You Can Still Shine, Even When You’re Broken
By Jimmy Young
Unfair. I know what that looks like. I know what it is at its core.
Seventeen years ago I had a neighbor who lived across the street, two houses to the left who had a nice truck, a boat, a good wife, and spent weekends somewhere with them away from home. And he had a son. His son had Autism. I do not know a lot about Autism, but I know there are differing degrees. His son had a severe case. I didn’t ask questions, but it bothered the man that his son was not normal. His son couldn’t communicate, it’s like he wasn’t really there.
This period is when I had my first biological son. And it was the last period of any type of normal looking family life for me. I remember the time my son took his first real steps and walked on his own from his older sister’s helping hands, across the carpet, and into my arms in the chair across from hers. He was ecstatic and as happy as a 10-month old healthy boy could be. He took those steps in the dark. Our electricity had been shut off. In two days we were all going to be homeless. I had known for quite some time that I would not be the father my son needed, not like the man across the street could have been to him. During the most important and formative years of my son’s life I was never really there, because I had a severe case.
I have known more than a few good people who were affected deeply because they weren’t able to have children. I have sat across a table many nights drinking with a good man that I am sure would have made a wonderful father, hearing his story caked with bitterness, living alone and slowly killing himself because he had wanted children, and how his woman left him because he couldn’t. Try as I might, my efforts to bring a different perspective flew past his heavy lidded eyes. I always liked him, even through his anger. He ended up dying alone and broken.
Alone and broken. I could hardly imagine feeling anything worse than the echo that cracks inside the emptiness when those two emotions have robbed everything from your core. I have felt that, deeply. I don’t want to ever again, and I don’t want you to either. Whoever you are. For some it is hard to look into another set of eyes peering directly at your own, or even your own face in the mirror, and looking down is the only solace your sights seem to find.
There is something about the light that has come from the sun and travelled all the way to shine on you, and it is yours alone. You can see the bugs and the dust that has flown past you to show what can shine on your face as you occupy what is yours now. Not only where you are, but who that is and can be.
It is a seat in this place no one has the right to take away, or to know with any truth that it is not who you should be. Do not give up that seat. There are a range of ways you are able to hold on, but no one knows all you had to go through to be here now. You belong here, this is yours, you can find strength to walk in, and directly stare in the face of anyone, anything, or anywhere that the light shines on to bring your way.
And don’t forget to wave, OK?
Jim, a Union Bricklayer by trade, was born in Spokane and has lived there the majority of his life. He is associated with a few Christian churches in the area through weekly Bible studies, recovery meetings, opportunities to serve the vulnerable and as a parishioner. He has a checkered past because of bad choices, but has since gained a foothold on a better way to be alive and seeks to share his experience, strength and hope with others. He has decided to make it his business what it is that is his business, and what it is that is best not to be. He is also proud to say he has an Environmental Science degree (an A.S. in Water Resources), obtained from Spokane Community College, a father to six wonderful children and grandfather to five. He loves learning how it is to live right.