Monday, August 21, 2006

How God Combined my Physical/Mental to make the base of who I am today.

So, how did my King put my physical/spiritual/mental inclinations and outside influences together? The ways are amazing (at least to me).

The neighborhood:

My neighborhood was rough and alienating a lot of the time when I was growing up and really stayed somewhat alienating in high school. I don’t think that this is unique to me as growing up anywhere can be cruel depending on the personalities making up the neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong though, there were a core group of friends who never stopped being my friends regardless of the politics/family opinions/pressures of the times. But I did spend a lot of time in my own little world, within a world, and I read a great deal. The more I read the more I wanted to know. So that cycle went on for many years. My King took this time to educate me in relationship dynamics with people of other skin tones as well as steering my education through my natural curiosity and desire to learn. Had it not been for where I grew up I might actually believe what the media and some “black leaders” say about black folks. Had it not been for my curiosity I would have never made it through school as a lot of my teachers were terrible. My cultural shock never really came until I was bussed into a wealthy white school.

I had friends in both arenas of life but never “belonged” to either socio-economic class. I didn’t have money and I wasn’t black. This taught me that friendship must be defined by something else. I came to the conclusion that friendship had to happen for friendship’s sake. Anything else that bonded people as a unit was artifice and largely based on things that they had no direct influence over in the first place. Melanin and wealth, or the lack of either, came from parents. Friendship was a matter of choice. I had a lot of friends with a lot of melanin and a lot of friends with money. I also was rejected by some people for having neither. The fact that no class or creed was an indicator of a friend or enemy taught me to take every human being one human being at a time. Make no assumptions about anyone.

My Grandma’s farm:
You could not find a more diametrically opposed environment from the neighborhood I actually lived in. This was a place of wild animals, uncut forests, stars at night with no city light, and silence a lot of the time. This was a place where I could see God’s hand without the influence of man. This was a place where I could talk without interruption with the Lord. It was in this environment when my earthly father most acted like my DAD. I don’t know if this was because this area of Ohio was his home turf, if it was because he wasn’t coming home from work, or if it was our mutual appreciation for the natural world but I do know that when we were here things went much better between us than any other time/place of the year.

My Family:
Their interests and life stories were wonderful training tools. The things they did that were good and the things they did that were not so good. I did my best to read all of what they did and the outcomes of their actions. I did my best to emulate the positives things I saw from them and avoid the less than positive things. I am of the firm belief that you do not have to be a carbon copy of your parents. I am also a firm believer that you can learn a tremendous amount from them and your siblings. But, needless to say, no matter how good these teachers can be and no matter how hard they try to help you, you make mistakes. I made a lot. Some mistakes were duplicate of mistakes my family members made and some mistakes were uniquely my own. Some good things they did/do I have yet to come close to emulating. I observed what lives lived apart from God’s direction look like. I have learned what lives lived with the heart’s desire to serve God look like. I have chosen the pursuit of Christ. I will, for as long as I live on this Earth, continue to strive to improve who and what I am. I will try to be a better servant both to God and to my fellow man. I know I will fall again and again but I hope to stay upright for longer periods of time between falls.

My Inclinations:
God took curiosity and turned it into enough knowledge that it allowed me to make it to college. As alluded to earlier, if I had only my teachers as a mechanism for education I would have failed my entrance tests, ACT etc.

God took my stubbornness and kept me from giving up in times of great stress like my father’s death. He also developed stubbornness into determination as I matured. (stubbornness=pride determination=perseverance).

God took my poverty/near poverty and allowed me to join the military. The irony is that I thought I was doing it for the G.I. Bill, which I never ended up using, but God was teaching me about my mortality. He was teaching me about the preciousness of life and the terribly cheap way in which it can be destroyed if we are not careful. He used this to teach me ever more deeply that the needs of my fellow man are much greater than my own.

God took my spitefulness for doubter’s statements and allowed me to gain a fair amount of physical strength for sports. Without this I would have never been looked at for football in college. Without the help of colleges, who wanted me for football, in finding financial aid I would have never known that college was possible for me. I always thought I was too poor. (I think I alluded to this in another post) Without the physical inclination there would have been no college. Had I not gone to Bluffton College to play football I would not have met my wife. Had I not met my wife I would have probably drifted further from the church. Had I not met my wife I would not have my son or my daughter. Had I not had my children, and my son in particular since I am male, I would not have healed from the unresolved issues with my father. In trying to raise my son better than my father raised his sons I have found a very strange balm. In the raising of my son with love I learned how to raise a daughter with love.

Ultimately out of all of this cycle God allowed me to know him early in life, to fall away from Him so that I knew how empty this life was without Him, and to find Him again. I believe he has done this for two reasons: 1. Because He loves me. 2. So that I can help others find their way to the fullness of life with Christ. I’m sure there is a bunch of other reasons too but these two things really stick out for me.

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