Depression and Stubborn Hope

I’m going to try and express what living with depression feels like, and the battle that wages violently in my mind. I have long wanted to open my chest up and share the grappling match that takes place from within. My aim here is not sympathy, but rather to be candid not only for my own personal reasons but to help others as well. As that has always been my biggest goal in this life. Many times the depression that I experience inside, is like that of what person being attacked by a group of people. Completely outnumbered, and all I can do is cover up to guard myself even a little bit from the heavy blows. Often, there is a smile on my face, but that often is a mechanism to not show what’s truly going on. I’ve been smiling my whole life, so in some ways it’s my default. I’ve learned and sadly so, not to open up because then I won’t have to deal with the responses of others. People of faith have told me (over the years) that my faith is weak if I wrestle with depression, and if I go down the spiritual check list, everything should be just peachy. Little do they know how harmful statements like that are. Or “you have a good life, what could you possibly feel depressed about?”

With that line of thinking, its okay for everyone else to have bouts with depression and despair-just not me? It only makes me want to close myself off all the more. It’s painfully lonely when you feel so stuck in life, you keep spinning your wheels and feel as though you aren’t going anywhere . Similar to being stuck at the back of the line always. Often, it feels like I’m paralyzed on the inside and can’t move. And yet, each and every day, I get out of my bed and do what I’m supposed to. The dark enemy in my mind says “you better get comfy, because this is all your life will ever be, because you’ve blown it too much to get better.” And as many times as I have attempted to drive out the dark enemy, all I want to do is curl up under and blanket and not move.

A few days ago I was listening to a man, who deeply depressed, and so to attempt to get the pain to stop. He jumped off a bridge in San Francisco, by the grace of God he survived, but what he said struck me. He said that as he was falling off the bride, he instantly regretted the choice he made. He said that many people don’t want to die, they only want the pain to stop. And you know what? He’s exactly right, I have had many dark nights of the soul, I have even spent days in a hospital, and I can attribute myself resolve to stay in the fight, to God gracing me with a stubborn hope. Anne Lamott says

““Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”


Going back to the analogy of being beat up by a group of people, after the beating, I lay there for a while. But eventually I find the strength to get back up. It reminds me when Neo fights the agent in one of the final scene, Neo is getting his ass handed to him, the agent thinks that he has completed his task at finally shutting neo down. And yet Neo gets back up again, the agent in a state of disbelief wonders what’s in Neo that helps him get back up. Why!? Why do you persist!?

I persist because in the depths of who I am, I know that there is something else on the darkness. In spite of such paralyzing heaviness. Christ has given me himself and he alone is my anchor in life. And even he got back up after the worst suffering imaginable. The other night, a friend reminded me that depression is not my true identity. That being a beloved child of God is, that is my truest self. As we walk, crawl and drag ourselves through the heaviness , know that you were never meant to carry your pain alone. You can cast all your pain upon Christ because he cares for you. I’m reminded of the line, in the foot poem “when you see only one pair of foot prints, it was then that he carried you.”

I don’t know when the pain will end- or that it will even stop. But I can tell you, that it is worth it, getting up each time you feel destroyed by life’s current. You never know what life could turn out to be.

Why I Became A Health Coach

Our health and well-being is one of the most amazing gifts that humanity has been blessed with. Many of us have the ability to breath, move and provide for ourselves and those around us. It would be difficult to imagine life, not being able to walk up a flight of stairs, run to catch at bus or taxi (depending on where one lives), lift a heavy object off the ground or even leap in the air to the highest ability. We go to the gym on a weekly basis, perform our favorite routines and exercises, never thinking about what life might be like if we got injured in some way, how would we adapt? Would we have the mental, emotional and even spiritual faculties to not only endure what has happened to us, but also adapt to the circumstances? My name is Brandon Ryan, and for the past five years, I have been an online health coach, with certifications in personal training and nutrition.
My niche or scope of practice, focused directly on the adaptive community, primarily those with varying degrees of cerebral palsy. Though I do also work with abled bodied clients as well. Why did I choose to work this specific population of clients? Because I myself have cerebral palsy. Being born with cerebral palsy, might parents fought to get me to gain the weight needed to survive and grow, in the name of shattering the narrative that doctors laid before them. Which wasn’t good or inspiring to say the least. They told my parents that I’d never be able to do anything for myself and be dependent on others for care the entirety of my life. That’s a very stark reality to set before anyone. Yet my parents made the choice to fight, which required more mental and emotional resolve than anything else.
Mental and emotional resolve to endure the handful of surgeries that I went through as a child. My mom always told me about how she would run to the bathroom to vomit, while my first operation took place. Which was on my spine. Other surgeries were on the lower half of my body. My dad would have to lift me from my wheel-chair to the bed, and from the bed to my wheelchair and from my wheel chair to the toilet and back. He would also drive me to and from physical therapy. Physical therapy as a kid was very daunting at times, as it would be for any child recovering from any operation. Going through these chapters of my life, though they were challenging on all human levels, it burned into my mind that my dad was one of my biggest supporters.
He is one of the many reasons I am what I am today. At a young age, encouraging me to be strong, through weight training, various calisthenics and martial arts. It’s not as though my adaptable spirit and mindset formed from nothing. No, the Lord saw fit to provide me parents that could help shape who I am today. I’ve always burned with passion for fitness and helping others become the best they possibly could be. To me, it didn’t matter if a person was in a wheel chair or not, used crutches or not, had range of motion or not. I would find something that they could do. After all, the moto for me growing up was “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”
The idea of becoming a personal trainer, always lurked in the back of my mind. People would sway me from the reality of doing so, some would say that the money wasn’t good or that it would flat out be too hard.
Yet when given the chance to work with someone with cerebral palsy or otherwise in any compacity. When all was said and done. Everything seemed right in the cosmos, it seemed as though a shade of my purpose was being fulfilled and the person that was set in my path even felt the same. When the idea of obtaining a certification kept surfacing, it was very apparent that it was now or never. There were a wide range of certifications from various institutions, a lot of them were out of budget. Yet when the International Sports Science binged on my horizons, they weren’t just affordable but they fit the context of my life. It allowed me to study slowly and at my own pace. Though I’m pretty sure that all my questions and concerns annoyed my advisor to no end. Now, as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, I have been able to let my passion for mental and physical health be put to use. And while I’m well aware that there is much room to grow, I do honestly believe that I am the best person for this path. That isn’t to say that other trainers, coaches or what have you don’t do a good enough job. They do. I’m only implying that more often than not, it takes one that is or is in a similar position.
There’re days when things are slow, or it seems as though that I suck at my job. And yet, as cliché as it may be. If I can help one person, each day I done very well and have succeed in the mission set before me. With everything inside me, I hold the belief that every person with cerebral palsy and other adaptive needs are worthy of health. That they have what it takes inside them to reach their desired goals, be that physically, mentally or vocationally. From the very beginning, it has been a goal to show clients that their body is the machine, that if they can open their eyes to their environment that can many times accomplish a very effective workout simply by using what they have around them. Once again, I’m not implying that a gym is not needed, it can be. The deeper point that I am trying to make, is that sometimes or rather frequently in my personal experience. The gym can be either hard to get to, due to transportation issues. On the other hand going to a gym can be a very daunting and ever scary experience.
For some it can be the reality of having countless people looking at you as you enter the gym. Or it could be the possibility of doing something wrong and having people laugh, it happens. Or it could be the reality of not connecting with a trainer and or feeling like a burden. And so to mitigate these realties very often I’ve had clients start with themselves, their bodies and the environments around them. Then if and when they are comfortable, they are more than willing to try their hand at being in a normal gym. For the vast majority of the clients that I have worked with though, they have been more than content with environmental workouts/calisthenics. And strength training through the pathway of dumbbells and resistance bands. Trust me, I know it’s simple stupid and not the “sexiest” of approaches, but that isn’t necessarily what the adaptive community needs in my professional and humble opinion. Many times in physical therapy as a kid, it was the simplest of things that accomplished the mission.

Masculinity and Disability

(Here is something that I’m working on, tell me what you think)

What do you think of when it comes to words such as masculine or masculine man? For some, it might be a man who is confident, strong in body and mind, can fix things in the home and on a car. And has the ability to fend off a violent attacker. This can be seen as the traditional man/ alpha male. For others a man might be more quiet and introspective, more in touch with their emotions and artistic and quite the opposite of the traditional-alpha male. In modern times, there is a war going on between the two stances. But do we ever stop and ponder, what manhood or masculinity looks like, in light of disabled men? This is a question that I’ve been wrestling with for quite some time now, both societally and religiously for the church. Now to be fair, there are those with cerebral palsy, who are healthy and active, can take care of themselves for the most part. The biggest obstacle for me then is the issue of driving, due to my startle reflex is not something I’ve overcome yet, the difficult part of the equation is it hinders me socially. And things such as uber can be pricey after a while. Forgetting about myself, I often think about the men in the world, who aren’t able to be as active as myself, have to depend a lot on the care of others, spend a lot of time at home and very rarely get out of their homes.

            Are they still not real men? Of course they are! These are men that are made in the image of God, and have immense value, dignity and purpose. The problem that I believe that these men, can very well be over looked by society and even the Church. While I do not believe that there is anything overtly malicious causing this, it grieves me non the less and I’m deeply convicted and convinced that this is an issue to brought to light and dealt with. Furthermore, if this issue grieves my soul, how must God feel about it? I believe that it grieves his heart, much more than it does mine. Most of the time, when pastors are talking about Godly men leading their families, more often than not they are speaking to able abled-bodied men. Teaching them to lead confidently and boldly, to provide for their families and pursuing the calling that God has placed on their lives. This is not wrong, and I affirm this absolutely. Yet very rarely do pastors think about what leading a family or pursing a God given calling might look life, if a men isn’t able to provide for his family, as he would desire in a physical sense. Have pastors ever really paused to consider the shame that this might leave in the soul of a man?

Everyday I talk to various men with different severities of disability, and each story echoes. Men of various ages and walks of life. Feeling that their lives are completely pointless, due to the context of their lives and being stuck at home more often than not. Moreover, they even endure the thought process of feeling worthy of love, be it by God himself or even a woman. In my daily conversations with men like myself, I make it a point to apply lessons that I have had to learn the hard way over the last few years of my life, that lead to a sense of masculinity in their own right. Though I still am in a similar context myself. The first element that I try to instill in my daily conversations with disabled men, is where their self of self and identity resides. Yes this is crucial in all men, but it is all the more important in the lives of some disabled men. It’s so important that disabled find and even lose themselves in the identity that God graciously bestows upon them. Whether they believe it or not. If not, disabled men will continually be stuck in the thought process of feeling like a burden to society and even their families. The next crucial element, after establishing a Christ centered identity is tapping into some sort of God giving calling. Whatever that may be, as I stated in the beginning, some men are more home bound, and have to depend a lot on the care of others and can’t really “work” in the sense that the world would like.

            So, we have to establish of purpose and mission even if it’s glorifying God every day. There’s more that can be added. But I’d like to end with these thoughts, is it frustrating that the church doesn’t speak to the reality of masculinity among disabled members of their congregations, very little/if any? Yes- it is, it is also sad to see that very few churches have ministries dedicated to even families with special needs children. However, rather than being stuck in the downward spiral of complaining, I have accepted the calling that I believe that God has placed inside me. Even if it’s not seen as significant in the worlds eyes. It’s my goal to write one of the first books on the matter, because no longer can these men go forgotten.

The Power of Jiujitsu Against Depression

            My intent for this post is to get members of the jiujitsu community, to see beyond the surface of jiujitsu. Beyond the belts, the shiny gold medals and even all the latest trends. To see the people around you and how the art can truly help others cope and even heal mental illness.

It would seem as though, I’ve had a grappling match with depression most of my life. Even as a kid, I’d go from smiling to having a wave of sadness wash over me. Of course living withcerebral palsy brings it’s own battles. Knowing that you’re not like everyone else in the world. Knowing where you belong in the world is as equally daunting. Truth be told, I’ve always felt like a misfit.

As a child, I went through a handful of surgeries, each requiring months to recover, taking me out of school and away from friends is in some ways worse than the physical pain. My one saving grace as a kid was learning how to grapple. It was my escape from even knowing I had CP, it was an escape from my mind and so much more.

Learning to grapple made me feel as though, I was alive and that this could all lead to a greater purpose. I’ve been a martial arts instructor since the age of sixteen, teaching very styles, disciplines and people from all walks of life. I love the arts. But the one art I love the most is jiujitsu.

I truly believe that it can change people’s lives for the better,  students and professors have the ability to use the gift of jiujitsu to change people’s lives for the better. The way some other arts cannot. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Rickson Gracie once said that sometimes as a teacher, you are sometimes a psychologist as well. In that sometimes you have to teach others to be calm, control their emotions and transcend the challenges of their lives.

As many may know, speaking up about depression or any challenge can take a lot of courage. It’s often what we are most willing to speak about that gives us healing and hope. Most of the time, my team mates see me with a smile on my face, sometimes the smile is real, but sometimes the smile is a means to hide the pain.

I smile and don’t let anyone see the fight going on inside me. Which is daily. But once I feel my GI and belt wrap around me. I know everything will be okay. For me, I love the human contact of Jiujitsu. Which I don’t get much of. I know that either when I’m learning a new technique or rolling with friends. The pain and sadness will leave me. Then- I can breath and feel that everything is right in the world.

Jiujitsu has taught me to breath. To breathe through the heaviness  of depression and even anxiety. To move and make space even when I am feeling smothered by life. There’s always a way out of a tough position.

My hope is that members of the jiujitsu community will look deeper into jiujitsu, and see the healing properties that it possesses. It’s not about the pursuit of gold medals, the stripes on your belt or how many cool techniques you can do. It’s about the people around you. Open your eyes, pay attention to your team mates, check in with the people around you. If you know someone is struggling, and you don’t know the words. Offer them your silence, your listening ear. Keep them rolling and moving forward in the journey. Am I completely free from the weight of my own depression? No, I am not. But Jujitsu has offered a healing, and am community that I have never had. And quite frankly, it is better than any medicine a doctor could offer me.

Remember, we are a community that exists to make each other better. Jiujitsu exists, not so much for the sake of violence. But to reveal the greatness that lives inside us all.      

SSI and Shame

I can remember the day my mom started the process, of applying for SSI for me over the phone. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that a monthly amount of money would be given to me, simply because of having cerebral palsy. “Cool!” I thought, the interesting thing is, however, is when I realized that I’d need to appear in front of a doctor to prove that cerebral palsy was not a made up reality in my life. So, my parents took me to see a local doctor, and it was as though the doctor took one look at me and said “yep, he has cerebral palsy”.

Don’t get me wrong, I was well aware that people take advantage of the system. It only seemed odd to me because I knew that in my heart the truth was being told. Before I knew it my first monthly check was in the mail and shortly after that, then came my very own bank account.

This was a really cool reality to me, because that meant that I could buy my own clothes, food etc. It was cool to have my own money and start learning how to be responsible with money. Yet, now being an adult who gets SSI. There is all too often a battle with shame over the reality. On one hand, I see that that money given each month is a blessing from God, that I and others should be wise with.

On the other hand, I have been met with a great deal of heat and push back, both from others like myself and even abled-bodied individuals. Both sides say with great passion “don’t you want more for your life!” The obvious answer is, yes of course, any person in a healthy frame of mind would want more for their lives. Sometimes society can be an extremely judgmental place, and to add to that, some simply cannot understand that some of lives simply haven’t turned out as planned.

Due to my startle reflex, it’s not safe for me to drive and so working your typical job is a challenge. And where I live, transportation services are pretty much nonexistent. As I result, I still try and make the most of the life that God has given me. Most of my time is spent as being an online personal trainer and nutrition coach online. Working with others like myself, beyond that I write books and blogs.
And you know what? I still don’t make enough money to get off SSI… But I know that deep down I’m doing the best that I possibly can. And I’m not giving up hope either. When the shame shows up, it can quickly turn into a heavy depression. Then defeating statements are whispered into my mind:

“No real woman would want you like this.”

“You’ll never measure up.”

“your life will never change.”

These are just some of the lies that hit me at times, and one of the main ways that I combat the shame. Is by remembering where my worth and value come from. And for that all stems in my faith in God. He says who I am. My worth in him and to him, is not based upon how much money is in my bank account. Or even how much that I accomplish in my life. If people cannot see your value as a human being, that has a lot more to do with them than it does you. It may be hard to believe in the moment, but it is true none-the-less. As I also mentioned above, do not give up hope, keep striving! Set goals, and as Jordan Peterson says “take aim at something”. Start small and work your way up to bigger things.
You may not be where you’d like to be in life, and that’s ok. You just keep pressing on toward the goal. Whatever that is for you. Will the battle with shame completely go away? Probably not, in fact there will be days when we feel completely defeated. But as long as there’s still breath in our lungs. There’s still room to fight.

The “How” of Suffering

Throughout history, many people, poets, pastors, theologians and even philosophers have tried to do the best that they can to make sense of suffering within the human experience. After all suffering has been with us since the beginning of time and human existence. Even though, I myself have much first hand experience with suffering, there is something inside me that hesitates. Probably because so many other thoughts of wisdom and hope have already been uttered.

Yet, I believe that holy spirit is softly whispering from within, saying “share what I have placed inside you.” So when the holy spirit commands, the obedient son or daughter must follow. One of the most frequent objections to the existence of God or any other divine figure has been the reality of suffering. Cancer, AIDS, rape, murder and suffering in all other forms all stop us in our tracks.

Why would any sort of higher power even allow suffering? That’s a very good question that we all have asked regardless of creed or background. Cerebral Palsy, was the cross I was given when I was born. If you want a full breakdown of my story, you can check out my first book The Emotional Struggle on Amazon.

With having cerebral palsy, my life has been tested with not just physical pain from surgeries and therapy. But emotional and mental pain as well. I’ve had the entire lower half of my body operated on, each other operation taking a year or more to recover from. Doctors and professionals with the realm of education, telling me that I wouldn’t amount to much because I wasn’t smart enough.

To add more to the equation, throughout my 36 of life, there have been battles against depression, anxiety and there was once an attempted suicide. Why? Because I felt so trapped in my own life circumstances, as though nothing could or would ever change. Others in the world have faced suffering far greater than even my own.

Nowhere in my life was I ever starved to death, or tortured by evil and wicked people. Which is another reason why there was a hesitation inside me to share in the first place. And yet the starkest of realities is that some of us never make it out of suffering. Not so much in the reality of suicide, but that some of us never find a way to prevail in spite of it. Some make the choice to let the weight of suffering swallow them up like a tidal wave. As mentioned above, many of us ask of the why of suffering.

The why is important, but dare I suggest that the why is not as important as the how. How are we not going to let suffering swallow us up? How are we going to come out the suffering more brighter and courageous? I will caution you (the reader) in that, if you decide to ask the how. You must also decide to follow through with whatever the how asks of you.

For example, if you discover that your how, is being able to look at years of trauma or destructive habits. Are you willing to face it all? Are you willing to endure the process of what it takes to heal and start new chapters of your life? The consequence of not doing so, means that everything in your life stays the same.

And in choosing to stay in that reality, also then means that you’re fundamentally making a choice to cling to that suffering. Reasons for that might very well be, that it’s all you know. On the other hand, some of us are far too stubborn (such as myself) and know what we should do and end up not do it. Regardless, we both are making a choice.

In processing and embarking on our how, we first need a new perspective on suffering. That may raise some eyebrows, but it’s the only option we have. We can agree that suffering sucks, it hurts and can beat the will out of us. But if we slowly started looking at the suffering in our lives differently, we might very well find that there is more to live for.

The author of the book of James in the Bible, he says to “count it all joy” when trials come our way. As humans, we scoff and even are appalled by such statements. Because there is nothing joyful about suffering on the surface. But as the author continues by saying

“for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James says, in other words that suffering we endure, produces something in that. That something is steadfastness. Meaning that we are anchored in something greater than ourselves. We admit that suffering is awful but we are not destroyed by it. When the grace of God allows to become more steadfast with time, we can find that a sense of calmness fills us up. Where we don’t always have to fly off the handle because life is not going how we want it.

This true peace and steadfastness is in divine, because one could not find it anywhere else. As much as I love stoic philosophy and philosophy in general. It does not lead to true peace. In my own life, I have surveyed every world religion and even tried meditation and even believed that I would come back in my next life as some other person. The biggest problem with that rests in the reality that, you can never know if you have done enough good to outweigh the bad. 

Biblical writes like James and Paul, their how is Christ himself. Christ for them, is the how to transcending the suffering and not simply running from it. But rather they can stare that suffering in the eye knowing it won’t win in the end. For James and Paul, they know that something far sweeter is at the end of suffering.

So that patiently and even joyfully endure, while living out the mission that God has set before them. Let us not forget Christ himself, Christ was sent by God the father in human likeness. In the Philippians 2:7, it says that Christ “emptied himself” interesting, what on earth might that mean? To empty comes from the Greek word Kenosis, Tony Evans has a very clear and beautiful way of explaining this, when he writes:

What does the self-emptying of Christ mean? The theological doctrine is called the kenosis, from the Greek verb meaning “to empty.” Did He empty Himself of His deity and become merely a man? No, the focus of His self-emptying is not heaven, but earth; that is, what Christ emptied Himself into.
He didn’t empty out God and pour in man. Rather, He emptied all of God into man. In other words, He didn’t stop being God. He didn’t say, “Deity, I’m going to leave You in heaven and go down to become humanity.”
Furthermore he writes: What Jesus did was take all of His deity and pour it into humanity so that He became much more than mere man. He became the God-man-God poured into man.
Let me tell you something impor¬tant. When Jesus Christ did something about your sin and mine, He didn’t give us the leftovers. He poured all that made Him God into man so that man would have all of God. There is nothing that belonged to God that man didn’t have when Jesus emptied Himself into man.

One of the reasons that Christ came to live among us, I believe, was to show us humans that he is the answer to the human condition and suffering. Even when on the cross, Christ took all our suffering on himself. Moreover, the cross shows that even in spite of suffering still present. The cross still shows that Christ is present with us. I don’t believe I’ll ever understand why God chooses to heal some but not others, but I do believe that he has given me the greatest gift ever, himself, his love, his presence and grace. What is more amazing, is that eternity with Christ, means no more suffering and complete joy.

Until then, Christ is my how in my own journey. He is why I can give all my fear and anxiety, and instead breath in his peace. He is why I can have joy and smile in the midst of life not being as desired.    

Combating The “Hijacker”

In college an area of psychology that truly intrigued me was the area of addiction, mainly how addiction rewires the human brain and changes the way human behave. I’m pretty sure what stopped me from fully pursuing the route was the amount of schooling and debt that I’d rack up at the end of all. Still, however, the area still fascinates to this day. And something that came to my attention recently was the idea “hijacker”.

That is, in simple terms it’s very much like a voice in the human brain that tells us it’s okay to go back to the things that give us comfort. It doesn’t have to be things as extreme as drugs or pornography. But it can be things as simple as food, spending money on things you don’t need, binge watching a show and so on.

The “hijacker” is the voice that says “it’s okay, go back to whatever substance it is, you’ll feel better after.” And that’s the lie, you might feel better after. But your still stuck in the same old destructive cycle. Still filled with shame, regret and feeling hopeless…

And yet we are not hopeless. Recently I heard a therapist say that the hijacker isn’t you talking. The Hijacker is the one you can feel starting to raise its voice in the certain contexts that make us want to run back to fake comfort.  The apostle Paul had an extremely similar thought process in Romans 7:14-15 when he said:

14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

Paul understood that this wasn’t necessarily him, but something else trying to take over. And that’s the key to winning the battle. We have to start to be on watch, so when it does lurk its head up. We can notice it and quickly shut it down.

You can heal. You can overcome. But  it won’t be own your own or on your own strength.

My One Regret With College.

When I got accepted into college years ago, there rested inside me a fascination of the mind. Why people acted as they did and more so what happens inside the mind that sent some people into deep cycles of addiction and destructive behaviors. My degree path of choice was psychology, at first (because of my interest in addiction) I felt a calling to working in that particular area of psychology.

And yet.. For some reason, something moved me away from that specific area into a more generalized focus in psychology. And you know what? looking back, I very much regret not pursuing that path.

It probably was the amount of time and money/debt that moved me away from it. God only knows where I could be now if I jumped into addiction counseling with all my mind, heart and strength. College these days though, seems to be a total joke to me.

As being an online personal trainer and nutrition coach, the last three years. I find that much of my four year psychology degree comes out in my daily practice. To some in my life, that four year degree that I got at a small faith based college was not the best choice. But from my vantage point, that “pointless” psychology degree was the best four years of my life. I learned so much, made some really great friends and truly bloomed in my faith.

I wouldn’t trade that for anything, I truly believe that those four years of my life was the way God ordained it. I guess at this point in my life, I’m trying to figure out what the Lord would have me do with this desire and many others in my heart.

This might seem strange to some, but I could easily see myself leading recovery meetings and helping others heal and break free from the hooks of addiction. I guess in a lot of ways I can relate to those struggling with addiction myself, because I am an addict in my ways.

And you know what else?

We are all addicts. The Bible has it right (as it always has) when it says that that we are slaves to something. Something, if not God has the attention and adoration of our hearts.

The Start of A Novel?

As I was going through some old files the other day, I stumbled upon some what of a story that I was working on. Anyway, let me know what you all think!

….

(One)

The dichotomy of Jack and Roy

            Jack was a young boy, wrapped in soft freckled skin and red hair that came below his eyebrows. As a child he had to do what he could to entertain himself, whether that would be making toy guns or seeing how far he could throw a rock, he had the knack for creating things. Jack lived in small town in Ohio with his uncle Roy.

            The two never spoke much; Jack was always in his room drawing several different things at once. While uncle Roy sat in a dark living room watching TV in his recliner chair.   Jack fell asleep most nights on the hard floor next to a pile of his own drawings. He wanted to become a famous artist and move out of that God forsaken small town.  He missed his mother tremendously, who had a very warm and caring demeanor.

            Jacks mother Diana tragically died of cancer when he was six, the greatest memory he had of her was an old King James Bible that she left him. Jack would sometimes wake up the next morning in the same clothes from the night before. His bare feet crinkled against the paper he slept beside.

He winced at the sudden sound his feet made when it met the paper, the thought of waking uncle Roy up was terrifying, and he was never abusive with his hands but harsh with tone. Jack loved going out into the living room where uncle Roy slept to read his beloved Bible.

            Jack sat Indian style next to his uncle’s chair; the light from the television was the only thing that allowed him to see the words on each page. His fingers softly skimmed over the pages, feeling their delicate texture. “God isn’t real son” Uncle Roy said ever so suddenly, “you make your own way, not some fucking God up in the sky”.  Jack looked puzzled as he looked up his uncle, wondering why he would say such an astonishing thing.  Jack decided to smile and go about his reading.  He loved reading proverbs and psalms because they resembled a father figure showing him how to be wise and to see beauty in the world around him.          

            After a few moments Jack looked back up at his up his Uncle who was slowly fading back into his sleep. “Uncle Roy”, jack called out. “What do you want kid? Uncle Roy replied in an agitated fashion. “I want to be an artist”.  Uncle Roy waited a few moments before responding with his eyes glued shut “No one cares that you want to be an artist kid.”

“But why?” Asked jack.

“Because no one gives a shit about your art”.

Jacks small frame riled up with anger, his small fists clinched beside his body, he stomped off back to his room. In tears he gathered up all of his drawings in one hand and walked back into the living room in an aggressive manner. He walked passed Uncle Roy who was now sound asleep. Jack walked into the kitchen and flipped open the trash can lid, shoving all his artwork down into the trashcan and kicking it over with all his might.

            Uncle Roy barged in after being woken up from the ruckus coming from the kitchen. “What the hell are you doing?” he shouted, seeing all the garbage scattered across the kitchen floor.  “I’m throwing this shit away” Jack exclaimed “No one’s gonna like it anyway.” 

 “You don’t talk to me that way!” Uncle Roy yelled as he picked up jacks small frame with his hands. “You don’t talk to me that way you hear!?” Uncle Roy shook  Jack repeatedly. Jack through all his tears managed to slip out of his uncles grasp by clawing him in the eyes. Uncle Roy dropped jack on the floor and stepped back with his hands over his eyes. Jack fearing what would happen next pulled himself up off the ground and ran passed his uncle and into his room locking the door behind him. He through his small frame on his bed and proceeded to cry with his face buried inside of his arms. Meanwhile Uncle Roy managed to make his way back his couch, sitting down with his hands over his face attempting to stop the water streaming from his face. “Fuck sake” he said quietly “What have I done?” He noticed that Jack had left his Bible open next to him. “Fuck, what the fuck have I done God? How the fuck could you forgive someone like me?”

            Suddenly, with his hands over his head he felt a moment of clarity come over him. He stood up, took and deep breath and wiped his eyes. He made his way back to Jack’s room, “Jack?” “Jack?” he exclaimed again getting closer to his room. “Go away!”  “Jack open the door” Uncle Roy said softly as he got closer. “Jack, I’m sorry…. I haven’t been a great uncle to you, let alone a good person”. Hearing all the words his uncle was saying from outside his door, Jack slowly removed himself from his bed and opened the door. 

            Uncle Roy knelt down in front of the door, hiding the pain of his old age. He put his hands softly on the same spots he did out of anger in the kitchen. He looked tenderly in Jack’s eyes and softly said again “I’m sorry…”  Jack sniffled through his tears unable to say anything. 

“Jack, if you want to be an artist, I am no one to stop you. I am sure that you are a talented artist”. “But you haven’t even seen any of them” Jack said in frustration, “I know, and I’m gonna go dig them out of the trash can myself right now”. Uncle Roy took Jack by the hand for the first time, it was an odd experience for the both of them, uncle Roy could not remember the last time he held anyone’s hand, let alone so intentionally, and Jack was happy that someone was showing that they cared. 

  Uncle Roy lead Jack to the kitchen, holding Jacks hand tightly the entire way. When they approached the trash can uncle Roy lifted the lid slowly, seeing all of Jacks drawings piled on top of each other. He scooped them up within a four finger grasp and slid them out from within his grasping hand examining the closely with his eyes. He wasn’t much for an artistic critique, but when he saw Jacks art work he began to weep. He couldn’t remember the last time he cried, his heart had become so cold and hard.    

“Awe Jack, they’re great” he said wiping his eyes. Jack’s drawings were not what most would consider masterpieces, but Uncle Roy saw potential and creativity within Jack’s scribblings. After Uncle Roy finished looking at each of Jack’s drawings with great examination, he set them down by his left knee and looked at Jack with a love he had never felt before. 

“Jack” Uncle Roy said with a long pause after..

“Yes, Uncle Roy?”

“Jack, I know that life hasn’t always worked out the way you wanted it, and it never does. But I want you to know that you can still have a bright future ahead of you. I also want you to know, that I haven’t been the greatest man Jack, I’ve made a mess of my life and I hope that you can forgive me for that”.

       Jack stood there motionless unsure of what to say, he began to replay all the things that his uncle had just said to him. His lips began to quiver as tears rolled down his face. Uncle Jack put his arms back on the same spots he aggressively grabbed earlier, looking into Jack’s eyes. Jack now, almost convulsing, said something he knew to say “Uncle Jack God loves you” as he fell into his uncle’s arms.

Uncle Roy held him tight in his arms until the sun began to go down. He seemed to ignore the pain that soared into his knees. After a while Jack had  fallen asleep on his shoulder. Uncle Roy managed to get up off the floor with groaning from the stiffness in his knees, carrying Jack back to his room.  He laid him down slowly  and Jacks head rested softly on his pillow. He tucked Jack in softly and looked at him for a few moments before leaving his room. After leaving his room, Uncle Roy made his way back to the living room, where he would sit in his comfy chair. After sitting down, he put his hands over his face, rubbing his eyes with his hands, he could not remember the last time he felt so drained. 

            He  noticed Jacks Bible as he turned his eyes down by his right foot. As he reached down to pick it up, some pages had flopped over, he didn’t care or know exactly what he was reading. His eyes only skimmed the pages. When his eyes made their way toward the bottom of a page, he noticed a few words that would forever change his life.

“Today I have become your Father”. 

Hope in the face of the “Impossible” Dream

Have you ever had a dream inside you, that you wanted to come true so bad? Yet no how much you pray, try to improve yourself so that the dream can happen, it actually doesn’t.. This is exactly what I have been grappling a lot with lately with God.

One of the biggest dreams of my life, is to one day meet an awesome woman and be a husband and father. And yet at 36 (nearly 37) it doesn’t look like the father part is going to happen, at least in the organic sense of the word.

Sure in this world, I could meet someone, have a small ceremony and consider adopting. However, the desire wouldn’t simply go away. And with each year that passes in my life. The bigger the desire gets. At this stage in my life though, the reality of having children the organic way seems highly unlikely.

This probably is not helping my cause much, however I’ve read a lot about the reality that fertility rates for men these days are horrible. Even in men within my age bracket. That’s pretty terrifying if I may say so myself. Which has caused me to be hyper aware of everything I’m doing, should the reality even come close to happening.

Honestly, there’s a part of me that wishes that could maybe go back and be a few years younger. Maybe make a few better choices in life and maybe have a better shot at the dream. It grieves me to see the amount of people in society, that have chosen not to bring kids into the world. I understand why, largely because our world is a different place and it’s rougher to live in.

However, in my personal opinion, I believe that being a husband and father would such an amazing blessing. Easy? Hell no, and this is the other part that is equally perplexing for me. Is that there are people in my life telling me to do the opposite of what my heart longs.

To not get married

To not have kids

and to simply accept that the kind of woman that I’d like to find. Isn’t real.

You know what I say to all of that? Those are the experiences of other people- and not my own. Ok, yes I understand that the reality that I’m hoping for is not an easy one. It never is, but here’s the deal also. When you have have have your own shit under control, it doesn’t have to be that bad. I’m speaking more in the emotional/mental and spiritual sense.

All too often I see people go into a relationship or marriage and drag their pain and experiences right into it. Unchecked. And that’s the problem, and some people just don’t realize how broken they actual are until years into the journey. If ever..

In life we can unknowingly dump our experiences and conceived notions on people, without thinking about it. Thinking that our perspective is the next best thing to the gospel of Christ. It’s not.

I also realize that as a Christian, there lies inside me the greatest hope of all the world. Not simply in only the eternity sense. Though that is highly important and utterly amazing. But also that God is a God of miracle’s. Do those always happen? Nope they don’t, but what would it say about having faith, if my faith wasn’t actually in the one person that conquered the world for me?

God told Abraham that he would have a son, and while his wife chuckled at the idea.. He didn’t shrink in faith. Zechariah and his wife had son… Even when they thought they would never have one. He and his wife even dated. But it happened for them.

See the theme here? Hope- hope against all odds. Once again, does this then mean that my wildest dreams will come true? No, but as long as air is still flowing through my body. My hope will be in God. For my hope and confidence is not even in myself but in him.

Another blogger that I frequent, who just so happens to be an orthodox Christian. He says that “only God can bring you a wife.” It might seem silly to many, even though I’m a big advocate for self improvement and being the best version of ourselves possible. It’s all up to the king. And while it is all up to the king, I will by his grace walk with him through out the peaks an valleys.

I hope give up on hope. I won’t give up on the dream.

Woman jump over canyon