Looking back on life, are you where you thought you would be? Did the plans you made as a child or young adult pan out? How do you find your compass true North when you feel all is lost?
The answer to finding True North on a Compass represents a direction to which guides your path of travel, governed by the magnetic pull of the Earth’s Northern Pole. By finding true North you have a better chance of reaching your destination by staying the course.
With using the compass analogy, the answers to life’s questions are not easy but can shed light on your path when you reflect back. Reverse engineer where you are now to where you thought you would be. Somewhere in that timeline, you will find where your compass lost “true North” and things took a different path.
I know my story did.
I went from being perfectly healthy and happy to the dark thoughts of suicide only to discover it was because of one area in my life that I overlooked.
Why am I sharing this personal story?
Most “About Pages” sugar coat what life is “really like” and how they got to where they are. I am sharing my “true” story so you will know who I really am in hopes that my story can encourage someone who needs to hear it.
The Foundation of Childhood.
What our home was like.
Growing up, I was just an average kid. I love to be outside, riding bicycles, shooting BB guns and playing baseball. Your typical All-American boy.
I grew up in a Christian home, where my parents taught me about Jesus and raised my little brother and me, right.
My dad would take us hunting and fishing when he had free time to spare. Dad was a hard-working blue-collar American. He worked long hours and a lot of overtime so mom could stay home with us, yet still be able to make ends meet. But when he had free time, he made sure to spend that time with us.
Driven with Passion for the Love of the Game.
As I got older, baseball became my passion. All my free time, I spent practicing. Was a pretty good student and got good grades. A bit of an overachiever, a little creative and a major perfectionist.
I ate, slept and lived to play baseball. Practicing every day until dark. I was destined to play for the Atlanta Braves. When not playing ball, practicing or studying plays, the television was on baseball and I watched intently studying the game.
My addiction to the sport was as much as any kid could be.
High School changes Everything
When focus changes the passions die.
As I got into High School, a lot changed. I got into chasing girls, drinking and fell out of love with the outdoors and baseball. Partying became my new norm. As a result, I drifted further away from family and further away from God.
I was still able to maintain somewhat decent grades, at least when I was at school and not surfing. As graduation approached my grades were good enough to get into the University of North Florida with plans to become a civil engineer. I figured my perfectionism and creativity would allow me to become a pretty good civil engineer. However partying and surfing, as I was only 15 minutes from the beach, got in the way of my college career.
After my first semester in the fall, I was sent home on academic probation with a GPA of a 1.2. Just above failing.
I could not even stay in school much less play baseball.
Lessons take longer to learn.
With disappointed parents, I came home and continued business as usual.
Continued partying and hanging out with the same old friends from high school, which landed me a job working for the city with my dad. Not what my dreams looked like at all.
September 11th, 2001 was the day my outlook on life changed. Watching those Towers fall to the ground, knowing that our country had been attacked, something inside of me lit on fire. A burning desire to right the wrong for my country and stand up for what was right.
This truly was the first time in my life I had drive and motivation to do something “worthy” in a cause greater than my own selfishness. Young, dumb and after being fired for multiple jobs, I decided to set my path straight and head to the military.
New Game Plan for the Life Ahead.
“Aim High, Fly-Fight-Win”
I had my mind set on the Air Force. Not wanting some average job, becoming some account or pencil pusher, I set my sights on Special Operations. I was going to become a combat controller. “First in, last out” was the motto that I was going to follow.
Speaking with the recruiters, I got everything I needed lined up but I was not ready to sign just yet. I wanted to make sure that I was going to become a combat controller in the Special Operations unit. So I trained my rear end off to make sure that I was strong enough, fast enough and was going to be the best combat controller the Air Force had ever seen.
You remember I mentioned I was a perfectionist? I set my sights, and the perfectionist in me kicked into overdrive fueling my focus.
Turning 21 and being hit with the Curve.
The week that I was going to sign, the recruiter called me on Monday verifying my appointment on Friday asking if all was still good? I replied, “I will be in on Friday”.
On Tuesday, unbeknownst to me, everything was about to change.
Went to the bathroom, to handle some business, when I noticed blood in the toilet and a blood clot floating that was the size of a golf ball. Scared and not knowing what had just happened, I called to make a doctor’s appointment to get checked out. I didn’t want any problems with my medical screening as I was to sign the papers for boot camp on Friday.
By Thursday, I was medically disqualified for a disorder that I had never heard of. I was now a statistic of ulcerative colitis.
Slapped in the Face and blindsided.
“What the heck is ulcerative colitis? How did I get it and how do I make it go away?” were the questions I needed answers from the doctor.
He informed me that there is no way to determine how I got it and there’s no cure. It could possibly be genetics, could be an allergy, it could be a bacteria or parasite. It could be just about anything. He also informed me that it was my immune system that is causing the bleeding and can only be controlled by medication that suppresses the immune system.
This news was like being slugged in the face.
You remember I mentioned that was a perfectionist?
This was something that I could not fix and I was lost.
The beginning of the fall.
Dreams Fly Away just like Birds.
All my focus, all my plans, and all my dreams flew out the window. Stating that I was devastated was an understatement.
I couldn’t understand.
How could I go from being completely healthy to completely sick almost overnight?
Anger took over my life and the only person I could blame at this point was God.
I hated God. I hated him for everything that he had done to me with this disorder. I hated the fact that everybody I knew around me seems to be pleasant and happy when I was not.
The injustice of watching friends treat their bodies like carnivals yet perfectly healthy but, I was in tip-top shape and now so very sick.
Sick with the disorder that I could not cure let alone know how I contacted.
As darkness begins to fill the void.
For the next 11 years, I would have to cope with the everyday struggles of living with an irritable bowel disease. Watching my body fade and losing color as it was becoming more malnutrition each passing day. Everything that I had worked so hard for was literally being “flushed down the toilet”.
My home away from home seemed to be restrooms scattered all over the city and county. I couldn’t go anywhere without visiting the restroom. Going to dinner, shopping, going to work, driving anywhere in the car; anything I tried to do was interrupted by multiple trips to the bathroom. I could not go anywhere without my “adult diaper bag”, filled with emergency clothes, plastic bags, and toiletries in case the odds were not in my favor.
I was losing the ability to function as a person; losing touch with Society, family, friends and becoming severely depressed. I was out of touch with God and I didn’t care, which allowed evil to be close, spawning multiple thoughts of contemplating suicide. I figured what was worth living, if this was living and how my life was going to continue.
Begging God (whom I still hated) to not let me wake up after falling asleep, visualizing ways that would end my life easier, without making a mess or causing any problems for anyone else flooded my thoughts. Laying on the couch, close to the bathroom, where I spent most of my time drowning in pain and misery.
I was at the end.
Change in Plans.
Redirection in Devil’s Playground.
One Friday night, in the middle of June 2006, while trying to escape the clouds of my life, I met my “soon-to-be wife”, at a local bar and tavern here in town. She was so beautiful and full of life. Way out of my league, however, she was into me. “How could I be this lucky?”, I thought but I knew it would not last because I was sick, looking like Count Dracula due to my grey skin. However, to my surprise, she gave me her number and told me to call.
As we began to date, I nervously informed her of my illness so she wouldn’t be freaked out by the frequent bathroom breaks. I figured once disclosed it was going to be a deal breaker. Shocked, she didn’t seem to mind at all and we continued on with our relationship. I don’t think she realized just how sick I was, yet she stuck around and 8 months after we met, we got married.
This truly was a turn for the good in my life.
She grew up in a Christian home just like I did, however, wavered off the straight and narrow just the same. But God had a plan for both of us that neither could see.
I was helping her just as much as she was helping me.
Making the turn on to the Straight and Narrow.
We began to reevaluate our lives and realized we eliminated the one who loved both of us more than we could ever imagine. We both turned our back on God, but he never turned his back on us.
At this point in my life, I began to notice I left my original roots. Trading in my outdoor lifestyle for video games. I would rush home from work, hurry through dinner, just to meet up with “buddies” online to play video games late into the early morning. Not healthy for a newly married couple with a wife who was not a gamer. It caused problems to say the least. Not only with my health but also with my marriage.
A strong change was needed for my addictive habits.
I began to feel God and the outdoors calling again. Selling all my videos game consoles and purchasing a jon boat, I started fishing again like I did with my dad. Lucky for me, my wife likes fishing so now we had a hobby together.
We slowly but surely got back into church regularly and began to get involved with Christian friends. This was a true Turning Point in our lives.
I began to see that God wasn’t against me and didn’t do this to me because he hated me or because he was trying to get revenge. I was given this disorder to readjust my focus, a lesson to not put myself above Him.
See, I remove God from all the decisions of my life and took control of a wheel that I should have never had my hands on. I was out of control and God was trying to get me back on the right course but I was too stubborn to see the forest for the trees.
What I had planned for my life was not what God has planned for mine.
Focusing on What Truly Matters.
After my focus a changed, and through a lot of prayers, God put a new doctor in my life who was able to get me somewhat under control.
God then performed His miracle.
God placed an amazing surgeon in my path that was able to do the surgery that I needed to make all my problems go away. I know it was a miracle because he was not taking any new patients and it was 2 weeks before Christmas, yet I was still able to get surgery I needed to start my path back to a normal life.
It was December 18, 2013, I had a total colectomy, which means I had my entire colon removed. A 6-hour surgery that turned into an 8-hour surgery and God began my healing process. Even though was not going to be a walk in the park, it was definitely going to improve the life I had been living previously.
My daughter at this time was 1 years old and she needed a Daddy that could take care of her and not be running back and forth to the bathroom all the time. She needed me and I needed to be there for her.
The surgeon, a veteran over 20 years of Performing this type of surgery, informed me and my family that my colon was one of the worst that he had ever seen. It was comparable to that of a colon removed from a cadaver. My colon was literally dead and was poisoning me. Black in color and lifeless, like the sin previously in my life, was destroying my soul and body, killing me slowly; poisoning me.
God’s call from the Outdoors.
The outdoors is what brought me closer to God. Finally understanding how powerful God is and knowing how small I was. It brought everything into perspective, knowing that nothing is impossible for God.
God could heal me and He healed me.
I began to remember what made me happy. Back when I was a kid hunting and fishing with my dad brought joy in my life, not like drugs, alcohol and wild parties I was trying to replace it with.
Getting back to the simpler times of life, being in God’s creation and enjoying what God has created for us as his children.
Not knowing if I would ever have children, God blessed me with 3. Two girls and one boy. I can not describe the feelings of joy that my family brings to my life. Every day I thank God for them and enjoy spending as much time as I can with them.
I want them to share in these experiences of being outdoors. Fishing, hunting, camping and everything that entails being outdoors. To help them build a good foundation in self-perseverance, with direction from God into their lives, hoping they grow stronger, protected in his word and will pass their knowledge onto generations to come.
Saved by the Grace of God and How His love brought me through
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
God was the answer I needed and he was there all along. I could not get out of my own way to see him standing there, waiting for me to turn my life around and seek his direction. On June 24, 2012, I rededicated my life back over to him, reassuring my salvation and getting baptized again as an adult, just to finalize my doubt.
I wished I can say that after that day, I walked a perfect road in pursuit of His will for my life, but I would be lying if I did. I have stumbled, lost sight and focus from time to time losing the compass bearing of “true North” on my journey. But, God is always there with the light to the path, if I will only pick my head up and look for it.
When you as a child of Christ fall (and you will), pick yourself up, brush off the mistakes and head back to base camp, where God is waiting to get you back on the right track.
When you look back on your life, can you see where your compass broke like I did? Have you lost sight of the one thing that changed it all? You can correct your course and change your future by finding your “true North” to get you back on the right path of your journey. Sometimes these answers are the hardest to face, but when you do, the benefits outweigh the pain.
We as a family, though still young, are embarking on this Adventure called life with 3 main focuses on “true North”. Love for God, Love for each other and Love for the outdoors God has given to us.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.
My journey is still in progress to reach what God has in store for me and my family. Join us on this journey, sharing in the experiences God is placing before us and your family.
If you have not signed up for the Tribe be sure to do so below. A Weekly Devotional series, delivered straight into your inbox is in the works, and you do not want to miss this when they become available.
God Bless and Keep your Compass focused on the right “true North”.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert, nor do I claim to be. I am just an average Christian, Husband and father who shares life experiences to entertain. Please seek professional help if you are in need of help.