I grew up in church and got saved when I was nine years old. I was a very smart student in leap classes and had all white friends. When I was younger, I use to get made fun of for hanging out with white people, being uncoordinated, not knowing how to or having the money to dress nice and would get teased for how dark I was. I started to hate myself, and the way I looked so I started making drastic changes to fit in. I changed the way I talked, the way I laughed, and the way I dressed. I stopped doing my homework and started stealing things from houses and cars.
I stopped hanging out with all my white friends and acted like I never knew them because I didn’t want to be the black person who acted white. I started smoking and drinking before I got to high school. Once I was in high school, the rest of my body caught up with my height and very quickly I became a three-sport star athlete, which is how I got a full-ride scholarship to play football and basketball at Central Michigan University. I was pretty much a sure bet for making it to the NFL because of my size and talent, but one day during workouts, I ruptured a disc in my back and had to have an emergency back surgery that ruined my chances of making it to the NFL.
I went through two years of depression where I began to sell more weed all throughout the state of Michigan, using money, parties, woman and sex to mask the pain of confusion from losing everything on which I had built my life.
Right before my senior year, I found out that the girl who I had dated for 4 and a half years had been cheating on me and had gotten engaged to another guy. This took me further into depression. So I started overdosing on my pain medication to mask the pain.
I couldn’t stand to look myself in the mirror because I knew I had nobody to blame but me. I’m the one who chose to walk away from God and do things I knew were wrong just to fit in. I couldn’t even think straight because of the weed I smoked and drugs I took. I had spent my college career selling drugs and cheating my way through school.
I stopped eating and within four weeks I went from 275 to 219 pounds. I had spent nights alone and days where I would sit in my car and just cry. So, one day I decided I was going to kill myself. I started my car and headed for a bridge where I was going to drive myself onto an overlapping highway.
But, as I was on my way, I heard something inside me say pick up the phone. It was my mother crying and asking me to come to Detroit because she was worried about me.
When I got there, she took me to the hospital where they placed me in a psychiatric unit. At this point, I had been crying so heavily that my eyes had become too swollen to open them. My family came to visit me and it only made it worse that they were seeing me sick and at my lowest point.
Then, all of a sudden, a nurse who didn’t even work in the department I was in, came in my room and said, “I don’t know who you are but God told me that you have no business being here. He wants you to say yes to him.” This lady wrapped me in her arms and prayed for me for 10 minutes. But, I wouldn’t say yes to God. I just kept crying and wishing I could die. The doctor came in and started asking me why I wanted to kill myself and that made me cry even harder. All I could see was black…
I heard a small voice tell me, “Just say yes, Darryll.” So, with the little strength I had, I said, “Yes Lord.” And once I said it, I started crying and repeating, “Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes Lord…” And as I said it, a burden was lifted off of me. I could open my eyes again and the pain that caused me to want to die was gone. The following day, I went to the altar at Faith Community Church and surrendered my life to Christ.
I would love to say everything has been perfect since that moment, but it hasn’t. I had a child outside of marriage. I still see a psychiatrist. I still struggle with knowing why God created me and who I am because I spent my entire life being what everyone else wanted. But since I surrendered my life to Jesus, every time I get down, something inside me kicks me into gear and says, “I have more for you.”