As David Wilson rang in the New Year, it marked more than a change in the calendar. It marked two years of sobriety.
At the age of 21, David packed his bags and moved to Okinawa, Japan to serve as a military policeman. Just months earlier, he was enjoying his home in Florida with his family and girlfriend by his side. But the distance between Florida and the lonely Pacific drove his relationship with his girlfriend into the ground, leaving him in a deep depression.
“The breakup led to drinking, blacking out on weekends, and getting in fights. On December 31, 2012, I drank so much that I left a negative mark on my closest friends. That was my turning point. I woke up on January 1, 2013 with a new perspective,” David remarked.
That next day he recalled an I am Second commercial on his TV screen during the NASCAR races. A few minutes later, David opened up his laptop and began watching one film after another– Joe Gibbs, Jason Witten, Colt McCoy, Darrell Waltrip… and the list went on.
“They are some of my favorite athletes and it’s nice to see them professing their faith as I get to hear their stories.”
A few months later, while still on the island, David accompanied one of his buddies to a tattoo parlor. Before he knew it, David was leaning back in the chair, squeezing his fist, and getting “I am Second” sketched into his forearm. In the conservative Japanese community in which he lived, this was a bold statement.
“The Japanese people told me they had a lot of respect for me because tattoos in their culture are seen as a personal degradation. They thought it was cool that I would tolerate pain for my God.”
Many of those people have now become David’s closest friends. Even after returning to the United States, they still keep in contact and his tattoo continues to make a statement. When people notice “I am Second” inked across his arm, they often ask, “Why wouldn’t you get ‘I am first’?”
“I can’t say the conversations caused much, but the people would later ask questions about faith and start going to church with me,” David shared.
Just two years ago, David spent his New Years surrounded by empty bottles on a lonely island. This year, he spent it with close friends who witnessed the transformation in his life, forever memorialized in ink on his forearm.