The Stafford Family
LIVING WELL Romania
~ Helping to Bring God's Restoration to Romanian Families ~
A Ministry of Youth With A Mission, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
My parents divorced and my world was turned upside down. From that point on, I had little to no contact with my dad. As my mom struggled to care for and provide for her kids, I lived with my mom and my grandma throughout my childhood and grew up with no father figure or someone to look up to for direction. As the years went by, I became more and more independent, angry, and defensive, and hid behind walls of fear and insecurity.
With a talent for all things mechanical, I developed my skills in welding, landscaping, auto mechanics and customization. I worked hard and had high standards which earned me the praise and approval of those around me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my strong fear of inadequacy and extreme insecurities fed off the praise and approval I received. I became driven and bound by perfectionism in an attempt to win approval and affirmation.
Me at 6 yeas old
In high school I found temporary relief from my insecurities and fears through Marijuana and alcohol. Every weekend I would attempt to numb
Finally, in 2011, by God’s grace and mercy, He brought me to the absolute end of myself. At that place of desperation, God showed me the lies I had believed since I was a little boy about my identity, self worth, and character. For the first time in my life, I finally saw and admitted that I was a perfectionist striving to win people’s approval through performance. My standard was so high that nothing I ever did was “good enough” so I lived in a constant state of striving and failure. No amount of praise or approval from others filled the void in my mind and heart. As I opened my heart and allowed Him to show me my true identity and value, I saw that my fulfillment could never be found in my definition of success, but that it would only be found in accepting and believing what He says about me!
I know I’m not done yet, but as I learn to live out each day in the freedom and joy of these amazing new truths, it breaks my heart to think about other people living under the same lies and bondage I experienced for so many years. So many people are fighting to prove their self-worth, to be validated by someone, and they’re destroying their relationships and marriages in the process. I want to help others experience the same transforming power of God in their lives as I did. Our heavenly Father has wonderful plans for each of us; He has hope and a future for us!! As I learn and grow in this truth, the Lord has given me a vision and calling to bring others along with me in this journey of discovering and living in the joy and freedom of His love.
Me sharing my heart in a men’s small group
Mission trip to Albania
My brother, Brent (left) and me (right)
In 2002, when I was 25, God sent me to Youth With A Mission’s Discipleship Training School in Chico, CA, where I began a long journey of discovering His father love for me and my identity as His son. Over the next several years I served the Lord in full-time missions in Romania and around the world and experienced great healing and restoration. However, no matter where I went, no matter what I did, my deep feelings of inadequacy and insecurity followed me.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my hunger for approval caused me to be bound by perfectionism. My wife, Ana, saw me striving to perform and constantly trying to prove to myself and the world that I was good enough, smart enough, strong enough, acceptable enough...everything enough. She saw my deep insecurities and low self-esteem. As I tried to prove my self-worth, I was constantly defensive and easily offended when anyone, especially Ana, tried to help me and speak truth to me. I put up walls and pushed her away. This left her feeling like an outsider in my life, never sure how to relate to me or what to say to me. She and my daughter, Emma, lived in a continual state of anxiety and uncertainty, never knowing what they might say or do that would set me off into anger or depression. I kept my family, and everyone else, at a safe distance and went through life oblivious to the pain I was causing. My effectiveness in ministry and my relationship with my family suffered so much from my frustration, depression, and anger that I almost lost everything.
These truths brought me freedom and peace, and I finally knew deep inside my heart (and not just in my head) that “I am my beloved’s and He is mine”(Song of Solomon 6:3 ). I now know and live in the truth that He understands me, He loves me, and I am 100% accepted, desired, and chosen by Him. Everything in my life has taken on new color since God opened my eyes to these amazing truths. I am a free man. My life has been transformed in every way. God has redeemed my marriage and family life. Today, I am relating and connecting to my wife and daughter in ways I never even dreamed possible.
myself from the emptiness of my soul by “partying” with my friends..... Finally, after years of abusing my mind and body, I was struck with the reality that I was living in a ridiculous, purposeless cycle -- I went to work each week to earn money to buy cars, beer, Marijuana, food and pay the rent... just so I could do it all over again the next week. The whole purpose of my existence was to earn money so I could accumulate more things. I knew there had to be more to life and I knew God was the only one who could satisfy the longing in my heart. I walked away from that selfish, destructive lifestyle and began to pour myself into finding my purpose in life and getting to know God.
The STAFFORD Family
LIVING WELL Romania
-Helping to bring God's restoration to Romanian families
A ministry with Youth With a Mission, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
I was born and raised in a small town in northern California. I remember as little kids, my older brother and younger sister and I going to church and learning about God. However, when I was very young I remember my father began to drink and to withdraw from the whole family. He worked the night shift at a local factory and during the day I was at school, so we hardly saw each other. When we were all home, I remember him spending lots of time out in his workshop with the door locked. I was about 6 years old when my parents’ marriage had all but completely disintegrated. It was at this point my mother decided to move back home to my grandmother’s house, with all 3 kids, with hopes that my dad would choose to make the necessary changes to save his family. Sadly, that decision was not made.