It was nearing the end of the year in 1997, and I rode past the homeless and the hungry on a busy street in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had given money before, but always with a slight resentment. I knew that God wanted us to take care of those in need, but sometimes I struggled with the idea. Why couldn’t they get a job? Most of the men seemed able to work, and I wondered if it was because they didn’t want to.
Months before, I had gotten a head start from my boss Steve Myrick. My fledgling business was an offshoot of his company, Myrick Construction. Steve took me to the supply store to purchase everything I’d need for my new siding company. He even helped me find additional labor to get started. I was flying high as the pieces started falling into place, and Steve taught me what he knew about running a company.
With Myrick’s help, my business started to take off, and I was doing well financially. Naturally, I wanted to mirror what Myrick did in every way, so I started giving to others. The only difference was that I gave not out of generosity but because I wanted to show off. I wasn’t giving from the joy in my heart; I simply wanted to feel better than other people. I remembered those naysayers who said I’d never amount to anything, and I wanted to prove them wrong.
Bit by bit, my desire to seem important became my biggest priority, so much so that I started to compromise the relationships around me. Dead set on buying a Silver Camaro, I contracted my brother Darrell to help me on a construction job. Then, I spent his bonus on the car before he saw a dime. When Darrell came to collect his money, I crafted some poor excuse about why he couldn’t get his bonus. That one decision all but ruined my relationship with my brother.
My fall gained momentum when I met a girl with brown eyes and a bright smile. We exchanged numbers, and she quickly became my entire focus. I was smitten with her attention, but it wasn’t long into the relationship before the cheating started. She borrowed my credit card and put me in debt. She borrowed my car, and it came back keyed. When the relationship would reach a breaking point, we’d somehow make it through back together. I constantly felt drained, but I had become dependent on her. One day, I found myself crying at work, unable to concentrate. I dropped my tool belt and walked off the job, disregarding Myrick and what he had invested to get me started.
I walked the full fifteen miles back to my house, and with each step, I tore myself down. I had started out with so much pride, but as things fell apart, my insecurities became magnified.
I would try to break away, but when she called to apologize, we would fall back into the same pattern. I couldn’t face Myrick after what I’d done, so I had to pick up odd jobs to pay the bills – car sales, motorcycle sales, even a brief stint for my business competitor.
I drifted from job to job, stuck in a toxic environment. Soon I was sleeping in my car or crashing on friends’ couches. I thought about everything I had been offered and how flippant I had been about it; I had wasted it all to try and prove something, only to come up empty. I had looked down on others, but now, in an odd twist of fate, I was essentially homeless.
This was my rock bottom; I had lost the girl, my job, and my home. I felt so empty that I cried out to God and accepted Him back into my heart. I had nothing, no sense of direction, no clear-cut path. But it was in this brokenness, when I saw my need for my Savior, that God gave me an overwhelming sense of peace. I didn’t know how to fix my situation, but for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel empty anymore.
Slowly, I began to pick up the pieces of my life and rebuild my business. And God was generous, helping me to create something better than I had before. As my company grew, I realized the amazing lesson that God had taught me: I had to get myself out of the way in order to truly understand how blessed I was. I didn’t have to prove myself anymore because my blessing came from God; The truth is, I’m here for God’s glory.
Now, when I see someone who’s down and out, I don’t feel superior anymore because I was one of them. It wasn’t money or approval that helped me start again; it was the knowledge that even in a hard time, God was with me, training me up to be more like His son. My hope is that with my second chance, I can bless others the way I’ve been blessed. It is truly God’s grace that is sufficient in my life.
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1, ESV)
In your service,