PigTale Bio: Robbie is 25 years old and lives in Missoula, Montana with his two daughters and pregnant wife. He is a writer for ChristianPig.com, which is a website dedicated to helping people hear, see, and understand that everyone has their own perspective on life, and that while someone else’s perspective might be different than our own, that doesn’t make it wrong, and even if it is wrong, there is still value in it. In fact, the hope ChristianPig has is that hearing someone else’s perspective might change our own in an impactful and beneficial way. This is Robbie’s PigTale, and he hopes that anyone who reads it and identifies with it can find comfort and peace in knowing they are not alone in the struggles they face, and that there is grace eternal in Jesus Christ.
I used to be a liar. I lied. A lot. I lied so much, so often, and to so many people that now, years later, there are some memories I have where I can’t even really remember what the truth is. I told lies to people that weren’t remotely believable. I told my friends lies about abuse, both self-inflicted and from my family. I would engage strangers online, in chatrooms (Anyone remember AIM? Yeah, like, three of you.), just to tell them lies about my life so I could revel in their reactions to my ludicrous stories, always portraying myself to be the victim of heinous acts or as the survivor of some emotional tragedy. I lied to my parents, my siblings, my pastors, my girlfriends, my teachers, everyone. I told whatever story I thought would get the biggest reaction, and I would stick to it until the bitter end (oh man, were some of them bitter). These lies consumed me, and I completely lost sight of reality, all the while convincing myself that the only “reality” I needed was to feel intensely.
I am an emotional guy. I’ve never been ashamed of that. I think I’ve always known that being emotional has a huge upside. It allows me to be extremely passionate about the things that matter to me. I believe it gives me the ability to genuinely and significantly invest in people with ease. When the Lord opened my eyes to what Jesus did for me on the cross, to the love that He has for me, and to the depth of His mercy and grace, the significance was not lost on me (on more than one occasion a presentation of the true gospel has left me sobbing, and I have been known to get so worked up when talking about God’s mercy that I stop being able to say words and just start saying things like, “It’s just…UGH…I mean, can you see how…GAH!”). I think my wide range of emotion gives me the ability to easily empathize with people, and because I feel things intensely on many layers, I believe it gives me some insight into what people are feeling that they may be trying to hide. I have seen the fruit and benefits of being an emotional person all throughout my life. I really love being this way. I feel strongly about it! Also, for the purpose of this article, it is probably important to point out that I am also very outgoing. Not only do I feel emotions intensely, I also wear them on my sleeve. If you’re anywhere near me, you probably know how I feel about whatever the current subject matter is. I have no issue being emotionally honest with strangers. This has been a huge blessing to me because it gives me the ability to form strong bonds with people very quickly, and as a result I have been graced with incredible friendships in every stage of my life.
The thing is, for every upside and benefit of being emotional and extroverted, there is an equal and opposite downside. This is the case with all character traits, of course, but one of the unique things about people like myself is that when the faults in our character rear their ugly heads, there tends to be a wide path of destruction, burned bridges, hurt, and sadness left in the wake. I don’t just go through hard times by myself. The people close to me suffer greatly, but literally anyone who comes in contact with me will be affected. I don’t know about you, but it is not hard at all for me to be ruled by my emotions, and before Jesus saved me, I let them.
I grew up in a home where arguing was the primary form of communication. Yelling was commonplace, and issues were rarely discussed or resolved. I never learned how to process my emotions in a healthy way and work through them, so I let them consume me. My current emotional state would determine my every action. I lived in the extreme. If I was happy, I was on top of the world. If I was angry, I would completely lose it. If I was sad, then no one in the world could understand the depth of my depression. My identity was completely defined by being intense and emotional, and because of my innate desire to be connected to people, I would define myself based on the reaction I could get out of people with my intense spewing of emotions. This created a different version of myself that I got to act out in the presence of different people, and I embraced it all because it gave me the opportunity to emote differently (but always extremely) in different contexts, and that was the only way I felt genuine.
So here’s the thing about indulging in extreme emotions: it’s the exact opposite of exercising self-control. I had no idea how or when to rein myself in, so I didn’t. There were two main areas that I lacked all self-control, and those two things dominated my life for a number of years. One of them was anger. This was an ever-present emotion for me. I’d love to be able to professionally dissect and explain exactly why that is, but all I’ve got is that I was a sinner in need of grace, and that being a passionate and invested guy means that when things go south, it’s pretty easy for me to get pissed. So as I indulged my emotions, it wouldn’t take much for me to explode in anger. I would scream, destroy property (mostly throwing whatever was closest to me at whatever was across the room), spit in my mother’s face, and occasionally physically assault my family. I demanded to be the center of attention in all my relationships, positive or negative, and anger was the easiest way to do that. It damaged and/or ruined pretty much all my relationships, friends, family, and romantic. My family, more than anybody, understood that at any moment, I might go off the rails. They dealt with countless blowups and screaming fits. I cannot express how grateful I am for the grace and love that they extended to me time and time again.
The second area where I lacked any sort of self-control was sex. This is an effort to be transparent because I want people who have done the same to know they aren’t alone, not an attempt to air out all my dirty laundry. I hope that someone will read this and be able to find the hope that I found through these struggles. So, here goes…I became addicted to pornography and masturbation at the age of 11, I lost my virginity at 13, and I went off the deep end. I slept with my girlfriends, other people’s girlfriends, my ex-girlfriends while I had a girlfriend, and strangers. There was a pregnancy ending in miscarriage. I did and said pretty much anything to get some action. My struggles continued when I began to finally walk with Jesus. I was kicked out of the Christian internship I attended after high school for sleeping with a girl. Even when I first began to court the woman who is now my wife, I succumbed to temptation and cheated on her with a one-night stand. I’m sure most people reading this know just how overwhelming sexual temptation can be, and as I grew through adolescence, I rarely found the strength or courage to resist. All this sex and sin led to hurt and heartbreak for most of the parties involved, and it consumed me for years. I am still walking down a path of restoration and healing with my wife.
God is so good. That is the thought I continue to have over and over as I have reflected upon so much as I have typed, deleted, and typed these words again. God is so, so good. When I was 18, at that Christian internship I mentioned, the Lord revealed to me just how great my sin was, and also how much greater His grace is. He opened my eyes to the mercy He had extended to me as I lied to the people closest to me, and He revealed that His love was not bound by the number of sexual partners I had or limited by the times I hit one of my family members. Experiencing salvation was so much more intense than any emotion I had ever felt. The peace of God was the only thing that could calm the waves of emotion in my heart. Has it been a cakewalk since then? No. Absolutely not. But after the Lord captured my heart and saved my soul, and by His grace I broke my sinful habits and began to walk down the path of restoration and reconciliation, I have been able to see more and more that the way He wired me can be a blessing to others and a testimony to Him. I can invest in His Church and the people He puts in my life. I can connect and empathize with them. I can express how incredible life with Him is, because communicating my feelings comes naturally to me. I can be an example of His miraculous grace when it comes to developing self-control and healing from the damage the lack of it can cause. In my favorite chapter of the Bible, Romans 8, the apostle Paul says this, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose,”. By the grace and mercy of God alone have I been blessed with this “good”, and I pray that this testimony can be evidence of that.