Who I Am
My life was supposed to “work out.” I was “supposed” to be brought up with two, loving, caring parents who modeled what love and family looked like from the start. You know, what most children have? Only that ended quickly. My parents are two loving, caring individuals despite the fact that their marriage ended shortly into our lives. I was 5 years old when this happened and my sister was 3.
Divorce is an ugly thing for all people involved. It doesn’t just affect spouses but it has a ripple effect that bleeds over into children. It causes a ripple in the generational and family lines that cannot be reversed. Its effects last. On a positive note, children are extremely resilient. I’m thankful in one sense that my sister and I were relatively unaware of life with my parents together because it was at a young age that their marriage ended.
With that said, we didn’t have much of a model of life with them to go off, except for our younger years which we enjoyed. My parents were high school sweethearts. Honestly, if you talk to anybody who knows either of them, they will tell you they’re the nicest, most generous and down-to-earth people you might ever meet! Guess what? They’re not lying. But guess what else? Marriages still fail with those factors involved. One extremely amazing person plus another still doesn’t guarantee a successful marriage. Have you heard of the divorce rate? There’s quite a bit more to it than that which I’ll cover later. For now, I’m going to spare the details and continue with an overview of my life and upbringing. Maybe I’ll go into more detail if I write a book one day. (Pray that day is soon.)
For my parents it was communication that was a huge part of their divorce. There were many factors actually, but it was mostly this coupled with the fact that my mom and dad were very different people. Look you can have two very different people and a very thriving marriage. With my mom and dad though, they had different interests and different ways they preferred to spend their time, and this really led to major problems when their way of communicating became nonexistent or led to unresolved fights.
The case was closed. The marriage ended. The union of those two people, the result of which brought me to life, came to death. My sister and I would spend a day a week at our Dad’s place in addition to every other weekend and we would live with my mother. We got used to this routine quickly. Children are resilient. It was not but a year or so after that my mother began dating again. She got married rather quickly without truly reflecting on whether she could do life with this person because she wanted stability for us kids. Her motives were pure, but she was gullible. If you’ve ever heard of borderline personality disorder you know what life is like living with another in this space. If you haven’t please do google it to find out. Life is always like a roller coaster. My mom loved this man as did my sister and I. But quite honestly it became like walking on eggshells around our house with the anger, mood fluctuations and fights we were accustomed to witnessing.
I cannot describe it. It’s something you’d have to have been around to see and know. Let’s just say we had friends, but they would never want to come over our house that much. This is because the fights didn’t stop when they did. And the gravity of them, another story!! Boy we had GOOD and loyal friends because despite all of that we still had someone over almost every week and on many weekends too.
Now when things got very bad, my mother got divorced, yet again. This time, we were very relieved and aware. That sounds weird to say, but this was a decision that had to have been made given the circumstances.
God in the Midst
Let me talk about my Dad’s house. My father had began dating a woman named Michele during all during this time. There was something unique about Michele. She was genuinely hilarious and down to earth. Her nickname was “Spaghetti” because of her naturally extremely curly hair so guess what we called her? We would spend nights with her children who became our absolute role models for life, playing backyard wiffle ball, making jokes, spending holidays together and just enjoying life and inventing ways to find adventure in the ordinary. We would spend nights with Michele, my dad and her kids watching things like “Freaky Leaks” and “Goosebumps.” We’d go back to my mom’s house not wanting to go to bed without the covers over our faces. We loved every minute. We also loved our time at my mom’s, despite the situations that transpired in our earlier years. Through it all we would still have fun, especially spending time with my step-brother, the son of my mom’s ex-husband.
But there was something else that set Michele apart. That was the way she spoke about God. My sister and I grew up Roman Catholic. We made our first communion, we did the Sunday school thing, the whole nine yards, CCD, you name it. We developed a way to view God and for that I’m thankful. Only we didn’t know him the way Michele did. Looking back, we actually did not know him at all.
My sister and I went to a Catholic Elementary school. When we’d visit Michele she’d talk to us about what we learned there. She’d share ways that God spoke to her and she’d share Bible stories. She truly became a mentor for us. What she was doing during that time was what the Bible calls “planting seeds.” It’s funny then that throughout the years and through God’s unique way of watering those seeds, the seeds grew. He gave the growth! It was at age 15 after digesting and looking into everything she’d shared with me that I made the decision for myself to drop out of the Catholic high school I attended and to get serious about my faith. I made a decision to follow Jesus. Sounds like an “oxymoron,” doesn’t it? Dropping out of a Catholic high school to follow Christ? Aren’t real “religious” folk only allowed in a school like that anyway? But there’s something to that now that I think about it!
I got out of the “religious” scene to find Jesus.
This might shock you and I hope it does because it’s entirely too important to miss.
That’s the fact that in Jesus day and time, the people He called into eternal life and showed the way to Heaven were ones from very religious upbringings. His audience was a Jewish one. They knew all of the OT scriptures. They gave money. They prayed the long, repetitive prayers. Only it benefited them nothing, because the One the Scriptures prophesied about was right in front of them, speaking to them, and they did not believe HE was God. He was LOVE. They rejected the love extended them. How many do that today in favor of offending their culturally religious upbringing today? Too many. That’s part of the reason I write. “But it feels like treason because I grew up Catholic.”
Listen, Catholic or not, do you personally know Jesus? That is the question.
With that said, I got out of the “religious” scene to find something better than it altogether: Real, life-giving relationship with Jesus. Fellowship with other believers my age, other young guys who I could walk out this thing called the Christian life. Now when I say I became less “religious,” let me define that. I mean that in the Catholic faith, things are structured. Prayers are fine tuned. Do this. Do that. It’s a lot. It’s not surprising many drop out altogether. Let me also say, you can do all of “what’s required of you,” and still miss Jesus. I felt like I’d done that my entire life while Catholic after truly grasping who Jesus was at age 15. Think about it.
Do you know someone who is sold out for Jesus alone? Not for religious activity, but for a person. Loving a religion is two-dimensional. Loving a person is entirely different.
I became Christian (Non-denominational) and still remained in a “religion,” only the focus was on a person. The Word of God (Bible) was the structure. Catholics call this being “Protestant.” In the Catholic Church historically there’s been an awful view of all Protestants but over time they actually have become recognized as “brothers and sisters.”
All this isn’t to strike down my upbringing. There’s a reverence in the Catholic faith. There’s also many concerning and confusing beliefs that the Bible itself does not affirm, so for me I could no longer continue. To this day I know Catholics who I know love and know Jesus too. Jesus has done a perfect job showing me that every time I’ve become too hardened. My personal decision has been to align myself and plant myself in a Bible-centered, Bible-based, Jesus loving church after leaving Catholicism.
The Best things out of the Worst times
Jesus, love, family. Divorce, trials, and tribulations. How do THESE ALL fit together?
For one, I would not have the appreciation for family if it were not for how many marriages I’ve seen fail. I’ve closely watched so many friends’ and family member’s marriages crumble that I virtually determined to get to the bottom of it. Of what makes a marriage. I’ve found it. It’s not just you and the other person. It’s you, them and Christ! Life is hard enough being Christian that I can’t picture trials without Him.
Through the worst circumstances like divorce (twice) in my family, I’ve found the best things in life. God pursued me through my step-mom and also through my mom’s amazing foster family. The ripple effect was God doing a work in my Mother and Father as well and in both of their families. Cameron is one of my cousins who would constantly talk to my sister and I about his experiences with God as well. He was a crucial influence on us from a very young age and someone we always looked up to. Please pray for Cam during this time as he faces his own trials.
With that all I say that through trials, look for TRIUMPH. If you’ve known struggle, inner turmoil, what have you, look for the areas God is trying to reach you and to pursue you! I promise you He will. In times in life full of darkness look for the places the light shines brightest. Join a Bible study, talk to friends who really know Jesus, ask them about their experiences with Him. This thing is real, guys!
This life ain’t easy. We all struggle. My smile might fool you that I’ve had the perfect life from the start. That’s so far from true. However, it doesn’t mean I CANNOT HAVE PERFECT PEACE right now and through it all. Jesus promised it. I accepted it. In fact, He promises it to all who will receive it.
Don’t wait. Stay tuned as I continue my story in blogs to follow!
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5)
Written by Alexander Oram