I never once in my life claimed to be an Adonis, you know, the God of Beauty and Desire. Here lately, I feel like Buddha, the guy with the big fat belly. Truth is, the mirror doesn’t lie. It will give you an accurate view of the person you have become. It will show you things only YOU want to see. Which is a good thing because most folks wouldn’t want to see that anyway. However, there is another mirror that isn’t physical but is all too real. It’s the mirror you look into that shows you what you look like on the inside. No, it’s not an x-ray machine. It is that soul, that conscience or that moral thermometer that displays all the good and bad that makes you who you are. Alcohol Anonymous calls it a moral inventory. Oh, it can show the ugly side of me. I hate looking into it and wow, how that person inside of me has changed since I was old enough to acknowledge that it was there.
As a youth/teen the person inside me was certainly not who I am today. I was good and kind kid. I spent most of my time as a kid, playing in the dirt or playing in the neighborhood with friends. A pretty good kid. I went to church when church was in service. I feel like I never gave my parents too much trouble, just a pure delight. HaHa! As a child that grew up in church all the basic things that came along with learning about God, well, I possessed those traits. I was loving, respectful, acknowledged God in my life, caring and sensitive. Later, as I grew into a man, that sensitive side is the side I despised the most, it was weak, so I thought. Things were good as a kid, life was fun and easy, never had any major disagreements with my mom and/or dad, and developed into a normal teenage boy who kept those similar qualities. I was a good guy. In my teen years, not much changed. Of course, I didn’t play in the dirt anymore but I did have friends and we hung out on the weekends and went to church on Sundays, all was well. The mirror back then showed me much of the same traits it did as a kid. Let me add, it was in those first 10 or 15 years that I knew God had a plan for my life and I was ok with that. I wouldn’t start running from God until I was in my mid 20″s. The mirror wasn’t mean to me when I was young.
I joined the Marine Corps at 18 and that is when some of those traits started to fade a little, they didn’t go away, but they did fade. I suppressed them. However,those years in the military taught me some more great traits, like honor, commitment, courage, tenacity, faithfulness (Semper Fidelis), integrity and esprit de corps. It was also during this time that I started to party. I mean, we were Marines! General Douglas MacArthur said, “I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world.” So, what better way to honor such a great fighting force, we honored it by partying. We did it big, too. It was just what we did, it’s what most Marines did on the weekends. Remember, I grew up going to church and now that I was over seas and legally I could buy beer at 18 on the Marine Corps base, church became the farthest from my mind. I had forgotten my First Love, Jesus Christ.
Those great traits remained with me throughout my life, until about 7 years ago. Let me note that those traits remain with me today, I have just had to dig a little deeper to bring them back to the forefront of my life. As I look at my life over the last seven years many things come to mind. I remember going through that event/trauma that caused me to slip. It was after I left ministry that I used my first pill in a way that wasn’t safe, I started abusing them. I remember taking that pill and as I look back on it now, that was the beginning of a ride that I wasn’t ready to take. I should not have taken that ride! I regret that day in my life, that day that I added “drug addict” to my resume. I took those drugs to take away the hurt and pain of losing something that I loved and was dear to me. I didn’t want to be a failure in the eyes of God. It was then that I started harboring hate, resentment and unforgiveness toward God’s people. I didn’t want anything to do with those folks and I sure didn’t believe anything that I had learned about God as a kid was true, anymore. So, now that mirror was showing me hurt, anger, resentment and unbelief in a God that I had grown up believing in. Little did I know that this is would be only the beginning.
As the next 7 years went on, I became an angry, bitter man. I became a liar. I became so much of a person that I didn’t even like. Shame and guilt became my crutches. Self-pity was a great friend of mine. Needless to say, the mirror was not my friend, both mirrors, the one that showed myself and the one that showed me what was inside of me. I became a disgrace in my eyes and there was nothing anybody could do or say to make me different. I lost trust in people and I always loved people and was outgoing, never met a stranger. Drugs are never an answer to anything. I regret taking that first pill.
So, here we are today, life has changed for me, I no longer am angry or resentful. Things happened to me for a reason, although I am not sure the reason yet. If only it was to bring me back into the arms of a loving God, it worked. I have been very careful with this soul searching process. I wanted to make sure that I was sincere and serious about it. This was no joke for me, it was life and death. All the negative crap had to come out or I would be right back down that road again. I had to take it serious. Like I have said, I put in 100% in living outside the realm of God, I am determined to give God 100% as well. I have to say, this decision saved my life, give it a sincere try, it may work for you.
Now that life is going well for me, I look at what is going on and I want to make sure that I am legit. In making sure I am legit, I have dug up things that I didn’t realize was even in there. One, being a Christian means to be like Christ, I can’t be like Christ if I don’t love. Love starts here with me, if I can’t love me or forgive me then how can I expect to give that to other people. It is not possible. Forgiveness, how can I forgive if I can’t forgive me. I don’t want to hold bitterness and anger inside me. That is not the way Christ lived. I had to learn to forgive me. I am no longer that man, for I am a new creature. I now treat people the way I want to be treated, I feel the love of God inside me and it is a great feeling.
Smile, for it may be the only sunshine someone may see that day. It works, try it. If I don’t smile and I am a ‘bitter’ Christian, nobody is going to be interested in what I have to offer. It doesn’t work! I have learned that it is so much better to give than it is to receive. No, I don’t have a job yet, but I can give something far more valuable than money. I can love and respect another person now. Again, I might be the only love they may see today. It starts right here at home. I have to love my family and treat them well. It is not fair to treat others you barely know better than you treat your own family. I see it all to often, I refuse to live like that, if I fail, I will get up and try it again, til I get it right.
Throughout these adventures many things about my life have come to face me. Today, I do have to say I am a better man than I have ever been. I am closer to God than I have ever been. I am not saying I am where I need to be, I still have much work to do. But I am certainly better than I was. I no longer crave drugs, God took that desire away from me. I may crave tonight, but I have a friend that I can call on when I need him, his name is Jesus. When shame and guilt raise its head in front of me, I remember that I am flawless. I have some relationships that are a little damaged, maybe broken, but I trust God will rebuild those for me. He is faithful. I am determined to live my life and share my story because I see hurting people all around me. People need encouragement, love and a listening ear. I will be that ear for people. Thank God for redemption as it is so sweet.
Going Forward in Reverse!