right before he got out of my car, we said our goodbyes, and I told him not to forget the things that I had mentioned and I gave him the book I mentioned before hand, "The Care of the Soul." As soon as he got out of my car, I just started crying. I just couldn't believe that had just happened to ME! I mean seriously, why would I just start telling this guy all these things that I didn't believe in? WHY? WHY? WHY? The rest of the trip up to Osage Beach was a time of serious thinking, questioning, and tears. I felt like my whole life and my ideologies were about to change course once again.
I came to the conclusion that my thoughts and what was happening was due to my experience from Cornerstone. There had to be some logical explanation. So here were my thoughts for the following 3 to 4 weeks. "What am I going to do?" "Is this really God?" "I can't believe this is happening to me." "If I become a Christian, will my friends still accept me?" "What about all my friends that I've been corresponding with for a few years through the mail, and even these past few months?" "Am I going to have to give up everything I love doing?" There are way too many thoughts that went through my mind during that month to type out; plus, I can't remember them all, so I'll stop right there. But the questions up above were the ones that seemed to cross my mind the most. So I started praying about it, and waited to see what would happen with time. After a month or so of debating with myself, praying, talking to a selected few, I just couldn't deny the things that had happened to me during July and the things that were happening to me inside mentally and emotionally as the days went by.
Sunday mornings at Pizza Hut back in 2000
Some of you reading this, especially if you don't really know me, might come to the conclusion, "Oh, this guy is full of shit." And I can totally relate and completely understand if you think this, because I've been there as well. But do you really think that I would just write all these experiences and mention my change of heart and beliefs and everything else that I'm typing if the things I experienced didn't really have an impact on me and in my life? Do you know the kind of comments I am probably going to receive after the few of you read this story considering the fact that the majority of the people involved in this scene are atheists, "Satanist", or other?
There isn't a day that went by that the fear of rejection from all my friends in the underground and especially the friends that I have hung out with, partied with, etc. for all these years, didn't cross my mind. What were all my friends going to think? "Mike a Christian?" That was the last thing people were expecting to hear or see, especially me. Do you really think I wasn't scared? Not only of losing my friends but just the fact that my whole life and my ideologies were turning a sharp, sharp curve. How do you think I felt? I was depressed! For that month, it was a long battle for me. Waking up depressed, wondering whether or not this was actually God or just all a coincidence, thinking about my friends, how they were going to react, if they were going to accept me or not. But you know, I have truly found out who my friends are, and even though I get teased, laughed at, and talked about, every freaking day, NO ONE is going to take away my faith and the things that I have experienced. Sure it will take some more time for my friends to feel comfortable around me, due to the fact they probably think I'm going to become a judgmental prick or criticize their life style, but why would I? First of all, my first experience with Christianity happened when I was young, and I wasn't smart enough to understand Christianity, so that's why I was a judgmental prick, and thankfully most of them didn't know me back then. Second, who am I to judge and criticize when I was and am no different? We are all human and have our weaknesses, you know? DO WE ALL not have our own choices to make in life? Just because I have different views in life, that doesn't mean I'm going to shut my friends out of my life, including any of you who only know me by mail. The thing that I find humorous is that only a selected few, other friends who are Christians that I could talk to, knew about my change, but my usual friends that I hung out with and partied with found out later, either by noticing the change in my attitude and in my life, or because there was a new rumor about me spreading around town. "Have you heard that Mike Coles is a Christian?" That was the last rumor people were expecting to hear. One certain friend came up to me in Wal-Mart and said, "Hey Mike, I heard a rumor that you were a Christian." I was just like, "Oh yeah, who said that?" We went on and talked some more and he said that the last thing that came to his mind when he thought of Mike Coles was Christianity. He never asked me straight out if I was, so I never said "Yeah, I am." I just really wanted to wait and let people read in this issue why I had a different attitude about life. Unfortunately, you cannot keep anything from anybody in a small town, it's impossible. Finally, after weeks of people talking amongst themselves, certain individuals finally asked me, and of course, I never denied what and who I was; a follower of Christ.
So why did I decide to become a Christian? Some people living around me may have thought it was because of the girl I was dating. Others may have thought that it was because I was living with Josh and Becky Plemon. While others may have thought that it was so I could join S.S.B.H., but those "reasons" are all far from the truth. First of all, have I not always followed myself, my own ideologies, keeping other opinions and beliefs in mind? What I wanted to believe in? Why would I, or anyone for that matter, choose to accept or believe in something because of someone else, other than the fact that they want to believe in that certain belief? That would be complete ignorance! I became a Christian while living in Ironton, out of my own free will, not because I was influenced by another human being, but because of the things that I was experiencing, no other reasons. I looked at the things that I have done and said in my life, looked at the consequences I brought on myself, looked at what I believed in, and realized that I was living a life of ignorance. I also looked in my heart, looked at who I was, looked at what I valued in life, looked at what I stood for, as far as principles and the morals that I did have before hand, and decided that it was the logical thing for me to do. I didn't become a Christian because I thought I was weak and needed a crutch to make it in life, that's why I smoked pot. I didn't become a Christian so I could use God as a scapegoat. I became a Christian because I wanted to believe in Him and I just couldn't deny any longer the things that happened to me and the things that were happening to me on the inside. If He was truly the answer for my inner stress, and the answer to my existence, then I wasn't about to let that go. For the first time in my life I had felt like I was truly given a choice whether or not to believe in God, so I accepted. Sure I could have kept all these experiences to myself, stayed in the lifestyle that I was comfortable in, kept denying God's existence, but I have always been about truth and being true to myself, and to deny the things that had happened to me and to deny the things that were happening inside, I would have been denying the truth that I had questioned and blasphemed these past 9 years of my life. So you tell me, what would you have done?
I cannot and will not believe that the things that happened to me were coincidental or a product of my mind. I look back at my life this past year or so, before my change, and think about the things I was thinking when I was alone in my room staring at all the things surrounding me. I look at the goals I wanted to achieve within myself, all the soul searching that I did, and just freak out when I look at where I am and what I stand for today, especially after telling some of my friends that if I ever became a Christian they had permission to kill me. (I was just kidding about that guy's!!) I look back at my 2nd issue where I state; "Now, now. To all you people reading this and who are thinking; "Does this guy think he can change me?" "Does this guy think he's perfect?" "Is he trying to force his beliefs on me?' Or whatever else your precious mind is thinking right now. Well, I am far from perfect, and I have many things about myself that I consider negative (That I will not share at this point in time.). But that doesn't mean I'm not aware about my "problems." I just hope I continue to grow mentally, but of course in a positive way. After the release of my 2nd issue, and after reading that part, I never really understood what I meant by all of that. I never mentioned anything about my beliefs in that issue and it's just plain weird when I read that part.
So now I ask, why does God allow all these bad things to happen? The old saying, "God works in mysterious ways." That is so very true. But why are there wars? Why are there murderers? Why, why, why? It all boils back down to freedom of choice! We are given the freedom to do as we please. Isn't that a wonderful thing? So who's screwing up the world, God or mankind? Mankind! We are given the choice to do either good or bad, so why blame God for what we have to live with? Because He created it? Yes, He created life; the other guy wants to kill it! Life is a wonderful thing to experience and if you think that your life sucks and you're unhappy because of the way things are, let me ask you this: do you want to live that way? Have you ever tried to change your inner stress on your own, but still felt empty? Do you dwell on the negativity of the past or even the present? When I was a "Satanist", or whatever you wanted to call me, I lived in anger, depression, and lies, but not against other people, the hell I lived in was a personal thing on the inside. Why did I live in anger, depression, and lies? Because of my parent's divorce, because of the friends and girlfriends that I have that were molested as children by their own parents, because of the world's state, and because of the way people and my family treated me. There are many other reasons why I was a negative individual on the inside, but before and after I accepted God's grace, He started revealing a lot of things to me, about myself and about life, and then came the choice. Did I want to keep on living with this inner stress, or did I want to take that leap of faith and see what would happen with time? I'll tell you all now that my inner-self has never been better. Yeah, I still get sad, but with that sadness comes perseverance, love, and growth. I still get mad, but I learn to accept the way things are and let go. And it's so great that I don't depend on pot anymore to cheer me up, but I will admit that I still partake in this unhealthy habit from time to time (Not any more!!! – Mike 2012). All these feelings, sorrow, hate, love, etc... All of these feelings are all so human that comes with life. Just because I'm a Christian, that doesn't mean I'm some superhuman that doesn't experience sorrow and so forth; it's all about our humanity and the choices that we make. Usually when one experiences all these negative emotions, they are usually due to the bad choices we make in our lives.
Choices..... Let's back up a minute and look at one of my questions. "Am I going to have to give up everything I love doing?" Let us look at two of the big things that I loved doing. Of course there are other things that I did in my life that weren't the right choice for me, so I won't get into a big story about my past, due to the fact that I am trying to complete a ‘zine , not a book.
One of the things that I loved doing everyday is smoke pot, not only because it was fun and it altered my mood, but it was one of the only things that kept me sane around my mom. I will admit that I am still weak when it comes to this habit, if I'm around it anyway, but you try smoking pot for ten years of your life and see if it's not tempting if you're around it and you're trying to quit. I personally don't think it's a big deal to smoke the herb, and I really don't consider this a sin, due to the fact it was created by Him. It's just a matter of choice and opinion, but when I look at the advantages and the disadvantages of smoking pot, the disadvantages outweighed the advantages. So even though it is a logical choice to quit, what can I say, besides the fact that I'm not perfect? Another thing that had me thinking was how I used this herb to put me in a better mood, and how I always felt I needed it to make it through the day. Can you say weakness, and not to mention expensive? The last thing that came to mind was would someone who didn't truly know me take me serious if I was telling them about God and how He changed my outlook on life, but then later on noticed me smoking a big ol' doobie? Who knows? It just sucks that it's so difficult to quit such a habit!
Ah, sex. Sex is a touchy subject for all of us. It states in scripture that sex before marriage is a sin, but why? Well, because when you have sex with someone you're uniting your self to them spiritually, whether you're a Christian or not. Not only that, just think about the consequences you might have to live with if you lived your life in sexual "freedom." I'm not going to get into all of the consequences, because I am sure we all know the majority of the consequences already. And by golly, I must say that this is definitely a mighty task, not only because this has also been a part of my life for ten years, but because it's so human.
Christianity isn't about following rules; it's about freedom, making the right choices in life, and just getting to know God's will for your life. Some of my biggest complaints and questions that I had with Christianity were all these "rules" that Christians "had to follow." But then I started thinking about these "rules" on the way back from Cornerstone. Let's look at the ever so popular Ten Commandments that are listed in the Old Testament. You shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not use the name of God in vain, and I'm sure most of us already know these "rules." I truly cannot believe that you will be sent to hell for breaking a "rule" or by committing a sin. Why? Because Christian or not, we would all be damned! As Christ said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." No one threw a stone, and we all know why. Who is "perfect" in life? What is being "perfect" in life? Who is to say what perfection is?
2004 and still what I look like now
Now imagine being a mother or a father and you had just given birth to your child, your own flesh and blood. What would you do? What's one of the first few words you will hear from a parent, well, unless they just don't care, or weren't taught to care? The first few words I remember are: Don't do this, don't do that, blah, blah, blah, and why? Because they were trying to teach me right from wrong due to their experiences in life, but what usually happens? Of course I usually did the opposite, and sometimes, but not always, later on in life certain things they said in my youthful life actually began to make sense. They loved me so much that they didn't want me to experience the negative outcome to the freedom of choice that we all have. These "rules" are here for Christians to follow, not so we can be saved, because Christians are only saved by Christ's grace, acceptance, and by faith alone. These "rules" were given to us so that we could see some of the choices we shouldn't make as humans, due to the consequences they hold. What happens when you commit adultery? There will be a pissed off husband waiting for you, and believe me when I say that he will want to slice your throat! What happens if you steal? You're going to get the crap beat out of you, people will never trust you, you could get arrested, etc... What happens if you kill someone? I'm sure you see where I'm getting at. All these so called rules that were handed down to Moses and all these so called rules that were taught by Christ are philosophies to live life by so we could live life in a more positive manner. There is no way a Christian is ever going to live life perfectly with all these teachings, for we all carry weaknesses that we all have as humans. Christian or not, no human will ever be perfect, especially in a world that is full of chaos and negativity.
Looking back a year or so, before I accepted this faith, I think back at some of my thoughts I was thinking. I began on a quest to find an inner peace that I just didn't have. My mind started opening up to a lot of different views and philosophies, and just questioned and studied all these different outlooks in life looking to find an inner peace that I wanted so dearly. One of the things that I didn't have or understand when I experienced Christianity the first time was faith. Anyone can believe in God, and say they believe in God, but deep in my heart, did I really believe in God? Did I truly walk the walk, or did I just talk with an empty heart? Looking back at my past, my heart was definitely empty when it came to knowing God. All I knew or accepted was that I was a "holy" person who was better than everyone else. You will always have individuals who claim to be a Christian but are actually just living by a term that they have accepted as a child and think that just by saying they are Christian that they are. And then we have
Individual's who only claim to be Christians just so they can have a good image. The same goes for Satanists. Some only use this term for attention and to spread fear in people's minds.
I am not here to judge, criticize, or preach (even though it may seem that I'm preaching), I am here to make people think about life and to actually look around and look at creation. Do you really believe we are here just to live and then die? A lot of Christians preach and share this philosophy, this life, because of the positive change they have witnessed and felt in their lives. I will never go up to someone and just start talking and "preaching" about God and Christianity because; A) I know what it feels like. B) I'm not a preacher. If people are curious about it, I will talk to them about it, but I'm not going to get into some big argument about it because I know what it feels like when someone starts telling me things that are hard to understand or believe in. Christians are here to "plant seeds" and let God do the work, not make people turn from their "evil ways" and pass judgment. As I have learned with time, finding God and finding yourself is a very personal thing.
In closing, what more can I say that I already haven't said? Like I said in the beginning, the things that make up this world, the things that happen in an individuals life that are just too weird to fully understand will always be a mystery, but I'll tell you all right now that the things I experienced and the things I am still experiencing are things that are not of this world, and again, I will NOT believe that they are a product of my mind!!
All I ask of you, the reader, is to keep an open mind to everything you have just read. Not only what I have shared with you, but what every individual in this magazine has shared with you. If you're a Christian, think about how you represent yourself and your faith, and really ask yourself if you truly know God. If you're an atheist or other, what can I say? I know why you are the way you are, and if you're truly happy with your life, and you're truly convinced that God does not exist, so be it, that is your freedom of choice.
By Michael F Coles - - - - "Seek, and you will find."