It took 26 years, a heart attack and a bottle of whiskey to show me that the story I’ve been writing with my life could be better, bolder and full of risk and redemption.
The afternoon of June 4th 2010 gave me a heart attack. Literally. I found myself laying in a all too firm hospital bed with patches of my chest hair missing so that the nurse could attach a heart monitor. I was having a heart attack at age 26. My doctor told me I had but one option: change my diet and loose weight. Otherwise, there would certainly be a next time and I might not come out on the other side.
The heart attack has served as a catalyst for change in my life. I’m taking radical steps toward getting healthy: a new eating plan and workout routine are in place. This combined with encouragement and tough love from friends and family are producing results. I’ve been blessed with an amazing friend and trainer Mark who, on a daily basis kicks my ass in the gym and at the track. In two months I have lost 35lbs. On the outside I am becoming a man. While it will probably be months before I have rock hard abs and firm, toned pecs, my confidence and self-image have been boosted and I now feel comfortable in the gym.
During a recent game of beer pong that was played using whiskey instead of beer (yeah, Bud Light just isn’t my drink of choice and since beginning my journey to better health I haven’t had as much as a sip of alcohol), God decided it was time to punch me in the face once again. After a half a bottle of whiskey I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor with Mark, myself hugging a toilet. Some pastors might disagree, but I believe that God used a bottle of whiskey to start what has been the most difficult yet vital part of changing the outcome of the story I am writing with my life.
That night Mark confronted me about the “relationship” I’ve had with my father. My dad chose to walk out on my mom, brother and I when I was four. Instead of leaving completely, he’s remained at a distance, not as the father he should have been, but instead as a liar, mocker, abuser and one that time and time again has worked to destroy my self-image and self-worth. Mark has seen firsthand how the emotional and psychological abuse that my dad has continually put me though has left me with a heart full of lies and a broken and distorted view of my self worth and my sexuality. It’s also resulted in a distorted view of God as Father.
So there I sat on the bathroom floor with snot dripping out of my nose and chewing on stale bread. Mark gave me an ultimatum, a challenge to start living a better story with my life. After training me for over a month and watching me become a man physically on the outside, he demanded that I begin the fight to become a man on the inside. The ultimatum was simple: End the abusive and controlling relationship with my father. If I didn’t, Mark would no longer continue to train me in the gym and at the track. He knew that the profanity, yelling, broken promises, lies and continual mutilation of my self-worth was keeping me trapped as a 13 year old boy inside of a 27 year old man’s body.
The days ahead where difficult. I sobered up and spent time seeking wise counsel and in prayer. After much thought I wrote a letter to my dad confronting him on every aspect of the abuse. I told him it’s time for me to take control and put an end to the cycle of abuse. I ended the letter by telling him not to contact me again.
Two weeks have passed since I mailed the letter. While it’s been an emotional roller coaster since, I’m starting the journey toward healing and freedom from the countless lies that have been spoken to me for years. Healing won’t come quickly. I’m learning how to embrace the conflict of the past and use it as a catalyst instead of a cop-out.
I’m excited that not only am I becoming physically stronger each day I lift the weights in the gym, but I am becoming a stronger, bolder man willing to take risk in the battle for redemption and to come out victorious. My goal is that I will be able to help other young men walk though the emotional hell of battling lies and healing the wounds left by absent or abusive fathers. Mentorship is key in transforming the lives of fatherless children. Without men who have fought fiercely though their own conflict and adversity- yet come out victorious, investing in the lives of broken and abused boys, we’re doomed to a society of boys locked inside men’s bodies. I want to help boys become men who will live great stories with their lives. Stories that haven’t dared been dreamt of.