Never Give Up, Never Surrender

I had a difficult childhood. I was discussing it with my best friend the other day. I remember things being normal until the third grade. Then, suddenly the kids that I used to play with were starting to pick on me and laugh at my expense. Soon after that they stopped playing with me all together. There were some other kids in our neighborhood that did not avoid me but it was a small number. From the third grade on I lived on the outside looking in. I ended up being the kid that people would pick on and bully to feel better about themselves and to look cool for their friends.

I remember when I moved to Jacksonville for the 9th grade. I hoped it would be different. I didn’t experience any pain at all moving from the class that I had grown up with to a totally new group of strangers. I hoped and prayed that it would be different. Maybe I wouldn’t have to keep dealing with it, maybe things would be different. They weren’t.

When I look back on it I can see exactly why it was happening. I was too smart for my own good and made sure that everyone around me knew how smart I was. I acted like I was superior. It was only natural for people to take me down a peg (or 10) whenever they got the chance. I also had poor hygiene and my family couldn’t afford the type of clothes and toys that helped other people fit in.

I remember playing high school football in the 8th grade. I was terrible. I was the slowest person on the team. To top that off, I was one of the biggest guys on the squad, which made me even more of a disappointment. Those memories frustrate me, because I look at how much I know about football today and I wonder why the coaches never taught me anything at all. Nobody taught me anything about staying low, about good leverage. Nobody explained anything about how to predict what was going to happen and react to it accordingly. I wasn’t even worth the time it would take for a coach to explain how sticking with the after school workout program could change my life. I was an afterthought.

This seems like an unfortunate trend from those days. I was like a person being swept away in a flash flood. I couldn’t save myself; I needed someone to help me, somebody with a rope, or a branch or a plan. No one did. I never got the feedback that I desperately needed. I can’t remember a single conversation about how to get along with people. I think the closest I came to it was the standard advice about having to be a friend to have a friend. The problem was that I didn’t know how to be a friend. I had no idea that I was the cause of my own problems and no one was making it a point to teach me.

I was about 15 the first time I thought of suicide. Even today I can remember the deceit that the devil was whispering in my ear. He told me that it was never going to change. He told me that I was always going to be miserable and that I would save myself the pain that the future would bring by ending it early. I didn’t argue the point, I believed it. In fact, I thought it was my own idea. I just didn’t see any way out. This thought came back to me regularly throughout the rest of my high school years. I think it hit me the strongest during my senior year when I got in a fight with my best friend and she withdrew from my life. My own rank cowardice was the only reason that I didn’t go through with it.

This is all very personal for me. If I went into any more detail I would have nothing private left at all. So why am I sharing it with the entire world wide web. I’m not; I’m sharing it with you. I’m sharing it with you because I want you to understand the place that I’m coming from. We’ve all had those moments in our life. Some people have had it a little easier, some people have had it a little worse but nobody has had it easy.

I wanted you to know this about me because you wouldn’t know it by looking at me now. At the ripe old age of 34 I have become a successful businessman who is well respected at work. I’ve become a real Christ follower who is trying to make an impact for His kingdom. I have become a person that others come to for advice and guidance. I’ve become a person who has dedicated his life to helping people. I’ve become a person with great potential.

The devil was lying. The short term future was painful, but the long-term future is glorious. The devil wanted to take me out to keep me from being here today. It was his goal to prevent me from making the impact that I’m making today.

Now here’s the big news, here’s the reason that I’m opening my soul for all to see. It’s because I want you to know that he’s doing the same thing to you. The devil is lying to you and trying to knock you off of your path. He wants to keep you from accomplishing all of the things that you are meant to accomplish. Don’t let him. Don’t give in to despair and hopelessness. Don’t give in to depression. Don’t beat yourself up.

I’m living proof of the good things that will happen when you stay in the fight. When I repented and accepted Jesus into my life in my mid-twenties he turned every one of my tragedies into triumphs and he wants to do the same thing for you.

Even these horrible and painful experiences have been redeemed. I’ve learned from them and use them to help me on my current path. Not only that, but they give me the perspective that I need to help others who have gone through similar things or are going through them today. That is why I will not keep silent. My experiences and my pains are not meant for me alone. We can all learn from them. You can share them with others and make your own lives better without having to go through the same struggle and frustration.

I want you to understand the healing power that Jesus has. Your experiences are not meant for you alone. We have all suffered. We have all struggled. And with Jesus we all have the power to help others avoid it. Are you still holding on to pain today? Are you still suffering from the slings and arrows of the past? Are you still trapped by the lies of the Devil?

Please let them go. Accept Him, and ask Him to heal you and he will do it. He did it for me. In the span of one year I changed from a person that people hated to be around to someone that people loved. He didn’t only heal my wounds of the past, but he negated them and eliminated their effects in my present and future.

I promise you, I am not special. But I am real and I am honest. This can be just as real for you as it is for me. It’s up to you.

Oh, one other thing for you parents out there. Helping your children with their school work is great. But helping them with life skills is much more important. They have the school for school lessons. The only person they have for their training in life skills is you. Please don’t let them suffer due to a lack of knowledge.

Be Blessed,

Jonathan

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Posted on April 30, 2011, in Christian Development and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks

  2. Beautiful post, Jonathan. I think we can all relate to aspects of this — both heart-breaking and inspiring!

    🙂

  3. Hello, this is a great post. It made me cry though, I can’t see myself with a good future, I give up on things too easily and I regret it but then do it again. It is like I want to make myself fail, but why would I want to do that? But you have given me a kernel of hope.

  4. Hi Pippa,

    Thanks for reading. I’m glad you stopped by. This was one of the harder things I’ve ever written but I felt I had to because I know there are others who have gone through or are going through the same things.

    I don’t think you want yourself to fail and I promise you that you won’t always fail.One of the hardest things that I learned was that I had to be willing to risk being hurt in order to truly live and feel love. The fact that you are still trying and that you are frustrated with failure is a very positive thing. Your victory will be all the more sweet because of the struggle you endured to get there.

    I hope you’ll check in from time to time in case anything else that I write can be a blessing to you.

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