Bitterness towards his father held Jason Starkey captive before a program for addicts helped set him free from his inner turmoil
"I was raised in an extremely violent and broken home where my parents couldn't get along, fought and resented each other," Jason says.
"[At age seven], shortly after my parents got divorced, I started to hate myself. I felt neglected, depressed and blamed myself."
Feeling abandoned and rejected, Jason built up hatred towards his father.
"I was told that I wasn't worth anything and wouldn't amount to anything and would be a failure all of my life," he says, before adding, "But I know that I am worth a lot to God."
Due to the hurt and abuse his biological father inflicted on him, Jason says he was unable to accept and trust his stepfather even when he tried to help.
"I didn't give him the chance to get close to me and I disrespected him," he admits.
"As a direct result of my defiant attitude and disobedience, selfish pride and jealousy, issues surfaced and these things became a huge part of my life. It had a negative impact on all the relationships that I have had with God and other people.
"Due to my defiant behavior I have also been placed in multiple county jails, detention centers and foster homes. I am not proud of this because I have hurt the people who were trying to help me to stay out of trouble."
While in foster homes Jason was a victim of sexual abuse, which led to further bitterness and trust issues.
Then in 1997, as part of a recovery program for addicts, Jason was challenged to make the decision to "turn my life completely over to the care of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" but he could not follow through with the steps that followed.
"I had a lot of unconfessed sins that I was not ready to turn over to the Lord and didn't want to make a 'moral fearless inventory' of myself as part of step three and four (of the program)," he admits.
"I had so much built up anger and bitterness that was controlling my life. I felt I had no way of expressing it except in negative ways."
Yet over time Jason was able to slowly let go of the negative feelings controlling his life and attitudes, finding comfort through inserting his name into one of God's promises in the Bibles' book of Ezekiel chapter 36 verse 26 to 37.
"I [The Lord] will give Jason a new heart and put a new spirit within Jason," he recites, "I will take the heart of stone out of Jason give Jason a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within Jason and cause Jason to walk in my statutes, and he will keep my judgements and do them."
Understanding that God had the power to transform him from the inside out, Jason says surrendering his life to Jesus brought him peace and healing from all his hurt.
"He has restored my life back to Him by letting me know that He will help guide and protect me through whatever I am going through," he explains.
"Jesus will never leave nor forsake me when everyone has rejected or turned their back on me, according to Hebrews 13 verse 5. He is an awesome God and worthy of all my praise."
God also helped restore broken relationships, as Jason was able to confess and ask for forgiveness for his wrongs against his family and God. "I have also been able to share my thoughts and feelings openly with a few fellow Christians without feeling ashamed and know they are here to help and not hurt me, even when I think they are," he adds.
Jason has since seen God remove bad influences from his life and replace them with positive, encouraging Christian people who have helped him grow in his faith and walk with God.
"I know that I am not the only one that struggles with sin and doing the right thing on a daily basis," he says.
"I am very grateful and thankful for the compassion, undeserved love, mercy and forgiveness that my Heavenly Father has for me. When I fall short of His holy and perfect standards I know that I can't continue to live in sin. I know He will forgive me."
Jason has had the opportunity to start a bachelor degree in Christian counselling and has a passion to share and encourage all those who are struggling with life-controlling addictions.
"I don't want to fall back into my old sinful nature and I don't want to let go of God's hand," he concludes confidently.•