By a Rock Stories Contributor
How getting into a fraternity revealed a side of me only God could wash away
I grew up the only Asian in an all-white neighborhood. It was quite a bit of oppression in a way, because even though you make friends and you’re accepted and you hang out and cut up and knuckle bump, you always feel like a powerless outsider. They don’t know your culture and you really don’t understand theirs—and that keeps you at bay. Of course, as a kid, it isn’t something you are cognitive of. It’s just a slight, constant hum of feeling like you’re looking into a world that you’ll never really step into. You’re in the audience, but you’ll never be in the play.
When I went to college, however, all of that changed. I came across an Asian fraternity, and for the first time in my life, I was with people who were exactly like me: Asian dudes with all my same cultural nuances. It was nirvana. To understand and be understood was glorious. It didn’t matter that the active members were to haze me mercilessly before letting me in. I had to be a part of this community.
When my days as a pledge were over and I had endured every demand they could make on me, I was a proud, active member. For the first time in my life, I had respect, true comradery, and total freedom to be exactly who I was. And now the fun begins, right?
Well, yes, and no.
When it came time to putting the new pledges through the rigors of rushing our house, I suddenly had something I had never had before: power.
When it came time to putting the new pledges through the rigors of rushing our house, I suddenly had something I had never had before: power. And perhaps that is a good thing that I hadn’t. Because when it came time to wielding it over the new pledges, some heretofore never-seen interest and desire to bring pain to others was revealed. Power created in me bloodlust. I seethed with energy and creativity to put the pledges through unthinkable torment.
Under my watch, I took the pledges past all standards of acceptability and decency, and I enjoyed every minute of it. These young guys had to do everything I told them to. I was a 19-year-old young man in total command of a bunch of guys my age or older, and I grew more drunk with power every day. They feared me, and for a powerless outcast, it was intoxicating.
If you, as a reader, wonder what I did to these guys, notice that I do not name the school, the fraternity, any fraternity brother, or my name. What I was willing to do was so bad that even my brothers started to fear that something catastrophic was brewing, that all of this was going to have a bad ending and bring down the house. They had to take me aside and talk some sense. It’s not that easy to do when everybody is drunk.
For four years I pushed the limits, and when I graduated and finally put down the whip, as it were, I found myself breathing deep and feeling a sense of relief. I didn’t realize it but it had been taking a toll on me too. I guess somewhere deep down, I did have a soul after all.
About a year later, I met a young woman who was so beautiful and sweet and kind that I grew helplessly in love with her. We began dating and soon she invited me to dinner with her parents. And it was there, that I saw something that filled me with a different kind of want.
The way her parents treated each other, and her, wasn’t just kind and loving. I had seen loving parents before. This was different. It was born of something deeper. When I asked her what it was, she told me they were Christians, and she was too. I told her, “Well, let’s do that.”
On my journey to Christianity, where Rock Church was integral, I found that Jesus goes into the darkest hearts and redeems them. It’s not that Jesus overlooks their past, but instead, He pays for it.On His own body and Spirit, he accepted my shameful acts as His own, and there, God the Father rejected Him and let Him die the death intended for me—for all that I had done and was capable of.
It’s not that Jesus overlooks their past, but instead, He pays for it.
If all I had to examine my life against His work on the cross was a history of being a good student and son who had a few infractions along the way, I don’t know if I ever would have felt the need for His gift. But there, in living color as I looked back on my previous four years, was an ugliness that I could not turn away from. I knew my heart was a heart of darkness. If Jesus could wash me clean of it, why wouldn’t I want that?
I am a different person now. I have been washed clean by His death on the cross. And things that used to get me excited don’t anymore, like power. Jesus’ gift on the cross outshines everything else.
I thank God that with all the abuse I dealt out, nobody got hurt. Even the guys who I have talked to as I attempted to come clean didn’t seem to hold it against me. And for that I am grateful.
But for all those who know their heart is a dark place, perhaps you hold a dark secret, Jesus is reaching out to you and wants to wash it and its hold on you away. If you think your sins are too dark for Him, that is your first mistake. Jesus paid for the darkest of sins. Why do you think forgiveness required His death?
The cross is your only hope to feel light again.