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Shame Controlled His Life Until He Decided to Let Go With Adam Christiansen

Faith was modeled for Adam in his home, but it was never his own. He talks about living a different life during the day than he was living at night. He was exhausted trying to keep from ‘being found out.” Shame took control. When he decided to let go and follow Jesus his life changed course radically.

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Adam Christiansen: I feel like God has been so faithful to just point me over and over again, to what dependence looks like. And I think ultimately, I think that’s what this life of faith looks like, as we walk with God, he’s just teaching us how to become more and more dependent possible. Paul says that it’s like in those moments of weakness, that’s when God’s power is made perfect.

Narrator: We’ve all experienced it. You run into a friend from the past, but there’s something different. They are changed. Maybe there is a calm where there once was a storm. Maybe there is gentleness instead of harshness. There’s a new passion, a new life. What changed? Welcome to Brought Back To Life, a podcast where we explore stories of ordinary transformation.

Adam Christiansen: My name’s Adam Christiansen. Excited to be able to share my story, which really is just how Jesus has wrecked my plans in a lot of ways. One thing that’s been really impactful for me in my relationship with Jesus is that he has constantly reminded me that he is the one that takes away my shame, and shame is something that I’ve worked with and struggled with in a lot of ways.

And that didn’t stop when I became a Christian. And so, I’ve been learning how to trust in His faithfulness as I walk in this life with Jesus. So, it’s been exciting to, to see, and I’m grateful to be able to share it. I grew up in the Spokane area. I grew up in just a really awesome loving home. We would go to church every week.

We grew up Catholic, and so I had this just really high reverence for who God was and enjoyed being there. And it, it was something that our family just did. Faith was modeled for me in my home, and I think I grew up to be, to have this real high value on like treating people well and being a good moral, upright kid.

But my faith was never my own. When I went to college, I came over to the Seattle area to attend the University of Washington, go Dawgs, and I began to just experience the typical college life. Had a lot of my inhibitions drop away. And so, became sexually involved, became involved in drinking and partying.

And, and what soon began to develop in my life was a contrast of light and dark. Literally day and night. I had different lives that I lived during the day, and I had different life that I lived at night. I worked in the hospitality industry, and for anybody that’s worked in restaurants or bars, like it’s, it’s a tough spot.

One thing that became really evident is that I became exhausted trying to keep my two lives separate from each other. From basically from getting found out that I was a hypocrite, that I was duplicitous. And I began, began to have a lot of shame. As a side note, I studied architecture at the University of Washington, and that is gonna be kind of a theme that comes around.

So, there’s these two themes, architecture and shame; unrelated to each other, but definitely part of my story concurrently. I graduated from college in 2002, and I was in a relationship at the time and the gal I was dating says, you need to go to church. And because I grew up going to church, I was like, that’s an easy threshold for me to cross. I can do that. And so, we began attempting different churches, trying out different churches and, and it soon became this pattern where Sunday morning was just a battle. And it was a battle for so many different reasons. It was a battle because we might go to a church, and I really didn’t like it and I didn’t feel comfortable.

Or we would go to a church where I was like, Hey, I, I feel like I might be able to keep coming here, and she wasn’t comfortable with it. But really the thing that was most evident was Sunday represented pattern where my life, my two lives, the night and the day, started to blend together and like, literally I would either be hungover or still drunk when she would come and pick me up to take me to church. There began to be a pattern then of a response. I became frustrated. I became angry and as I was seeing this play out every Sunday morning, I became really ashamed of what my life looked like. So, finally, Kind of a last-ditch effort, honestly, like I, I got one more in me.

We went to a church, it was a, it was a young growing vibrant church, a lot of young people. And I, I experienced something different at that place. And what I experienced is I heard the gospel preached. I heard that there’s God that loves me. I heard that he loved me so much that he sent his son to die for me.

And if I were to put my hope, my faith, and my trust in his Son, That all of my shame would be taken away. And it was too good to be true to hear that that. That was in 2004. I remember thinking about that for the rest of the week, and started to think through like, why am I so angry? Why am I so ashamed? What is happening? Like why I’m exhausted trying to keep these lives separate. Do I need to keep doing that? And all I could think about was, well, there’s no way that I could actually do this on my own. And so, a couple weeks after going and hearing this message, you know, it was kind of a slow burn. Few months, six months, really.

But then over the course of these last three weeks, it was me hearing this message of the gospel. And then finally, I was at, kind of at my wits end, figuring out how to do this, where I took a Bible and I went and I sat on a park bench in Magnolia in Seattle. And I remember just, in just, it was so clear to me it wasn’t audible. It was just so clear, and it just felt like God said, follow my son. And it was that moment where I just let go of everything. And being able to hear that message and to trust that this God loved me enough to give me the work of Jesus, so that I could be rid of my shame.

So, that became a season where I gave my life to Christ. I began to experience just a ton of challenging pieces of my life, cause I had to unravel a lot. Right? I had to figure out how to no longer live that life in the dark. And then how to reconcile these different. If I was gonna really trust Jesus, like that meant everything. So, it meant like getting outta the industry, it meant getting a new job. It meant being able to walk in the light and being able to be honest with myself and others of what my life actually looked like. So, it began the season intense change.

Also over these next few years was the season of intense growth, which was really exciting. I just had this insatiable appetite for God’s word. Like, if this is how he’s gonna reveal himself to us and give us instruction, like I wanted to know it all and began to just read the scriptures over and over again. And like, it was just part of my life and part of what I wanted to do. And then I got to be plugged into the church. Come along other guys that were in the early twenties and we’re all kind of like unwinding a bunch of garbage from our life, and then figuring out how to do this well together and come alongside each other and encouraging each other. And it was just this awesome season. So, became a time when I got to invest and be, be invested in by some of the, my pastors. Grown as a volunteer leader in the church. And so, a couple years went by and I’d had some of my leaders really investing in me, really encouraging me and just said, have you considered working at the church? Now, I hadn’t. As I was growing up, all I wanted to be was an architect. And here I was, I was an architect. This is the thing. Like I graduated that I was working in a couple different firms in the city. There’s actually a story that I wanna share is, I was actually serving on a board for the city of Seattle called the design commission, and it was led by the president of the board was a really well-known architect, globally known. And we were having, kind of like a, a Christmas party, I think it was, and it was right after city hall had been completed. And so, we’re up on the rooftop of city hall and he puts his arm around me. He says, Adam, you stick with me.

Like, this is a guy I revere, really respect. He says, stick with me. And he puts his hand out and he kind of gestures to the skyline of the city. He says, stick with me and I’ll give you all of this. I mean, I’m not, I’m not trying to put myself in the position of Jesus, but remember those temptations, those stories of where Jesus was given that temptation? And all I had to do was like, just give into this one opportunity and offer. And it was so crystal clear for me in that moment. I was like, I don’t want what you’re offering. And it was kind of this aha for me where I’m like, man, I, I do want to give the rest of my life to Jesus. I do. That even includes my vocation.

So, beginning to walk away from this dream I had as a, a little kid, the thing I always wanted to do, and I’m finally here doing it, to walk away from that, it, it was eye opening for me to see like, Hey, God’s called me to something. So, step back into those conversations where my pastors are pouring into me, encouraging me, the pastor that was actually mentoring me, he vocationally before he became a pastor was a structural engineer. So, we have a structural in engineer and an architect, and we’re speaking of, you know, a really similar language and, and he’s like, I, I see these gifts in you. And I, I wanna affirm those and I want to encourage you. And so, would you step in. So, stepped in, started working at the church and was like, Hey, do you, have you considered, have you prayed about becoming a pastor at the church becoming an elder?

Again, shame wells up. I was like, I, I’m not good enough to do this. I, I’m not strong enough to do this. What if they find out my past? And what does this look like? And even though I had openly talked about all of that with them, I just, I felt really exposed and vulnerable and unworthy in that moment. So, I, I took a day and I was like, well, I just, I want to go and pray and I want God, would you just answer that question for me?

Should I pursue becoming a pastor? And it’s a, it’s an easy question with the complicated answer, but really I’m just looking for a yes or no. That’s all I’m looking for. And so, I drive up, I actually go up to Deception Pass and I’m just, I’m there. It’s beautiful. And I’ve been praying all morning, God, is it yes, or no? Is it yes, or no? Yes, or no? I don’t know if you’ve ever been in that spot where you just ask that question and you’re not getting the answer. Well, God seems to do that a lot in my life. Probably does in yours too. And as I’m, I’m thinking through that, I’m like, he’s not answering the question I’m asking.

Maybe I’m asking the wrong question. So, I’m there. And to set the stage I drove up there, it’s a, it’s a fall day, it’s in October and it’s beautiful out. It’s sunny, but it’s cold. There are clouds coming in and I hike up to this place, a deception park, deception pass park. Kind of sounds outcropping and I’m looking out at the water and clouds are moving in.

It starts snowing and it’s sunny at the same time. Like the rays of light are coming in and I’m like, oh, this is it. God’s gonna answer the question. Like it’s leading to this moment. And I mean, the only thing that would’ve made this moment more perfect is if like a killer whale jumped out the water right in front of me in that moment.

And I’m like there, okay, God, he’s gonna answer. And I get nothing. Just kind of dejected. So, I get in the car and I’m like, I might as well just drive home. And as I’m driving home, I hear God say, what are you afraid of? And I almost drive off the road. Pull over and I literally just break down, just start weeping.

And I’m in that moment, like, am I probably in my most vulnerable moment at that point in my life, with God in my car, just to let him know I’m afraid of so, so much. He just reminded me of what he told me. He just said, follow my son. He’s like, I’ll be with you. I’ve taken your shame away. I’m gonna give you the strength. I’m gonna give you the, the things you need to be able to do this. And I’m gonna entrust people to your care. And it’s not cuz of who you are. It’s cuz of who I am. And that has been just an awesome reminder for me, constantly. Not just in, in vocational ministry, but in life, like in my marriage and in my relationship with my, my three kids, and in my relationships with my friends… I feel like God has been so faithful to just point me over and over again to what dependence looks like. And I think ultimately, I think that’s what this life of faith looks like, as we walk with God. He’s just teaching us how to become more and more dependent. Apostle Paul says that it’s like in those moments of weakness, that’s when God’s power is made perfect. I’m so grateful that God is invited us into this relationship with him through his son.

That I don’t have to stand condemned. I don’t have to stand afraid. I don’t have to stand ashamed cuz I know that I get to be seen in Christ, and it’s such a privilege to walk in this life to follow him and to trust him. So, thank you, Jesus. That’s my story.

Narrator: We’re telling these stories of transformation so you can know and understand the power of Jesus in your own life. If you’d like to learn more about Jesus and how he can bring you back to life, visit us at

And if you like Brought Back To Life, please give us a five-star rating and a review. You can follow Brought Back To Life podcasts on iHeart radio or wherever you’re listening right now. You can also just tell your smart speaker, play Brought Back To Life podcast. I’m Sam Kelly. Rebecca Beckett produced this episode. Our audio editor is Scott Karow. And thanks for listening to Brought Back To Life from Purposely.

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