An Audience of One

Over the last several months, I keep coming back to one question. Some days, I ask it, but am not looking for an answer. Other days I ask it when I already know the answer, but looking and hoping for a different response. If I ask this question to others, I’d get differing interpretations. When I ask the question to myself, I tend to get conflicting words. But, after more thinking and searching, I have come to realize the question has been right all along. It’s the audience that has been wrong.

“Who am I?”

Who did God set me apart to be? Where’s that Donny? I sing the song on Sunday mornings called “I Am Free” and yet, I find myself feeling captive. So often times, I have sold out to the latest and greatest. Or even worse, I give in to selfishness, fatigue, and anger. When posed the question, God’s answer to who I am does not reflect who I have become.

Years ago…I fell. I fell hard. And once I hit bottom, I felt there was no getting up. Now, mind you, I was 15. No biggie, right? I wasn’t married; much less know what love meant. I didn’t have kids. I hadn’t experienced dramatic pain, physical or emotional. But to me, my world was spinning. I was desperate.

My family was living in Brasil at the time. We had recently changed cities. And at this time, I really didn’t know anyone. We were living in a twelve-story apartment building. Our apartment was half of the entire 10th floor. The window in my bedroom had an incredible view of the city. And in the distance, I could see a waterfall. It was cascading between to colliding mountains. The blue sky in this part of the world was so thick. I have never seen the same shade of blue any where…until God gave it to me, everyday, in the eyes of my daughter Madison. (This is a blessing and a painful reminder.)

One week, after having been settled in a month or two, things were getting tough. Mom and dad were trying to get their ministry going, while home-schooling my brother and I. One day, after some argument with one of my parents and a stressful morning, I went for a bike ride. Due to the rolling hills of the surrounding area, I had really gotten into mountain biking. So, on this particular day, I had gone up this trail that I had seen before, but never ridden. Towards the end of trail, I started picking up some speed and my excitement turned from thrill to chill. No brakes…my back break had snapped or come loose or something. So, in my mind, flying down the side of this hill in some serious thick brush/woods/jungle, I did the next logical thing, I hit the front break. It apparently was working great because the next thing I know, I flipping over the bike and flopping off the trail in vines, tree branches and who knows what else.

Any other day, this would have almost been normal. With the number of wrecks I have had in my life on a bike, this should have been no big deal. But, instead of getting up and easing on down the trail, I laid there and sobbed. I couldn’t do anything right. I felt hopeless. I felt abandoned. I felt very lonely and worthless. And the whole time I cried, I was looking up, at that clear blue sky.

Well, the next day, those same feelings remained. In my room that night, the dark felt darker. Sleep escaped me. And I had given up. The next morning, for whatever reason, I ended up home alone. I remember being told that I needed to finish my chemistry homework…but I never got to it. Instead, I opened the bedroom window, climbed up in it, and sat on the six-inch ledge with my legs dangling on the outside…10 floors up. I sat there for seemingly a long time. I’d look straight down and wondered if it would hurt. I questioned whether I’d be missed. I started rationalizing my thinking and assumed myself that my family and friends would eventually move on. I looked out over the city and down at the nearby streets; no one noticed me. I took one last look inside at my room. I actually remember muttering the word “Bye.”

And the last thing I remember…is the blue sky above me. Man can’t make the blue I saw that day.

I didn’t jump that day. In fact, not real sure what happened to me that day. I do not remember crawling back through the window. I don’t remember getting onto my bed. But I do remember “waking up” and crying. I had heard before that God doesn’t cut deals. He’s not the best bargainer. Yet, all I could do was plead for His forgiveness. My circumstances were allowed to consume me. My pain had been given such a foothold that I had told God to “shut up.” I didn’t have time or energy to listen to His peace and understanding and love. If He really loved me like the Bible said He does, I wouldn’t be where I was. But no matter how many times we beat our fists on God’s chest, the Creator loves His greatest masterpiece.

So, who am I? I am a man who has battled God. I am a man who has let go of his past. I am a man who has been hurt and finally accepted the healing hand. As Noah got his rainbow, I still get my blue skies, in my daughter’s eyes. Her eyes are a reminder and a promise. They remind me where I can get to when I force God to stay put. But they are a promise to me, from my God, that He does love me and that I am not forgotten.

To have the audience of many is electrifying; To have the audience of God is humbling.

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2 Responses to “An Audience of One”

  1. rachel caldwell leite Says:

    guess who was up on the amazon at the same time slitting her wrists? it’s truly amazing how much He loves us and how much He’s willing to do for us, with us, around us, in us….how patient He is to wait for us to become that which He knows we can be. Glad He continues to prove faithful to you and yours.

  2. Hey Donny,

    You have an amazing way of putting your thoughts in writing. Thank you for sharing a part of your past that has made you who you are. I am so thankful that you did not jump out that window b/c of the lives that you have touched and changed. You are one of my best friends and I truly love you!

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