Throughout his life Guerin has tried to search for purpose, meaning and joy. He kept trying to fill the voice of his life with good grades, sports or dating relationships. When he finally turned to God for that purpose everything changed.
Guerin Dayer: Instead of turning to the Lord who made me, who sustains me, I built up all these idols around me, whether it was grades, or sports or dating relationships. It was really anything to try to find some semblance of purpose and meaning and, and joy.
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. A new passion, a new life. What changed? Welcome to Brought Back to Life, a podcast where we explore stories of ordinary transformation.
Producer Luke: Hey, this is Producer Luke here. I wanted to remind you to stay tuned all the way to the end after this incredible interview with Guerin for a powerful testimonial from our sponsor, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. You won’t want to miss it.
Guerin Dayer: My name’s Guerin and overall, God has been so gracious and kind to me in how He’s torn down the idols that I built in my heart that I tried to define myself by. I did not grow up in a Christian home. My parents got divorced when I was eight or nine years old. The divorce wasn’t a messy process in itself. My parents were friendly then, and they’re still pretty friendly to this day. But as a shy kid growing up, I used that as an excuse to kind of stay in my own bubble; to not go out of my comfort zone.
I would always use the excuse, Oh, I can’t hang out tonight. It’s my mom’s night, or it’s my dad’s night. But when you’re a child of divorced parents, every night is your mom’s night or your dad’s night. So, I kind of grew up without a lot of friends. I went into middle school and early high school feeling pretty lonely and pretty depressed. And instead of turning to the Lord who made me, who sustains me I built up all these idols around me. Whether it was grades or sports or dating relationships. It was really anything to try to find some semblance of purpose and meaning and, and joy. Sophomore and junior year of high school, I was dating this girl and I started going to church with her, but mostly I was just going cuz my girlfriend wanted me to go.
I didn’t really care much about God; about who he is; about how he loves us. I wasn’t living as if I loved him or wanted to serve and obey him. I was just serving my own passions. And this kept going through to kinda my sophomore, between my junior and senior year of high school. I went to the church summer camp that they put on, and I kind of had the stereotypical church camp experience where went in not really, you know, knowing much about my faith and then, or the faith that I said that I had, but one of the nights the, the speaker talked about how much God loves us and what Christ went through on the cross. And I just remember being blown away. It was the, it was the classic, go back to your cabin and you’re crying with all the guys in your cabin. And I just couldn’t believe that anyone could love me that much. However, you know, I left camp and maybe a week later I was back to my old self. Back to looking to those grades and sports and relationships to try to define me. Nothing had really changed except I called myself a Christian at this point, but ultimately, I was still living in sin. I was still using these idols to try to prop myself up, to try to define myself and find some purpose. This kept going until I went to college in San Diego. And in college I started drifting towards the party scene a little bit. That was just another idol. It was rooted in wanting other people around me to think I’m cool and I’m fun, but none of that was working.
I still felt empty. I still felt broken and ultimately that’s cuz I was living in sin and in rebellion to the God who loves me. But God being rich in mercy and steadfast love, he tore down each of those idols that I had built around me. So, in college, I was no longer one of the smarter students around. Everybody was as smarter, smarter than me. So, he tore down that idol of, of grades in my heart. And then sports. It’s difficult when it’s difficult to be a football player when your college doesn’t have a football team and you’re 5’3″ and 130 pounds. Just is not a good equation. So, he, he took that one from me.
And then the last idol that I was still trying to stand on, still balancing on this unsteady foundation was this dating relationship that I was in. We’d been dating for four years, four and a half years at this point, and it was never a, a healthy relationship in, in a lot of ways. But it wasn’t until the end of our, my, the end of my second year in college that we finally broke up. And at that point, I just felt like I had nothing left. I, all of these pillars that I was standing on had been broken, had been torn down. I, I didn’t know what I had left. That summer, I was working as a bus driver for the campus shuttles, and that meant a lot of long shifts of just driving by myself, you know, left to my own thoughts, just thinking now what? Now what do I do now? Who am I? Where, where do I go? Coincidentally, I say in air quotes. I was living with some really solid Christian guys for a month that summer. Before that I had started to get involved with crew on our campus, and I was living with some of the guys for a couple weeks while I was in between houses, and it was during those couple weeks I felt like I was at my lowest. But God being so gracious and so kind, he used each one of those guys to point me towards him in different ways. Adam, the guy that I was sharing a room with, he would keep me up late at night just asking questions and checking in and seeing how I was doing and processing through things with me.
And sometimes that was annoying cuz I had to get up early. It was definitely needed. And Alex is another guy I was living with. He was so good at, at identifying with what I was going through and bearing my burden with me. And then Mitch, another one of those guys, he was always quick to be, to be able to identify, say, I’m sorry that you’re going through that. Let’s go do something fun. Let’s, let’s do something enjoyable. And it was through those conversations, and ultimately it was through the merciful tearing down of those idols in my life, and the love of the Christian community around me, that God used to really get hold of my heart.
I remember coming back to campus that next year and I felt like a totally different person. I mean, I went from being a shy, introverted keep to myself, show up late to events, type of person. To I was totally outgoing, totally excited to be around people, to be doing ministry with this campus with this campus ministry. And I think it was cuz I was no longer walking around with the weight of, of guilt and shame from living in sin, and living in idolatry. It was through that. My junior year in school, I became a leader in our campus ministry, so I was helping lead bible studies and I still, I didn’t know a ton about the Bible. I didn’t know a ton about my faith. I hadn’t spent much time studying theology, but I knew God loved me, and I wanted other people to know him and to love him like he has loved me.
That fall there was a, a conference that Crew puts on, it’s called Crossroads, and it’s mostly for older students’ kind of talking about how to live out your faith after college. What that looks like in the workplace or wherever you go. And it’s, there’s also a pretty strong pitch to come work for crew. It. I wasn’t supposed to go to that conference. Originally, my, my car got towed and my money for the conference was taken up trying to get my car out of the impound lot. So, I wasn’t supposed to go, but the guy that was kind of mentoring me at the time, he said Hey, if I can get the money together for you, from my supporters, can you, would you go? And I told him, Oh yeah, sure. I’ll go if you can get the money together. I didn’t think he would actually do it. But sure enough, that the week of the conference comes around and he had gotten the money. So, I was on my way up to LA for this conference. But at that conference they talked about all sorts of stuff, but working for crew internationally, I remember I was super excited about that. I thought you know, I have a year and a half left of school. After I graduate, that’s what I wanna do. I wanna do overseas ministry with crew. So, that was my plan at that point. I was gonna graduate in a year and a half and go work for a crew.
A few months later I was driving a buddy of mine to our men’s retreat, and I remember him telling me that he was gonna, Drop outta school, he was the same year as me, he was gonna drop outta school and go work with crew in Puerto Rico for a year. And I just thought, Man, you are nuts. What are you doing? You’re so close to finishing school. Just, just go next year. Just finish school and go when you graduate and then you’ll be done. But he and I had a lot of conversations about why he was going, why now as opposed to later, why Puerto Rico out of all the places in the world that he could go. I had a lot of questions and through all those conversations over those weeks and months, it started to make sense to me. I thought, Man, this is, this is a really good idea to go do this. And through those conversations I really felt like, man, maybe God is calling me to go drop outta school and go work in Puerto Rico with this campus ministry.
So, eventually that’s what I did. I dropped outta school and flew down to Puerto Rico. I had been a Christian for, really a year at that point, and I didn’t know what I was doing. My buddy, he knew a little bit more about what he was doing. We were partnered up with a team that was working with college athletes, but we were just working with college students in general, my buddy and me, and we came into that year thinking, Man, everything’s gonna be great. We’re gonna see so many students come to know and love Jesus. We’re gonna see this island transformed. That didn’t end up happening how we thought. That year on campus was actually, it was really challenging.
We were going to campus every day trying to evangelize and witness to students. We were leading bible studies. We were discipling our, our student leaders that were involved with our movement, but ultimately it was two college dropouts responsible for a campus ministry for an island with 3 million people, and we were pretty overwhelmed. And things didn’t go like we imagined they would. We didn’t see a ton of students come to know and love Jesus. We didn’t see this movement explode. We spent the year pouring into our student leaders, and we saw one or two new students join, but it wasn’t the fruit that we were expecting. So, that forced us to deal with a lot of these questions of, you know what? What are we doing here? Why did we come? Was this a waste of time? Or why do we share the gospel if we don’t see that fruit? What’s the point of evangelizing if we’re not seeing people come to love Jesus? So, there was a lot of those, even those kinds of idols of ministry that God was revealing that I was believing.
And so, even through that year, he was graciously working in me to tear down the idols that I’ve surrounded myself with. And we were, that other team that we were working with, we, we were really close with them, but by the end of the year there was some pretty significant conflict between team members. Individuals on the team. Between the team and the organization. Overall, it was just, it was a hard year in a lot of ways. But God was still faithful and kind and generous and merciful, and he did so much sanctifying work in my life. That year, I learned I learned a ton about theology, about marriage and fatherhood.
Ministry of all kinds. I got so much experience leading Bible studies and mentoring young students. All of that stuff. God was using this hard year to grow and sanctify me. So, I came back, and I worked with Crew during my last year of school and over that year, I was praying about, you know, where do I think God has me going next? Is it do I go into ministry? Do I go into engineering? It was kind of a toss-up back and forth. This is also the year when my now wife and I, we started dating. We had been really good friends before I left for Puerto Rico, but I matured enough over that year that she was finally interested in me. So, we, we started dating then and we both moved up to Seattle after we graduated, cuz she got accepted to pharmacy school at UW. And I got a job at a structural engineering firm that was I didn’t know where God was calling. But without any clear decision, I thought, I’m just gonna go this way until, see if God opens the door. And, and I’ll go that way until he closes that door. So yeah, I, I got a job at a, at a structural engineering firm and pretty quickly after we moved up to the Seattle area, we settled at our church, Crossing Crown. And we’ve loved becoming members at our church. We lead our community group and we’re involved in, in various ministries.
But overall, I think despite my, my rebellion and my idolatry, my sin, God has shown himself to be as gracious and as merciful as his word says he is, in that he, he rescued me from my sin, and he sent his son to die on my behalf. And he sent his spirit to dwell within me. To sanctify me and all of that ultimately to show himself to be worthy of all praise and worship.
Producer Luke: Wow, Guerin, thank you so much for your transparency as you walked through life looking for purpose and meaning. Such an encouragement! I’d love to turn your attention for a moment to our sponsor, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. They are helping people find this same meaning and purpose through their work. Take a listen to this story from Clayton.
Narrator: Helping the Lost Become Found, with Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission doesn’t just provide food and. They offer a path out of homelessness. Giving men and women a safe place to recover from addiction and start on the path toward a new life. Clayton knows firsthand how life changing that gift of hope and healing can be.
Clayton – SUGM: I was on active duty in the US Navy for 10 years. My wife and I had three kids, but I was away from home a lot, and drinking was a coping mechanism. After we divorced, I got mixed up with the wrong crowd and I was introduced to meth. I lost my job, my house, my car, my personal belongings, everything. That’s when my sister told me about Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and I was blessed to get into the men’s program. Every class and every experience has been life changing. When I got to the mission, I was numb to everything, but God’s given me back so much. Today, I’m a supervisor at the Mission and I’ve been sober for three years.
Narrator: Even when it seems impossible to see, hope can be found. Local men and women in our area desperately need a fresh start, and that’s what they find at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. From learning, to trust again. To that first hot meal, to a recovery program, and then job training. The Mission’s recovery programs offer counseling, case management, chemical dependency classes, and so much more. To hear more, volunteer, or donate, visit ugm.org.