David Patterson shared a hopeful story of the Lord’s healing strength and the power of prayer, at the 2017 Lift Jesus Higher Rally in Toronto, Ontario.
Although David’s mother was Catholic, after his parents divorced, David found himself bitter toward his father, and wanting his dad “to feel his hurt.” He also began to wonder “if people really believed in Jesus.”
In ninth grade, he spent time at his dad’s cottage one summer, and ended up heavily involved in marijuana, alcohol, and partying. When he returned to school in the fall, he fell in with the “wrong crowd,” and continued living a reckless lifestyle through high school and college.
In fact, at one point, David asked a friend why he had headaches when he didn’t drink, and the friend replied, “You’ve got the fangs of the wolf. You’re an alcoholic; welcome to the club.”
Fortunately, David’s mother never stopped praying for his conversion.
When she asked him to attend a Catholic retreat, he reluctantly agreed—simply to get her to leave him alone.
“On the way to the retreat, I was angry,” David explained. “I was yelling at my mom in the parking lot, when I felt a tap on my shoulder, and there was a priest in a cowboy hat. He was loving and patient, and said, ‘Son, I think you should stay. Then, one of the speakers, who was funny, cool, and loved God, said ‘God doesn’t care about your mess. A simple ‘yes’ to God will change your life forever. It’s August 15—you can change your life today.”
David answered “yes” to God that day. He went to confession, where he said, “As I kept unloading, I got a little lighter and a little lighter, and as He gave me absolution, I felt free.”
It was difficult to go back to school, he explained: “My buddies asked what had happened. They said I was joyful. I had to tell my bros I had encountered the living God, and do you think that went well?”
David continued struggling with temptation, particularly to drink and to swear. He persevered by going to confession regularly; after six months, he said, “God set me free,” and he no longer struggled with those temptations.
He later attended another retreat his mom suggested—Lift Jesus Higher—where, during the Eucharistic procession, the Lord put an image on his heart that led David to become a youth minister.
And then, exactly four years after David said “yes” to God, his future wife said “yes” to him, when they became engaged. The couple is now married and expecting their second child.
“The reality is, I was a mess,” said David. “But He took the mess and He turned it into a message.”