Saturday, July 17, 2010

Where I Come From: Reflections on a Saturday Morning

The day started off much like most Saturdays here. Very little traffic, slight rain, lazy mountain Saturday morning. The birds were scrambling to find shelter from the oncoming storm and cows out in the pastures were herding together to stay warm.

That's life here. Small town, middle of nowhere, up in the mountains life. It is a far cry from the busier, more populated, suburban town that I grew up in and the adjacent city I spent a good deal of time in before moving here to Virginia. It is easy going, not hustle and bustle, laid back, not gritting your teeth every minute, and small. VERY small. In fact, I believe the high school I went to housed more students than the entire town limits has residents here.

When I was real young, my earliest memories of the town I was raised in include some of that small town life. The main road in front of the neighborhood was only a two lane highway then. There was an old abandoned farm at the entrance of the neighborhood with a run down, about to fall over, barn that still stood there. A pond across the road, and across from the pond, if you looked well enough through the trees, was a little small house. Wal-Mart wasn't even open 24 hours a day. I can even remember the first time they were!

As time moved on, the town started growing. All the farm land, old abandoned barns, small ponds and historic houses were being moved or torn down. Ponds being filled in to level off land for a new shopping center. More people, more crime, more drugs. More businesses, more strip malls, more Wal-Marts, and the old two lane road was widened to four lanes. The neighborhood now had eating establishments, supply companies, banks, lawyers, and home lender offices all around. The once small, still semi-historic looking, outside the city walls town, was now becoming more. Soon it would be to the point that traveling from there to the city next door wasn't that much of a transition. Just taller buildings, less space, and three times the traffic.

I was raised in a Christian home by two wonderful parents. My mother was a preschool teacher, my dad, a very knowledgeable and talented tech guy. They did their best to always talk to us in love, and their actions reflected that love and their faith that guided them. If we were poor, we never knew, and if we were rich, we never knew. We were brought up to not pay so much attention to what we physically had. There are more important things going on in life. My older sister and I always knew there was punishment for wrong, but it was administered for the right. And no matter how harsh, or how unfair the punishment seemed to us (of course being kids, EVERY punishment is harsh lol) we always knew that they loved us, and we loved them.

Through my middle school, high school, and post high school years though, I struggled. I dropped out of college when I was 19 and again when I was 20, spending less than a semester at each school. I started using drugs recreationally and soon found myself in a bad habit. My attitude towards my parents was far from that of a respectful child, and the love I was raised in was not the love I was returning. I also watched as my dad lost the job he had been at for the majority of my life. I remember the day he came home from work early, and told me that they had a meeting, and he was told he was being let go. I remember that very clearly, but I remember more that the very next day, my dad was figuring things out, what to do and where to go to find new employment. He had lost his day job, but his all day job as a husband and father were never over, and he knew it. He knew he had to do what he had to do to continue to support us.

Later on, as my attitude and habits were taking me over, my parents were forced to asked me to leave the home. I had become out of control and was causing too much stress in the home. I would spend the next year (almost) living in and out of friends houses and the back seat of a 2 door car, with the girl I was engaged to at the time. There were close calls with the law, fights with the girl, many nights sleepless in sub freezing temperatures. I cared to much about getting high, getting drunk, getting anything but where I needed to be. Avoiding what my family, pastors, and friends were trying to tell me.

I would find myself months later in an inpatient drug program. Sobering up, doing some self searching, and after the stint, returning home. I am not going to say I was "fixed" and "perfect" then, because that would be a lie. Time and life were much different and I had to adapt to that. My relationship with my parents grew stronger again. I met new friends and worked new jobs. I started spending a lot of my downtime online in Yahoo chat rooms.

I live with my wife, 3 year old son and 1 year old daughter, in income based apartments, in a town so small, you will probably never hear of it in your life. I work at a restaurant in town as a cook, and soon to be part time manager. We struggle sometimes from paycheck to paycheck, wondering how we will make ends meet. Making sure that we always go without before I kids are ever close to that. I sometimes work 6 days a week, getting off at 1am and being back at 7am, and seeing my kids once in 48 hours. It is hard sometimes. But I think back to where I come from, where I was, to where I am now. I think back to my dad, and his
never ending quest to provide for his family. My mom's unshakable faith, and belief in the power of prayer. I know I can always go to them when I am down, and when I feel like what I do is just not good enough. And I know, whether I want to hear what they have to say or not, they will give me their opinion, with the same love the timeouts were given many years ago.

I do what I do, and do my best at it for my family. I work the endless hours, sleepless nights, and my wife and I make self sacrifices, to ensure our kids have what they need. (and guilty as charged, a lot of stuff they don't!) It is how I was raised. It was the example shown to me. It was the good times, the rough times, the best times, and the sick times. It was staying with my grandmama and granddaddy in the summer, to getting a hotel room for one night, just to have a bed and shower.

All of life brings us to where we are, whether we want to forget the past or not. It is always a part of who we are now. I think it is good for everyone to take the time every now and then to sit, and reflect, on all the times. To remember where we come from, and where we are, and where we may be headed. Because the past is in the past, put always part of the present. The future is never guaranteed. Where do I come from? Who am I now? Where am I going? And how do I get there? The great questions of life. How do you answer them?

Picture Credit: href="">Mountain Morning by Neal FLOYD

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