I was pretty nervous as I prepared to speak at the wild game dinner. I am not usually uptight about speaking in public and most often jump at the chance. This time however I really wanted to convey a good message and relate a point. It had to include a lot about my childhood experiences and growing up. This is a topic I can talk on for hours.
My concern that I would get off topic kept me on I task. I spent days handwriting, typing, editing, reading and re-reading the speech. The versions changed each time I wrote it and when I finally read it to my wife and pastor they shredded it. It was good they were honest and open with me and I was surprisingly open to their critiques.
From the ashes of reflection into my childhood I learned some things about myself that were wonderful as I wrote. My childhood was not a perfect white picket fence, apple pie, tucked in bed story of love and caring. It was one of trials and challenges, disappointment and struggles, not always, but a lot.
The amazing thing I realized as I was writing them down was that each piece had a part in making me who I am today. There are many amazing and wonderful things, things I would have never imagined, but are now common and every day, like this blog.
In the midst of all the craziness of my childhood during elementary school I wrote a story. I was in the fifth grade and it won a “best in school” honor. It was read in front of the whole school and I received $5 cash.
I remember camping trips from the family station wagon and catching my first fish. The adventure, bears, streams, smells, mountains and the dirt of the outdoors.
I remember as a young teenager being on my own and walking through fields of tall grass in the middle of the night searching for a place to be. I remember one night I was walking along the interstate as I hitchhiked. I was again a young teen and I was cold, tired and hungry, to top that off it started to sprinkle. I remember seeing a farmhouse in the distance and wishing I could be there, inside where it was warm, and I was loved and cared for.
As I reflected on these storylines of my life I realized each one of those trials and struggles were God’s way of preparing me for who I am today. I am not and do not complain about my childhood. I don’t live in a constant reflective and remorseful time of lost boy or childhood opportunities. But I can see now how God took each moment, each lesson and is using it for His good.
I am an award winning outdoor writer and communicator. I am not the best or most skilled, but it is who I am in my life today. The confidence from that one story and knowing I might could actually have a talent or gift. That $5 sealed a deal that lay dormant for many years.
That lost little boy wandering the country gave me the ability to know how a lost boy feels. The drug and alcohol problems gave me insight from a firsthand position to understand those struggles in boys and men. These combined with the outdoors birthed the Kids Outdoor Zone youth ministry in my life.
God used all these struggles, these challenges to create who I am today. I believe we all have these pieces in our life experience that if we stop, be still and reflect, we will see. The gifts and tools that we uniquely have like finger prints. My story is my story. Yours can be exactly opposite but you still have things in your life that He can and will use if you let Him.
Take some time to think how best you can serve the One who gave up his only Son for you. What an outstanding chance to give a little back. You have talents and gifts, ask Him to help you know them and use them. You are amazing!