Who I Was…

I’m not proud of who I was two years ago. I don’t know if I’m resurfacing many of my memories because of recent events over the last few months, or I simply feel like there is a void gradually splitting open more everyday. Either way, I will never go back to that place. Everyday I push more and more to be productive and keep my past behind me. The strange thing is, it somehow finds its way back into my life like a twisted vine tightening its grip around my throat. Where did this all start though? Why do I always have the inkling that I am alone?

I don’t know if it was the constant heartache from being hurt by multiple people. If it was the fact that I felt like I didn’t amount to anything because everything I attempted to build always crumbled. Hell, I don’t even know if it’s the fact that depression still blackens my emotions like thick oil. I will say this though, I overcame a part of me that I thought would always hold a barring on my life. Debts, struggles, and worries were all the issues that built inside me and made me feel like there was no hope left for me. Let me tell you where I was in May last year and why I turned to Christ instead of committing suicide.

I had just left work at 11pm and it was a rough night. I was about to lose my car because I could barely afford the lease. My relationship was rocky because I was struggling with my own fears and doubts about what I could achieve. My life was a mess. I felt like David trying to hide every secret from everyone. I lied to everyone I came in contact with because I did not want them to know that my writing was actually a flop. Yes, my books were not selling and I was about to lose everything. I was scared!

The rain was pattering on my windshield and it was pitch black. I was listening to some rock music and listening to the chaos unfolding in the lyrics. I can’t remember what song I was listening to but I was pissed off. I was angry at God, my parents, my friends, and my life. I convinced myself that ending it that night would be the best course of action. A bullet to my head would be messy, so I figured a peaceful sleep with some drugs would make people bare to see my face in a casket at a funeral. Yes, I was really in the darkest depths of my consciousness convincing myself that death is the way to solve everyone’s problems in my life.

Eventually, my eyes were burning too much for me to continue driving so I pulled over. I turned the ignition off and stared through the sunroof, watching the water puddle on the roof. I reached for my phone and flipped through my contact list and cursed every person that I use to be able to talk to because I knew there was nothing they could say to convince me to stop what I was about to do. Then, there was some friends that I knew who didn’t even want to bother hearing what I had to say because they had their own problems and would simply brush me off like a mosquito.

I don’t know what led me to the moment where I clenched the wheel of my car and screamed out to Jesus for help. This was what I said if I remember correctly:

“Father, why have you done this to me? What am I doing? Who do YOU want ME to be? My life was great and I couldn’t ask for anything more. I lived a life that very few people get to actually experience. I’ve had it all. Why have you decided to lead me on this road? Why have you pulled my friends away and left me here alone? If you are real, why would you let me WANT to kill myself? Please, help me figure out something. There is nothing else for me and I am not going to make it! PLEASE!”

Little did I know a few moments later after really clenching the wheel did I feel chills ripple across my arms and chest. This was no ordinary feeling, it was like someone had wrapped their arms around me and rubbed my skin trying to comfort me. It was an eye opening experience. I took a deep breath and all the worry simply went away. Something inside me had changed and my perspective was gradually altering to wanting to go home and sleep.

A few days later, I went to church for the first time without it being a holiday in almost ten years. I was nervous and scared. I had always heard that church-goers were the most judgmental but after a few weeks of continuously going to church these people were trying to figure out who I was. I ended up going to bible studies with my dad there and even trying to get deeper into my faith after meeting more people there. Then, it all came together for me. I needed a community of people to talk to. I couldn’t handle all these burdens on my own, and God led me to where I needed to be.

It’s hard to believe where I was a year ago and where I am now but putting my faith in Jesus has led me on a road that I never thought would be there. Jesus gave me the strength to take leaps of faiths that I never thought I would have the courage to do. I ended up leaving my job, finishing my novel, starting a business, and accepting a role in a passion play. I’ve met a lot of amazing people along the way, but God filled the void. He has filled the void with people who care. Even as I write this, the tears are dropping from my eyelids because none of this was possible if I didn’t keep my faith in him. Jesus healed, he provided, and he gave me strength again. It’s truly amazing and I can’t stop thanking him.

Let go, Let God. It’s the only philosophy I go by now because even in hard times somehow he has protected me and kept my feet moving forward.

Let Go, Let God.

I know many of you have probably heard this phrase many times. “Let Go, Let God.” I’ve been living by that for the last year. In all honesty though, I was that guy who continuously tried to bargain with God in my prayers, hoping that if I asked for something I could get it by adding that little “… I’ll do this… etc.” at the end of my prayers. What’s funny is all of those prayers were not answered at that specific time. It took three and a half years for me to finally realize what I was truly craving for in my life. Although having plenty of money and owning a yacht was the top picks on my cravings list, it was neither one of those. I found out that I can’t really live life without Christ in it. I was living in fear my whole life and yet the answer was right in front of me the whole time.

I remember last year when it finally hit me that God and Christ were always there. Yes, leaving my job as an assistant manager and failing at publishing a successful first novel were heart breaking. It was like everything was being ripped from me in an instance. Even depression decided to make itself comfortable inside of my unsettled mind. I lived through the thoughts of “What if” and “I hate this” for a long time. It took a year after stepping down from me position, at my job, to finally lay it all out to God and just ask “What are you trying to do with me?” At this time in my life, it was a weird question to ask because I lost my faith many years before. I was asking the same exact questions as anyone else I hung out with. “Why would God do this to good people? If he is real, why is there no proof of him?” All of these questions were not painful for me to ask three years ago, but now, I’m shocked at how losing my identity led me to BELIEVE again.

Here’s a scenario:

Imagine leaving your part time job for the night with distress and pain deep inside of you. You are struggling to pay the bills, you are questioning your relationship with your significant other, and you simply have lost all hope. The raindrops outside your windshield are enough to reverberate those emotions even harder inside your chest. It’s almost like everything around you knows what you are feeling. Tears fill your eyes and they are so swollen you are forced to pull over. First reaction, slam your fists against the steering wheel in anger. It doesn’t help. You reach for your phone and flip through every contact but you feel like the whole world is against you. You toss the thing in the back seat. A sinister thought creeps in your mind whispering, “Just be done with it. Be done with your life.”

The anxiety builds inside your chest like a balloon. You can feel the pressure against your chest and you almost want to explode. All hope is fading and the only thing that keeps creeping into your mind is, “You are already LOST. You SIN. No one LOVES you. There is NOTHING left for you. All you are is a washed up musician without any real talent or worth. Even writing has failed you. What worth are you to society?” These questions are tough for you to hear. All you can think is, “Yeah, you’re right.” You decide that taking your life would be better than watching everyone suffering around you by your choices. The only thing you can think of is to ask for forgiveness from Christ for being so weak and giving up.

I was the person in this scenario a year ago. My depression had run so deep to my core, I was ready to kill myself. Although the deceiver had me at his fingertips, something pulled me away. I prayed in fear because I did not know what as going to happen when I got home, but the remarkable thing is, goosebumps rippled across my arms and chest. It felt like I was being held. One of the scariest, yet memorable moments of my life. This was enough to prove to me that he is ALIVE in all of us. I ended up going straight to bed when I got home and woke up refreshed. I decided to go to church that next weekend because I had been inspired by a play my parents were in “The Way of the Cross.”

When I went to that play, I didn’t realize the impact it would have in my life because I would have never thought to go straight to Jesus. I continued to go to church on a regular basis and heard the phrase “Let Go, Let God.” I had a friend that I had not spoken to in almost eight years, possibly more message me on Facebook to see how I was. She even told me that something pulled her to talk to me and check and see if I’m okay. I mean, how crazy is that? At a time when I was living through chaos and rediscovering my identity, someone from my distant past steps in to minister to me. God brought a blessing to me to help me on my spiritual journey.

My financial struggles started to lighten. Of course, I lost material things that I loved, but I discovered those things weren’t the root of my happiness. I lost my car, my smartphone, my computer, but I did not lose my love for Christ. I joined a disciple study with the church, went to smaller bible studies, and now, I’m in that play “Way of the Cross.” I have met a plethora of people and even found my love for writing and editing cinematic trailers for books. All of these gifts that were useless when I was working a dead in job decided to return to my life and bring back my drive. I eventually found the courage to leave my job and start my own business. Even found time to write a book which will be out March 19. Now, I have discovered a hidden gift that I was always shy about, acting. I never thought I would be able to have the courage to stand in front of people to act out an event that means so much to the Christian community.

I wanted to write this because I struggle just as much as anyone else. The deceiver sits on my shoulder everyday, waiting for an opportunity to whisper in my ear. Today, the deceiver decided the opportune time was while I was acting out a monologue. The thoughts slithered in my ears. “You can’t play this part. You hardly know how to pronounce the words. Do you really think your shivers and shakes are unnoticed in the crowd? Ha! You are pathetic!” These were the thoughts drilling into my mind. I felt like a lost lamb, trying to escape a wolf. I sat in my car when I got home and pulled out the script, scanning through every line trying to figure out what I was getting myself into. With starting a business, promoting a book, and trying to memorize lines, I was frightened. It wasn’t until I heard the song “Who Am I” by Casting Crown. It really pulled me out of my fears. God is on my side and rooting for me. He led me in this direction for a reason, and I’m not going to let him down. I will never give up!

 

 

Psalm 139: 11

“If I say “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you, the night will shine like the day,for darkness is light to you.”

How God has Played a Roll in My Life

I’ve been digging deeper into my own spiritual journey these last few months. Especially since I’m currently participating in a bible study and a Disciple 1 class at my church. I never really dug too deep into my past like I have recently, and it’s funny that it all had to come to one of the darkest moments in my life so far.

Last year, I had stepped down from my management position at my job and realized that life should not always be about work. Then, I lived the part of the guy who has money and lives miserably, but now, I’m happy but living with less than. I’m looking at both of these men that I lived in my life, and I’ve realized that sometimes having less is better for the soul. Although I do see many people that are living happy lives with a more than comfortable living, I can’t help but hear all of the same stories from these people. The rag to riches story where God intervened and brought them to where they are at today. Now, I can’t say that God did or did not intervene to bring them to paradise in their own lives, but I can say what I am currently experiencing in my life.

When I was at the age of thirteen, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I wanted to pitch for the Atlanta Braves and become one of the All-Stars of today. It was a dream I had wanted since I was about six or seven years old when I discovered baseball. I remember performing very well as a pitcher and third basement, but I was a very weak batter. Everything in my life at the time seemed easy, and I had all the tools to bring me to the point of stardom if I had practiced and pushed myself to that point.

Then, before I went into high school, I was playing in a minor league game at Dacula Park with the away team. I watched the batter move up to the plate and on the first pitch, the batter connected the bat to the ball. The ball shot towards me at third but took a nasty hop before it go tome. I couldn’t react in time and the ball connected with my eye. I fell over dizzy and couldn’t breathe. My eyes were spinning and all I could think of was getting the ball to first base. The player was safe and all I could do was collapse in pain and feel blood dripping into my palms.

I don’t know why this happened to me before I got into high school, but I ended up not making the team because I was scared of the ball. I kept putting my knee to the ground when a grounder came instead of using proper techniques. For me, it was very disappointing to see a dream shatter right before my eyes. Especially, the first one I ever had my whole life so far.

I ended up joining the school band and marching band my freshman year. What I didn’t realize was I was great at playing Tuba. I was asked to perform in the Wind Symphony which was the highest group of musicians at the school. Then, I traveled across the state to play in the marching and I met some amazing people through the whole experience. During my senior year, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe and perform the tuba as well in seven different countries. It was a very memorable experience.

All of this lead to my love of creation. I wanted to be able to create a work of art through music and through writing. It’s funny that this happened to me though because I had always enjoyed playing music and writing short stories, but I seemed to find myself caught up with baseball before high school though. Now, I had the time to do things that I really did enjoy. I even learned about myself through all of these journeys I took.

In Exodus, Moses was claimed to be a murderer among the Egyptians and the Hebrew slaves, but God still came to him to deliver his people from Egypt. Moses left a new life that he created in Midian and never had the slightest clue that he would be sent back to Egypt to free the slaves. You may be asking, what does this have to do with what happened in your past, Will? Well, if Moses didn’t kill the soldier and run away to Midian to create a new life, he surely would have been sentenced to death by the Pharaoh. If God didn’t intervene and appear to Moses as a burning bush, Moses would have never brought himself to go back to Egypt.

If I had not been hit by that baseball on the field, would I still be writing today? Or would I be living a luxurious life without any life lessons that have turned me into the man I am today? Yes, life would have been easy, but sometimes the rough roads pull the humble from the ashes and prepare them for what lies ahead in the future. Whether it’s pulling the slaves from Egypt, losing a job to rediscover yourself, or simply taking care of the sick, sometimes God will give you a nudge, or a baseball to the face, to deliver you from your hardships.

MY Recent ReBlog

I scoured through my past posts and was amazed at how long ago I posted my Testimony on here. I read through the whole post, which I am sorry if it was too long for anyone that read it, but it was my story last year. We all have a story where we fell to the darkest depths of our inner selves and tried so desperately to pull ourselves from the ashes, but we continued to scrape against the small stone walls of our world. It’s kind of funny though when God uncovers your blind eyes and reveals what is waiting for you. Yes, it may at first seem like an uncomfortable change for yourself, but once you do it, the world starts to turn again in your life.

Psalm 139: 11

“If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is light to you.”

At the church’s Men’s Group Breakfast today, a young woman named Jessica Banner spoke about how God has been working with her to bring her to where she is now. This was a verse that she read today, and I was instantly pulled to it because I was in this same place for a long time.

It’s funny how this speaker today fell into my life at a time, where I was still having questions towards God. I was still pondering what my life really meant and why I was continually satisfied with everything around me now, even though not much has changed other than my attitude. I know I have been more active with my blog recently, and I write more frequently with my novel. These two things were the only two changes I’ve made in my life so far, and I have been immensely blessed with joy being able to have the opportunity to spread my thoughts with my words.

Today was a realization that God did many of these things so quickly this last year because I had too much pride in myself when I was an Assistant. I decided I didn’t need him anymore, and as bad as I hate to say it, I returned to him in the darkest hours. I hate to say it only because I wish I would have glorified him in my brightest days. I’ve learned to be more humble towards him and the ones around me that have pushed me in this direction, and I plan to keep moving in this direction.

Mile Swim

When I was younger, I was a boyscout. I’d go to camp every summer for a week and enjoy the time in nature and doing different activities like shooting rifles, swimming, learning new skills, and meeting new people. I remember one experience that I will never forget because it was the breaking point of me realizing that putting my mind to it, I can do anything I want.

One summer, I decided to do the mile swim. This is an award boy scouts get for simply swimming a mile. I figured at the time that it would be easy, and the badge would be mine without effort. Little did I know was the camp I was doing this at would have one obstacle that kids in the past have fallen to. The water in the lake I was going to swim in was anywhere between 36 and 42 degrees almost every day.

The first day I went to my training class, I got to feel how cold the water was. Let me tell you, it took my breath away. I wanted to just jump back out of the water and run back to the field where the sun could warm me up, but I didn’t. I remember doing our paddling lessons the instructor said that every year there would be at least fifteen people who would want to do the mile swim, but only 2-3 would actually go through with it. A lot of it was mostly scare talk because each day our class would get thinner. I remember hearing about some kids getting hypothermia, nosebleeds, and muscle cramps. I almost wanted to tap out just from all the stories I heard.

It is funny how much stories can influence us though. Yes, the water was cold and yes, there was health risks involved. Did that stop me from pushing myself to achieve a goal I had set for myself a few months before I went to the camp? No, it didn’t.

I remember the day before the mile swim, it was just me and another kid. We were the last two who would make the long trek around the cold lake. He wore a wetsuit because he was one of the kids who had a nosebleed and hypothermia the year before. I, on the other hand, had swim trunks on. I know I wasn’t prepared for what lied ahead, but I know my dad was there with me. If something happened, I know he would’ve been the first to dive into the water to get me. It’s funny because the only reason I really wanted to do this swim was because I didn’t want to be a quitter. I didn’t want to fall short of my goal because of the temperature of the water. I remember the night before a few of the guys in my patrol told me they were going to be watching me do it from the dock. It was a a confidence boost for myself to know I was doing something that a lot of these guys decided to bail on.

The day of the swim, it was freezing cold that morning. It was foggy, and I could almost see my breath in the air. I still can’t understand why it was so cold up there in the summer, but I guess some areas are just colder longer. I walked up to the dock and pulled my shirt off and felt the chill of a breeze brush my naked back and chest. The other kid next to me was doing a few stretches and he told me to do the say to keep the blood flowing. So I did.

My dad and scout leader hoped into one of the canoes with two cups of coffee in their hands. I shook my head only wishing I could be in their position with warm coffee and a boat to sit in. They paddled out a meters from us and I watched the other kid dive in first. He was following a boat with his own scout leaders. I proceeded a few seconds behind him and off I went into the cold water. My dad kept saying from the boat that there’s a cup of coffee waiting for me at the dock once I finished. Then, he sipped on his. I shook my head and dove underneath the water doing breast strokes. I wanted to conserve my energy and hopefully build up some heat because I eventually could not feel my feet.

I was swimming for about thirty to forty five minutes I think. I can’t remember how long. May have been longer. I remember on the right side of the lake it was very shady and extremely cold, but on the left side of the lake the sun gave me a little warmth. Occasionally, I would look up to see where the other swimmer was, but we were so far apart, it was almost useless trying to keep track of him. I can remember feeling weakness in my arms and legs near the end. The cold had made everything numb from my shoulders down. It was a frightening experience, but I knew I just needed to keep throwing my arms forward until I reached the end of the last lap around the lake.

I flopped onto the dock and rolled over. There were camp personnel  there with wool blankets and cups of hot chocolate. They had a medic check both of our temperatures. Mine had dropped to 86 degrees. They ended up hugging me tight to give off some body heat cause I was shivering. It was a long and cold trek, but I did it. Even if I was close to hypothermia.

My dad told me later that night that my mom called to camp  cause she was worried about me. She had a dream that my grandfather was holding me in his arms when I was a baby in a blanket. She thought something had happened to me that day from the swim. It was a little scary hearing that from that grueling experience, but I wonder if my grandfather was there. Especially since he was holding me in a blanket in my mother’s dream.

I don’t think I will ever forget this experience only because it taught me that to follow the examples of others because of certain elements or circumstances is not what we are here for. I did not want to give into the past stories about other kids, and I didn’t want to listen to the parents or kids who thought it was too cold. I only wanted to achieve something that I knew I could do. We all go through certain obstacles and giving up will only lead to the sidelines to your path. I may not have done anything great that day to show off and make money off of, but I was proud of what I did.

My mom told me the other day that success is not how much you make, or what awards you have achieved. Success is how you have made the people around you feel about the things you have done. Thanks for that reminder, Mom.