You may not know this about me, but I used to be a pretty wretched guy. I still am a pretty wretched guy, but I used to be, too1.
I say that you may not know this about me (if you know me at all) because I’ve always been pretty good at keeping this fact under wraps.
If you were to ask people that graduated from Millard North High School in 2001 what they thought of Jerod Santo you’d probably hear answers like “nice guy”, “decent guy”, “stand-up guy”, et cetera.
Admittedly, you may also hear answers like “full of himself”, “thinks he’s funnier than he is”, and other accurate criticisms, but the overall sentiment would be that I was a “good guy”.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
I lied. I cheated. I hurt people that cared about me. I was selfish. Spiteful. Hateful.
I had worked so hard on building the facade of a great guy — straight A student, varsity sports, pretty girlfriend, all the clichés — that my greatest fear was to be exposed as the wretched guy that I am.
Christ likened the Pharisees to whitewashed tombs, which appear spotless and beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are filled with the bones of a dead man.
I was no Pharisee, but I was certainly pharisaical.
During college my facade began to crumble. The real me was showing through much more clearly than before2. I couldn’t hold myself together.
I had piled up so many secret (and some not so secret) sins throughout my life that there was no possible way that I could make things right.
Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever wonder why you keep screwing everything up?
Thankfully, a series of conspiring events — that I’m happy to share personally if you’re interested — led me to the only satisfactory solution to my problem.
God revealed to me who Jesus Christ is and how his righteous life was laid down in atonement for my pathetic life.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew who Jesus Christ was previously. You don’t grow up in the middle of America without hearing the stories about him. But up until that point they were always just stories to me. Folk lore. Fairy tales told to kids to keep their behavior in line3.
The facts of Jesus Christ had never reached me4. Maybe it was because I had been too busy covering up the facts of Jerod Santo.
I was heading to destruction when God picked me up and pointed me in a new direction. Not only did he save me from that end, but he gave to me liberally, as a father gives to his son.
- He gave me teachers
- He gave me spiritual understanding
- He gave me brothers and sisters
- He gave me deep, substantive relationships with my parents
- He gave me a wife that is beyond compare
- He gave me my own family
- He gave me wisdom beyond my years
- He gave my life a direction
If it weren’t for the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ I would be just another guy trying to navigate the train wreck that is the human condition.
Instead, I get to live a life of forgiveness and grace, having my sins paid for in full.
And I’m thankful.
if this phrase structure is familiar to you, it’s because I adapted it from a joke by the late Mitch Hedberg. Do you know the one? ↩
this tends to happen a lot in college, where we’re told to “sow our wild oats”, “experiment”, “find out who we are”, and other such ridiculous drivel. ↩
For example, the fact that after his resurrection he was seen alive by over 500 eye witnesses is not something that is commonly taught. But it should be! Just think what would’ve happened with the OJ Simpson trial if they could’ve produced one solid witness. Let alone 500 of them! ↩