My motives were not exactly pure. Regardless, Patrick changed me forever.
Back when I was still a Christian, I met Patrick at a summer church camp. We were both 15 years old. We gathered together in groups we were pre-assigned to groups of perfect strangers you grow close to as the week goes on.
In my group I watched in awe as Patrick commanded the group's attention and said the most profound things. Things so profound even the group leader's jaw dropped. Hell, even the 60-year old camp counselor would go to Patrick's cabin in the middle of the night to ask for prayers and advice. I thought, WHO IS THIS GUY???
He knew the perfect verse in the Bible for everything we talked about and laced it together with graceful wisdom from his own heart. I seldom heard what he said from across the room, but I watched the reactions of the people around me. It's safe to say that what I wanted wasn't what Patrick believed in, but what he got. I wanted that attention, respect, and admiration. I wanted to be sought after like that.
So as soon as that week ended, I went home, threw away my old life, and read my Bible. I wrote notes in the margins. I used to think over things I have read. I studied the Scriptures with so much dedication that soon I became like Patrick, knowing the "perfect" thing to say in every situation. (Looking back, I'd say I was more Patrick's disciple than Jesus'.)
But still, something WONDERFUL came out of that. For the next few years of my teenage life:
I led some of the Bible studies for my youth group,
I sometimes delivered speeches to the entire church's congregation,
I took troubled youth to the side and mentored them,
I called people out who were hiding things or not telling the whole story, and
I could pray passionately enough over somebody to make him/her cry.
I'd walk over to a shy loner and treat him like an equal.
People would ask me to repeat things I said in Bible studies so they could write it down in their notebooks.
I sang my heart out in worship times, emboldening others to do the same.
I wrote weekly emails to the whole youth group.
I gave everyone I saw a big bear hug and constantly wore a big, bright smile on my face.
Above all, I made sure I never let them see me sin. I tried to model perfection to them.
In other words, I turned into Patrick. Albeit with twisted motives; I was hungry for positive attention. But what began as twisted straightened itself out over time, and I came to really believe the things I preached.
Some of those teens, who would later become influential in their adult years, told me that I'm one of the reasons they are who they are now. It melted my heart. One girl told me that she was praying for a hug right before I so happened to come by and hug her, and that because of that, she decided against ending her own life. I still remember being confused as she drenched my shoulder with tears.
"So thank you, Patrick."