almost a year: a review...

This past year has been one of the best and worst years of my life. I lost touch with reality for a while, I had no clue where I was, I was walking around blindfolded in a dark room. I am pretty sure my heart stopped about five times this year, I resigned from my last youth ministry position, I saw my world crumble down before me, and now I am starting to build my life back up. This all started a year ago in October.

First off, I was at a great church with great leadership. I had an amazing job that I really let my ego inflate. I wasn't grounded properly. One day in October, that all changed. My father called me one day and said he wanted to come by and say hey. I thought nothing of it, I was sitting in my office doing some planning and reading, so I told him to come on by. 20 minutes later, he arrived. I was excited! I loved my dad! I loved seeing him. However, that was a day I wish never happened.

My father walks into my office and we sit down and just start shooting the breeze about life. He asked about my then girl friend and my now wife. We were just talking like any father and son should, but then I asked him why he came here. I asked if he was in the area or if he really just missed me that bad. My dad sat there a second, about to cry, and I thought maybe a family member had died. Little did I know, one would be dead to me later. My father told me that he and my mom wanted a divorce.

I broke down into tears. Sitting in my office, I cussed at my father, I called him a quitter, I yelled at him. I begged him not to. I didn't understand why. I didn't even know that my parents were having problems. I thought I could help fix it. I knew it wasn't my fault, but why would this happen to me. I was talking with my wife's parents about marrying her, this couldn't be happening. I went numb. I cried and cried. After my father left, I ran down to my pastors office. I was asking him what can I do. I begged for direction. He helped calm me down and told me I needed to let them work it out. I still had a big ego, I could fix anything. I told him I was going to go see my mother.

I went to her house and she was on the floor crying. None of us could believe what was happening. Our seemingly happy family had suddenly become a statistic in a category that we thought would NEVER apply to us. I prayed with mom and tried to comfort her. Never once have I seen anybody so hurt in my entire life. I was a broken son in a now broken family.

I was determined that this was not going to effect my work or my personal life. I was just going to try to do my youth ministry, my rec ministry, my normal social life, and try to dodge questions better than a politician. All I did was sweep this under the rug. Never ONCE did I give it all to God and ask Him to take this from me or at best walk me through it. I turned my back on God to try to deal with this load myself. All I know is, if I was Samson, God had cut my hair because my strength and zest for life was suddenly taken from me. I was depressed.

I would go into work day in and day out feeling numb, tired, and that I didn't want to be there. My mind was in my work, but my heart was not. I was trying to juggle three different branches of ministry from the church, my personal life, and now the broken marriage of my parents.

It was not soon after all of this happened, that a friend of mine (Eric Hendrickson) talked me into going to the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta. This is an event hosted by Youth Specialties. Eric was telling me about these courses we would be taking, the fun I'd have, and it would really get me excited about youth ministry again. It was something that I was looking forward to doing.

November came around the bin, and quickly approached the NYWC. I was getting more and more excited. Eric was going to be staying with me, we would hang out, worship together, take classes and just catch up on old times. It was fantastic. In the back of my mind, this was only a stop-gap between my parents divorce and the Thanksgiving holiday that was coming up. Also, during this time, my brothers and my mother were no longer talking to my father. However, I was secretly texted and calling my father with updates and questions, trying to figure this all out. I loved my dad. It hurt not to talk to him.

During the NYWC, my eyes were lit up like a kid in the candy store. I was grabbing as many free things as I could. I was bouncing from booth to booth signing up for everything. I was buying books, T-Shirts, hats, games, everything that I could grab within arms reach. I was getting so fired up about youth ministry again. This was the break that I needed from life to really get my spirits lifted. I heard speakers like Perry Noble speak about youth are the church of today and that we need to be more fired up than ever! I LOVED IT! I heard Andy Stanley talk about how important and vital youth ministry is and how the generation that was rising in youth leaders today were that of a servants heart. I ATE IT UP! I heard David Crowder Band sing in concert. I about fainted. I heard Donald Miller speak about his life without his father. SLAM! My world came crashing down and I literally felt and heard the words Donald Miller was speaking. I suddenly thought of my parents divorce. I thought of how my family was being torn into 5 fragmented pieces of a once great shell.

After NYWC, Eric left and I brought back some amazing ideas and curriculum from the convention. I was getting excited about my job again. I was praying more, living more in the word every day, journal, yet I still did not give my all to God. I was holding back.

Thanksgiving came and I was selfish. I was sad my father could not be there with us. I was sad that my family has been broken and hurt. It felt almost forced to be a happy family. It was great to see kin in TN, but it was not the same. During all of this, people would tell me they're sorry, they are praying etc. Never once did someone offer to sit down and talk with me about it. Never once did people say I know what you are going through. People would send their condolences via facebook, email, or a card in the mail. It's too bad that talking face to face or even on the phone would mean more to someone at this point in life. I got angry.

I was not angry at God, I was angry at myself. There were rumors that my father was having some affairs and this is the reason they were getting a divorce. I never thought that would be true. I got mad at my family who kept telling me that they had proof but couldn't show it to me or tell me where they got it. I was livid with my whole family at this point. I wanted nothing to do with anyone, but I still wanted to support both parents. I never thought my dad would do this.

I found out soon enough through the evidence that it was all true. My dad had multiple affairs throughout his and my mothers marriage. I was devastated. My own father lied to me in my own office. He sat cold like a stone and told me to my face that there was no one else. My life had come crashing down.

The only person that really knew all my pain was my girlfriend at the time. She had no clue how to react or what to say. She felt as numb as I did. We were both devastated. I had already come to the conclusion that she and I were going to get married. I prayed hard about that. I had to have some good to cling to. For me, during a lot of this time, it was her. She was and still is to this day my rock here on earth and my absolute best friend.

December rolled around. In 24 years of life to this point, I had always seen my dad's side of the family. Time for new traditions. I didn't see any of them. Christmas came and went, and I was continuing to down spiral. It was time I spent more time with God.

In January, I really hit the Word on a daily basis. Sometimes more than a few times a day. I was starting to get my life back on track. I even got engaged to my beautiful best friend. Life was really good. I felt like I was being myself again. However, I was harboring anger towards my father. More than anger at times. If I thought about him, my heart rate jumped. I would turn into the hulk, minus the huge muscles and green skin. It was more of high blood pressure and the flushing whiteness of my skin. I looked like a beefy Casper the angry ghost.

A few months passed and the problem was still in my heart that I could not let go of this anger. I was still trying to juggle three different branches of ministry, and I felt overwhelmed. The church and I came to an understanding and I left my position, effective immediately. I felt as though I had let tons and tons of people down. Worse, I felt I let God down.

The next few weeks were tough. I was lying in bed, sleeping in, not doing a whole lot of anything. Finally one day, I decided to get up and start gardening. I went and took out all my old plants at the house and started to put new ones in. These had to be nurtured. They had to be cared for in order for them to grow and flourish. It gave me something to look forward to.

I started to journal again. I started praying more and more. I took the quote from Beth Moore that says, "My life at the lowest point was a minute by minute battle with God. I would cry out to God in anger, frustration and heart break. The great thing, was the God always heard me and with my minute to minute battle, Christ was battling with me second to second."

I started to care for my garden. My garden was my retreat. I would work for hours in the sun, digging, slaving over root systems, knocking down dead and over grown bushes. I was giving my house some curb appeal. A friend and I were talking one day, and I would not get off the subject of gardening. He told me that he truly thinks this was the thing that saved me from my breaking point. He says God planted the seed in me long ago and it was NOW coming into fruition. It took your gardening to realize that. I was shocked and for one of the few times in my life, I was speechless.

Now we are back here in October of 2010. This year has flown by. I am now married to the most beautiful, wonderful, loving, cute, friendliest, kindest woman in the world. I now have a new job where I will be doing ministry in the church setting again. I am finally in a place where I am honoring God, giving everything to Him, and letting my life be honoring to Him. He has always been there with me. He never left me by my side.

Isaiah 55:6 says, "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near."

Philippians 1:21 says, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

2 Corinthians 7:1 say, "Since we have these promises dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."

Psalm 143: 10 says, "Teach me to do your will, for you are MY God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground."

God never left me. The reason I wrote his novel of a blog post today is because I want people to know that there are all kinds of struggles out there. There are many that you may not even realize, yet that are hurting and waiting for that sign from Christ. We can be that sign that people are looking for. If our heart beats for God, it beats to serve God and those who love and need Him.


Debbie said...

Your mom called meabout 2 or 3 days before Christmas last year. I had lost my mom last year also so Iknew my Christmas was going to be sad. My momalwaysmade the holidays special. When I got the call from your mom I was in shock. I am so sosorry to hear all this. I haven't been a good friend to your mom through all this. I can't leave my dad for a long period but I do want to call her. Please give meher cell number and home number. I miss her so much. My heart goes out to all of you. I pray also for your dad. He was always like your momvery special to me. I love and miss you Mark. You are a very special person to me. God Bless you.Debbie

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