From an outsider’s perspective, I am much different than I used to be. When I moved back to Oklahoma in 2008 I was scared. It was not a place I wanted to be. The memories of who I was were haunting. I left for seminary late in 1998. I lived in the Dallas area until 2007. It was just two years before I moved that I was finishing my stint at all the bars in town and tapering off my sleeping around. I married Kristie in 1997 and had finally made the turn that was such a struggle to make. I was a new man, but I was happy to “get out of Dodge” and start my new life in a new place.

There has been so much shame associated with those days. It is difficult for me to live them down, even nearly 20 years later. Living in Texas was great. No one knew me. Well, no one knew who I used to be. WELL, no one knew it from experience. To them, it was some hypothetical Michael that used to exist in theory. I often tell the story of how I used to come home at 3 or 4 in the morning and fall on my face in my still-altered state of consciousness and pray to God that he would help me overcome these sins. I was a Christian. I knew better. I wanted better. Why wouldn’t the Lord change me? I had no strength to do it myself. Every time I would muster up the resolve, rise up with wings like eagles, and proclaim to all my friends the new me, I would find this resolve strangely absent each Friday night. This cycle went on for at least five years. Five years! I would get angry with the Lord . . . often very angry. Why? Because I wanted to do good. Somewhere deep down inside I really wanted to change. But there were so many mes. I was two different people from one day to the next. The “good” me could not strangle out the “bad” me, even with the help of the Lord. I was mad at the Lord for not giving me the strength to change, even though I really wanted to. And then, on top of that, I was accountable to him for not undergoing the change I was not even able to make (and I was not even a Calvinist at this point!).

Yes, I did change. I don’t really know how or why it finally “took,” but it did. I was able to leave that life behind. But the Lord took so long. So much carnage was left in Oklahoma. To come back to it has been hard. To see the faces and people that I hurt has been an adjustment. I would have rather just stayed in Texas and kept the Oklahoma Michael hypothetical.

But this is not really a victory story. As a matter of fact, I suppose it is quit the opposite. It is a chronicle of my continued struggle with that other me. Sure, I don’t go out and get wasted, sleep around, do some drugs from time to time, and get into bar fights. But I don’t really feel much better now than I did then. The other me has just changed his habits and temptations…so much so that I am beginning to feel a bit of nostalgia about the “old me”!! What I mean by this is that while this new, other me does not have the same carnage trailing in his wake that the old one did, my life is every bit as much of a struggle as it was before. And I suppose that is my main thesis (hense the italics).

What are the gory details? Well, they are not so evident. This new other me is characterized by pessimism, impatience, selfishness, lack of discipline, and diminishing resolve when it comes to being a good husband and father. When the “bad” me is in charge, I can let life get me down so much. Discouragement, bitterness, and self-pity take the place of the alcohol, women, and drugs of old. And I don’t know which is worse.  My wife and I were talking about Frisco, TX the other day (where I used to live and pastor in North Dallas) and she said something that kicked me in the butt: “I wish we could go back there.” “Why?” I responded with much surprise (she was so excited to get back to our hometown in Oklahoma).  “Because you were so much more emotionally stable.” She is right. While I still have a great degree of excitement and hope, more and more that me is spending its time warming the bench, not able to forecast when the coach is going to put it in the game.

I thought this old nature was supposed to be nailed to the cross? Paul says, “How can we who have died to sin still live in it?” I don’t know, Paul. But I do still live in it. Last night I cried out to God. Then I switched Persons in desperation. I turned to the Holy Spirit directly (theologically justified or not) and said, “What do you want from me? You know that I can’t change. You say that you have to change me. How much more do I have to beg? Do I need to fast, stay up all night wrestling with you, or what? What do I need to do to twist your arm to give the the strength to change? Is this not a good thing I ask for?” I got no answer.

Old man/new man, eh? I suppose that if God were to completely sanctify us right when we become Christians, we would not have anything to long for. But this I know . . . this is a common testimony among Christians. Having “reformed” our previous life, our new life comes with sinful problems which feel just as significant as the previous ones. I do thank God that I am not where I was. I ask his forgiveness for the nostalgia. But I long to rid myself completely of this body of death. And I don’t know why the Lord doesn’t allow more decisive victories, especially when we really want to do good. But I know he knows what he is doing, even if I would do things differently.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    19 replies to "The New Other “Me”"

    • C SKILES

      Wow! Great post. Thanks for your honesty Michael. A co worker and I were just talking about this very thing yesterday.

    • Rusty

      Great post Michael.

      As always the authentic truth loving Michael comes out in your writing. Also very glad you are in Edmond Oklahoma willing to share your discipleship publicly. Is that the courage and boldness of the new Michael or the impulsive combative old Michael? Ask your wife she knows if your unsure. Listen to her, God gave her to you to be a participant in your sanctification and you in hers. 😉

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      I need more rags, gosh durn it! Cleanin’ up all ‘dis freakin virtual vomit is so gross. So stank. Peee-yewwwww.

      “Hi, my name is Howdy-Doody and I’m a recovering sinner who lapses too much.”

      “Hi Howdy-Doody.”


      Jus’ kidding. It’s all good. Celebrate Recovery and all the good that comes from being real and authentic.

      Ever seen that movie with Will Smith and he plays a drunk superhero? And he’s in prison with a bunch of other inmates doing circle time therapy? It’s hilarious.

      Jus’ joshin’ Mike. I appreciate you keepin’ it real. Typical dude here who keeps things light.

    • Jim Zeirke

      Thanks so much for this post, Michael! I am in the exactly same boat. I’m struggling with sins that I thought I had licked when I became a Christian. It seems that they are worse now than before. Where is the new man that I was supposed to be? Thank you for pointing out that the God in His wisdom has chosen not to just wipe out this sin from my life. Perhaps it will all make sense some day. I struggle, do my best, fall flat on my face, get up struggle, do my best, fall flat on my face…..Thank God for His grace. If it were up to me I would have given up a long time ago.

    • David Zook

      Thanks for keeping it real. Going back to a place of so much carnage as a redeemed man is crazy. Though God remembers our sins no more, we don’t have that luxury. Please consider preaching the glorious nature of the gospel to yourself daily … new heart, new faith, new legal status, new family, and a new life that is awaiting the perfect life.

      You are a minister of reconciliation. If you haven’t already, put it to good use and stun a few from your old life. It will be a power witness of humility and courage.

      Finally, remember that grace removes the stain, takes the blame, and covers the shame.


    • Steve Thompson

      I was saved at the age of 21 at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Almost 6 years ago, I came back to Lincoln to Pastor a church. I had a lot of baggage from the sinful lifestyle that I was living when in College. Probably, the difference between me and you is that I was able to live in Lincoln for another 1 1/2 years as a Christian. I was able to deal with the awkwardness and being around people, who saw me in my dark times. I am assuming that you didn’t have that time before you left for Dallas. If that is the case, then you are working out what might have happened if you had stayed there another few years before leaving. There are still some awkward moments as I bump into my past but now I just shrug it off and think about how God’s grace really changed me. (consider bumping into gals that knew your past when you are with your wife if you think I couldn’t understand)

    • Delwyn X. Campbell

      If only you were a Lutheran, then I could tell you that we are expected to have this experience. We are new in our spirit, but we live in a nature that is carnal. For Lutherans, “Simultaneously saint and sinner” expresses who we are until the Resurrection, rather than just a theoretical construct.
      May I recommend that you read Adolf Kӧberle’s “The Quest for Holiness”? I think it will bless you.

    • Steve Martin

      Paul had to disappear for many, many years. So God could tutor him? Or so people could forget about who he used to be?


    • Chancey

      Thanks for the honesty Michael!

      I live a half hour from my home town in Texas and can’t stand to stay there for more than half a day. The old, unmotivated, confused, hopeless and lost me creeps up way too easily.

      Our church has been teaching through the book of Philippians. This came to mind immediately.

      Phil. 3:12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

    • Chancey


      14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    • Pete again

      CMP, thanks for sharing your struggle and for your courage.

      The demons that are attacking you wouldn’t bother with you unless they knew how important you are to God’s ministry.

      John Chrystostom advised the Christians of his day to use all of the following weapons for this unseen spiritual warfare: “confession, humility, prayer, tears, almsgiving, fasting, forgiveness, being in close relationships with priests and monks, defending the wronged, meekness, and repentance.”

    • ruben

      I kind of relate to your post, I was better off, much more stable a few years ago than where I am now. I changed jobs and thought it to be God’s leading and my spiritual life has changed siginificantly for the better but I struggle with bouts of deep depression.. I think that psychological factors may be at work, that stability is less desirable than spiritual growth, that God will give a respit soon and bring me to a better place (lead me to good pasture).

    • Bryan

      As a former drunk, drug addict, womanizer, habitual liar, and worldly hedonist, your post as been a breath of fresh air to me. I have for years felt all alone in my struggles and truly did not ever expect to find someone who openly admits to feeling the same way.

      I have hurt so many of my friends and family in my life that I am to this day ashamed to even be around them; and going home automatically causes me to throw up all sorts of defensive walls. I still feel as though I am looked upon with disdain by my family and I do not believe that I will ever earn their trust or respect back. However, I just keep trying to put one foot in front of the other but my nostalgia for some of my former behaviors sure makes me feel like a fraud at times.

      By the way, I am a current DTS student. Thank you CMP for your courage; and thank God I no longer feel so alone.

    • Darlene


      You mentioned that you have hurt many of your family and friends, and that you feel you are looked upon with disdain and lack their trust. Have you ever approached those whom you have wronged and asked for their forgiveness?

    • Doc Pagala

      CMP, I can so relate to this post. I still struggle with being a Christian with sin issues going on. I know that I will never have a good grasp of God’s Ontos on this side of Heaven, and for sure He is not a respecter of persons. I make a lousy Theologian also, as I miss the mark of the seven characteristics in your other post. I admire your boldness to be as transparent as you are. You keep it real, and guys like me need that. Knowing that I’m not the only one who struggles with it, and I pray that I can get to that place of boldness. Sometimes I really can’t tell if it is that I can’t articulate it, or if I just can’t face the reality of it all. What I get irked about is people who throw faith in your face with the “…and you call yourself a Christian…” kind of statements. They just don’t get it. Perhaps I don’t either.

    • […] Parchment and Pen – The New Other “Me” […]

    • Matt Beale

      Michael, thanks for sharing your struggles.

    • Kaycee

      I wish you had some answers. In my 20’s & 30’s, I grew in my relationship with God in spite of hard personal experiences. But in my forties, I experienced some extremely painful times, including a tragedy involving one of my children, and deep issues in a couple of important relationships. I still believe that God is good & trustworthy, but I have much less faith that He cares about my prayers. Because of this, I don’t feel “connected” to Him or feel joy at the thought of Him. I don’t feel shame over the sins of the wild life I lived before I committed to Him, but I do feel guilt over my inability to be better than I am today. I’ve been a Christian long enough that I should be a better example of my Lord. I study the Bible, and read what other authors write about struggling spiritually, and I have made some progress – I have to remind myself of that. But I feel guilt that I’m floundering and not hopeful. I plead with Him to change me, but it seems that He does not hear me.

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