I’ve thought about this for a few days and the one thing I keep remembering is that first conversation I had with Ryan McKinney, when he asked me to contribute to this blog….. Reading the bible wasn’t new to me, but understanding the bible was. From day one I’ve tried to tell a story, I’ve shared my faith journey, and I’ve been very open about my relationship with God. Lately, I’ve struggled to really understand my relationship with God and I’ve become jealous of what I’ve seen God do in other people’s lives around me. What I’ve experienced is that just because I may have an outward appearance that seems to be this devout Christian, I still struggle with that on the inside. I’ve had to really be honest with myself about who I am and for me the results are embarrassing. I’m sharing this story in hopes that the words not only motivate me to be better Christian, but that they are life changing actions as well. I always wonder who reads these words and if there is someone out there that will benefit from them…..
My faith journey is really highlighted by my baptism last year and all those feelings and emotions from that experience. It’s easily the biggest highlight of my walk with God and I reflect back to that moment sometimes daily. At that point in my life I just felt like I belonged, like I mattered, like everything was perfectly aligned in my life. It turns out that I could not be more wrong; I hadn’t even begun to understand what that moment genuinely means. I remember that night of my baptism, I was home alone and all I could think about is that there has to be more to my life than this. Was that enough to make me want more, to push me, to encourage me? No, it wasn’t, and for me that’s the saddest realization here. Even at that moment, at the pinnacle of my faith journey, the peak of my relationship with God it still was not enough. On the outside, yes I was there, one the inside I was closer to walking on the moon than I was surrendering anything to God or to facing my fears.
I was in a relationship with Rhonda, we had met in July of last year and it was quite the love story. We just seemed to meet at the perfect time and we had things in common that certainly seemed to be aligned with the stars. Rhonda was a parent of two children, from two different relationships, just like me. So there was that understanding of failed relationships and the fact that our kids mattered more than those failures. Rhonda’s parents and my parents are pretty close to mirror images of each other. My parents are two of my biggest fans, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I learned how to be a hopeful romantic from either of them. Of all the things we had in common, and the biggest from day one, was that we both attended the same church. That was huge for me! We got close instantly, shared just about everything possible, fell in love, etc. Sounds like a great love story huh…… (insert record screeching sound…..) It’s very hard to be in a committed, faithful, “we’re in this together” relationship if you’re not committed, faithful, and “we’re in this together.” I did things that are really not normal for a man to do to a woman if he loves her the way that I told Rhonda that I loved her. I hurt her in ways that were not just emotional cuts, but are noticeable emotional wounds. How she must have felt knowing that everything I had said to her was a lie and/or something that I promised but certainly not delivered had to be the deepest wound imaginable. Naturally, it was all her fault….. I would sit there and criticize her, talk down to her, all the while knowing it was me that was to blame. Now, she wasn’t perfect, but at that moment I certainly expected her to be. I mean in my mind I was perfect so how could she not be. Funny how I did all that thinking about my baptism, but wasted all that time being the biggest hypocrite I know. #realtalk
At the end of last year Rhonda and I didn’t really have much of a Christmas together and New Year’s Eve (my favorite day of the year) wasn’t much of a celebration, but still we continued on. I promised to cut out the “unhealthy” relationships and little by little we got back into our groove. The one constant was still there…. Rhonda sitting there, getting criticized by Brian, Rhonda sitting there while Brian ripped her to pieces with his sharp tongue, Rhonda sitting there while Brian continues to be Brian. It’s hurtful now as I sit here and think of all the times I hurt this woman that I love, this woman that has become my best friend, my number one supporter, not to mention all the heartache she’s had to put up with. Don’t get me wrong we still maintained a relationship, but really how successful could we be with me as the leader of “us.” She was still there. Days, weeks, and months went by and she was still there.
Over the next several months I continued to disrespect Rhonda, our relationship, and myself. I treated her like dirt and it showed because every conversation was an argument, every argument was an excuse for me not to spend time with her, and I’m sure she had to be wondering what the hell I was up to. I had secret relationships that I knew we were not healthy and I spent too much time doing things that I knew would hurt us, but naturally, on the surface, I acted as if I was this perfect person. We weren’t sharing much and what we were probably wasn’t of much substance. I had given up on her, I’m sure she had given up on me, but we still continued on.
Around Thanksgiving it all fell apart….. We didn’t share anything during the holiday, no turkey, no family, no nothing. We actually did the same thing last Thanksgiving, so to me this was normal. Same thing for Christmas and just about any other important date on the calendar. Looking back, we just shared so little! Ugh! How in the world were we even in each other’s lives? I spent more time with my co-workers, my dog, heck even the strangers at Applebee’s. Man, the things we were saying to each other at this point….. I started the fight, Rhonda joined the fight, and we held nothing back. It seems so easy to hurt the ones you know and love the most/best; I guess when you know so much about someone it’s gives you plenty of ammo to use against them.
Over the past two weeks Rhonda and I have probably done more talking and getting to know each other than we’ve done since the day we met. On a personal note….. It’s amazing to me, to think about things with a clear mind, not having to worry about the negative drawback of those thoughts. I woke up one morning, about two weeks ago, with the clearest mind I’ve had in a long time. The next day I woke up the same way, then the next day, and the next, etc. What was different? Why now? The one thing I did, the one thing that I knew changed, maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever had to meet head on….. It was me; I had to get over me, get over myself, my selfishness, my negative outlook on almost everything in my life, and my need to be miserable. That outer shell can be so positive and so willing to be perfect, while on the inside it’s a circus of emotions and hiding behind these facades. I looked at myself in the mirror that first morning and did not like what I was looking at. I’m not stupid, so I knew that I’d hurt Rhonda, but at what point did I become so comfortable hurting myself, at what point did that become OK and so easy to execute. I mean if I’m this selfish person that is so consumed with ME, why would I do this to myself? In an instance I had the answer….. I ain’t shit. That was it. I had figured out the one thing that I had never figured out before, the one thing/person that I had never blamed before. That sense of entitlement, that feeling of “you owe me,” that chunk (not chip) on my shoulder. Seems pretty easy now that I think about it…..
So….. Rhonda and I were at that point that I knew we’d arrive at; we were at that “fork in the road,” either the point of promise or maybe the point of no return, the DEAD END. I remember the exact second that I told her that I’d said everything I could, that I had put it all out there. I think I even used some cheesy analogy about how an athlete is just gassed after putting it all out there and there was nothing left for me to do other than wait for the results. I also remember the next thing she said to me…. “LET’S DO IT! LET’S JUST DO IT!” So…… We’re doing it, we are just doing it.
There’s still work to be done here….. My life has to now be about actions and not just words. To be this man I know it’s not just flipping a switch and I know that there will be struggles during the triumphs. I’ll be a better man, not only for Rhonda, but for so many people in my life, for the people that I love and cherish, and for those that continue to love and cherish me. I am still a little baffled by the sudden need to just want this. I have probably never been at this place that I’m at right now. That “right here, right now” feeling of just belonging, that feeling of comfort, that feeling of knowing what I want, and the desire of wanting to work my butt off to get there. I have to admit that I’ve shared this story with a few people and call me crazy, but I’ve enjoyed calling myself a failure, a hypocrite, and I’ve even enjoyed telling people that treating someone like dirt is something that I’m not in any way proud of. There have been so many coincidences and defining moments in the process and there is no way that I could be at this place without my faith…..
Rhonda’s played a huge role in this; I gave her plenty of reasons to not just walk away, but to run like the wind! This woman sat there and took it while I complained about her not giving me 100%, while I tore her apart, and yet all she every said was, “See you tomorrow!” Not in those exact words, but in a heart shaped nut shell that’s what it means to me. She is easily the best thing that has ever happened to me; I called her my “saving angel” when we first met and now I know without a doubt that she is exactly that.
My walk in this faith, that I absolutely love, has become quite the emotional roller coaster and it’s in my heart that God was sitting there telling me, “See you tomorrow” too….. He never left my side, He never left me alone, and He never gave up on me. I’ve given Him credit for so much in my life and at this moment I can now look in the mirror, like what I see, and know that I am this man. I have been restored; I have been given a chance to experience a life that I never imagined was possible for me. Sitting in church last Sunday, Rhonda and I heard almost that exact message. God restores us and He does so with the best of intentions. Think about this….. God could have restored me at any point in my life, He could have “fixed” me, helped me become who I want to be long before now. He didn’t and after reading all this you’d have to admit I would have never let Him! To be given this chance, to have this opportunity….. This is my time, my absolute defining moment!
(Rhonda, here’s your favorite part…..)
Several months ago I reached out to one of the pastor’s at our church…. I asked him to recommend something for me to read that would help me define if Rhonda and I were ready for the “next step.” He promptly told me to read a book called Crazy Love, written by Francis Chan. I waited months before even thinking about that book again, but I did purchase it and began reading it on October 24th. That date’s important because Rhonda called me out and said that’s when she started noticing that I began to change. Not sure how an asshole can become more of an asshole but that was the date for sure! Everything I read in that book screamed out to me that I was not where I needed be, I wasn’t with the person I needed to be with, and I was not much of a Christian. I used a yellow highlighter and as I sit here looking back and all of my notes, reading all the things I thought were pointing out what was wrong in my life, I now realize that this book what I needed the whole time. There is no way that anyone would recommend this book to me to defeat me, to make me condemn myself, or my relationship with Rhonda. He (Dave Willis) knew what he was doing…… Every word that I highlighted is in my heart and its part of the glue that has mended this heart.
Crazy Love, page 100…..
“When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love.” ~ Francis Chan
Thank you Dave Willis and Francis Chan!
As I put a close to this….. I wrote this over a span of about five days; I had to take breaks, allowing it all to sink in. I write most of my blogs in public and I gotta admit that the people around me had to think I was losing it. Hey, Starbucks people are a little off anyways so I gotta fit in! I’ll leave you with this….. Cherish the people you love. Don’t treat the person that holds your heart like dirt. Expect more from yourself. Know that no matter what wrong turns that your life has taken, there is always time to right those wrong turns. Love your life. Enjoy what you have and slow down to appreciate it. The older I get the more people I know that aren’t with us anymore. At any point, without notice, it can all be gone.
Rhonda…. You have no idea what your commitment means to me. You are my saving angel!
That’s my Christmas Miracle! Have a great Christmas and always know that change is possible!
December 22, 2013 Bible Reading
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