Today is my younger son’s fifth birthday, and it got me thinking how strange and interesting life is. Mainly because I never thought I’d have any kids of my own. It just sort of never seemed like it would happen. I wanted it to, but I was nowhere near getting married. I wanted the whole enchilada, as they say.
For me, I always have. Even when I was younger. Maybe part of it was wanting the chance to give someone else the childhood I didn’t have myself. It was pretty much a mess, and if it hadn’t been for my sisters, I would have no idea what life as a kid was supposed to be like. I knew apathy pretty well. I knew about addiction, and depression, and mortal illnesses. I knew about physical and mental cruelty. I knew lots about fear.
My sisters taught me about love without condition. They taught me about feeling safe, and how it felt to be chosen first. All three of them were amazing at taking care of kids, and I will always be thankful for that. And my brother-in-laws were more father to me than my own, especially Philip. Dad died way too young, and before that he was worn out by life, and work, and functional poverty.
But I never expected to have a family of my own. Or a home—a real home. One with a foundation that was mine. And a door with panes of glass. Always wanted that for some reason.
My last…whatever it was ended badly a little more than a decade ago, and I went on a deliberate hiatus for a number of years after that. I came to belief shortly after Y2K, and built on that foundation for a few years as well. I needed to, or I was never going to be useful to anyone else.
The good of the hiatus part is that I was able to work on my heart issues, and what some might call my “core woundings.” It wasn’t fun by any means, but it was like…physical therapy for my soul.
And I needed it.
There came a day I wanted to try…getting out there again. I wanted to meet someone desperately.
I discovered I didn’t have much game pretty early on. None would probably be a better descriptor than “much” in this instance.
I fumbled around a little, and had very little success. A couple of first dates, and a lot of phone calls.
Then someone contacted me (I will always believe that was God getting my attention, and giving me what I needed, even if not exactly what I thought I wanted), and it began.
We emailed, and took a lot of those MySpace quizzes. We talked on the phone like smitten teenagers (and the funny things was, she was the first person I had been with since high school that was age appropriate).
I was all in, and I knew that after just a few weeks.
We were engaged December of the same year we met. December 22, to be exact. At her family Christmas dinner. Not what I planned, but given the value she placed on family, totally appropriate.
And I decided to move away from California, my lifelong home. I had always wanted something new—a fresh start. Nothing like moving to Arizona to be with your girl and her son to start things over again.
We married 9 months after we met. We got pregnant 9 months after we were married. And our son was born the usual 9 months after that.
That’s when I realized that even though I was living in a place I didn’t know very well—a place that was hotter than a monkey’s butt—I was pretty happy with life.
And that was strange, too.
We’ve been through plenty of difficulties of our own, but we’ve always laughed with each other. We pray together, and to this day I love holding her hand. And as far as I know, we’ve never went to bed angry at one another.
I was reaching into our living room closet the other day for something, and I turned my head and looked out the panes of glass in my door to the front yard, where there are trees. Two cars in the driveway.
I don’t know, man. I know it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is. Having a home. There isn’t a white picket fence, but it’s a pretty good thing we have going here. I know I won’t be able to right all the wrongs done to me by having a family and trying my best to do right by them. But the healing of and in my heart has allowed me to forgive many things, and that’s a huge deal.
My life is full, and it’s completely not what I thought it would be, but everything I wanted it to.
Truly, I should not be here. But I am. Through addictions, through lots of things. I went through life feeling like an accident. But the truth is I am not.
I am here. God meant me to be.
I acknowledge that I only have life, and draw breath, and come home to hugs and kisses from my kids because of the presence of God in my life.
What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?
I don’t know. I gained what feels like the whole world, and discovered my soul.
It isn’t just because of the house. It isn’t just because of the family.
I think…no, I know. It’s because my feet are finally on the right path. I still stumble, and sometimes even fall.
The fulfillment I feel in just…trying to be obedient makes it worthwhile.
And I get to come home to this insane enclave of kids, and dogs, and a wife, and it’s pretty awesome.
God is good, all the time.
And the funny thing is, he always was. It’s funny how much you hear when you actually listen.