Pain Sucks, but Jesus is Enough
When people tell me that most people would not survive what I have been through, I am quick to question what they mean. I guess my life is the only thing I know. I do not know better or worse. I just know me.
Growing up, my parents were divorced by the time I was in first grade. I lived with my mom as she has always been a saint and willing to serve every day. She worked night shift so I would not have to be in daycare. She took me to after school functions, practices, and was there for my brother and I at home.
I would go to my Father’s house every other weekend. What came with that was a very aggressive and abusive father figure who spent most of his days with us doing 12 oz curls with busch light. The most vividly abusive memory is one when I was eight. I was fast asleep in the top bunk of our bunk beds when I heard my door open and yelling that was towards me. After I proceeded to stay in bed, I was then thrown from my top bunk to the floor hitting my head on the wall. After more yelling, I made my way to the couch as I continued to get ripped into. I can remember the smell of smoke on his clothes and alcohol on his breath as he was spitting slurred words in my face. I tried to push him away and that was when I flew. My eight-year-old body was picked up and thrown out the front door like a bag or garbage. The sad news was that the door handle was not used during this. I try to forget most days with him, but that can never be forgotten.
Continuing to talk about my father, I started to play sports. Since I went to his house every other weekend, he had to take me to some of my games or at least I thought he did. I asked him to start taking me to my games and he then said, “I am not going to take you to your damn games because I don’t want to”. There was nothing I could do besides accept this fact. This was the start of me not going over there anymore. I played middle school basketball and since I had tournaments every weekend, I stopped going to his house completely.
My relationship with God and Jesus changed on March 10, 2012, when I was in eighth grade. My brother, who was a senior in high school, was drinking at a friends house and was in a four-wheeler accident where he hit a tree going head first without wearing a helmet. My brother crushed his skull, crushed his eye socket, and had 7-9 broken ribs. He was pronounced dead on impact, but there was a nurse who was saw everything happen. She gave him CPR until the helicopter came. The girl on the back only came out with a bruised knee. We did not know this. We just knew he was getting flown to University of Louisville hospital. As an eighth grader, I really did not know what to do in this situation besides pray. I prayed and prayed and prayed that my brother would be all right. We get there and we were able to see him before he went into surgery to drain the blood out of his brain. It is still to this day, the most disturbing thing I’ve seen. All the doctors told us to not get our hopes up and expect the worse. I prayed all night and every time the doctor came out I prayed a little harder. God ended up saving my brother’s life that night. He went from dying on impact to now working at Ford and having a wife and a precious daughter and son with no side effects from the crash. Some have made statements like, “If only that tree wasn’t there”. Yeah, if that tree wasn’t there…..There would be no story at all. Behind that tree was a 50-foot cliff that he would have never been able to survive. He even told us to imagine a James Earl Jones voice saying to you, “Okay Ray, It is not your time to go yet, so I’ll send you back to your family”. After that my brother woke up for the first time. I believe in Miracles, there is nothing on this Earth that can change my mind.
However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows after that. While my brother was in the hospital, he turned eighteen. This meant that my parents went to court about child support. It was there where my father asked the judge if a DNA test could be performed on me to see if I was his biological son. The only reason he wanted this was so that he could quit paying child support on me. This was a low point for me. How am I supposed to react to my own biological father calling it quits on my life? He didn’t love me. What did I do wrong? Was it me?
I thought I had to do good. I thought if I was good, God would bless me and I would have his favor. I went through high school not drinking, being the teacher's pet. I won the legacy award at my high school and went to Georgetown College on a football scholarship and that is where my eyes were opened.
My first few weeks of college is when I got involved with Campus Outreach, which is a campus ministry across the U.S. that help college students find and grow in their faith as well as get connected with a church. Tyler Sole was our Campus Director. One day, Tyler invited me to this small Japanese restaurant for lunch. We were eating and he asked me this one question, “Would you consider yourself a Christian”. I said, “Right now, no, I know who Jesus is and I know that he died a sinful death for me and I believe I have to repay him and maybe after going to church or New Year’s Conference (Event with Campus Outreach), I will be able to”. Tyler then said to me, “Well, it sounds like you already are a Christian because you do love Jesus and believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins. Your salvation is based on your faith, not on your deeds. You devote your life to him out of thankfulness for what he has already done, not to achieve salvation.” At that moment, I realized and everything connected. I am a Christian. Ever since then, my life has changed for the better. I’ve grown in my faith tremendously and I’m still growing today. It just amazes me to this day because yes, I now consider myself a Christian. However, I’m not perfect. I still sin and have to fight sin to this day. God knows I do things that I feel so ashamed to tell other people. I’ve probably committed more sin today than any of you all. However, even in the middle of sinning in whatever way, God still loves me and God still loves us and know that when no one else will be there for you, God will be, that is the best thing about becoming a Christian.
With everything that has happened, I have become emotionless to the things around me. I was not able to feel like others could. I could not truly lament. I felt like I couldn’t. I had to be strong for the people around me. I could not show any sign of weakness, I could not let my true emotions come out. Because of this now, it is hard for me to feel. I struggle to sympathize with others. I can tell my story like it is any other story. I could really notice this when my brother had his second child.
My nephew’s name is Maverick and he is far from ordinary. When Maverick was 3 months old he got a diagnosis of a partial chromosome deletion called 14Q22-Q32 deletion syndrome. As well as Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type 1 and Ehlers Danlos syndrome. These are both RARE genetic disorders that affect: his fine and gross motor skills, muscle tone (Hypotonia), physical abilities, speech, his heart, he has respiratory issues when sick, bone strength, muscles and joints, hyper-flexibility, and many other things. He also got another diagnosis of Eosinophilic Esophagitis which is most of the time caused by a food allergy. He has had to deal with so much, and he is not even two years old yet.
I haven’t felt the pain that the rest of my family feels because I haven’t allowed my self to be weak. However, after seeing their emotions and love and struggle and anger, I wish I could help. I wish I could trade places with Maverick or my brother. I could handle it. Actually, no I couldn’t handle it, but I have Jesus on my side and he could handle it. I have not been home enough to truly know my brother's beliefs and where he stands, but I know he is not as strong in his faith as I am. I wish I could take all the pain and suffering and struggle away from my brother and my mom and the rest of our family and put it all on me. I have Jesus, and Jesus can handle it. I have come to realize that suffering is everywhere and we can not run from it, but we can live and cope with it. Jesus can handle it. I want to take all the tears that were shed because of sadness and turn them into tears of praise. Praise of Jesus. Jesus is strong enough to handle the pain, the suffering, the loss. I am not. We are not. I now feel that pain that my family goes through day in and day out. I wish I could take it all away. Not because I can do this all alone, but because Jesus is on my side and the holy spirit runs through me. Pain sucks, it truly does, but it is everywhere because of our brokenness. We can not fight the pain or brokenness alone, but we can do anything with Jesus.