My name is Josh Cushing. I was born on Christmas day, 1987. I have seen the videos of me as a newborn baby, bundled up in a Christmas stocking in my mother’s arms. I probably didn’t realize at the time how much of a blessing my mother and father are to me, but other than Jesus Christ, they are the best thing that has ever happened to me. Both of my parents live their lives in honor of their Lord Jesus and I couldn’t thank them enough for it. My mother, Susan, was raised in the church but came to know the Lord when she was about eighteen I believe. My father, Clarke Cushing, experienced Christ as his savior and redeemer in the midst of a battle with cancer thanks to a faithful Catholic nun. It was thanks to them that I grew up knowing the gospel of Jesus. I remember embracing it when I was a young child. I was laying on my bed thinking about how I needed to ask Jesus into my heart in order to go to heaven. I think I actually pictured a little Caucasian Jesus sitting in my heart, but my theology has improved since then.
Not only was I raised by Christian parents but I attended the same Christian school from kindergarten until I graduated (I wish I hadn’t sometimes because it makes me seem really sheltered and my public school friends always brag about their experience like a rapper brags about the ghetto). I was a pretty good kid too. Growing up I was quiet, obedient and never really caused many problems. All of my teachers would tell my parents that I was always a pleasure in the class. I even remember another kid in my class acting up and the teacher told him to come sit next to me so that he would behave. There aren’t many more emasculating things to an elementary school boy when all your friends act bad to be cool. I’ve never met a young boy who actually wants to be nice more than he wants to be heroic or tough. My teacher didn’t understand that. I got the same treatment from my friends too. I was well liked, but when I think about it, I didn’t necessarily have the playground respect that every kid wants. I remember getting made fun of because my aim in dodge ball was about as dangerous as those cheap squirt guns you buy at the dollar store.
With all this in perspective, how would a God-fearing young man treat this kind of reputation? Rejoice that the Lord has given me a gentle heart and seek Christ as my strength and confidence? Of course not! I tried to prove to everyone how tough and daring I was (at least in my own mind) by listening to tough guy rap and angry metal, getting my parents to by me clothes that were cool, and working out on the bowflex. I wasn’t nearly as tough as I thought I was, but girls started to notice.
When I got to high school, I began to express how cool I was through apathy (I know it’s pathetic but it made me feel like a real free thinker at the time). Along with that I received an in-school suspension for skipping classes to go to the movies (I told you I was bold). To make a long story short, I lost my parents trust and realized that all of my stunts weren’t making my life as cool as I thought they would. This was my turning point. I was about 17. I remember laying on the floor of my room and asking God for help. I knew that I needed to actually give my life to Jesus forreal. I always knew I would eventually. And I knew that it had to be now. I remember asking Jesus to take over my life. I didn’t care if I lost my friends or anything else. I just wanted him to take control. I had known all of the right church answers up to that point and yet I suddenly felt like I had known nothing before. It felt like I had just been born. My life has never been the same since.
I soon noticed that I wasn’t the only one of my friends who the Lord was working on. Groups of us were soon meeting at people’s houses once a week just to worship God and talk about Him. I remember someone turning on a CD of worship songs and we all began singing. I began singing to God with all of my heart. I was lifting my hands to the Lord, not caring about anyone around me (remember, I am an introvert, so that was a big deal). I looked around to find that everyone was doing the same. We lived for that one, Thursday night every week. I remember at one point, we had 50 kids packed into someone’s basement, worshipping God. 50 highschoolers having church on their own free will!
Jesus became my life and has been ever since. I started dating my first girlfriend my senior year. It was a learning experience. In many ways, we tried very hard to glorify God with our relationship. In other ways, we were immature and lacked boundaries. We broke up the summer of my senior year. To this day I still think she is a wonderful Christian girl. She is still a friend of mine and we have both grown in Christ since. However, we didn’t break up because we wanted to. We broke up because I wanted to spend a year at Teen Mania’s Honor Academy. It is a really exciting, pre-college discipleship program with one catch; all participants make a commitment not to date for the year they are there. We broke up, I left for Texas, and my world was changed from the things I learned. I went through a lot of heartache, I was humbled by the things I learned, and it helped me to be disciplined and my pursuit after Christ.
When I left the Honor Academy, I wasn’t home for three days before I left for my freshmen year at Liberty. I wasn’t at Liberty a week before I became a prayer leader (without really even knowing what a prayer leader was) and was heavily involved at Liberty. I changed from wanted to go to medical school, to being a business major, to where I now happily reside in the religion department, working towards a bachelors in Philosophy and Biblical Studies. My time at Liberty has been a testing time. I have been learning a lot about myself and leadership through being an RA on campus. My faith has come to a point where I am attempting to understand it rationally and learning to love God with my mind without neglecting the emotional passion for the things of the Lord (which I have come to believe is, to an extent, very necessary). Where I am currently is that I have learned that I have a lot to learn. I am daily struggling to make less of me and more of Christ and trying to understand how I can best serve the Lord in the short life I have on this earth.