Before 2000, ever so briefly:
Born in California; 1981. It's beautiful, but dangerous there (earthquakes and all), I loved the beach; thought Mexicans were from outer space, and that Hell must be a place much like day care.
Winter 1988 - 1989 I moved to Michigan with my family and learned that Hell is a nice town that people like to visit for Halloween and on April 15 (tax day). First we lived in Hamburg, then in Howell. On my list of findings in life I learned school is not fun, neither is riding the bus, and being a newcomer with other kids is a lot being a small crab trying to escape a bucket of bigger crabs, everyone pulling you down. It was a tough year.
1989 - 1992 The tough years continue: We moved to Lansing where I discovered that school yard bullies can be violent and scary; and that some things, no matter how hard anyone tries, just don't work out. After giving it one last shot, my parents separated for the third and final time. My heart was broken, but to be honest, I slept better at night. Sometimes I wished they could have worked it out, but now that they were apart I never wished that they would get back together. I was innocent, but not naive.
1992 - 2000 Still more tough times. I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder, but I learned not to roll over and take a beating, not to listen to gossip or insults, and that any Christian testimony worth having must endure questioning and trial. I also came to the conclusion that stress induced migraine headaches are misery, and well worth the effort to avoid.
In the year 2000 I worked Saturdays at the mall. This provided several perks; namely $70 dollars every other week, and a bank account with an ATM card. I learned easily that money buys freedom and advantage (sorry folks, freedom ain't free, never was). I was able to pay for clothes , snacks, bus fare, and field trips... including a trip that changed my life.
The summer after high school graduation I went wilderness camping. Quetico Provincial Park was amazing. For the first time I smelled clean air, drank clean water, and heard natural silence.
|Quetico PP : Photo lifted from Northwestern Flying Club|
Was it my fault my parents divorced?
Was there anything I could have done to stop it?
After asking myself those two questions a new question came to mind.
Do I need to worry about my parents' divorce any more?
It was something I never supposed before. This took some thinking, but after a minute I decided that the answer was no.
Life got better after that.
I got a job at Meijer (a store that Wal-mart resembles), started taking college classes, and with my mom and step-father's help, I moved into an apartment with roommates.
It was an adventurous year. I had my first dates, my first love, and my first break up (romantic break ups are bad, but slightly over rated). There were arguments and fun with roommates, my first gold fish to truly call my own, and for the first time since childhood, I had friends I felt comfortable inviting to my home (no offense, high school friends, you were cool to hang out with at lunch and all, but I had enough troubles at home without involving anyone from the outside).
Now for two more experiences that maybe weren't life changers, but I believe are important to tell:
Occasionally I would treat myself to an extra fifty bucks to spend however I wanted. One night I was with friends helping a man and his mother prepare to move out of state. He was a Vietnam War veteran, and I have a very high level of respect for those who fought in that conflict. He wore a courageous face, but I heard him say he didn't know how he was going to eat on this trip. As a very strict rule, I do not give away money to individuals; but I felt in my heart to help this man. While I was looking for a place where he could easily find the gift, he handed me his copy of the Bible (which he said he read from every day) and asked me to put it in the front seat of the moving truck. I slipped a $50 note in between the Old and New Testaments and helped finish packing the truck for the night.
On another night close to Christmas I had $56 dollars in my pocket. Enough for some Christmas gifts, a quick meal, and bus fare home. A woman with a baby caught me off guard asking for a few dollars for groceries. I handed her the five dollar bill to make her go away. Then the voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to me saying, "Those you are buying Christmas gifts for don't need them". Taking the hint, I found the lady, gave her the fifty dollar bill, and went home.
I don't remember if I actually felt good about giving money away to these strangers. Perhaps my heart was not quite in the right place, but the Lord has blessed me for it ten times over (if my math is right) and I believe still blesses me to this day.
So there it is. First year of my adulthood. Graduation, self discovery, work, love, and a little extra means for fun and generosity. It was a big year.