“We need it alive.”
The room was dark. Darkened silhouettes stood around the room, their faces shielded by the darkness. The room was empty, yet not absent of feelings. It felt familiar, as if they had all been in there before. It had become home for so many.
Four silhouettes stood in a circle, engaging in the quiet whispers of problem solving. They looked through a class window that shown into a medical room, just over a young man lying on a medical bed. The young man lay shirtless with a number of small censors placed around his stomach and around his head.
“We must continue to study it. We have got to find a solution.” One of the male silhouettes said to the other three. He was an older gentleman with a bald head and glasses. A thin white goatee encircled his mouth. He shoved his fists into the pockets of his white lab coat. The three remaining silhouettes nodded in agreement.
“Sir, we…we’ve been studying it for months and we found nothing.” A blonde haired female said nervously to the man with his fists shoved into his pockets of his lab coat. She pressed her glasses to the top of her nose, allowing her eyes to look through the spectacles. As she spoke the words, she could feel hopelessness wash over her. She was ready to give up.
“We need to find the solution.” He repeated to the group. His voice filled with more determination. “There is something different about this one. There is a reason that it is surviving when everyone else is….”He couldn’t finish his sentence. It was too much. It sounded so sinister.
“Doctor,” Another female silhouette said, getting the doctor’s attention. His fists still balled up in the packets of his lab coat. She was dark hair, with her hair pulled back into a pony tail, leaving a strand of her hair to frame the either side of her face. “We’ve tried everything. We’ve been monitoring its brainwaves the entire time. We’ve tried putting it under great distress. We’ve tried tapping into its dreams, I’m not sure we can finish.” She continued in a strong-willed voice.
“Sir, every time we put it under distress we notice the heart rate speed up, but it doesn’t seem to stay that way, within moments the patient is fine. It’s always like nothing every happened.” The last of the nameless silhouettes spoke up. He was a male with short brown hair. In his hand was a clip board will a small stack of printed paper clipped to it. These papers are most certainly the numerous test results on their test subject.
“What about during the days? When the patient is active and awake? What does it do?” The head doctor said to his other three associates. He pulled his fists from his packet and gestured toward the clip board. The young man handed it over to him and he quickly thumbed through the various pages.
“He….it doesn’t leave his room. It doesn’t exercise. All it does is read and kneel at his bedside.” The blonde female doctor reported to the lead. She looked down at the floor, unable to look into the eyes of the lead doctor.
“Is the patient happy?” The lead doctor asked without lifting his eyes from the test results on the clip board.
“It shows no emotion. I mean, it’s not void of express, there is just no definitive emotion.” The second female doctor reported. “It’s like the patient’s content.”
“Hmmm,” The lead doctor hummed to himself. “That’s odd. Most of the people that have been here as long as this one has would usually show signs of giving up, such as sadness, depression, or even harmful thoughts of suicide; yet, not this one. It’s like its holding on to someone, or something. There is something that’s giving the patient hope.”
“That’s what we’re saying, sir. Usually at this point, the isolation creates craziness in our patients.” The young male doctor thought aloud.
“Doctor Napier, has there been any communication to the outside?” The lead doctor wondered.
“None,” The young male answered, attempting to look the lead doctor in the eyes, but finding no success as the lead doctor kept his gaze on the test results.
“Doctor Quinn, have the tests been traumatizing enough?”
“It….it grows more devastating every day.” The blonde female doctor said with a forced smile as she pushed her large-rimmed glasses up the arch of her nose.
“And there’s no sign of insanity?”
“Not a one.” She frowned.
“Doctor Selena, what does he dream about?”
“It varies, sir, but it always revolves around the things that were left behind.” The second female doctor answered as she brushed a strand of her dark hair behind her ear.
“That’s odd. Nobody’s come to visit since the day that it stepped into our doorway. Why is the patient still thinking of them? What is it holding on to?” The lead doctor thought to himself taking a step closer to the window that framed the hopeful patient’s bed. “Well, keep increasing our studies; eventually we will break this patient’s strength and hope. Eventually we will find the solution.” He walked away.
“Hi, honey.” A young woman entered into well-lit room. Her face was painted with a joyous smile. She was dressed comfortably in a pair of ladies pajamas and a white T-shirt. Her auburn colored hair was pulled into a lovely, yet messy bun.
“How are you, honey?” She asked as she sat on the bed, next to her love. She flop the thick comforter over her legs. In her second hand she held a coffee cup with steam escaping the top. She slowly sipped the hot beverage.
“Hmmm, I’m great.” The man answered her, looking into her fiery auburn eyes. “It’s great to see you this morning.” He whispered into her ear. “How are you, my love?”
He sat up in his bed, revealing a black tank top shirt and a pair of sweat pants. He rubbed his face with the palm of his hands numerous times in order to fully wake up. The room was light and welcoming with lightly colored walls and lightly colored pillows and bed comforters that corresponded with the color scheme of the walls. Although he knew that he was not the one who decorated the room, he loved it. He felt at home.
With a clinched fist, he pulled the comforter off of his legs and rotated, leaving his feet dangling off of the edge of the bed. His feet met the tiled floor. He laid his elbows on his knees and bowed his head. He could still feel his wife smiling at him from behind him.
“Thank you, God. I get to see another day. Thank you for my wondrous wife. Thank you for your love and grace. I am thankful for your plan. I pray that you would bless me with the strength and the patients in order to best glorify you today. I pray you’d be with my wife and protect her and guard her with all that she does today. I am very thankful.” With his elbows on his knees, he prayed. With each word uttered he knew he was being led and empowered. He could feel the fingertips of his wife glide down his arms, wrapping her arms gently around his neck. She joined him in prayer.
“Your words empower us. Your Spirit guides us. We are able to push all fear and anxiety from our lives in your name, Heavenly Father. All that we face we can face due to the fact that you go ahead of us, LORD. I pray that you would be with us today, LORD; in Jesus’ name, amen.”
“Thank you, honey.” The thankful wife whispered through a smile into her husband’s ear. “I appreciate it that you always pray for me.” She tightened her grip around him. He smiled.
“You’re welcome, honey.” He stroked his fingertips down her arm in pleasure. “I’ve got to shower. We’ve got a lot to do today.” He lifted himself off of the bed and walked around the tiled floor toward an open door at the opposite side of the room. “It’s going to be a great day.”
“Doctor Napier, how does the patient’s heart rate look?” Asked the blonde haired doctor with the large-rimmed classes; which slid down to the tip of her nose.
“He looks normal.” The young doctor responded looking down at the clip board in his hand. He thumbed through the variety of pages that lay clipped on the board. Let’s take a look at him now.” He added.
“Don’t call it, ‘He’. The doctor says that means that you’re getting attached.” Doctor Quinn responded, pushing her glasses back up the arch of her nose. The two of them began to walk down a long, well-lit hallway toward the patient’s room. “We must keep all personal emotions away from the patients.” She added.
“How’s he….It doing?” Doctor Napier asked the female doctor that was already observing the patient. Doctor Napier and Doctor Quinn entered into the room, standing side-by-side with the third doctor.
“The patient is kneeling down at the foot of his bed.” She answered; turning to meet the eyes of the entering doctors’. Her left hand was buried into the pocket of her lab coat while her right arm cradled another clip board under her armpit.
“Get it ready, we’ve got testing starting in five minutes.” Commanded Doctor Napier as he swiftly turned away and exited the room.
“Yes, sir, I already know.” Doctor Selena responded, turning her head toward the door that Doctor Napier exited out, her ponytail swinging back and forth.
“AHHHH!” the Patient yelled to the sky. He lay atop of a metal medical table. With a rounded censor pressed on either side of his chest, underneath his arms and one on each side of his head. With the single push of a button, electricity is sent through the red and blue wires into the Patient’s body through the circular censors.
“I know you’re thinking of them.” A voice echoed out of series of speakers installed into the roof of a brightly lit, clean medical room. The young man looked around for the source of the mysterious voice, yet he only was white walls. There were no visible doorways or double-sided, double pane windows for anybody to hide behind. “Let’s be honest, they’ve forgotten about you. You have been missing for too long. They’ve moved on.”
“Come on, break!” Doctor Selena said under her breath, behind a sinister smile as she pressed the trigger button again. She watched the experiment from a monitor in another room. Tiny cameras were hidden within the room with the patient, invisible to the naked eye. She loved hearing the Patient yell from the pain. “Now, it’s time that you talk.” With each press of the button, the more Doctor Selena smiled out of enjoyment.
“What are you holding on to?” The speaker spoke with the same mysterious voice to the young man on the table. The young man was fastened to the table with large belts, keeping him from wiggling free from the electrical pulses coursing through his nearly naked body. “What is there to hope in?”
The trigger was pressed again.
The body wiggled and convulsed in agonizing pain. The young man clamped his jaw shut intensely, trying to endure the continuous pay. With every increasing moment, the pain grew more excruciating. Every time the trigger was pressed, the electricity increased, creating burns and boils on the skin of the patient; leaving him highly disfigured.
“You’re forgetting their faces, aren’t you?” The mysterious voice in the speaker continued. “You’re h trying to picture them. You’re trying to remember them, yet you’re realizing that soon you will forget, the way that they’ve forgotten you.
“No,” The Patient spoke to himself as the electricity surged through his torso; creating yet another layer of burns on his skin.
“You…..have…….no……idea.” The patient spoke through gripped teeth. “You will……never figure…..you will never know what……. I know.” Each word was followed by deep breaths as he struggled to speak from the pain.
“I will, soon enough.”
The trigger was pressed again. The Patient cried in agony.
Doctor Quinn stood next to her, slightly wincing with each shock to the Patient’s body. “You’re new here. Don’t worry, you’ll learn to love it soon enough.” Doctor Selena said to Doctor Quinn, pressing the button once again.
The Patient screamed in agony.
“Daddy,” A young girl called excitedly from the kitchen table. She spun her head around, her stringy dirty-blonde hair tossing through the air. She had a small spoon gripped tightly in her right hand, cereal and milk pouring from the spoon back into the bowl.
“Good morning, beautiful.” The man with the black tank-top and the grey sweatpants said as he emerged from the bedroom into the living area. He looked ahead to the dining and kitchen area. “How are you?” He asked, still wiping the sleep from his eyes. He yawned and stretched his arms out as he headed toward the kitchen table.
“I’m happy.” The young child said through large bites of cereal and milk. As she brought the spoonful of cereal to her mouth, the milk spilled off of the back of the spoon as she tilled the spoon upward toward her mouth.
“Have you said your prayers?” He asked the young girl, grabbing a clean cereal bowl and sitting next to her at the kitchen table. He soon realized that there was no boxes cereal on the table and his bowl remained empty. He stood from the table and headed to the kitchen to grab the cereal box.
“Mhmm hmmm,” The little girl responded with a shake of the head, cereal swishing around in her mouth.
“Let’s pray.” He requested of his daughter. The little girl dropped her spoon into the milk-filled cereal bowl and folded her hand together and closed her eyes. “God, thank you for this food that we have received; we are very thankful for it. Thank you for waking my beautiful daughter, Emily, up. I am very thankful to have her in my life. I pray that your spirit would be with us today. Amen.”
“Daddy, you have someone who wants to see you.” The beautiful auburn haired wife said holding a tiny child in her arms. The four month old glared around the room with his fist shoved in his mouth.
“There’s my boy.” The man at kitchen table said as he once again stood from the table and walked to his wife. He plucked the infant from her hand and embraced his gently. “How are you, Brian? Yeah? That’s great! It’s great to see you.” He expressed through his son’s gurgles of joy.
“I Love you.”
“Have we learned anything about it, yet?” The doctor with the bald head and glasses asked his four associates. They stood in a line at the window that peered into the patient’s room. They looked intently into the room, observing the patient.
The room was well-lit, yet felt dark and cold. It was lifeless. The walls were bright white, nearly neon. The room was empty of all, except a metal-framed bed covered in bright white linins. Being in this room for a few moments would cause nausea in anybody, much less living in this nausea inducing medical room.
The Patient lay on the metal medical bed, his hands clinched tight and resting on his forehead. He wore a long hospital nightgown and grey flowing robe. The Patient moved his lips in silence, as if he were whispering to himself.
“Nothing new, sir,” Dr. Napier replied, looking down at the papers on his clip board. “We’ve increased our testing and we’ve increased our intensity and nothing has changed.”
“Hmmm,” The Doctor pondered with his hand placed at the edge of his chin. “Have we brought in the outsides?”
“We…..We haven’t, sir. We know that it thinks of them often. We…….we’ve brought them into conversation while we test it, but we haven’t shown them.” Dr. Quinn responded with slight hesitation. She looked back at The Doctor, who stood behind her.
“Hmmm……Let me talk to the patient.” The Doctor thought aloud.
The room was well-lit, yet felt dark and cold. It was lifeless. The walls were bright white, nearly neon. The room was empty of all, except a metal-framed table and a metal chair. The Patient sat stoic at the table, face facing the surface of the metal table. His hands were hidden in his lap underneath the metal table.
The door from across the room opened. The doctor with the bald head entered into the room with a thick manila folder of files and papers. The Doctor made his way to the table that stood in the middle of the room and sat down on the opposite side of The Patient. Silently The Doctor laid the file folder in front of him and rested his intertwined hands atop of the folder.
“Hello, Job. My name is Doctor Edwards.” The Doctor extended his hand out to greet the patient with a friendly handshake. No response. “Well, you’ve been with us for a long time, nearly eight months.”
The Patient’s expression remained.
“It looks like you came to us to be treated for………Well, that’s interesting…..You came here on your own.” The Doctor said thumbing through the file folder. “It seems that you never gave us a reason for your visit and you never let us run a complete diagnosis.”
The Patient’s expression remained.
“So, tell me about yourself. Do you have any family?”
“Job, what happened to your family?”
“Well, we’ve also seen that you came from a wealthy family. How did you lose it all?”
The silence remained. The tension between The Doctor and the Patient grew thick and awkward. The Doctor seemed as if he were bothered by the silence that fell between them, yet one could get a sense that the Doctor truly enjoyed the silence. He enjoyed the awkwardness. It allowed him to lead the conversation in any direction that he pleased; and he knew exactly the direction that he would lead the conversation.
“I’ve got something to show you.” The Doctor said with a smile. He opened the manila folder to the back, where he had a special stack of files and papers. He looked down at them, the smile grew more devilish.
“In actuality, you didn’t volunteer to be here; we brought you here. You wouldn’t know that because we worked behind the scenes, we had to make it seem voluntary. It actually started with Emily, when she was born. We’ve been planning this for nearly ten years; right after you and your wife were married. ”
The Patient looked up from his trance on the metal table top. He looked intently into the eyes of The Doctor that sat before him. The Doctor flashed his devilish smile. The Patient listened more intently as the Doctor spoke.
“You see, first, it was your job. We began to infiltrate your business, or should I say the business that your father left you after we rid of him. Anyway, we ate at it from the inside out until there was nothing left.” The Doctor pulled a document from the manila folder and laid it in front of the Patient. As The Patient quickly read through the document, he realized that the document reveals the merging of one company into a slightly larger company and the smaller company being liquidated and dissolved into the larger, causing all those involved with the smaller company to lose their jobs.
“You see, that was the easy part. When we absorbed your business, we knew that your wealth would soon dry up, leaving you with nothing. We knew that this news would create further tension between your wife and you. You be honest with you, I was a bit shocked. Trust me, your wife married you for you, not your money, but at the end of the day money influences a lot.”
The tension continued to grow between The Patient and The Doctor. The glare that The Patient delivered to The Doctor grew more and more intense with every secret revealed.
“She never left you. She would never dream of it. Believe me when I say that we tried, yet no amount of money could persuade her to pack up herself and the kids and leave town. She definitely stood her ground. That’s when we brought the kids in.”
The Doctor pulled two pictures from the manila folder and laid them in front of The Patient. The first; a lovely black and white photograph of a four year old girl with stringy hair and a delightful smile. The second; photograph of a four month old boy with slobbery fist shoved into his mouth.
The Patient’s body began to shake beneath his medical gown and robe. He tried his best to keep his trauma covered under his stoic glare at The Doctor.
“They called for you. In fact, they cried for you.” The Doctor said with a smile more devilish than before. The Doctor watched as the face of his patient changed instantly. “With every agonizing moment their cries became more traumatizing, more intense……until their very end.”
“No!” Job cried, breaking his stoic glare.
“That’s when she snapped and took a leap of faith into the darkness. She was swallowed by it. She couldn’t resist. She couldn’t live without her darlings. She couldn’t live without you, yet she didn’t want to live with you.”
“Stop it.” Job looked up once again, bringing his face back to the stoic look that would mask his pain. He glared into the eyes of the man who single-handedly disassembled his life.
“It’s at that point that you ‘volunteered’ to be here. We perfectly organized our presence in your life to ‘help’ you. Yet, we haven’t been helping you, have we? It’s been quite the contrary. Yet, through all of this you remained. You never broke, not fully. You remained strong.” The Doctor rose from his desk and began to circle around the patient as if he were encircling his prey. “You see, we started this nearly ten years ago for one reason; we wanted to see how far you would go. We wanted to see how much it would take before you broke under the pressure. You never did. Why is that?”
“You have no idea.” The patient spoke through gripped teeth. “You will never know what I know.”
“Sir, sir, you lied to him.” Dr. Quinn said looking at The Patient through the large window that looked into the medical room. She pivoted her eyesight to The Doctor, awaiting his response.
The Patient sat silently at the metal table, he swayed back and forth. His fingers where entangled in his unkempt hair. With each sway he tightened his grip to the follicles of hair that rested in his palm. As he moved in his seat, he began to whisper to himself. He was so quiet that he could not be heard if you even sat next to him. His mind was fully of the words of The Doctor; Doctor Edwards.
“Not entirely,” he said in response. “I only told him what he needed to hear. His family is gone, his wealth his gone, it may or it may not have been me who was responsible for all of it. I guess he will never know.”
“Anyway, this was left at the door.” Dr. Quinn continued, handing a small white envelope to the delish doctor standing next to her. The envelope was addressed to The Patient, written in the blue ink of a ball point pen and decorated with the scribbles of a child with a crayon. “What about the other letters?” Dr. Quinn asked nervously, remembering the various letters that came in the mail, all of them addressed to the same person: Job Roberts.
“What about them? The Patient doesn’t know that they exist. It believes that the wife and kids have forgotten all about him. The Patient believes that they are dead; and it will never know anything different.”
Job, the patient was lead back into his room. A well lit, white room that felt dark, cold and lifeless. As the door slams behind him, Job looked around at the milk white walls that were made out of large cinder blocks.
His metal framed bed was covered with a white blanket, neatly made. Job slowly stepped toward the edge of his bed, where he fell to his knees. With very little strength left, job laid his elbows across the bedspread. He interweaved his fingers and bowed his head.
You are my strength. Regardless of my circumstance or my situation, you are my refuge. I am thankful for your love and grace every day. I pray for my family. Thank you for my beautiful wife, Rebecca; my amazing daughter, Emily and my chip of the old block, Brian. I know that they are alive. I know that wherever they are, or whatever they are doing, that they are taken care of by you. I know that you are protecting them and guiding them and that you are reminding them that I still love them. I do not blame them for not visiting me, although I wish I could see them. I wish I could hold them. I can only continuously thank you for protecting me and loving me and continuing to give them the strength that I need to face all that I am being asked to face.
It was dark. The sky was filled with a hopelessness of light. The thickened clouds layered the sky, covering the empty winding road with a gray, bleak ambiance. The winding road was wet from the heavy rain that continued to fall upon it, leaving it slick and slippery for any vehicle that may drive on it. Lightning strikes sent an occasional streak of light through the darkened sky as thunder completed the sound track to the heaviness of the evening.
A set of brightly lit headlights danced through the falling tears of the clouds. The tire tracks of a 1987 Ford F-150 followed closely behind the beams of light. The truck raced through the streets, coursing through numerous twists and turns of the wet pavement.
The knuckles of the driver whitened as he gripped the steering wheel as tightly as he could. He squint his eyes as he maneuvered the machine through the heavy rain pattern. The driver’s mind raced through a series of thoughts as he traveled.
What if they find it? What if they find out? They will see everything that I’ve done, all of it. I’ve got to get rid of this. I can’t start anew with this in my life. It has to go.
He gripped the steering tighter with each passing thought. As his mind raced, so did the F-150.
Bumps in the road caused the rear end of the Ford to bounce up and down. With every bump, the driver’s eyes peered into the rear-view mirror as he remembered the contents that rested in the back of the truck. “I’ve got to get rid of this,” The driver whispered to himself, steering the car slightly through the dark night. “Where can I hide it?” He tightened his grip on the steering wheel, pushing the acceleration pedal closer to the floor in hopes that that the vehicle will reach its destination faster.
“I’ve got to make sure nobody ever finds it.” With stress filling his voice, he rolled his eyes from one point of the wet road to the other as he contemplated the perfect hiding place. “I can’t wait to rid myself of all of this.” He muttered as he rolled his eyes into his mind, journeying through his memories. As he coursed through his thoughts, he face melted into a variety of emotional expression of displeasure.
With a pivoted head, the driver drove off of the paved road and found that he was driving on a slightly bumpy dirt road that was moist from the rain. Large trees covered the vehicle, keeping the rain from soaking the car or the dirt road.
“Oh, yes. This is perfect.” The man smiled as he got closer to the perfect hiding spot. “I will finally be free. I will finally be able to start off anew.” The man smiled. The F-150 was brought to a complete stop in a dirt field that was shielded by the large trees. Climbing out of the driver’s door, the driver ensured that he had found the correct spot, turning his head in a complete circle, noticing that his vehicle was completely surrounded by the trees.
The bed of the F-150, which was covered by a metal enclosure, was opened, revealing a largely rolled up piece of cloth. The roll was held together by multiple belts fastened together until fully wrapped around the roll of cloth. The large roll of cloth was surrounded by large boxes of childhood memories and belongings of the driver. The man looked down at the large cloth, smiling. Next to the large roll of cloth, there lay a wooden shovel. The man wrapped his rough fingers around the wooden handle of the shovel and pulled it from the bed of the Ford.
What have I done? What would they think of me if they knew? I’m horrible, I’m disturbed. They would never speak to me again. They would never forgive me. That’s why I had to do it. This was necessary.
The metal edge of the shovel was shoved into the moist dirt, standing on its own. Dirt was shoveled away until a 6 foot deep hole lay open before the dirt covered man. He breathed heavy as he looked at the open ditch that lay before him. Next to the 6 foot deep ditch where large mounds of uprooted dirt; the shovel’s metal edge buried in the mounds, keeping it upright.
Grab it out of there. Let’s get this done. They will be here soon, I just know it. Let’s move.
“Uggh,” The man grunted as he pulled the large roll of cloth out of the truck’s trunk. The roll of cloth was long horizontally. He slump the large roll of his shoulder. The roll of cloth showed itself as heavy as the man slumped when he walked with the large roll over his shoulder. Every step was purposely balanced to steady the horizontal cargo on the man’s shoulder. The moisture from the rain drenched the cloth, making it heavier.
Oh, my God! I can’t believe I’ve carried this around for all of this time. It’s time to rid myself of this. It’s time to stop struggling and get this off of my chest. I’m finished.
With a great push the cargo was sent into the 6-foot ditch that was dug by the anxious young man.
“I’ve got to get rid of this.” He muttered to himself, grabbing the wooden handle of the shovel and retrieving it from the dirt pile that rested next to his feet. With a hurried hand, the young man began to pile the damp dirt on top of the large roll-up cloth. “I’m almost there. I am almost free. Soon I can go home. I can move on.” His words were motivation to himself as he continued to shove the metal shovelhead into the excess dirt and tossed it rapidly into the ditch.
He stared into the half-filled ditched. One end of the rolled of cloth was nearly uncovered from the mismatched piles of dirt. He looked at exactly how the dampened cloth clung to the contents of the roll, creating indentions in the cloth. As the cloth settled on to the contents of the roll, the indentions began to form what could only be described as a face.
“I’ve got to see it.” He whispered to himself, still staring at the apparent face in the rolled-up cloth. His was a frozen in fear. He barely blinked as he stared intently. He slowly stepped toward the opposite end of the ditch and stepped into the ditch.
You’re stepping on it. It’s right beneath you. He thought to himself as he turned around, looking down at the roll. He slowly planted a knee into the dirt and moved a trembling hand toward the edge of the roll. With a light touch he ran his fingers on the edge of the roll, feeling the rough edges on his fingertips. “What are you afraid of? It’s dead. It’s no more. You are free from it; all you have to do is finish the job.”
“I’ve got to see it, one last time.” He whispered to himself, his fingertips still sliding along the end of the rolled-up cloth. He gripped the edge of the cloth and began to peal it away. He first saw the soaked hair; brown. He then began to see the forehead and eyebrows; also brown. When he reached the eyes, they were closed, but he remembers the color of them as well; brown.
Every inch that the cloth peeled off of the face, the more anxious the young man became. “I’ve got to see it. I’ve got to make sure that it’s the right person.” He continued removing the wet sheet from the face of the victim, until the sheet reached beyond the chin, revealing the neck.
“It’s him. It’s him. Oh, thank God, it’s him. ” He studied the face, even though he has seen this face billions of times. He had seen this face for the last twenty-nine years; for the face that he was looking at in the watery grave was his own.
He dropped to his knees in relief. With his two hands intertwined and his eyes closed, he spoke, “Father, please forgive me. This body is not who I am anymore. This is the body of my disobedience. This is the body of my brokenness. I burry reminisce of my old ways here to follow you truly and whole heartedly. I ask that you forgive of all of my disobedience and brokenness. I ask that you forgive me for all of the times that I chose to abandon you. I need you. I ask that you would empower me with your Spirit and guide me. I do not wish to return to this spot. I do not wish to return to this body. I do not wish to return to my old ways. I chose to follow you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”
Using the shovel, he hoisted himself up to his feet and climbed out of the grave. With a few final scoops of dirt, the body was completely buried beneath the freshly laid dirt. Looking to the sky he sighed. He sigh was a mixture of relief and exhaustion.
Dragging the shovel behind him by the wooden handle, he made his way back to the Ford F-150 with the enclosure over the bed of the truck. The rain drops eased his aching muscles. Each step toward the F-150 was a mile long.
“In that grave was all my fear.
Bury my pain and hatred right here.
In that grave was all my fear.
Bury my mistress actions right here.
Help me see clear. Help me draw near.
Mercy is so much more, it’s right here.
Help me see clear. Help me draw near.
You’re not far away, I Know you’re right here.”
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God.
*End quote from Braille’s 2009 album “Cloud Nineteen” published by Hip Hip Is Music
My year away from Jesus: Part 6
It finally started. I spent nearly a year in the bottom of this depression pit, but it was finally time to ascend out of the underground tomb. Through prayer, Bible studies and various attempts to socialize with the outside world, I began to feel like myself again.
I realized that I needed to pull myself out of my current comfort, which unfortunately had become an extremely dark place, and I needed to place myself in situations where I could interact with the world around me. On numerous occasions I would Google local events that I believed that I would enjoy. Yet, too often I backed out of the promises that I made to myself. That couldn't continue!
I would often Google local wrestling shows and small concerts that would allow me to interact with others who share the same interests that I have. While I found some interesting-sounding wrestling shows, I never got up the courage to go to these shows. I guess I was afraid of reaching out.
I needed to stand up and be seen.
I slowly began to go on shopping visits with family member and tag on to outings with my brother and his girlfriend. Even though I was often silently walking like a zombie throughout these outings, it helped me to look at the world again. It helped me to see that there was an entire world outside of my tomb that laid in nightly.
It helped me to see that even though there was a dark cloud following me, I realized that the sun was still shinning for everyone else. Too often this revelation turns a darkened heart darker, creating thoughts of: "Where's my sunshine?" or "Why is their life so perfect and mine is so messed up?"or "Why are they so much better than me?"
While I saw the sun shinning for everyone else, I slowly became grateful. I was grateful that there were people who were benefiting from the blessings of God. I was grateful because I eventually realized that those same people that were absorbing the sunlight had also faced their own depression pits throughout the years, and for many they may have been worst than my own.
Since the sun shown for them eventually, I had to believe that God would shine His rays on me one day. I just had to crawl out of my pit in order to receive those blessings.
I kept praying.
I kept reading.
I kept going to church.
Suddenly it was like a light switch; one day I was surrounded by the darkness of my thoughts and my attitude and the next day there were rays of light shining in life, showing me God's grace and love for me.
Rebuilding that broken relationship with God did not happen overnight. It took work. I realized that I needed to start by rebuilding my confidence, which meant honing my craft as I focused on my talents. I began to write daily. I wrote poetry, songs, articles, and blogs. Along side with the reconstruction of my confidence, I continued to focus on God, going back to my passion for God's word and work throughout the world.
The progress of Bible reading and praying went through a series of changes over this time of healing. When I was buried beneath my depression pit, I was unable to read my Bible without becoming distracted or uninterested. Due to this revelation, I would become very frustrated because I would recall the reading I was able to accomplish before I fell into the depression pit. It disturbed me that I fell so far away.
I figured it out this way: your faith grows jut like your human body. Think of a baby, when they are in their infancy they drink formula. Their body can not digest solid foods and they don't have teeth to chew. As our bodies grow, we are able to eat solid food and even later we are able to eat larger amounts of food. I believe our faith is very similar: If you don't feed your faith, you eventually have to leave solid foods and retreat back to formula. For example, I spent an entire year not fully reading, therefore when I finally read the Bible I was unable to digest what I was reading. I had to re-train myself to digest larger chunks of scripture. So, that's what I did. I would read small pieces of scripture until I was developed enough to handle more.
Even though I escaped the pit, there were still plenty of symptoms that I had to deal with on a daily basis. I found joy in my everyday life, yet I often motioned through joyful and happy to sad or disappointed and then back again. Although I still have a lot to learn, I will continuously seek the ways of the LORD and I will trust his path for my life.
Now, I can happily say that things are better. I have found my ultimate joy in the LORD of the universe; the LORD of grace; the LORD of love; the LORD of my life. I have found a new job; a place where I truly feel like I fit in and I belong. I've even started dating again.
All I can say is that I am blessed and thankful for all that I've been though and all that I've learned from this experience. I hope by reading my words God has blessed you and begun to show you what He is capable of. I pray that you would search for the love of the LORD and trust in the path that he has you on. If at anytime you find yourself lost or you find yourself making a wrong turn somewhere, just know that God loves you and Jesus died to free you from all your sin and all of your mistakes.
Anthony K. Giesick
My year away from Jesus: Part 5
"In the return to life from the swoon there are two stages; first, that of the sense of mental or spiritual; secondly, that of the sense of physical, existence." -Edgar Alan Poe (The Pit and the Pendulum)
As I found distance in the wreckage of my dating relationship and began to find a closeness in my relationship with God, the healing began. I must be honest, while my recent ex entered into another relationship, I eventually took her advice; trying out an online dating site to try to meet some more people. I went on a few dates, but nothing that resembled a dating relationship would emerge.
To be honest, that was for the best because I was not emotionally ready for another relationship. I needed to heal. Just because I wasn't ready for a relationship, that doesn't mean it didn't hurt when I would be ignored by women or rejected by someone that I would begin to like.
One of the incidents that I encountered was very confusing for me. I met her online and we started talking through text. We seemed to have a lot in common, but I was still very hopeful that my lost love and I would clear the air and work out our confusion. When I finally allowed my mind to grab hold of the idea that we would not be together, I began to talk to this new interest more often. We finally decided to meet in person. We went out on two dates, one of them was a dinner date and the second was a dinner and a movie.
As we talked over dinner, I felt that there was a great chemistry and possible connection between us. She agreed. When we met the second time for the movie, we found ourselves snuggled in the seats together. It felt great. We kissed. I couldn't believe it how it felt.
I thought this was the beginning of a new relationship, but within a few weeks we weren't talking. I would text her, no answer. I would call her, no response. I would try to email her, not a word. I was confused and my already shattered confidence took another solid hit.
This was another sign that I needed to focus my heart on God for healing. So, that's what I did. I have been going to a new church over the months, but I was considering going back to my original church that I found here in Phoenix. I thought to myself whether I should leave the church for another, each week trying to decide on what to do. I kept going to church throughout this entire depression and recovery, but I just couldn't seem to find the spiritual connection that I felt like I needed.
In order to find healing from this pit I knew that I needed to focus on my spirit. I needed my heart to heal and I realize that I couldn't heal my mind and body until God freed me from my sin and my spiritual bondage.
I kept praying.
I kept reading.
I kept going to church.
I thought I was ready to return to my previous church, until I heard a sermon that opened my stone encased heart to the truth of God's words. As the pastor spoke from the Holy Bible the Holy Spirit opened my ears and led my thoughts through the dark catacombs into his light.
Every day I prayed and my prayers began to resemble the words of a forgiven son of God as opposed to the words of a heart broken young man seeking a relationship with his lost father.
I began reading God's word regularly, taking the time to digest the meaning of the passages, reminding myself of the honest truth that are written in those pages. The power of God's word opened my eyes to my darkened state of mind and gave me a light to lead me out of the pit.
Along with taking time to heal my spirit and my spiritual connection with God, I also had to take time to heal myself physically. I can safely say that I was't severely harmed physically during my descent, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't physically harmed. One incident where I physically harmed myself....I was in the shower, thinking through the series of events that had happened with this love of mine. I thought of all of all that she said to me and the fact that I never seemed first on her list. I blood began to boil. Before I knew I was punching myself in the chest, the arms and legs. I rammed my clinched fists into the tiled-wall of the shower.
I felt disgraced. I felt overcome by grief and anger. I couldn't seem to control myself. due to my lack of self-control I was left with a large bruise on my left arm that was so tender that there were times that I couldn't move it or touch it.
This would never happen again.
The power of prayer is a very useful tool when one is dealing depression, frustration and even anger. When I'm feeling that old feeling of anger creeping through my system, I must think through the situation that is angering me and take a moment to pray. I will speak my anger to the LORD, knowing that He will listen to my prayers and calm my mind and my body. This will prevent my anger from boiling over into acts of sins and disgrace.
My year away from Jesus: Part 4
In the deepest level of my depression pit; where I was surrounded by the darkness of my heart and the heaviness of my situations, I feared that I would never see the light of day. What was more unnerving was my lost of desire to pull myself out of the depression pit. I figured I would live out my days and die in this state of mind.
Daily my mind raced through thoughts of darkness; I thought of her and the love-filled heart slowly beat in my chest. I thought of the man that stole my love from my grasp. My anger quickly inflated in the pit of my stomach at the mention of his name.
I scrolled through the card catalogue of my memories, pulling details of the numerous conversations that her and I had that proved that I was a better match for her than the man that she was dating.
Deeper in to the pit I go.
As my personal life sunk deeper into the pit it seemed that my professional life followed close behind. I soon heard that the parents of my students were complaining about my teaching methods, my discipline of the students and even my attitude.
I guess I can't blame the students or the parents. The only person that I can blame is myself. Of course I must admit the students were a challenge for me. Many of them came into the classroom with bad attitudes or with the desire to behave badly, but that's one of the many roles of the students. While the students were difficult, my attitude toward life, teaching and the students didn't remedy the situations.
I felt ashamed. I felt as if there was nothing that I could do right. I felt even more worthless and even harmful to the students. I questioned my entire future. I questioned my existence.
Deeper into the pit I go.
"I had swooned; but still will not say that all of consciousness was lost. What of it there remained I will not attempt to define, or even describe; yet all was not lost. In the deepest slumber-no! In delirium-no! In a swoon-no! In death-no! Even in the grave all is not lost." -Edgar Alan Poe (The Pit and the Pendulum)
Although I was in such a difficult place in my life, both personally and professionally, I knew that the smallest iota of hope was still hope to hold on to. Truth was, I wasn't dead. Everyday I was given a new opportunity to redirect my heart from the darkness of the pit to the glorious light of God's presence. Yet, that was easier said than done.
As a Christian walking through life and the variety of trials and tribulations, there are three areas that help with ones personal growth. These three Elements often empower us and keep us encouraged as he journey through our darkest days and our brightest nights. Unfortunately as I tumbled through my personal life and my professional life deteriorating, these are the very same elements that I ignored.
Prayer- For many prayer is a complete mystery that leaves them lost in confusion. They feel as if they are talking to the wall in front of them instead of to an almighty creator of the universe.
When I first decided to accept God's love and I began to follow Jesus' commandments, I had the same thoughts that many have about prayer. I felt ridiculous speaking under my breath to God. As I read more about God and his almighty power of the universe, I realized that the privilege to communication with this God was a spectacular treat that we should marvel over.
All of that changed in the pit. As I left the blessings of God behind to pursue another lifestyles, I left my desire to pray with it. Throughout my time in my depression I must admit that I would try to pray, but I couldn't seem to find the words or the drive to connection with this God that I once considered so close.
I realized that I had no where to turn. I had to pray. I had to find the words and the passion that I once had. Too often I would find myself in my room trying to speak my heart out to God, but with no prevail. I was completely discouraged, but with the loving words of a caring friend I realized that it didn't matter the words that I used, God's focus would be on the intentions of my heart.
So I kept praying.
Bible reading- For many reading a Bible is a chore. The idea of using our precious time reading is preposterous for so many. Also, many have it engraved in their minds that the Bible is something that is not meant to understand or apply to their everyday lives.
As I desired to know more about God and what He has to say about life than reading the Bible became very important to me. At one point in time I would read for hours and study the background information of the readings. I loved to find the true facts behind the scriptures that I would find throughout the Bible.
Just as I found myself running away from prayer, I also distanced myself from Bible reading. I attempted to read far more than I attempted to pray, but I wasn't reading to connect with God. Instead I read in order to check an items off of a check list. Also, I continued to go to church, but I didn't always connect with the message that the pastor would share.
From my days as an avid Bible reader, I remember that there is so much to apply to our everyday lives, but if I do not read consistently then it is more difficult to sense God's direction in my life.
I began to read as often as I could, but I quickly found that my attention span had shrunk to very little. In order to remedy this I realized that I needed to build my stamina while reading and praying. I read a verse at a time, asking God to reveal whatever I could understand. Over time I was able to read more and more verses from the Bible, gathering God's direction for my life.
I kept reading.
My year away from Jesus: Part 3
As I have grown I have always had so many questions, by none of them plagued me as much or for a long as relationships. From the time that I became interested in relationships, I have been trying to figure them out. And to no prevail.
Whether we are talking about simple friendships to romanic relationships, either way I am utterly lost. To be honest, friendships/relationships don't come easy for me. This is probably because I over think the concept of relationships.
The odd thing about all of this, regardless of the fact that I have zero percent knowledge of friendships/relationships I have had some very meaningful relationships over 28 years. Throughout my years of school, I have had a multitude of meaningful friendships over the years. Even with the multitude of friends that I've had, I have always dealt with loneliness and depression. I grew into the mind of not being good enough for true friendship. As if I were destined to be my own best friend.
As you may have figured out, this attitude carried into my teenage years, basically crippling my dating life. To be completely honest I didn't become interested in woman until well past the normal age of an adolescent boy. When I finally became romantically or sexually interested in relationships, I was still too nervous and scared to build these relationships. Often I admired ladies from a far, wishing that my luck would change.
Soon before I knew it my friends would start dating and pouring their energy into these newly developed relationships, leaving me alone questioning how to create one of these relationships for myself.
When I transitioned from High School to College, I thought my luck would finally change. Due to the fact that I'm in a new place surrounded by new people, I was determined to turn my luck around. In many aspects I was successful. I gather my scattered nerves and began to talk to more girls and even flirt with them (Or at least try to) but it never led to an actual relationship. It often lead to a dear friendship.
When I finally found myself in a relationship I felt a multi-layered chest plate of worry and stress lift from my shoulders. We were in a relationship for two years. I felt like I finally fit in to the society that I had been apart of my entire life. I thought I had finally figured out all of my questions about relationships, but as I got further into my first relationship, I realized the questions would continue and get even more complicated.
I soon found myself desiring commitment, but fearing it as her and I approached the idea. It started with talks of marriage, which soon became an engagement, which many of my family members were not supportive of. Throughout this time of confusion, I wrote a series of songs that expressed my true emotions and I asked my fiancé to read them and consider them. In doing that a I was hoping that we would work through my nerves and my weakness, but instead it broke us up.
When we broke it up after two years I became some what of my old-time shut in. While I continued working in various campus ministries and classrooms, I rarely put time and effort into any aspect of my personal life. It would be nearly seven years before I actually enter into another romantic relationship again.
Before I knew it I was moving from Flagstaff to Phoenix Arizona to teach. During this time of transition I faced multiple trials that wore down my outlook on my own value. Due to that worn down muscle of faith I began to search for people to show me my value. I soon found myself in a relationship with a beautiful woman. This woman made me feel loved in a way that I've never felt before. The way her eyes gleamed with joy when she looked at me. Her smile reassured me with total honesty that she trusted me. I finally knew what it was like to be in love.
With this new found relationship building up my confidence once again, I slowly stopped turning to God to define my value. Instead I turned to her. Anything that was expected of me from her, I would do it to the best of my ability. The mornings were filled with loving good morning texts and the evenings were spent talking over the phone, where we would share stories of our days and ending with a small Bible study and a time of prayer.
We would meet up on Fridays after work and we would spend the weekend together. We would go out to dinners. We would go to concerts. We would even go to church on Sunday mornings.
Everything seemed perfect!
It was in that perfection I would soon get lost. As I got more immersed into the relationship with my new love, my relationship with God suffered and was left for dead. As the relationship with God diminished my mood began to change, leaving me more frustrated as time went by.
What was it that left me so frustrated and irritated? What were the steps that lead me down into the depression pit, where I would feel lost and confused about who I am? What were the events that would strip away my confidence and value?
As her and I got closer both physically and spiritually we started to talk more honest about our expectations and desires in the relationship. To say the least, our expectations were entirely different in so many ways. For instance, my value of money is very limited. I understand that we need money to live, but I have never be solely driven by the desire to be rich or to be wealthy. On the other hand, my love had grown accustom to having a certain amount of money to live on, which was far more than I made at the time that we were together. Secondly, I grew up in an environment were my best friend and perfect companion was always myself. I didn't also have the attention of the world around me so I learned how to entertain myself. This is something that she never truly learned and many times she struggled when she was alone with her own thoughts and feelings.
Due to these differences, amongst others, I often found myself on the phone with this beautiful lady trying to ease her mind about our relationship and the potential that I saw in the two of us being together. A number of times she suggested that we each date other people to see if there may be better chemistry with another person. I continuously protested, explaining that it was only her that I wanted to be with. Regardless how often I tried to ease her mind, she continued to come to the conclusion that she wanted to meet and date a few other men as a way to solidify her feelings for me. While I disagreed with the idea I decided to support her in this journey.
To be honest, I had no intention to date other women. My plan was to allow her to meet a few other people but I would keep my presence in her life, showing her my interest and my true intentions for us. I would do all of this in hopes that I would win to the woman's heart.
With every date that she went on, fear filled my heart and clouded my mind. I tried to hold myself together by distracting myself with movies, television and writing; but more often than not I was up all night hoping to hear from her. While sometimes that worked to my benefit because she would make late night visits to my place after her dates, most of the time I was left with a sleepless night.
Looking back at these events as I write these words, I realize that I should have spent my sleepless night seeking after God and strengthening that relationship. Unfortunately this was the beginning stages of my descent into the depression pit that nearly devoured me whole.
As she took to a new love interest and they soon grew closer, I felt like I was once again left to myself; left to my darkened thoughts and my lonliness. The person that I felt the closest to in my entire life was leaving me behind.
I quickly found myself fighting for her attention. I would try to text her first thing in the morning or right as she got off of work, hoping that we could get together and re-create the bond that initially linked us together; but I was often ignored or she was already busy with her new love.
Deeper down the pit I go.
Throughout these last two years I have been through multiple ups and downs, but I must be honest in saying that this series of events was the precipice of my descent to my year away from Jesus. It's unfortunate that the same person that made me feel valuable and loved; the same person that made feel like I was the most important person in their life was the same person that made me feel undesired and useless.
It wasn't until my encounter with God that I realized my value and purpose once again. I began to press into God's presence regularly. God began to break the stone from my heart, making it flesh again. God brought blood to my dried vines, allowing my heart to feel again for the lost souls of this world.
It is in that God that I am defined. It is in that God that I made whole. That is the God that I will trust!
I still have many questions about relationships; but I do know that my relationship with God is the most important relationship that I can put my energy into. I have learned first hand that if I trust in God and follow His plan with unwavering faith, then God will guide me and comfort me when I am hurt. God will bring people into my life and God will ask me to leave certain people behind.
Now I have a newly strengthened trust for my God and I have a better understanding of my own personal weakness. I have learned that God is truly strong when I am at my weakest; so I lean in to God when I am weak
My year away from Jesus: part 2
One of my favorite things is to hear the true stories of people that I admire in some way or another. The reason for this is simple: when you get into their mind and you hear why they act the way that they do. I love to hear what motivates them in their chosen art form and the work that it took to get the success that they were able to accomplish. Along with their success, I am also bound to hearing about their failures and the trials that they have faced. Through hearing these stories of trial and triumph, it inspires me to be an open book with everything that I have faced and I have seen over these last two years.
With every story that is worth telling, there is always a beginning. My story is no different. In order to completely understand the beginning of my descent from God's favor I need to better understand what caused my turn away from Jesus. What was my motivation for betraying my Heavenly Father? I realized that I am to blame for the struggles that I faced in this period of time. With that said, I also realize that I must take specific steps to getting out of this dark area of my life. I just needed to figure out what those steps are and commit to the process.
As I looked retrospectively through the last two years, I began to see what the ultimate cause was: My desire to be admired and loved.
Truth be told, ever since I was a child I have always wanted to know that I was important to someone. At a young boy I lived with my single-mother, my older brother and my older sister. To say that I was spoiled was kind of an understatement. My mother and I would often spend time together, watching tv and movies. It also seems like most anything that I wanted I would get, as long as I cried And whined for it enough. I was the baby of the family.
I often visited my grandmother and my great grandmother on the weekends with my cousin. My cousin and I were best friends! We grew up together. We had many of he same interests and we would spend Hours hanging out, watching tv or we would be outside digging in the dirt and playing with toys. The bond that I had with my grandmother was great. She is one of the primary reasons why I love a good story. My grandma used to read to me often. Her and I would often share stories that we were reading or what we have read.
As far as my relationship with my father it started off nearly absent. I know that I would see my dad once during the week and on certain weekends. Often when I would see my dad it was awkward and something that I didn't fully understand. As a young child I remember laying in my bed and trying to figure how why my mother chose to make him my father. Why would she pick him? What does the word "father" mean? I didn't know how I was suppose bond with him or even why I should bond with him. All I knew was a stranger entered into my life and I was told that he was my dad.
Over time I got more comfortable with my father. He would pick me up from school and he would take me to the movies or to Disneyland. Of course I had fun! We would ride our favorite rides and eat food at the park or I would drag him to the movies to see "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie" which was released in 1995 or various other children's movies of that time.
Even with all of these people around me, often I felt like I was alone most of the times. I would sit in my room and hide within my own thoughts. I grew up with a lot of questions, but I didn't always voice them. I don't know why. Possibly because I felt like if I were ask these questions I would quickly become an annoyance to my family. Maybe I didn't ask these questions because I didn't fully understand the reason for the question.
None-the-less, I believe the root of these unanswered questions sprouted from my desire to figure out who I was and why I was important. This blood thirst for love and attention continued through my childhood entering into my adult life. As I aged, I poked and prodded for attention from some while shunning the attention of others. I quietly sought the attention of my peers through self-defeating phrases and statements, hoping they would verbally protest and share their views of me. Views that showed my value to them. By them protesting my negative statements that I shared of myself and replacing with with a statement of acceptance, it made be feel important and valued to the person.
This quirk of mine easily transitioned into my value as a man of God. God has quickly reassured me that I was loved by Him. Jesus' words and actions pealed back the curtain of deception that clouded by vision from His ultimate plan. Often I would lay in my bed, thinking of my value to the people in my life. I would often think that I wasn't truly valuable to my family members. I believed that they only told that they loved me because they were obligated to due to the fact that they were family members. As these thoughts clouded my mind, God quietly spoke to my heart, saying, " It may have seemed that you family didn't love you or didn't want you, but I sent my son to die for you. That is how important you are to me. Also, I did that because I wanted to. I did that because I wanted you."
I woke up in tears.
I have my purpose. I have realized that I am worthy of God's and acceptance. God did not have to build a relationship with me, but He desired to. He saw a value in me that I couldn't even see in my self. This built my confidence and soon lead my actions in ministry and work.
Being a young child who deeply craved the attention of others echoed through my growing spurts and the effects still ring loud through my adult life. I sought the attention of my parents and siblings. I sought the admiration of my peers as a young boy. Even as an adult I hope to be loved and admired by the ones that I love. I search for this acceptance, but I am never satisfied with the value that is placed on my shoulders. My mind of doubt kept me from seeing that I am valuable.
I am important.
I am worthy of love.
I am blessed.
I am all of these things and so much more. It is not because of my actions that I am valuable to the world; it is because of the sacrifice that Jesus offered in my place that holds my importance. When Jesus pulled me from the pit of despair and depression, I was given a love that opened my heart to my true potential; my true purpose. The same purpose that I discovered early in my walk with God.
I have recently been reassured through the Holy Spirit that my value is the same in God's eyes. My value did not diminish or magically vanish due to my diversion from God's grace of the last year. I also learned that I didn't need to search for my importance or my value, I already had it! My childhood did not have to be filled with self-defeating phrases to get people attention. I did not need to lose my morals in romantic relationships to feel loved.
Our value is God-given; it does not vanish over time. It is not added to by good deeds. It is simply laid upon us when God, our Heavenly Father, looks at us with eyes welling with tears of joy. It is simply granted to us when Jesus willing accepts our punishment for our disobedience toward a Perfect God and He hangs naked on a cross. Lastly, we are empowered by our value when we willingly walk in God's perfect plan for our lives, trusting him completely.
James Chapter 3: Part two
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.”
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
Pure= Without imperfections or impurities.
Peaceable= Not argumentative or hostile.
Gentle= Not severe, rough or violent.
Open to reason= Capable of rational behavior; open to other thought.
Full of mercy= Compassion shown towards an offender.
Good fruit= Positive impacts and growth of a person or persons.
Impartial= Not Bias, but fair.
Sincere= Free of deceit or hypocrisy.
My Year away from Jesus: Part 1
The boxes were packed and stacked around my bedroom, waiting to be loaded into my '99 Ford Taurus. Looking around my room, I ensured that everything was neatly put away in the boxes, ready to move to Phoenix, Arizona. You see, for the last ten years or so I've lived in Flagstaff, Arizona. In that time I graduated from Northern Arizona University with an elementary education degree. After I graduated from NAU, I began working with students at a local Elementary school for about five years. I loved the job, but my hope was to get my own classroom.
The time finally came where I felt God moving in my heart to move me to Phoenix to teach. I was excited to gather my courage (along with my stuff) and move my life to Phoenix. I landed a teaching job in the center of Phoenix, where I would be teaching 5th grade.
Before I was able to leave for Phoenix, I needed to tell all of my church family in Flagstaff that God was moving me to Phoenix to be apart of this amazing ministry opportunity. Before I knew it, the head pastor at my church asked me to go stand on the stage of the church so that the church members could pray for me. The prayer felt empowering and encouraging as I prepared for my life change.
So, I left for Phoenix.
This was the start of a time period where I would walk away from Jesus, the God-man that had freed me from so much over the last ten years. The same God that I promised I would never turn from and abandon. similarly to so many, my descent started small. It started with small decisions and choices that I would make that would snowball into bigger issues, leaving life-long memories that I will have to deal with and tackle as I fight for my relationship with the Almighty LORD.
As the months went by and I started working in fifth grade, my faith slowly deteriorated through difficult times and bad decisions. As I struggled with my new job, I lost focus on God though this time. For example, I would come home from a difficult time at work and stress would be layered over my chest, weighing down my heart and my mind. At the end of the night I would read through some scripture and pray, then I would go to bed; hoping to have a better day the next day.
When my days would continuously go bad and sometimes even get worse; I realized that I grew more tired at the end of the day. Slowly I read less scripture and prayed will less expectation. It seemed like my only solace was Sundays, when I would go to church. Often I found myself wiping tears of joy from my eye as the worship band played; I still had hope. although I was loosing it quickly.
As I write these words, nearly two years after I moved to Phoenix, Arizona I have to reflect and discover what were some of the causes that lead me down this path. I also am being forced to consider what I could have done to prevent this descent down the mountain of faith.
1. Community- The Bible is very clear about the need for community for the Christian . Building a firm and reliable Christian community could keep you focused on your mission. The community will also be there to pray for you and guide you through the trial and tribulations of your ministry. I can't say that I didn't have a great community around me because I had Fellow teachers and friends who would have willingly walked with me through all of the difficulties that I have faced. The true issue was my trust of these individuals. I have learned that the importance of community is not to just simply have crowds of people around you, instead true community comes from having people around you that you trust and who care about you; people who will hear your stories and talk you though them, giving you advice. As I said, my issue wasn't having people around me, I had plenty. My issue was being open and honest with the people who were around me. I felt like I had to solve my problems on my own, therefore I wouldn't allow myself to be completely honest with everything that I was truly facing. Yes, I had a community of family and friends around me, but I wasn't using them to the most effect that they should have been. Also, in this time I had lived with a home church or a church community. While I did find a church to go to, I never truly connected with the members of the community. Obviously that cost me a lot when it came to my faith walk and my growth as a man of God. I was essentially stunting my own spiritual growth with this choice.
2. Influence- Now, anybody with any life experience at all could tell you that not only do they have influence on people but they have been influenced by the people around them. The lesson of community and influence truly go hand-and-hand. The company that you keep influences the person that you become. Over the last two years I have had many influences come and go. Unfortunately the ones that I chose to keep around where the ones who lead me astray. Please understand that I am not saying this to blame the individuals in my life for my distance between myself and God. I am writing this to share what I've learned though this very trying experience. Influence is a two-way street. If people can influence you positively or negatively than you too can influence them as well. The dilemma is when a person is allowing negative thoughts to fill their mind and heart, more often than not that vibe will overflow into the person's influence of others. This was never more evident than in my own classroom. Over the last years I was negatively influenced by my lack of God's presence in my life along with the other influences of people, music, media, and my own thoughts. As they filled my heart and my mind, I carried a negative presence into my classroom. As I faced challenges in the role of teacher, the dark cloud got heavier and harder to bare. That same cloud filled my classroom, hanging over the head of every student that stepped foot in my room. This is an impact that I never wanted to leave with such an amazing group of kids. Soon, I realized that I need to change my influences if I wanted to become the person that I once was. If I desire to influence and impact the world for God's ultimate glory, then I must grab hold of my influences and learn to control them. I can not allow them to have control over my thoughts and my mood, I must speak out the truth of God. I will pray to God to allow my thoughts and my mood to be an influential element to the world around me.
3. New surroundings- I spent nearly ten years in flagstaff, Arizona. From the time that I was 17 until right before my 27th birthday. Flagstaff became my home away from home. For years it was the place that I first met God and realized his dying love for me. It was there that I discovered who I was and what I was capable of. Flagstaff was the place where my heart opened to God's word and His plan for my life. I started working in multiple ministries, impacting the lives of those that I worked with. When God called me to move to Phoenix, I thought that it would be easy to transfer my passion and my heart for people and ministry to the new place, but I soon found that more difficult than anticipated. Now, once again I am not saying that the new surroundings changed me, but I am saying that if one does not properly prepare their heart for the transition through prayer and building a firm community within the church, then it makes the transition extremely difficult.
5. That's what I did; I failed to properly prepare my heart for the transition. I lacked discipline in finding a church and building a church community that would hold me accountable to the life of a Christian. Due to my own choices I found distance between myself and the God that I once loved so dearly. Now, That I am on the road to recovery and rebuilding my relationship with Christ, I feel the need to tell the truth of my journey, leaving nothing to the imagination.
James Chapter 3: Part One
“5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”
Anthony K. Giesick
I grew up loving stories and quickly found myself loving writing poetry, stories, songs! Here is a sample of what Beautiful Feet Writings is all about!.