An Overnight Miracle

In his mid-twenties now, Howie grew up in a Christian household, but it was more so Christian in name than in action. He learned unhealthy coping skills, dysfunction, and anger from some of those closest to him. As he got older and all but absent of faith, he realized he was becoming the very people he said he never would be.

Six months ago, after an argument with his fiancé, where he raised his voice and threw things in a panicked rage, Howie fell into a deep depression. He looked back and saw how his family line had been so defining for him, and he didn’t think he’d be able to escape it. 

He began waking up mornings feeling guilt, shame, and pain. He felt hopeless. He recalls even watching comedies and just feeling a deep, black sadness. 

There was only one escape Howie could think about: he was ready to take his own life. 

Even with his family and fiancé (whom he’s been in a relationship with for over three years), he couldn’t shake the grip of a hurt life. He pushed the thoughts of those he loved out of his mind and began planning a day to end it all.

By the true grace of God, that day came and went with no action. 

Howie doesn’t know how to describe the change in his life other than a miracle. The morning after the day he had set, instead of waking up with dread, he woke up with joy. Then he remembered the words of a close friend, John.

When Howie was newly engaged, John told him, “Marriage needs to have a firm foundation, a foundation you can both turn to, and the Lord is that foundation.” Remembering those words, Howie told his fiancé, Maria, he was ready to go to church. 

At first, he was nervous about attending church and didn’t know what to expect, but God spoke during his very first service. Howie knew he’d never be alone ever again, and no matter what life threw at him, he’d be able to overcome it; life wouldn’t keep him down.

Looking back on the last six months of his life, Howie says, “I can see how God was with me. Even in my worst moments, He was there.”

“A night to day change” is how he describes his life. Where he’d feel sadness and grief, he now finds beauty in everything. Looking out his window, the fall leaves remind him of God’s goodness, the blowing snowflakes of His glory. He truly believes his season of pain is over, and it’s now his season for growth. 

Howie has since cut negative people out of his life and has a passion for connecting emotionally with those he loves, including his fiancé. 

“I don’t deserve her,” Howie says. “I haven’t always been the man I should have been; I deserve what I gave out.”

I deserve what I gave out. What powerful words. And words that stuck.

After continually attending church, Howie realized how much grace and love Jesus has for him, and instead of deserving separation, Jesus showed mercy. 

Howie was baptized this past Sunday at South Barrington. 

Leading up to his baptism, Howie was excited and nervous, but also ready to officially begin the new chapter in his life. His fiancé, mom, brother, sister, and friend John were all in attendance. 

Reflecting on her son’s change over the past few months, Howie’s mother, Lisa, had this to say: “Howie is now vibrant, social, and very grateful for everything. He texts me everyday with how appreciative he is of me and how much he loves me. We are going through a very difficult time as a family, and church has saved him . . . and me. Because of Howard going to church and the change I saw in him, I started going myself and now attend weekly with him. Church has grounded him and has given him hope. The night before his baptism, Howard shaved his head because he wanted to have a brand new start once he was baptized.”

And Howie’s fiancé, Maria, had this to say: “The moment Howie decided he wanted to go to church was the moment his life changed. I’m so proud of him for making that decision to follow that path all himself. He has grown exponentially in his spiritual and personal life. I can visibly see what his passion for God has done in his life, and I am beyond proud of him. I know he will continue to grow and do great things.”

To encourage others to get baptized, Howie says, “God is there with you. When you’re ready to be baptized, just do it. Know you’re loved, and know you’re forgiven, no matter what you’ve done.”

Before being baptized, the word Howie wrote on his shirt as an essential aspect of his life’s journey was Beautiful

“Humans need saving. But no matter what you come up against, God is with you.”

Howie continues to pray “to see the beauty.”

Looking for another incredible baptism story? Click here to watch Manny’s heartfelt journey to baptism.
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