We spend our whole lives yearning for more than what we have, always wanting bigger while seemingly letting what we do have go unappreciated. Some are born with a silver spoon in their mouth given everything they will need in life, while the rest of us are thrown in the deep end in a sink or swim battle for life. Some drop off and sink immediately while others fight for every inch of ground that they can get for survival and then there is the rare few who will face every challenge imaginable, no matter the odds to prove to others and themselves that their life matters and that they can make a positive difference in the world… I like to think this is one of those stories.
On December 4, 1979 I was born, a left handed ginger kid, seemingly allergic to the sun in my childhood and raised on welfare & foster homes where I learned what abuse was first hand in both scenerios. School was my safe haven and yet even there I was prone to bullying because of who I was, my situation or even how I dressed. My childhood wasn’t ideal, but it helped shape me into who I am today, it battle tested me, made me stronger and instilled a survival mode in me that even to this day I have never thrown a punch at anyone for the fear of ever getting into a fight for the amount of damage I could withstand and in tern dish back out could seriously hurt someone and honestly it is not in my nature of ever my intentions to hurt anyone, I’ve had enough violence in my life.
I chose at a young age to love all things and laugh as hard as I could and to keep on getting back up each time I was violently shoved down to the earth. I took up sports as a way of escaping all the pain in my life, I can remember asking my junior high caretaker to let me in the school early in the morning so I could shoot hoops at 7am and would stay after school till dinner time doing the same thing. I was quiet, as time went by I was seen as a dumb jock that just didn’t socialize with anyone. I lost my mom to cancer when I was in highschool, she was my bestfriend and the only person that I felt safe opening up to back then. I’d never seen my dad since I was a year old when my mother left him as I was told he was very abusive and in trying to contact him both at 12yrs and 18yrs, he denied me flat out and called down my mom.
My mom left me 2 hand written letters that were given to me after her passing, they are my prized possessions. Each and everytime I read them, I break down and cry because of how much she believed in me and how she knew that there was something special about me, how strong I was and sadly how she couldn’t believe someone with so much potential could come from someone like her. She was the kindest most down to earth person I’d ever met and I hope that when my time comes to pass that I am even half the person that she turned out to be and that I’ve done all that I can to make her proud and to make the world a better place.
I’d never known God or even had someone that tried to bring God into my life… I think my mom wanted to, but just didn’t know how. I didn’t find out until she was dying that she had a bible that she read and that before having kids that she had wanted to be a nun and due to not having any religious teachings I didn’t understand this. I was kicked out of Sunday school for swearing at an early enough age that I don’t remember any of the teachings or even being there. I’d always known there was something bigger out there but just didn’t know how to pursue it and at times would even question that thought process.
With my mom being gone and not being able to concentrate in school anymore I came up short in graduating with my classmates in Teulon in ’98. I moved to the city that summer to stay with a relative in his bachelor apartment that he shared with a friend, which was a short 2 month stay as it turned into 5 people in that small suite and drugs were regularly in use so I was only there to sleep and I wanted no part of it what so ever and I’m always surprised looking back at all the peer pressure situations that I got myself out of. I grew tired of my things being stolen and sold for drugs so I ended up getting work as a security guard and got my own apartment downtown. In 2000 I got on working at McDonalds while I went back to school to finish up and graduate. I had previously struggled with school in the past but surprisingly pulled out honor roll grades while finally earning my diploma.
I got accepted to U of Winnipeg in 2001 and despite having torn ligaments in my ankle that were still healing from a few months before and having my eye poked hard (by another player in camp) and bandaged for the second half of the training camp, I had made it to the final cut day for the Wesmen basketball team. I was crushed when I was released but I was so very proud with how far I had made it despite the challenges against me.
Zipping ahead a few years I’d been through a lot of challenges, both things I had put myself into and things that happened just cause. I was so depressed with the way my life was going that I was in a very dark place and doctors had me on experimental medication because they just couldn’t solve my illness that half the time I couldn’t differentiate dreams from real life. At 25 I was engaged to be married, and had been engaged for a couple years and suddenly it all fell a part. My fiance at the time left me for one of our roommates and a couple days after the official break up, I was lying in the bath tub trying to relax and clear my mind… Thinking about the huge changes going on, when I started to feel tingley, my hands cramped up and froze like claws close to my chest, my whole body was going numb, I felt paralyzed and was slowing sliding down into the water… I was crying for help in my mind as I couldn’t make a sound and just as the water was about to flow up my nose and possibly drown me I had was given just enough mobility and strength to flop myself out of the tub before passing out facedown in the bathroom door way. When I came to, the roommate whom my ex was now with and my ex came to find me gasping for air… Long story short I ended up in the emergency room at Grace Hospital and after 13hrs of tests it was declared that I had suffered a mild stroke… At 25?! They said that it was over, there was nothing that they could do and that they couldn’t explain it nor believe it due to my age and health. I could’ve died that night in the bath tub and it left me feeling like that I had been saved and spared for a better purpose… But I still didn’t know by whom or for what. I started visiting various churches but always felt uncomfortable, felt judged, felt out of place, almost unwelcome and like they just were not the right place for me. I took up long distance running ;as it was quiet time for me to think deeply and clear my mind, which I realize now is a form of prayer; and later Marathons to help build a stronger body and mind while testing myself against others.
I dated a girl in 2007 that was very religious and studied the bible daily and she was opening me up more and more to God just by being exposed to it all and seeing the passion that she had for him. It didn’t really hit me until honestly the day that she hit me…square in the face. She was an angry person due to past relationships and because of this and living with her, I was living in fear that she might try to stab me in my sleep or attack me again for no reason. I began reading a bible she had previously given to me, I read it lots and prayed lots too, mostly for my safety. One day she started seeing someone new and just up and left, I was completely crush once more but was this some how an answer to my prayers again? I did not know.
I began attending Church of the Rock as I had been watching it on tv for a few months previously and liked how the pastor (Mark Hughes) delivered the message in such a relaxing and comedic way and related it to real life situations. I attended the Promise Keepers event that year and in listening to the speakers tell their stories I felt chills roll up my spine. Some of these men had horribly challenging lives too and had never known God but that their lives had transformed into something truly amazing since getting to know him. When the pastor said “If there is anyone here that wants to give their lives to the Lord so that you may walk with Jesus, please come forward to kneel at the stage”, I felt a real hard pull on my heart and before I knew it was I moving quickly to the stage and as I knelt down I began sobing and balling my eyes out. I had felt like I had finally found what I had been searching for my whole life and that a huge weight had been lifted off my back.
I’d heard stories like this from quite a few people in the past but I didn’t actually understand it or believe it until it happened to me. As time has gone by the good lord has grown great depths in me. In Fall of 2009 I broke my back (popped two discs and fractured another). There is nothing heroic about the story, I crouched down to unlock the bottom door lock at work (Mall store) and *POP* I fell into the store in searing pain and couldn’t move my legs. I had to pull and drag myself into the store and around the counter to reach the phone and call for help. The Doctor said I’d never run another marathon and recomended that I don’t try to do it again at all. Those first 2 weeks I could barely move, it would take me 20 minutes using a walker with a seat for stopping and resting JUST to get from the couch to the washroom on my own. It took me 5 long months of extremely painful and challenging physio therepy to get back to working and it took almost a year to walk properly again. The pain I felt during that time period was the worst physical pain of my life. There was a point almost daily that I wanted to give up but would pray hard and ask God for the strength to heal me and to build me stronger. God works in mysterious ways because I am healed! I can walk again! And regardless of what the doctors told me… In June 2011, I signed up for the Manitoba Marathon (half marathon) at the last moment on the closing date… Without even training for it what so ever… I ran that 21km’s with the biggest smile on my face that you have ever seen! I was cheering on other runners and even cheering on the crowds gathered to cheer US on! It was truly amazing and the most powerful moment happened just as I entered the stadium, I stopped for a moment just to scream and roar with how much love and appreciation and excitement that I had for what I had just accomplished, I burst around the track sprinting and pumping my fist and crossed the finish line with a time of 2hr 6min. Do you think God had my back that day? He sure as hell did! It was one of the greatest days of my life, possibly second only to the day my daughter was born only a few weeks earlier. The moment I crossed the finish line I got my medal and could not wait to see my little girl who I had in my thoughts when the race got tough and the pain set in, I didn’t want to let her down and I wanted to give it all I had to show glory to God for being there for me everytime I needed it, never giving up on me and for giving me everything great in my life.
God is still building strong in me today, he has brought me from the worst of situations and guided me to the best of them, he has put things in my life that I didn’t even know I needed until they happened. I thank God every day for my daughter, I was scared of children before having her and the moment the doctor placed her in my arms all that changed in an instant and now she is my whole world. We must keep in mind that God wants what is best for us, he may take away something that we truly want and feel we need, but he will replace it with what is true and what he KNOWS that we need.
I used to be afraid of church, but that is just because I hadn’t found the right one for me yet. I used to be afraid to express my religious views to others, but now I am confident in my beliefs. I used to be afraid to admit to failed relationships but now I know it is all because he has a plan. Everything you want… everything you need… will all come when the time is right and the reasons are right. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…” And you can too!