About Me - One Man's Journey To Faith | Go Live Your Faith

About Me

Nick Pearson

​Update

(This was written a year ago, and much has changed in that time. While I will still leave this up for now, as much of it still has relevance, there will be an updated version of my About Me/Testimony coming that will be more up to date. In the meantime, please read and feel free to leave comments below.)

My Testimony

Hello, my name is Nick Pearson, and I so glad to have you here. As I have come to learn, there are no coincidences in this world. So if you are here, you must be drawn here for some purpose. I hope that sharing my testimony with you will help you find your way to faith, or deepen the faith you already have.

In the beginning…

So where do I begin? Well, as I have heard and said so many times, at the beginning of course. I grew up in a very happy household, but one that did not have going to church on a regular basis as something that we did. I suspect that many households are like this today, as this trend started early with working families wanting to spend time at home rather than go to church on Sunday. Mind you, I’m not unhappy with my childhood, as I had love and was cared for.

When I was 6 my mother and father divorced, which is difficult for a child in the 70’s to really grasp, as that was not the norm in that time. It was becoming more frequent, but the nuclear family as shown on television still showed Dad, Mom, and the 2.5 kids all living in one happy family.

A couple years later, my mom met another man, who married her and became my step-dad. It’s very interesting, because when I first met him, I asked him if he was going to be my new dad. As it turned out, that is exactly what he became, and I even took his last name three years later.

I never really got to know my biological father, all I knew was that I had his name and his looks, but never really knew him very well as a child. Like all children who came from divorced families, I had abandonment issues, but that subsided once I had a stable father figure in my life.

Changes

So as I said before, I had a good childhood, but it all changed very drastically around the age of fifteen. I was at a picnic with the family when a family friend told my mom that something did not look right with my shoulder and back. This woman was a nurse, and she really made sure to tell my mom and me several times that we should get checked out.

I was very fortunate in that my dad, the man who adopted me, was still in the Air Force and I was covered as a dependant. So there were x-rays taken, and it was discovered that I had a gap in my spinal column where there should be bone. Immediately there was a lot of concern, and more tests were ordered. I had a procedure called a mylogram, which is a rather long and large needle that is pushed through a space along the lower spine, and a contrast dye injected into the spinal column. You see, they were checking to see if it was cancer.

As it was, they determined that what happened was that I was born with half of a vertebrae missing on the left side of my upper back, and that caused a curvature of the spine, called scoliosis. They determined the best course of action was to arrest the issue by doing a fusion. This involved taking bone from my hip and putting it along my spine to cause bone growth and fuse the spinal column together in one large mass. I was sixteen and set into an abyss of unknowns because I had plans that this derailed.

At first, I did not know how to feel about what I was going through. Eventually that turned to anger, and felt that I had been punished for something that I did not do by God. Yes, I know that seems crazy now, but I was sixteen and this took me out of the career path I had decided upon, following my Dad into the Air Force. That was gone. Dating? Nope, that wasn’t going to happen. What girl would want to date Frankenstein in the upper body cast?

Yes, anger became part of my life. I raged at being abandoned by my father, and at God for afflicting me with this. I turned my back to God, not wanting anything to do with religion, or faith, or anything of that. What good could that serve me? I had been abandoned by God, in my own eyes.

Fast Forward

So life did not end, as we all find out when we go through something traumatic. I graduated from high school, and was set adrift on the sea of life. I took jobs to pay for habits, rather than build a career and a life. Those habits were to kill the pain inside of me, because I felt so hollow and empty. I had lost touch with my soul, and was going down a road that only led to death and disaster. I didn’t realize where I was headed, only knew that I didn’t want to hurt inside anymore.

Looking back, I realize that divine intervention comes into our lives, even if we don’t acknowledge or recognize it. I was losing weight because I was drinking heavily and snorting cocaine like I wanted to kill myself. Perhaps I was actually trying to do just that, but was blessed with a moment of clarity that scared me. I saw what I was doing to myself, and immediately gave up the drugs. I quit my job as a bartender immediately as well because it was the environment that I was in that was not helping.

This obviously wasn’t enough for me to stop being angry at God, but it was enough to stop me down the road I was on. I took on some work that was easy and came naturally for me, which was telemarketing. No, it wasn’t something evil, we did good things raising money for kids and causes that would not have otherwise raised funds. Once that ran out, I had no real career skills. I kept trying to get a job that would allow me to grow and become something more than what I was, but was never given an opportunity.

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Moving On

So the only way to get an opportunity was to find it. I moved to Reno, Nevada to join my parents here. They had moved here to help my grandparents. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and my grandfather needed the help as she was sliding into a darkness that I would not wish on anyone. Within a week I was working in a casino, as a change person on graveyard. I made good money, and worked up to become a slot technician, learning the job as I went.

By this time, I had cleaned up totally. No drinking, no drugs. Now I’m not saying I didn’t have habits that were not healthy for me, just did not drink or do drugs. Gambling became a drug for me, in a sense, and one that I could not break away from easily. I discovered that I have a bit of an obsessive personality, and while that helps me focus on good things, it also can have me focus on things not good for me.

I wound up in a relationship that was very good for me. We met online, and she moved here to live with me. We had a very happy home, until 2004. Then we had some very bad things happen in our lives. It was at that time my dad, the one that adopted me and gave me his last name, had two strokes within two months. It was the second one that really did the damage, as he started to slip away into a darkness that mirrored what had happened to my grandmother. While we were coping with that, my girlfriend started having medical issues as well. She started having uncontrollable jerks of her hands, and got to a point where she could hardly walk. I took her to the hospital, and it was discovered that she had a tumor on her spine in her neck, causing a compression. 2004 was not a very good year for us at all.

Interestingly enough, 2005 became a blessed year. After being declared cancer free, we also found out that we were pregnant. We were concerned because of my girlfriend’s medical issues, but a powerful moment happened. We had just seen the obstetrician who scared the heck out of us because of a medication my girlfriend was taking to manage the chronic pain she had.

Shortly after that happened, I had a dream in which I was standing, holding a baby, and talking to three men. My grandfather who had passed in 2001; my dad, who was deteriorating from the stroke but in the dream was the vibrant alive man I grew up with; and another man I never met. I had only seen this man in pictures, and that man was my girlfriend’s father, who had passed away long before I ever met her. These three men were all smiling at me and telling me what a wonderful healthy child I was holding. I woke up with a peace that I have never known before or since, even to this day.

So the cancer came back just before we were to have this child, although we did not know it at the time, we only thought the back pain was because of the pregnancy. After our beautiful daughter was born, that pain did not subside, but grew worse. That’s when we found out the cancer was back. This was to lead down to us eventually splitting up. I don’t blame her for leaving, because I felt like I wanted to escape as well. The cancer the first time around brought us so close together as she fought to live. The cancer the second time divided us as she fought not to die. She fought me, I withdrew and resorted to gambling to fill the emptiness. I don’t blame her for that, I blame me for that.

New Beginnings

So after all that happened, I slipped down a bad path again. I had my car repossessed, and was served with an eviction notice. I cashed in my 401k to save my car and the roof over my head as I left one job to go to another. I needed a new start on all fronts, as the paths I had taken either led to a cliff, or veered so suddenly that I didn’t know where it went.

So I stabilized and then got a message one day on a dating site that I was on just to see if I could find happiness again. I got a message in the morning, sent one back, and arranged to meet in person that evening. I remember that day vividly, because just before I left the house I looked at myself in the mirror and said “I’ll be back in an hour.” Well an hour turned to two hours and then longer as we spent the night talking and baring our souls to each other. Nothing was held back, not by either of us. It was as if it was an all or nothing proposition right then and there, all the skeletons of the past laid out for each to see.

So we decided to make this something more serious right away, and had our first real date. Ever the romantic, I took her to a grocery store to do some shopping. Yes, I know, hopeless romantic. She wound up spending night after night with me, when one night as we lay there next to each other she says, “You do realize I have to go home sometime”. I replied, “I thought you already were home”. That sealed it, and she moved in within the next week, breaking a lease. This pleased me very much, as the place she lived was not a very good place. Within a year, we were married and are still to this day. I am very happy within my marriage, and know that I was well matched with her.

So now you may be asking, when does all this turn to faith? You see, even when we married we did not want God to be a part of our vows, we wanted nothing to do with God in our marriage. Looking back, that is foolish, because how can He not be in our marriage? In fact, if you want to have a test of faith, get married. Saying that you will spend the rest of your life with someone that you may not fully know, and expecting it to last is a test of faith alright.

Darkness

So life went on for us, and we moved into a house that we enjoyed for three years. It was in this house that our family grew, as we adopted a dog and two cats. In 2011, I discovered this opportunity with the Reno Housing Authority that had this lease to own program to get people into homes that had sat vacant after the housing bubble burst. We qualified and we were able to get into a home that was a wonderful opportunity. We had a nice vehicle, and now we were on the road to homeownership. Life was great.

Only there was something very bad coming our way. My wife started to have pains in her abdomen, and we went to the doctor. While he felt it was her gall bladder, the ultrasound didn’t show anything. Ultimately she went in for exploratory surgery, and it was found that the reason that nothing showed up on the ultrasound was because her gall bladder was one large block of cement from stones. So it was removed and a short period of recovery happened.

This is where it became very dark. Because of our situation, my wife felt pressured to go back to work because she did not have any paid time off available, she had used it here and there as she needed to go to the doctor before the surgery. So she took some pain pills on top of some wine, not really thinking about it until she swallowed the pills. Thankfully she realized what happened and saved her life by calling an ambulance. I was at my brother’s house, watching a basketball game at the time when I get a call from my wife. Only, it wasn’t my wife. It was the police, letting me know they were in my home and transporting my wife to the hospital.

Those days became a blur, but I stayed a rock. I didn’t know how else to act. What had just happened? What was going to happen? My wife was in ICU for 3 days in a coma. I can honestly say it was the hardest time of my life, because of the unknown before us. I started to have dreams of what ifs: what if she had not made that phone call? I would find her laying in the living room, lifeless in this dream. I had to go to therapy to talk about this, I could not get this out of my head. I found that a simple question of “Where to you want to be in 5 years” stumped me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in 5 years, I didn’t know who I was, all I knew was that I was still that 16 year old, adrift on the sea of life.

However, I found that I had innate talents that never really surfaced until this moment. I had two ears, and was listening to people. After my wife was able to come home and we sat talking for awhile, she looked at me seriously and said, “Do you realize that for the last 45 minutes you have been counseling me as if I were in therapy?” I felt very strange on that remark, because she had said that to me a couple of times in the hospital.

So a new beginning in my life took place, as I started down the road of pursuing a degree in Human Services, one that I am still on as of this writing. My wife was collecting short term disability at this time, still technically employed, but really unable to work because of memory issues. Eventually that ran out, and she went on long term disability. Eventually that ran out too, and it was just my income. Because of that, we were unable to keep the house, so we had to move out of a dream and what felt like to me, a nightmare. Little did I know what was coming.

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Rebirth

So not only did we have to move out of a home that we coveted, but we wound up in a neighborhood that was not a pleasant one at all. I grew angry again, and depressed as well. Mad at my wife for our situation. Mad at life for what I had been put through from my teen years to this point. I was slipping into a dark time, and had that cloud over my head. I was ready to leave my wife, leave my job, leave everything.

I knew I could not continue like this, but didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t have the courage to end my life, but wanted the life I was in to end in some way. So it did, in a series of events that as I write this cannot fathom where I would be without them happening. It was a song, letting me know I was set free. It was a television series, sharing the Word in a visual format. It was the story of the Prodigal Son, come to life. In the end, it was me being given new life.

So first, the song. My wife loves American Idol, and one evening she is watching while I have headphones on, listening to music on YouTube and trying to avoid being where I was. She taps me on the knee, and has me take my headphones off to listen to a particular singer. She tells me this singer has a fantastic voice and replays her performance on the television. I liked her voice, but what she was pointing out was the performance she had the week before. The judges were talking about that performance still, and it piqued my curiosity.

The singer was Angela Miller. Since I saw the name, I turned to YouTube to find what the judges and my wife were talking about. I found the performance, and started to listen. She was talking about this song she wrote, and how it was about being freed from baggage. She says, “The name of the song is ‘You Set Me Free’, and I hope you like it”. She started to sing, and I was glued. The song, the music, the words, they all were speaking to me deep in my heart. Even today, I cannot talk about that song without becoming emotional. That song was written for me to hear, because it was right then that I was started down a path to be set free from the baggage of my past. I wept as I heard that song, and felt it in my heart. I listened to that song I don’t know how many times that night, and could not get enough of what the message was saying to me.

The effect was instantaneous, too. The next day I get in the car to go to work, and rather than leaving it on the country station to drone out the miles to work, I put it on a different station. I found K-Love on the radio and wept like a baby all the way to work. Yes, I am not ashamed to admit that I wept like a baby, finally starting to let go of all the pain and baggage that I carried around from my life.

Next, the television show. A new series was coming out on the History Channel, one that I was interested in intellectually. That series was ‘The Bible’. I wanted to see it because I enjoyed the stories from the Bible, even if I didn’t necessarily put any stock into them. But this was different. I was getting something out of these stories, and not just intellectually. They were speaking to me in a way I had not heard them before. Plus, there was a commercial that was showing up that interested me. That commercial was for the Bible app, for the smartphone. So I downloaded the app, and started reading some of the plans that the app have for structured readings.

Finally, it was a reunion forty-one years in the making. My biological father and I had found each other on Facebook, with the help of a nephew that I had never met reaching out to me there. So a conversation was struck between me and my father, although in fits and starts. This started while we were in the house we were planning on purchasing. My father and his wife were planning on coming up to our area, and did so in the early part of March, 2013.

I don’t think I have ever been so nervous as I was for this event. The last time I remembered seeing this man was when I was 6 years old, and that was a faded memory of 1972. He said he had come by to see me while I was at work when I was 18, but I never saw him. He sent me a letter at that same place where I was working at that time, and I always wondered why he never tried to talk to me. There were so many questions I had, but didn’t have answers for. Interestingly enough, those questions I had are still unanswered, but I didn’t really need answers in the first place. What I needed was closure and forgiveness.

So the day comes when we are going to see each other. My wife and I head down to one of the hotel/casinos in downtown Reno where they are staying, and we let them know we are downstairs waiting. I knew this was a big moment, and did my best to remain open to whatever was going to happen.

The moment was wonderful. We are waiting at the base of some escalators as they come down. It starts to become surreal as they get closer and closer. The man that I spent so many years angry at for abandoning me is coming to see me. He finally gets to me, and I put my hand out to shake his, but that is not what he is about. He wraps me in his arms, holding me in a warm and tight hug, embracing me. Any anger I had towards this man is erased in that embrace, the embrace of a loving father holding his son. It also shapes my vision of God to this day. After all, what is the best vision we can have of God but a loving father coming down to you and wrapping you in a warm and loving embrace?

The night is a long one as we spent it talking, just getting to know each other. We go to dinner, not in the place we originally wanted but somewhere else. And then they do something that cements it all for me. They pray, thanking God for the meal in Jesus’ name. Here I was, praying in secret, reading the Bible on my phone and listening to Christian music on my radio with no one knowing, and they pray openly!

The morning is an early one as I have a meeting to go to, but after the meeting the day is ours. We head out for breakfast and then enjoy the day together. My father and I are getting along great, and my wife and my step-mom are hitting it off famously as well. We have dinner, and afterwards go to their hotel room to talk. They are going to head out in the morning, but we want to spend as much time as we can. Somehow while we are in that hotel room, the talk turns to God and church. Turns out my father and his wife are both Catholic, and very active in the church.

Well, this is interesting! And my wife is the one who is talking and asking questions about the church. Me, I am sitting there very quiet, not really ready to talk about this. In fact, I say a few times, “I’m not ready to have that conversation with God just yet”. Like Peter denying Jesus three times before the cock crows, I deny what I am doing before the sun rises. Like Thomas doubting the resurrection, I still seek proof. Inwardly I am wondering what is going on, and thinking that this may be something I need.

After saying our goodbyes, my wife and I head back to our apartment, my head still swimming with all of this, trying to take it all in. We talk on the way home, and my wife really wants to try the Catholic Church, and get back into faith. You see, she had been with a man who shoved religion down her throat and she was running from God because of that. I think she was more amazed that I was willing to give it a try.

So what do I do when I want to learn about something? Immerse. I start reading about the Catholic Church, and looking at what churches are out there. That weekend we go to church together for the first time, heading to the cathedral. While the service was lovely, it wasn’t to our liking, feeling a bit too formal for us. Not ready to give up on the Catholic Church, we talk about the church we passed on the way there and back and I look it up online.

It has a website! Here’s the address! It even has the Mass times right there, and what we will do is go to the one on Saturday evening. If it is not something we feel comfortable with, we will go to the Catholic Church that we know of down the street and try that.

So we walk into the church on that Saturday evening. It’s Palm Sunday weekend, 2013. The people seem friendly, and the Mass does not feel so formal as it did the week before. The sermon (I now know it as the homily) is a wonderful one. The priest makes me laugh, makes me think, and I enjoy myself. I looked at my wife and she had the same look on her face. We knew we were home. I tell my wife I want to come back on Sunday, and she says that we will hear the same thing we already heard, but I didn’t care. I wanted more of that. I didn’t know what that was, but I wanted it.

Yes, it was the same Mass. By the same priest. It didn’t matter. I enjoyed it all the same, perhaps more with the familiarity that the second visit brought. I knew that I wanted to go to this church, and my wife agreed. So we planned on coming for the Thursday Mass, and watched as people got their feet washed in the church. Okay, that was a bit weird to me, but who am I to judge. It was a very important part of the story that was told that evening, and it was being played out in real life.

The next day is Good Friday. I go to work early, and ask the manager if I can take off to go to church. I’ll come back for the events this evening, but wanted to go to church. Badly. He had no problem with it at all, and I’m so grateful for his understanding. So I called my wife and we went to the Good Friday service. There is no Mass on Good Friday, as that is the day recognized as the day Jesus died on the cross for our sins. The service was moving, and I immersed in the ceremony of it.

During this service a gentleman in a pew in front of us starts looking at me. We make eye contact a few times, as if we know each other, although I know I have not seen him at all. After the service is over we start talking. He introduces his wife and I introduce mine. He asks if he knows me from somewhere and I tell him that my wife and I are new to this church and we are looking to become Catholic. He smiles and goes to find the Director of Adult Faith for the parish, and we meet her. We declare our interest, and she seemed rather shocked that we say we have been coming to this church less than a week, and here we are ready to become Catholic.

We go through the process of RCIA, which is a wonderful journey. I knew I was ready to be Catholic from the moment I said yes to going to church. The song set me free from baggage, preparing the way for me to let go. The television show showed me what the Word was, and how I could understand it. The story of the Prodigal Son is set alive for me to see what God’s love is truly like in a forgiving father.

There are two moments I cherish as we go through the process of being baptized and receiving communion for the first time. The first moment is being able to watch my wife be baptized before I am. A blessed moment indeed. After being baptized and going through the laying of hands and everything else that happened that evening, the time comes for communion. I had longed for that moment, and I was not disappointed. The priest that I received communion from was a man that I had gotten to know well, attending a book club that he did on Wednesday evenings. He looks up, and holding up the body, says, “Nick, the body of Christ!” I say “Amen” but what a wonderful moment it was for me. One that I will never forget.

As of the time of this writing my journey of faith has taken me far in the Church. I sponsored someone this past year through RCIA. I am a Lector, and feel blessed to receive many complements on my reading ability. I am active in the Knights of Columbus in my parish. And there’s more.

In January 2014, the Bishop of the Diocese declared a Synod to take place in December 2015. A Synod is a church word, but in simple layman’s terms, it’s a convention of people to discuss issues to present to the Bishop to determine the course of action for the Diocese to take under the umbrella of the Catholic Church. Each parish would nominate delegates from the congregation, to be voted on by each Parish Council. I was nominated and voted in, and am honored to be a delegate for the Synod. I also lead a faith sharing group on Wednesday evenings, replacing the book club as the priest I enjoyed listening to decided to retire.

Something that I think about often is the phrase “called to serve”. I think about that phrase and realize that if we are called to serve, that we must serve the call. That is primarily why I am doing this website, to help spread the Word and share my faith with each of you through writing, and through a podcast.

I truly hope that this finds you well, and that your journey in faith is enhanced in some way through my story. I know it is a long one, but one that I could not short cut without you missing key parts to where I am now, and where I feel called to go. Remember, your journey doesn’t end when you accept Jesus into your life, it begins. Go Live Your Faith!

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Nicene and Apostle's Creed

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