I understand that people have some strong opinions about Third Memorial. Some may call us the “pot floor” or other derogatory names − but they do not represent who we are as a floor.

To me, the words to describe Third Memorial would be courteous, kind-hearted, purpose-driven, future changers of the world. But above all, we are brothers in Christ.

In this op-ed, I am speaking as a young man who has struggled with alcohol abuse, marijuana, depression, anger, hatred, misery, brokenness, and betrayal. Without the help of my amazing floor mates on Third Memorial, I don’t how I would have gotten through all the struggles I had this semester. When there is a group of young Christian men living together, God is bound to use them to help a struggling brother find his way through the dark times.

When I first moved into Third Memorial this year, I could tell something was different. As soon as I walked up the stairs, I heard sounds of happiness, joy, laughter, and brotherly love. Just a year ago, I lived on this same floor where I was very close to taking my own life. However, here’s the greatest thing about God: the hopeless areas of your life are exactly where God will bless you the most.

Since I’ve been in college, I have struggled with alcohol and marijuana use. I had hoped that it would cover the pain I’ve felt inside for so long, or at least be a way for me to escape the world I lived in. Even though I love to make people happy and smile every time I see them, on the inside, I was broken, hurt, lonely, depressed, and angry at life. My mind was in a very fragile state. There were so many awful thoughts in my head:

“Are you going to make it?”

“Love can’t happen for you.”

“Why don’t you just end it all?”

I struggled with these internal battles every day for three years−until I moved onto Third Memorial this year.

In my first day on the floor, I could feel a change that was starting inside my spirit. I felt more uplifted, comfortable, and relaxed. It had been almost two years since I felt that way. Most of all, the interaction with my floor mates is what made living here one of the best decisions I ever made.

As I started getting to know my floor mates, I could tell there was something special about them. All of these men were comfortable being who they truly were. To me, they didn’t wear different masks to deal with different things.

As I continued to struggle, new friends like Chris, Colin, Eric and Chris Lynch, Brent, Drew, and Esdras (and many more) kept pouring into my life. They always encouraged me to have faith and to enjoy being who God created me to be. Sometimes I had trouble understanding these things they were telling me. I struggle with clinical depression and high anxiety, so I was never really happy with my life.

I was especially blessed by Chris, one of my closest friends on the floor. From the moment we met, Chris always showed me the love of God and provided friendship that for a long time I didn’t think I could find. I had stopped trying to make friends a long time ago because of my struggle with opening up to people. One problem was that Chris lived in the same room that I tried to hang myself in exactly one year earlier. I couldn’t walk in there. That room represented the darkest part of my life.

As Chris and I started to become friends, we discovered our mutual love for music. As we talked more and more about it, I wanted to dive into music and become a part of the music world. It took some time, but once I was able to get into the studio at school, it was like a light went off in my head. I became immersed in music and wanted to be the best artist possible. I thought music was the answer I needed to finally put my life back together. But once again, my Third Memorial brothers showed me that music is only one part of life, not all of it, nor the answer to all my problems.

One night I was lower than I had ever been. The one person I thought I was going to have forever left with no remorse and without a word. I was broken. I had put so much time and energy trying to improve myself for someone who was no longer in my life. I felt like God was punishing me and hated me. However, the beautiful thing about living in a dorm is that there is always someone close by who can help. That night I wanted to turn back and find the nearest bottle to drink, find the closet marijuana to smoke. I would have done anything to fill the new hole in my life. However, my brothers in Christ wouldn’t let me fall.

That same night I ran into my RA, Brent Neely. We sat and talked. I expressed how I was feeling and how I wanted to stay strong and keep my growth steadily going upward, not downward. Brent began to speak with me and hold me accountable. In this moment, I saw that God placed me on this floor so I could learn life lessons and gain wisdom from the people who lived just outside my door.

Yes, Third Memorial is home to some guys who have fallen, but they got back up. And due to them sharing their story, they were able to help pick me up and help me grow so that I can be able to share this story with you. God blesses in many ways, and I was blessed to live on a floor with some amazing men.