Monday, February 19, 2024

Still Running

Still Running


I recently turn sixty-two. There is something about getting older that makes you think about your life. Some days, I wake up and hit the ground running, and some days I just seem to crawl. I feel like I’ve been running for a long time. My life’s journey has been an unfiltered and authentic experience. 


My run began at five years of age when I was first removed from my home. I soon learned there were others just like me who were running. Even today, there are so many runners that I can’t count them. I’m not sure if they even know they are running. There’s an invisible force we are running against.


It was difficult to identify the runner beside me; for years it directed the course of the life. It controlled every aspect of my speech, my emotions, and my thoughts. Its goal was to cause me to end the run early. This runner, as invisible as it was, had such control of my life. A smile, a hug, or a look could trigger this invisible runner to rise up and fill my mind with evil thoughts. 


Through a series of life-changing events in 2005 and 2006, I discovered this runner beside me. In 2007, I came to identify the runner as “the invisible soul.” It’s a part of every human being’s fabric. It’s an outside invisible influence that, if given permission, will steer the course of our lives. This runner never runs out of breath and it never sleeps. I’m not talking about the Spirit of God, our spirit, or even our soul. I’m not even talking about the dark spirits of this earth. I am talking about an invisible soul that no one ever sees and is hidden deep in our personality DNA. Of course, there is no scientific study to prove this. The only proof of its existence is the destruction it leaves behind. The death of our innocence and the death of ourselves. 


It’s what has been introduced to us during our formative years. It seeks no good in our lives as it desires to portray a fake image of who we are to the world, but never our authentic selves. It causes us to run off course from God’s plan for our lives. To demystify the invisible soul, it’s a dynamic and resonant voice that screams to us to make the choices we make but also whispers ever so softly. The invisible soul wants us to follow and not lead.  


The invisible soul has been accelerated into fame by the invention of social media. Its pace is rapid, running alongside countless individuals who may not even be aware of its presence. It runs with those aspiring to be more than what they were created to be. It runs with those who have a double life, one visible and one concealed. It echoes the dynamics of the platforms we navigate today.


Why would anyone let an invisible force be so dominant over their life? The answer is simple but complex at the same time. 


How can you run and never know you are running? How can you be in a race but never know there is a race going on? How can something be invisible but identified at the same time? These unseen forces are tangible with the goal of either elevating our sense of achievement or suppressing us so deeply that we decide to end the run early. There is no simple answer to this question. We don’t control the invisible soul; it acts on its own accord.  


After a two-year journey with an incredible ministry, I was able to come face-to-face with this invisible soul. It wasn’t until 2007 that I knew this invisible force existed. I fought hard for these two years as the force was almost too much. The events that took place were seemly directed right at me. Death and destruction were all around me. Then, some thirteen years later, I would confront a force so strong that it almost caused me to end the race. It was as if this invisible soul had laid dormant for years, studying me and observing me, calculating my destruction. 


This time was different, though. I had help. For years, I handled things on my own, never seeking help from anyone. It was the way I learned at an early age to deal with myself. In 2007, I believed that unveiling the invisible soul would be the catalyst for its death; that was far from the truth. 


My help came from my beautiful wife of forty years. Over the years, I learned to share with Lisa and lean on her; we discovered things together and brought light to what was going on in my inner thoughts. Lisa calls it checking in with me.


Through this process of checking in, we discovered I was once again dealing with a force that was not friendly with me. I told Lisa that we had a friend I thought could help to deal with this and put this invisible soul in the grave for the last time. I contacted my now close friend and shared the situation with her, and she agreed to meet with us. She had read my book by then, so the term “the invisible soul” was not a new concept to her. I detailed this encounter in a previous story called “Perspective.” 


After being in therapy for over two and a half years now, I feel like I am evolving to my purpose and discovering my true path. The run is not so blind; I see now that the path is clear. I have been broken to pieces but put back together with understanding and love. I am more than blessed to have hope in my heart and discover new and exciting truths about myself. 


There is a level of hope in my heart that is not measurable. My soul will now live unhindered by an invisible force. I’ve been lost, but now I am found. 


Sometimes I feel guilty for being so free because I know so many who need help. They either refuse or deny the help or they just don’t know they need help. It took me years to discover this invisible soul that sought nothing but destruction for me. As the therapist says, “Keep writing; it may help others.” Knowing someone has gone before them gives hope to the hopeless and brings love to those who may discover this kind of grace. Love is not deserved but given. 


Because it’s so, I will live. 


Keep running and recognize those who run with you, seen or unseen. This world needs you! Keep running!  


www.sandwestedit.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Fire

 The Fire


Recently, I was challenged to write a story about someone who must keep a fire burning, surrounded by total darkness. I have been thinking about this for a few days and have been pondering what type of emotions I will have to explore to write this story. This has triggered a host of troubling emotions and thoughts. The darkness in my life has always been real. 


The memory that stands out to me is when my brother, Mike, and I were dropped off at this lady’s house during the week. She ran some type of off-grid daycare. We were about four or five years old. I believe it was the year before I was removed from my home. Even on our best behavior, we found ourselves in this dark closet. It was in a room that was already dark, and the closet was even darker. No light shined in at all. It was total darkness. 


My brother is one year older than me. He sat on one side of the closet, and I sat on the other side. The closet was about four feet wide, and I remember our feet touching the walls with our knees in the bent position. I would always grab my knees and place my head right in the middle of my legs. We would sit there for hours, listening for any sound of hope. We always hoped to be released from the closet early. Some days we would hear footsteps, and the door would open; we would be led out into the light. Our eyes would be half-closed and our legs would hardly work because we had been sitting so long in one position. 


The resilience of the darkness brought many imaginary things to life. We knew the darkness was real, and it provided solace and comfort, but being seen by someone could lead to torture or other forms of abuse. We made the darkness our friend. I couldn’t see my brother, but I knew he was there. I would often say, “Mike, are you there?” He always answered in a sweet, small voice, “Yes, I’m here.” As I write this, tears are streaming down my face. These emotions are stronger than I had originally thought, but I am going to press on. It’s a yellow door situation. I have an escape plan. 


As we sat there, hour after hour, we would make up things to do in the darkness. One thing we did most often was to build a fire. One, so we could keep warm because it was cold in that closet, and two, so we could have some light to see each other. We had grown to expect to be put in the closet. We knew going in what we were going to have to do. Mike would often say, “Get the fire going because I’m cold.” I would say, “I need some light in here.” This was a necessity, not a game. We knew we needed each other, and we needed light. Fire is light. I would imagine what my brother’s face looked like and would depend on that image to get me through to the light of day. 


When we had the fire going, I would say, “You feel that?” Mike would always say, “Yes, I feel it, George.” I fanned the flames more and more, and the light would illuminate his face from his chin to his hairline. “There you are, my brother,” I would say. As the flames grew larger, I could see the closet and the contents. There was an old coat and some hangers on a rail just above me. It was mostly empty, except for one thing. There was some writing on the wall about mid-way down the closet. We were not the only ones who had been put in that closet before. There had been generations of innocent children shut up in that darkness. Broken to pieces. 


The writing on the wall read, "Keep the fire going; never let it go out. Fan the flames and keep adding wood and you will make it.” It was signed in a scripted word that looked like HOPE.


So, my job each day at just four years old was to fan the flames for my brother and me. He was much stronger than me, but I was more technically minded and the only one who could start the fire and keep it going. Even now when we chat, I am the encourager, the one who brings enlightenment, and the one who brings some clarity to any circumstance. His part of handing me the wood to feed the fire was important in that closet. We worked together. 


Those who had gone before us had forged a path of hope. It is written in that closet. In the darkness, there is hope; in the light, there is hope; in the midst of any circumstance, there is always hope. No matter if you find yourself in the darkest place on earth, there is light. You have a part to play in the closet—to fan the flames. They may be dim at first, but you will see the writings on the wall signed by HOPE. 


Amazing grace is what we can call it. Coming out of that dark closet each day with my little eyes barely opened, I knew there would be more to endure in this life and that was just the beginning. I knew that what I read on that wall was not meant just for me, but for all of us.


My task of writing about someone who had to keep a fire burning, surrounded by total darkness, has become all too real to me. This story opened a floodgate of emotions, but as always, with the release of the thoughts and emotions, I am free. My hope is ever alive, and I know that whatever and wherever you are broken, there is always HOPE! It is written!   


www.sandwestedit.com

Still Running

Still Running I recently turn sixty-two. There is something about getting older that makes you think about your life. Some days, I wake up...