The journey to becoming a second man for me started before I was born. That sounds insane, but it is the truth. I came from a family that, to put it lightly, was a cesspool of sin.
It goes as far back as my family tries to remember, and each generation has repeated these sins, and even added some new ones. Drugs, greed and sex seemed to fuel the reason for living, and it devastated everything in its path. Broken families and pain were the only things left.
That’s where I come in; I am starting off this journey around the time that I was ten years old, although the journey itself didn’t start here for me. I entered a group home – a 21st Century name for an orphanage – in San Jose, California for the first time.
My mom had been recently arrested on several different drug charges. With that, her arrest felt like it was the start of my captivity.
I can’t seem to find the words to describe what it is like to call a place home, where people don’t love you and aren’t watching you because you share a familial bond, but because that is their job.
It isn’t that it was their fault that you were there, but there was a numbness that came from seeing so much brokenness; that numbness came from most of the adult interactions I was in.
That first night that my sisters and I came to the group home and were checked by the on-site nurse, our stuff was checked for any weapons or drugs. They then guided us to where we were going to be staying.
I was split up from my two sisters by being put on the guys’ side of the campus. I was walked in and introduced to the man who was the supervisor, and he made sure that none of the students ran away.
The first thing he let me know was that if any one ran they called the cops and that person was sent to juvenile hall. He then showed me to my room, and said lights out in an hour.
Next, I went into the main room, and looked at about 20 students ages 10 to 14 all watching T.V. Some kids immediately came up to me and asked what my parents did to make me end up there.
Under my breath I quietly tried to defend my mom’s honor but to no prevail, and the staff finally told us to head back to our rooms. They had a desk outside that a staff member sat at all night to keep watch.
Sitting down in my room, I looked around at the eggshell-white walls, the brown cabinets, and the scarlet patterned carpet. It then hit me like a ton of bricks that I was without a family; I was without anyone to support me in this moment.
I was as locked up as my mom was for her sins, and I was locked in this place that I so desperately wanted to be separated from.
I remembered back to all the kids that asked what my mom had done to make me end up there, and I felt as though I was guilty of the same thing, and that I was going to always be this broken, locked up, and lonely boy without a family to call his own.
When I came to the end of all those different thoughts, the sky fell on top of me, and I lay down and cried. I felt knocked down and out. I was branded with the sins of my family and I was finally paying for it.
Jumping ahead several years, I ended up in Washington with a youth group on a mission trip. I rode on a bus for 30 hours only to realize just how crazy Christians were to me.
Even though I was trapped within the confines of the four metal walls there, I felt free.
During a chapel the Friday night before we headed off to start working, there was a presence that I couldn’t explain.
There was an altar call (as cheesy as that sounds), and I decided to go up to the altar.
There, I was impacted so deeply that my knees hit the floor, and I cried like the first time in that group home.
Yet, these tears didn’t remind me of being locked up, but instead introduced freedom to me for the first time.
These tears didn’t condemn me for my own sins or the sins of my family, but they now cried for forgiveness. I was convinced I was in the same room as my Savior, who made me new.
He didn’t erase my past, but rather He gave me a brand new life; a life that is excited about a future with Him.
I am a second man. Even though I was so close to repeating the sins of my family and even when I fail now today, I realize that He is raising the dead in me, and that I have a new life. I now can be a part of this second family that is going to be used to change the world. I am a part of this family forever and nothing can change that.
I am redeemed.
I am a second man.