Brokenness and fragments of joy
Before we continue on our journey peeking through the keyhole of my life, I need to make something abundantly clear. I’m good. I have certainly shared in the sufferings of this life, but that journey through the refining fire has brought me to a place of betterness. Two things can happen when people face real suffering, they break or they persevere and come out better. Generally speaking, apathy is the first thing that goes out the window when confronted with personal suffering; we love ourselves too much for that. I have experienced both of those scenarios many times. I would love to say that I have always been strengthened through suffering, but that would not be true. I have allowed “the now” to break me more times than I can count, but not now. At some point, a realization of the only truth took a radical turn in my life. I can say beyond any doubt that what was once chaos and pain is now peace and strength. That the scarring of suffering that once crippled is now something that refines and does not define. Now, as we were.
After some time and a few vacations off to visit with my dad (my parents divorced before I can remember) I decided to move in with him when I was of age to decide. I thought that life was going to be easy because I had always loved going to see my dad; he was awesome! He always welcomed me with open arms and made huge strides to make sure that I knew that he loved me. I loved my dad and he wanted me to come, so I did. My dad is (still) one of the hardest working men that I have ever known. He would work day and night in order to provide for his family; he just wasn’t “there” because he couldn’t be. At this point I was broken, unable to talk to anyone about anything. I never let anyone “in”. This is how I remained throughout my childhood. This also led to an inability to connect with my stepmom. I was chaotic, ungrateful, mean, angry, distant… I could go on. Needless to say, I was difficult to love I am sure.
As a kid, I was always on the outside looking in. Many times in my childhood I would contemplate suicide and on a handful of occasions I would deeply reflect on it to the point of grabbing things that would do the job. Thankfully, something intangible had a strong grasp on me and never allowed me to do it. There was something, just beyond the realm of my comprehension that I couldn’t see, that kept me from going that far. That intangible thing was definitively God working in my life. His sovereign hand was working towards my ultimate good and He was allowing me to walk through suffering in order to draw me to Himself. He was there. Though I didn’t know Him, His hand was working in my life. Why He chose suffering as the path I should take to reach Him is outside the realm of my mind to understand. Yet, I have peace and comfort knowing that He was always in charge; it humbles me to know that He cared enough about me to work in my life, regardless of the path that He chose to do it.
As I had mentioned previously, I was never accepted in school. As such, I never had many friends. I did however have a very small number of great friends that I still consider family to this day. I found a particularly great friend in Arlington, Texas. His name is Brandon and this kid was my best friend in all the cosmos (I love space). I spent the majority of my time hanging out with Brandon at his house. Funny thing, Brandon had recently gotten a pool installed and I was certainly under the microscope from his parents as suspect. You see they thought that maybe I was using him to swim in his pool, ha! Nope, far from it. It became clear after a short time that this was not the case. Brandon was my best good friend (in my best Forrest Gump voice) and I still love the guy! I spent every waking moment I had at his house and I was almost (pool) immediately accepted as one of the family. Thinking back on it, I am amazed at the absolute kindness of Brandon and his family. I mean, there were days I ate all of my meals over there! Can you imagine adding another teenage boy into the food budget? Well, they did and I will be forever grateful for their unyielding kindness and generosity to a broken kid. Also, I helped Brandon clean his terribly dirty room… Maybe that’s why they kept me around?
God places people in our lives that reveal His goodness, especially in times of suffering, of this I am convinced. God is the one who writes the pages of our book and yet somehow we walk through the pages of a book that is already written and we make real choices within the confines of the story. Of all the things that I consider to be mind blowing about God, His providence is the most remarkable. People want miracles, I want God.
“I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.” – Albert Einstein
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. – God