A Bathroom, a Penny, and a Magazine
The choice of faith
What's the longest amount of time you've spent crying?
I can't remember exactly how long my longest was, but I can clearly remember how long I cried the day I realized that I was stuck in a life that I never wanted but had managed to create for myself: 45 minutes. That's how long it took me to drive home from the night class for Intro to Hydraulics I was taking.
I was about three weeks into my first semester of my Mechanical Engineering degree, and I knew there was no way I was going to make it. I didn't understand the math, the science, or the point. Why was I trying to get a degree in Mechanical Engineering? I was a CNC Machinist at the time, and I thought it was the most practical and profitable route to take.
I hated the thought.
"Since I was seven, I've wanted to be a writer."
Since I was seven, I've wanted to be a writer. I always thought it would be amazing to teach people how to write while I wrote my own novels, poems, and anything else I could or would write. Life kicked that dream around, and I let it, effectively curling into a ball on the ground with my arms around my head.
The night in question, I sat in my hydraulics class, lost. As the professor went through a problem on the board, about ten minutes into class, I dropped my pen, sat back, and fought back the tears. "Why, God, have you done this to me?" Right, like it was God's fault. I needed to lay the blame somewhere, and my shoulders were weighed too far down already. When class was over, I threw my bag in my truck and made the drive home through a wall of tears.
My wife and I had a routine back then. We would go through the house together, tidying up, shutting off lights, etc. That night, much later, we were in the bathroom, shutting off the lights, wiping the counter, and we had been talking about all of this. My wife asked me what I wanted to do, and I repeated the tired: "I want to write" phrase for the millionth time.
I then went through my nightly routine of knocking myself down. I was good at it, and still am, to be honest. I told her I'd never be good enough to make it as a writer and that this degree would probably be worthless, if I ever did get it. But, I said with false bravado and a quivering voice, I'll get it. Somehow, I'll make it through, and I'll hate it. I'll hate this career and the next, but my dream doesn't matter.
"I then went through my nightly routine of knocking myself down."
And then my wife broke me.
She looked me dead in the face and said: "It's like you're forgetting you're a Christian." That was it. That was the end of the conversation. I was too stunned to say anything else, but I didn't sleep well that night. The next morning, I woke up, got dressed, and drove the forty-five minutes to the school. That day I changed my major to English.
As I sat in the student lounge afterwards, I watched all of the younger students, unafraid and ignorant of the world. I decided then that I wanted to inspire people. It's no longer about writing books or poems; for me, it's about changing lives through the gifts God has given me. A couple of weeks later, I wrote the first draft of Fate of the Watchman, which will be released by Ambassador International sometime in the next year.
The bathroom. My life was changed, forever, in the bathroom. Are you, spiritually, in the bathroom, just like I was? For some, their life is metaphorically in the toilet, but that's not what I mean. I'm talking about a place of decision. I can't tell you what path to take, but I can encourage you to never forget who you are. I can encourage you to walk God's path, rather than lock yourself into a prison of your own making.
Life didn't all of a sudden become easy. I still had to take developmental classes and do all the math and science required for even English majors, but I got through it. I can't even keep a straight face long enough to tell you that your path will be easy. In fact, if you plan on walking with God, the exact opposite is probably true. Just remember, everyone faces challenges, but not everyone faces them with the Lord beside them.
Years later, I still remember that trip to the bathroom. In Part Two, I'll discuss how a single penny gave me the courage to not only walk but run this race.