Justin Beatty has fought what he calls his “paralyzing fear of rejection” for his entire life. He still does.
His Savior’s favor wasn’t enough.
“What I thought I needed was the acceptance of man, so I was constantly striving to accept that,” he said.
That was even true in his deepest relationships. The approval of his eventual wife wasn’t enough, and he sought it elsewhere.
“To sleep with a woman was to be found worthy to her,” he said. “I didn’t want to just be good enough for my wife. I wanted to be good enough for every woman.”
Just months after his wedding, his sin was no longer secret. “It was a little like the anvil that broke the camel’s back,” Justin said. “Things just started crumbling at that point.”
But that world crumbling around him left an opportunity for surrender. One he’s captured and that’s allowed him to rebuild his life with Christ as the center.
That was after he realized Christ had never been there at all.
Justin’s story began in a Christian home. He was smart. He obeyed the rules. He went to church.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve believed on some level that Jesus is the Son of God and He died for my sins,” he said. “Sort of intellectual consent to those facts.”
“No real heart belief,” he said, later acknowledging that the realization didn’t hit him until decades later.
That lack of true belief birthed rebellion, and a lifelong struggle with pornography began in his teenage years.
Justin felt Christ’s call, but he refused to answer and surrender his sin. He began a double life, leading in his church but struggling with sin privately.
Eventually, he began drinking heavily and using marijuana. The result was his first solution to his struggle for acceptance.
God initiated an avalanche within Justin’s heart, making him realize his depravity and need for Christ.
“At that point, I lost a lot of motivation in my life,” he said. “It was easier to sabotage the whole thing than to face the idea that I might not make it if I put everything into it. Because if I didn’t make it on my own when I was really trying, that was a rejection of me.”
He’d expressed an interest in medicine but instead joined the Navy. While away, his relationship with Christ eroded further, his desire for approval becoming more of his identity.
“People did what people do: they let me down. So, when that would happen, I would turn to God temporarily but turn right back to that idol of the man,” he said.
Justin began drinking more heavily and was involved with prostitution before being discharged from the Navy in 2006.
When he returned home, his admitted facade had been lost, but he was determined to rebuild it.
He returned to church, got baptized and joined a singles ministry where he met his eventual wife. He was armed with a new sense of motivation and a goal to pursue medicine as a career, in hopes of using it on the mission field.
But there was still the matter of his heart.
While dating his eventual wife, Justin was still involved with pornography and, on three occasions, was unfaithful.
“I think it parallels my relationship with Christ. Even though I had made a commitment to her, my heart wasn’t committed to her,” Justin said.
Her trust was gone, and she was left devastated.
“Basically, her reaction really stemmed out of a commitment that, at that point, I knew nothing of,” he said. “She was so committed to our marriage and so believed that God had put us together that, from the moment I told her, leaving me wasn’t an option.”
Seeing the combination of devastation and love finally spurred something in Beatty’s heart, perhaps the most important realization: He had zero control over his sin without grace from Christ.
“Really, God just initiated an avalanche within my heart, as far as realizing my own depravity and my need for Christ,” he said.
Justin knew he needed a change and finally realized what he’d been denying his whole life: He’d never been saved. Still, he resisted, with the parents by his side that he’d worked his whole life to convince he was.
He decided to try The Village Church.
“I had no more excuses. I don’t know how else to explain it, but I desperately wanted to be saved and knew I wasn’t,” he said.
What made him so sure?
“Matt [Chandler] would talk about, as he does frequently, if you’re struggling with this or this isn’t true or this is true, you might want to take a serious look and seriously consider whether you’re saved,” he said. “I would hear that, and it would really ring true to me.…I can’t necessarily logically explain why I’m not saved, other than the fruit of salvation doesn’t exist in my life, but more than that, I just knew in my heart, the Holy Spirit had convicted me. I wasn’t saved.”
Weeks later, Justin finally answered the call and recommitted his life. Once he did, though, he struggled with one big question: Why was this different? He’d answered altar calls before, but why was this time real? Why didn’t the others foster change?
“What I really realized was that it was the first time I had truly surrendered everything. There was no Jesus I give you all but…,” he said. “It was everything.”
There was no double life this time. In its place, accountability with his Home Group. Honesty with his family.
“I definitely see, from my perspective, just an incredible amount of growth since then,” he said. “The struggle with pornography still exists, but nothing like it was.”
Battling those struggles now isn’t a one-man battle; one he seemed to always lose earlier in life.
“Surrender – that’s a word that I just go back to a lot. Realizing that my life is not my own anymore,” he said.
The common denominator in his old prayer life – himself – has changed now.
“I pray more for others, more for the church. And I pray more just specifically. I guess sort of daily surrender in prayer. Just actively praying for that every day,” he said.
Life isn’t perfect, but it’s centered around Christ. He has a daughter now, and he recently began medical school.
After that, he hopes to take his family into the mission field, a desire he and his wife have had since they met. “It was very clearly something God put together,” he said. “Even though I know that I wasn’t even saved at the time, there’s no question that it was clearly the hand of God working to bring us together.”
That plan has begun to come together, but whatever the future holds for Beatty, he’ll do it with a newfound heart of surrender.