This story starts with my childhood. From the outside, I had great parents and a difficult time at school due to ADHD. Frankly, it was hell. From the start of school until fifth grade, I was subject to the continuous emotional abuse and gaslighting of teachers and school “counselors”. But it didn’t end at school. My emotional problems caused a lot of acting out at home, which I was punished for.
I was suicidal by fourth grade and by the time I was 18, I was carrying a lot of hate in my heart. I knew this was wrong but I didn’t see a way forward. So, when I had the chance, I went on a 3-day spiritual retreat with my dad and a number of other men from my parent’s church. Even if I didn’t get anything out of it, it would be a welcome break from stress at home.
For the first two days, none of us were allowed to speak to each other unless it was absolutely necessary. It was a lot of reading the bible, worship music, a few lectures about how to search inside ourselves and find things that are holding us back. Most of it was basic Cognitive Behavior Therapy with some guidance on prayer and how to meditate on scripture.
All of us had a lot of time alone to reflect on what we had learned and read. I remember being in the middle of the woods, not really sure what do to when something happened I can’t explain.
I was lost in the pain I had been feeling for so long and how much I hated the people who had hurt me so badly. I wanted to pray for their deaths. Then in an instant, I knew how to forgive and let go. The hate I’d carried for so many years was gone. The pain was still there but without hate, it was a far lighter burden.
There was no revelation, nothing I can point to. There was no gradual learning to forgive people. I wasn’t able to forgive and then the next moment, I had the ability to forgive unconditionally.
This is not something that happens in a rational world. And as a logical person I absolutely hate that. It doesn’t compute. People don’t change like that. I’ve had a lot of things happen to me, I’ve gone completely insane and recovered. There is nothing I’ve experienced in my life that is even close.
The only thing I can call it is divine revelation. For a moment, the Divine touched my heart and bless me in ways I can’t understand. Since then, unconditional forgiveness has matured into unconditional love. And I can say for certainty there is nothing more sacred in this world than love.
Because of this, my faith in God is unshakable. I will forever carry his blessing in my heart and treasure it as my mission in life.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13 NIV