A Life of Redemption
by Paul Holway
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Paul Holway's Testimony
A Life Of Redemption
I was born and raised in a Christian home in Gunnison, Colorado. I was the middle child of three. We attended church every Sunday and I learned about God and read all the stories in children’s church, but I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus and didn’t truly know Him as my Savior.
I had what seemed like a normal childhood. I had two parents at home, an older brother and a younger sister. My dad was very involved at church being a devout Christian. I would see him praying a lot in the mornings when I got up. He was very devoted to God. In my mind, it seemed like he was gone a lot…either at work or at church. I had this off belief that God was taking his time away from his family and I began to resent God for that. Even though my dad raised us the best he knew and loved us, for whatever reason, the bad things are what I held on to.
My mom would take us out a lot. If my dad was working on a weekend, she would load us all up and take us shopping or hiking or some kind of activity. She was also the disciplinarian in the home. At the ages of 10-12 or so, I felt like I was always in trouble. When we got spanked, there were times that it left bruises or welts. Because of those times and my over exaggerated view of things and emotions, a fear of my mom grew in me. Even though it wasn't that bad when I look back now, at the time, I was really scared. I don't know to this day what was wrong inside of me that caused me so much fear and anger and somewhere in there, a disconnect mentally and emotionally from my family. I know now that both parents loved us the same and did the best they knew how.
On the inside, I was crying out for help! I started acting out in school and getting sent to the principal’s office. When I was around 10 years old, I was small kid. I got bullied a lot and pushed around in school. I turned everything inward... all the hurt, anger, and frustrations of not being able to defend myself. I didn’t have anyone I could talk to, so I stuffed all those feelings inside. My way of feeling any kind of power and control was to be very abusive to animals. They couldn’t defend themselves any more than I could. I chose to hurt and sometimes kill animals out of pure rage!
There were many times that I cursed God! I felt like He divided our family. I hated Him for taking so much of my dad's time. I didn’t really understand or know who God was. As the middle child, I felt left out. My brother could do more because he was older and my sister got away with more and got a lot of the attention because she was the baby. What about me… where do I belong??? How do I fit in this family??? I began to see myself as a looser. I was short and fat. I didn’t have very many friends.
My self-hatred became stronger and I began to think about ways I could kill myself. When the school bus dropped us off, I would think about lying under the tire so it would run me over or we would go rock climbing, I would stand at the edge of the cliff and think about jumping and just ending it all. I had no sense of God or that His hand was on me the entire time, protecting me, as He put enough fear of death in me that I never attempted suicide. I didn’t know, but God had plans for me…it wasn’t my time to go.
On November, 17th 1988, I was 12 years old. I had become so dark and cold inside. I looked at people as objects, no longer as human beings. I had been in a lot of trouble at school that day and knew I would be in so much trouble when my mom got home. On the bus ride home, I thought about any way possible to avoid the punishment I had coming. Whatever it was inside that was messed up was causing so much fear and anxiety about facing my mom. I thought about running away, but I had nowhere to go. My conclusion was to shoot my little sister. In my mind, that would keep everyone from punishing me anymore. They'd all be afraid of me then. I loaded my dad’s hunting rifle and went into my sister’s room. She was playing and when she saw me, she asked what I was doing and I didn’t say anything. She didn’t even see the gun as I pointed it at her pulling the trigger, shooting her. All of a sudden, it’s like I just woke up. I was looking at Bethany lying on the floor, my ears ringing, and the smell of gunpowder was so strong. Everything was going through my mind so fast and I didn’t know what to do. I finally had the thought to call my mom at work. She called 911 and all of a sudden, the police and the paramedics got to the house. They put Bethany in the ambulance and she died on the way to the hospital. She was 8 years old.
That night I was put in county jail. My dad spent the night in my cell with me so I wouldn’t be alone. I was sentenced to juvenile life (5 years). From that moment on, my heart hardened more and my hate for life grew. Later on, my mom told me that on that day when she looked me in the eye, there was something evil there…it wasn’t her son. The next time she saw me, it was gone. My parents never stopped praying for me. Our church never stopped praying for me and my family. Even in confinement, God was there with me. I was sent to the state hospital in Pueblo, Co which was about three hours away from my family. One day a woman showed up to visit me that I had never seen before. She gave me a bible and would pray with me. She visited a couple times a month. God was beginning to plant that seed in me that would eventually mature and change my life.
As I continued growing up in jail, I faced a lot of trials. I was 12 years old locked up with 14-17 year old kids. Mentally, I had to grow up fast. I learned to keep to myself and stay quiet. If I blended into the background, I wouldn’t be noticed. I had no parents in lockup, so I had to figure things out on my own. I was being raised by staff that could care less, and a bunch of delinquent kids. I had so much counseling that I couldn’t stand it anymore. I quickly learned to say what the counselors wanted to hear and they’d be easier on me. I had so many things stirring inside of me un-dealt with. I began to hurt myself by hitting walls and making eraser burns on my hands and arms. I had so much pain, grief, and hatred inside that I felt better temporarily when I punished myself. I deserved to hurt. God still never left me as He continually had people I didn’t know visit me and share their faith. A group of bikers (Christian Motorcyclist Association) would come to the jail once a month for bible studies and God used these men and women to continue watering that seed He had planted earlier on.
Once I got out at 17 years old, I went back home to start 12th grade in high school. It was a very difficult transition. I moved back into the house with my parents that I killed my sister in. I didn’t feel like I belonged there. They were my parents, but I didn’t know them as my parents because of the five year separation. They seemed more like close friends.
Right away, I got hooked up with some of my old friends. I started drinking and smoking weed with them because they were the people that accepted me. I started taking speed at the same time I was getting high so I wouldn’t crash when the high wore off. I would wake up the next day with my heart just pounding in my chest like it was going to explode. We lived 7 miles outside of town and there were so many nights I didn’t know how I made it home without getting into an accident. God kept my car on the road every time. God and God alone got me home safely. There is no other way that could’ve happened otherwise. There were a lot of sharp corners that were packed with snow and ice a lot of times. People have died on that road, but beyond my understanding at the time, God protected me.
I attempted to venture into witchcraft by using a Ouija board, but God kept me from being able to use it. I tried using it with friends; it didn’t work. Tried it by myself; still didn’t work. My own brother couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t work when I touched it. Even though my life was drenched in sin, God continued to protect me, but at the time, I couldn’t see it. I still hated myself, so I would cut my arms with knives and burn myself with lighters. Even though I served my time as far as society was concerned, I felt like I still needed to be punished. I cut my left wrist deep enough that I cut the nerve and tendon. I lost the feeling in two of my fingers because of the cut nerve.
My wakeup call from God came after I had stolen a pistol from a hotel room where I worked. I was facing a felony for possession of weapon by previous offender. The district attorney wanted to throw me in prison for a long time, but by the grace of God, my attorney got me three years’ probation and no jail time. God began to show me that something has got to change or I’m done! I left town and moved in with a woman who is now my wife. I needed a fresh start with new friends. I started to get off drugs. I still smoked weed and drank, but I quit using speed. There was a woman that I worked with and she and her husband were both bikers. I started talking with her and found out that they were Christians. God, time and time again, has placed the people in my life that I needed at just the right times. After getting to know her better, she invited me to church one night. At that time, I was married, but my wife didn’t want to go.
That night ended up being a prayer night and I wasn’t too impressed. As the pastor was saying a closing prayer, all of a sudden this rush of emotion just hit me like a ton of bricks! All the feelings I’d held in for so long, all the people I hurt, the lives I’ve messed up; all of it began to surface. I got up to leave and my friend asked me where I was going. I just started crying and couldn’t stop. She called the pastor over and I confessed to him that I had killed my little sister. I had nothing left to hide. He led me in a prayer that has changed my life forever and I gave my life to Jesus that night! From that moment on, I was forgiven. I was forgiven, but that didn’t keep me from troubles or miraculously heal me from my past. I began to read the bible and attend church. My wife joined me soon after when she gave her life to God. We got involved in a bible study and began to learn more about Jesus.
Our marriage was beginning to fall apart. We just didn’t see things the same. Anger that I still had inside began to surface again. It just wasn’t working. We were close to our second wedding anniversary and with all the struggles and fights we had in our marriage, I decided to leave her and go back home. I began to drink again. I had a friend who invited me to a youth group that had live worship music and shared a message from the Bible. God began to direct me back to Him. I started to share my past and my decision to walk out of my marriage and God started giving me a very strong desire to get my marriage back. We were separated for about four months.
During our separation, I had gotten together with an ex-girlfriend and my wife got together with a friend of mine. We had a lot of trash to work through, but God is so faithful! We began to talk again and I moved back into our home with my wife. Our marriage had its ups and downs, but God never allowed the enemy to take what does not belong to him. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but through the grace of God, we are approaching our 20th anniversary.
God has been so good! Despite me cutting through my tendon and nerve on my left wrist, I’m playing the guitar the best I’ve ever played and getting better. I currently play lead guitar on our worship team at church praising God! Our marriage is healed and getting stronger. We have a thirteen year old son who is growing up knowing the Lord. I thank God every day for my wife and my son! They are truly gifts from God.
God took a broken, beat down soul with no purpose or reason to go on and gave me the love that I so desperately needed. He gave me life, a purpose, and a reason to go on. When God got a hold of my heart, as painful and hard as it was, I began to be transformed into a child of the King! He began to show me how to love by the love He gave me. When I felt God wrap His arms around me that first time, I finally knew, this is what true unconditional love is. The chains Satan kept me captive with have been absolutely shattered! My life has been REDEEMED!!!!!!
In Loving memory:
Bethany Linn Holway
Thank you for taking the time to read my testimony of God's grace and mercy! If interested, I have written a book, titled Life After, that includes my whole story which can be found here on Amazon...just copy and paste the following link to your browser.
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May God continue to bless you and your family
Dear Paul, Tears are pouring down my face from reading your testimony. I feel so sorry for all the pain you endured. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Yours is truly a testimony that will touch whoever reads it. I will be praying that it is read many times over and you lead others to Christ through it. Marla
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