don’t know if everyone goes through a singular moment in their lives when they figure out that everything they thought they were, everything they are, is a complete sham. I don’t know if everyone experiences this moment, but I did, and it was not pleasant in the least. I suspect that everyone has their own version of this moment, with varying degrees of seriousness, but mine was about as serious as they get. I think.
In the summer of 2002, I had everything going for me. Well, at least outwardly. For starters, I had the most amazing girlfriend in the world. She’d been my best friend for years, and I never really saw it coming, but one night I fell completely and totally in love with her, and I have been ever since. I’ll probably always love her; after all, Jesus has loved me for twenty seven years without me ever truly loving him back, so I’m thinking that it’s okay for me to love her without getting anything in return.
Anyway, back to the story. She was strong in every area that I was not; I was anti-social, and she loved to plan get-togethers and parties, and she was often the life and soul of any public event she attended. She loved me when I felt like I wasn’t capable of being loved; this was very important, and it’s important that you remember this when I finish up my story.
I was leading worship at church and at youth group on a regular basis, and I was playing in a great band. I’d always dreamed of music becoming my life, and it seemed like things were headed that way. Everything was going absolutely great.
Well, at least outwardly.
Inside, I was dead. In the place where you’re supposed to have a heart and you’re supposed to love Jesus and you’re supposed to love people, I was a blank. I didn’t have a job, so I took stuff from friends and sold it for money. I wasn’t addicted to drugs, but to many people, I probably displayed many of the habits of habitual addiction, because I cared about nothing but trying to help myself without actually helping myself.
I had friends, but I was losing them at a rapid pace. I couldn’t blame them; after all, they’d exhibited a lot more patience with me than I’d ever been able to exhibit myself. There does come a time, though, when enough just has to be enough and you have to cut someone loose, and my friends were doing that on a rapid basis. The band ended (mostly because of me), I wasn’t welcome leading worship anymore, and the relationship with my girlfriend, which at that time was more important to me than anything else in the world, ended in early fall.
I was devastated. I had nothing left. No music, no love, and not even a remote resemblance of a view of Jesus. If Jesus were walking down a dusty road towards me, then I was on a bike pedaling in the other direction.
One night at a friend’s house, I realized everything I’d done and everything I’d lost, and I cried. I cried for hours. I’ve cried before, but it was usually self-pity and a ploy to get people feeling sorry for me, and it usually worked. Like I said in the first, I was pretty good at displaying whatever emotions needed.
This time, though, the tears were for real. I had no personality, I had no love, I had no life, and I had nothing to show for my nearly two and a half decades on the planet.
I had to do something, so I joined the Army.