Hello, my name is Elliott Knoch. I’ve lived in NC my whole life, and still love it. Growing up I was certain that I had no idea who I was, and I couldn’t grasp how anyone else my age could be so certain as to who they were. Like most children I understood myself according to what others said of me, and what I could see of myself. I had a really hard time distinguishing who I was from everything else. I wanted to know who Elliott was, and what Elliott liked, but I felt incapable of this. In reality my inability to know was naivety. I had not experienced enough of my life to know who I was, or what I was asking of myself in order to know it. I never quite knew who I thought I was, and I haven’t always known this. By instinct I’m quite curious, in fact as a boy I remember identifying with the children’s book character Curious George. As such my life has been riddled with questions, some of which, by pure exhaustion, I have stopped asking. Since an early age I have seen that my quality in the art of curiosity is an ironic one, it seems that often enough I do not quite know what it is I’m looking for. What I mean is, to a degree, I am keenly aware of what I have yet to learn, and this since of something yet learned inspires me. In the case of discovering my identity this quest for knowing myself was permanently redefined the day that I became a Christian.
At ages 4 and 5 I began playing soccer and golf, I often wondered off in my head during soccer games, leaving me vulnerable to attack. This was always me, I’ve never cared very much about winning in sports, it seemed pointless, I didn’t identify with why winning a game mattered. I liked playing these sports but never felt like I belonged in them, because of this. I always considered myself as a “mediocre player.” I continued playing all the way through high school in addition to running cross country, which I also enjoyed but failed to excel at. As it turns out, I have never become very competitive in view of sports. From ages 5 to 18 I experienced almost every aspect of boy scouts that a boy could. I was taught to think strategically, plan well, take action, face challenges, and cultivate virtuous character. I learned how to care for my self, and others. Scouting was a crucial influence in my life. And my mom is to thank for that. She is the one who made me go and the one who found good scout troops for me despite moving several times. Eventually I graduated with my Eagle Scout rank, which is the highest honor any scout can receive. This was perhaps the best I had felt about my identity, but I knew that I often failed my own standards of measure, and the standards of measure that others had for me. Through out elementary and middle school I sang in the NC Boys Choir and eventually the Tar River Children’s Chorus. Despite my thorough involvement in these vocal programs I never wanted to be in them. I mostly just had to go, this resulted in me not caring very much about learning the music. If my musical instructors had asked me to recite the words of any of our songs, I don’t think I could have sang even one of them by memory. I mostly listened to what the others were singing and faked it. I didn’t like that I sang. I would not have called it girly then, but somewhere inside thats exactly the way it felt. Eventually my musical life lead me to playing the guitar and the harmonica, but away from vocals. During high school I was both accepted into and kicked out of the National Honors Society due to my grades. My senior year of high school was 2007-2008 and it was filled with weed, other random drugs (but not many), confusion, loneliness, abuse, and sadness. Three people stick out in my mind as having mattered most to me during this hard time. The first two; were my best friends John Hughes and Charles Tolan. The third was my soon to be pastor Peter Gilliland.
Because I found my identity in the things I did, it was common for me to act differently dependent on what I was doing. I often changed my diction, tone, slang use, and more, in order to fit the mold of any given moment. I did this not out of deception, but out of a desire to be someone who “fit in.” Now I regret not having been a stronger more defined person, especially as a teenager. I knew that I didn’t like my identity very much, but I wasn’t so sure why, and I definitely had no clue how to change it. Thankfully God was preparing to reveal Himself to me, and in doing so would reveal to me my true identity.
That spring (2008) of my senior year, and around the time I was receiving my Eagle Scout rank I was accepted to Western Carolina University. Peter had shared with me the Gospel. Shortly after this, under a star lit night sky I received salvation through Jesus Christ. I cried, because I was afraid of what God must think of me. Up until then I thought He didn’t exist. But in that moment He was for no apparent reason more real than I could have ever imagined. I know that from the moment I feared Him, I believed in Him (Pro 1:7). This belief was not my salvation, but it was the nudge I needed from Him to receive salvation through Christ. That night through my tears I spoke with a broken voice, “I will receive your son Jesus Christ as My God, and for the forgiveness of my sins. But I need You to show me that you are real, that I’m not some how imagining you. I need you to make it so obvious to me, that I would not be able to ignore you.” He answered my prayer from that night in two very powerful ways the first of which I will not share here, the second is this: that over the next 5 years of my life He has sovereignly made me, to know Him, and to know myself according to his plans for me (Matt 6:33).
Since knowing God I know much more about who I am than I ever have before. This is because I know Him who created me, and He delights in revealing to me His creation, which in this case is myself. To date I have learned through knowing Him that I am His, and no one can change that! My image is forever in Christ’s likeness. And God’s sovereignty will forever reign over my life, not absent from my thoughts and actions, but present through them. Jesus died for this truth, and I live daily to know it. He has made me for Christian ministry, and that doesn’t mean that I have to be a pastor. I graduated from WCU with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management, and wonder how God will use this for His Glory. On a personality and preference level, I can’t wait to be married, I look forward to this every day of my life as I prepare my self for it, and wait for Him with patience and hopefulness. I love the pursuit and attainment of fitness, for me the ability to move is an inspirational metaphor representing life with God. I often prefer to worship the Lord through a work out rather than music; but I seek both with diligence! I enjoy details that explain almost any answer, the things that make great questions great, and that moment when you understand something for the first time. I have found few things to be as valuable as the loyalty of good friends, for they are not easily replaced. And yes as you may have noticed I am gifted at complicating the simplest of things. This was supposed to be a short bio for the church website. I have managed to make it my life story! Much of what other regard as useless detail and complication or confusion, is for me the clarification and closure of thought that needed for wholistic understanding to occur. I dislike how this often causes people to misunderstand me or what I mean to communicate. I am working very hard to improve the way I communicate, in order to avoid these problems. In this I trust that there is a skill which with time and practice can be developed. A skill to explain very deep and complex teachings to people in a way that is simple and easily shared. In contrast and complement to this, I like that I’m weird and confusing. I see it as a constant reminder that I was uniquely made by God. And that my depth of thought will serve a significant purpose in His Kingdom on this earth.
I hope that these details may serve you as an an authentic attempt to provide a glimpse of myself; who I am, what I am, and why. I’d like to close by saying what an honor it is to be serving this body of Christ at BRCC. I am tremendously blessed to be working in ministry, and pouring into this church community all the love and effort that has been poured so deeply into myself. In the Great Commission (Matt 20:18-20) Jesus clearly states that we are to “go out and make disciples” (Matt 20:18). Knowing my identity in Christ, and who God made Elliott to be, is a result of living out my salvation according to God’s plan. You see, I didn’t simply discover all of these things about myself. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ through Darryl Handy’s discipling of me, because of BRCC’s presence in this community. It was through this discipleship that the Lord has grown in me so much. Darryl has had this opportunity because of his role in BRCC. Truly, I would know God and myself much less than I do today with out having become a part of this church. Thank you so much Pastor Darryl Handy for all that you have poured into me. Your discipling of my life, has been God’s hand in my heart!
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