"Training our youth in the way they should go..."
I was abandoned at age 7 by my mother who I didn't know at the time was being physically, emotionally, and verbally abused by my father. A few months later, my father abandoned me and my brother to my grandmother who was also being abused by her then second husband. Her first husband, my grandfather, started the cycle of abuse.
By age 11, my mother retrieved us and brought us to live with her, but the damage had already been done. I no longer had any trust left for her or any other woman that came into my life. For years I tried every manner I could think of to get back at her for leaving me. The only real positive thing I did was go to school and continue to get good grades all the way through high school and graduated. In the midst of that time I engaged in some very negative behaviors that I normally wouldn't do.
After graduation, I enlisted in the military because the judge said if I didn't do something with my life I would end up in jail or worse. I later found out that the military wasn't a fit for me as I basically rebelled against almost everything they put in front of me. I left with everything but a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge. Between the tenth grade and my discharge, drugs and alcohol played a major role in helping me cope with almost all the situations I put myself through. I continued this behavior after coming home, knowing that my mother owed me for her abandonment of me.
Eventually, going from job-to-job, girlfriend-to-girlfriend, and from excuse-to-excuse finally took its toll on me. My continued drug use eventually caused my mother to throw me out and I became a bum on the streets. In and out of jail was the norm for me (I now call them rescues) and during these times of homelessness as the drugs and alcohol prompted many things out of me that caused more reasons for me to keep using them. Finally my last arrest was my saving grace after three years on the streets.
I eventually ended up in drug rehab and decided to end that life of misery and suffering (after some serious prompting from HIM) for myself. After several years of being clean and sober, I eventually got the opportunity to make amends to my mother by taking care of her as she suffered and died of cancer. Two years prior I had the same opportunity to take care of my father but I wanted no parts of taking care of him and what I did do I did reluctantly. I still had a lot of anger and resentments against him. A few years after he died I had to visit his grave and forgive him for the things he did and didn't do.
It was like a heavy weight had been lifted off me and I understood that no one can give you something they weren't given to pass on. I also now understand that there are millions of other seven year olds out there looking to hear "I love you" and receive a hug, to be told how to behave as a man, to show them how to treat a woman, and to help them grow in a positive way. I now understand that as I was brought through my pain, I am to go back and help other boys through their pain and despair of having no father. My mission is set and my vision is clear now.
My Drive, My Passion, My Story
Growing up in the Richmond area, and being the son of a former Pastor and first lady who taught me biblical principles of how to live a righteous life. Losing my father to cancer at the age of 11 and I began a journey without any positive male role models to guide me through my teenage years. Shortly after my father's death, my commitment to Christ would be challenged with fornication and alcohol abuse. I was able to abstain until the age of 14. Once in high school, attending parties after football games and facing the temptations they would bring, I would experience the first romantic encounter in my life. She was older and I was impressed and impressionable.
Misguided or should I say aimless and without direction, this led to another encounter that summer but neither led to anything but one-night stands. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes before my father passed and I started some behaviors that were not healthy nor physically advantageous for me. Two years later, my best friend and I began to drink alcohol in the basement of his mother's home which would lead me to fifteen years of being a weekend drinker. Drinking alcohol was just another way of me filling a void in my life not having any guidance, leadership, or direction my father once gave me as a Pastor. After graduating high school 17th in my class, I would attend college with no real understanding of what curriculum to study or who I wanted to be in life.
I went on to study for a Bachelor's degree in mathematics and science but quickly became discouraged after taking a course in computer science. I had no clue on what to do with this class. I eventually got caught up in the college party life and began to do miserably in class. After spending a year destroying my gpa, I spent the next year trying to repair it. At this time, I also worked but the money became more important than school so I dropped out. I soon found out what my passion was by becoming a football coach at the city's recreation center where my high school buddy was coaching. Teaching youth ages 7-11 was very enjoyable and awesome and led to a 21 year career. I also landed a job working in juvenile corrections that began a 22 year career adventure mentoring youth that continues to this day.
After getting married and having kids, I was at a crossroad in my life. Being an out of control diabetic, my doctor challenged me at a monthly check up saying, "Do you want to see your daughters grow up?" My responsibilities stared me in the face and I had a choice to make. Do I want my children to grow up without their father or incapacitated where I would be of no use in their lives.
Working with youth as a corrections officer and coaching for several years, I've seen the effects of having no father and vowed I would do everything in my power to be around for my daughters. God had given me three beautiful gifts and I needed to nurture, guide, and protect them as my Savior would have me to do. I also have a heart for men to stand up and become leaders in our communities and believers in Christ. This will only begin as we honor God's command to raise up our children in the way they should go.
Mentoring is one way to accomplish this goal. Fatherhood has an important role in God's ultimate plan. Men are to establish the example of being positive influences and leaders in today's society. It does take a village to raise a child so I give back by mentoring. It's a mission we should all desire to be a part of!