Redefining manhood. This week we take on what our friend Justin "Poe" has to say about his personal walk with Christ.
Name: Justin Poe
Crazy fact: " I can whistle like a cricket. I learned how from a homeless man."
Q: Okay Poe so tell us just a little bit about you.
A: I’m from Bowling Green, Ky originally. I came to Lexington to study Computer Science at UK. That’s where I started using my last name almost exclusively. I love to cook and currently host a couple of tabletop games for friends. My primary hobby is rock climbing. It’s not a full week for me unless I get in at least 3 days of it. When I find the opportunity to, I like to serve in all sorts of service roles. There’s something special about helping to bring things together, rather than just attending an event.
Q: Can you tell us who you were previous to Christ?
A: I don’t have any one story that could depict who I was, not well at least. What I would like to tell about myself is that I was angry and always felt out of place. I had made up an identity in my intelligence, and, when that fell through, I eventually let the fact that I have Bipolar Disorder define who I was. I allowed myself to spiral out of control. I have an obsessive personality as well. That tends to be dangerous no matter which way you take it.
Q: So at what point did you turn to Jesus?
A: For me, it feels a bit weird to describe it as a specific moment. There have been many times throughout my life where I thought, “Yes. This is it. This is the moment.” There were always tears, and some grand realization about my life involved. Honestly, I don’t think that any of those were THE moment. I have always viewed my walk into faith as a gradual change. In the beginning, I was very un-trusting of religion. In fact, the first time I stepped foot in a church (not counting childhood when I didn’t have a choice), I had ulterior motives. There were plenty of times when I felt like a fake among all the “real” Christians. Over time, I started to understand what being a Christian actually meant. Soon enough, I was thinking, “I want what they have.” I spent a long time agonizing over what it meant to believe. I began to act out what I thought was a Christian life. I began to ask more questions to reach understanding. At some point, almost as an afterthought, I realized I was there. It was a sort of realization, like “How did I get here?” I realized that I wasn’t just going through the motions or anything like that. I was doing these things because they were a part of me. To tell it simply, I just was a Christian, and I couldn’t tell you when I crossed that line exactly.
Q: That's well put, more people than we realize have that experience as well. So then how has your walk changed your life?
A: As I said before, I don’t know exactly when “after” starts. You can see a huge difference between before and after though. Today, I am a gentler, calmer person. Today, I feel right where I belong. I know that I’m where I am supposed to be, because He put me here. Today, I find joy in knowing both who I am and what that really means. That is, I am someone who was made in God’s image. I am someone who, even though I had betrayed him, God gave himself to die for. That means, I get to spend eternity with God in constant thanks to Him for saying that I was worth it.
Q: Poe, what do you feel like God is leading you through today?
A: My biggest struggle, in all this time, has been letting go. Whether it is that, I’m holding onto a piece of my old identity. Or, refusing to forgive myself for my past. I struggle to let go. I’ll tell you one example.
Q: Yeah let's hear it
A: Growing up, I had a temper. My little brother and I would fight. A lot. Sometimes I provoked him just to have a fight. The thing that I had a hard time letting go of was that I always won. I always won. I didn’t just win the fights though. I would go steps further than that. I would kick him when he was down. Sometimes literally. You really don’t know how giving and kind my little brother was. And I was the one that hurt him. For years, I held onto that. I felt like a monster. I couldn’t bear it. I had to let go of it. First, I gave it to God, because I knew He already forgave me. Second, I talked to my brother. I sort of ambushed him with an apology. My brother didn’t even know what I was talking about. He never held it against me. He always loved me the same. In his eyes, I never needed to apologize.
What I’m saying is, literally the only one that held on to that burden was me. I want to encourage everyone to let go. Forgive yourselves for the things that you can’t take back. Don’t hate yourself like I did. The fact is that if God let go of everything you’ve done wrong, then so should you.
Q: That's a great analogy, in three words how would you encourage men today?
A: He is enough.
We are thankful for men like Poe who are not afraid of being transparent and sharing the unfiltered truth for the glory of God. Because of his honesty, we can redefine what a man's man really is: A man after God's heart. If you'd like to get into contact with Poe, please visit our 'Contact Us' page. If you have a man you would like to nominate for Man of the Week, please visit out 'Contact Us' page for that as well!