Life was hard growing up, I have to admit. I guess I was in a pit from day one of an accident in the September of my 2nd grade year. I felt like it ruined my dreams for good. What happened? I stepped in a gopher hole. Yeah, it might sound funny, but I twisted my leg so bad that it cost a lot of money to fix and heal. So many surgeries, so many mistakes. I wondered how long it would take for it to end.
After five surgeries and countless doctors' office visits, we found out that the first doc screwed up. He was so embarrassed that he sent us to San Diego, to another doctor. Things kind of turned around then but not much. For years, I suffered pain that didn't go away. Come September 2013, it'll be 10 years since that day. Seven or eight total surgeries, and my leg is full of metal. But that isn't all that shaped me to who I am today.
Some have suffered it; some may not have. For me, I always got a lot of flack when I wanted to play in sports. Second grade still doesn't feel that long ago. Each day that went by, always felt slow because of my injury. If I had any kind of pain, I took pills. More pain, more pills. Pretty soon, pills couldn't kill the pain. The doctors went in and tried again and again.
Finally, I was able to walk, but I had a little limp. I walked through school, and kids thought I was a wannabe gangster. That put a target on me. It seemed like everybody ganged up on me and yelled, "Attack!"
Eventually, I thought of a way I could make it all go away. I made up stories that could made me look cool. It worked for a while, but I then I said some things that made me look like a fool instead. Just a few lies; everybody did it. But then the truth was visible to all. Kids would see me and say things to make my life miserable. Their words created wounds so deep that it hurt me on the inside. I was bleeding out and crying every night in bed. Those stabs to my spirit were never ending. If I healed a little, more words would pull the scabs off.
For years, I wondered if I would ever be okay. I felt like whole pieces of my life were taken and chopped off. Everywhere I looked, I couldn't find a cure for this pain in my heart. I wanted to try anything to help myself, but I couldn't find an answer to life. I thought about dying. Thoughts of suicide started to creep in all the time. I planned to climb the town's old water tower and from there I would leap.
It was late—about 3:00 a.m. I got to the tower and began to climb. My death was the only thing I could think about. But as I sat on the edge, I started to have second thoughts. I wondered about my life and the things I have fought against.
If I had survived this long, maybe I could last til graduation. But hadn't I already decided that I'd reached my breaking point? I stretched my legs a little, determined to get it over with. My death was all that mattered. I didn't care.
As I started to push off, something inside me flickered. God's voice whispered to me, and I started to feel strange. It was something I'd never felt before. The sensation hit my emotional pain at the core, but it didn't make it worse, it actually made it better. A warm feeling inside, like when you put on a sweater. My darkness changed to God's light inside me. All the words the kids had said to me became past—like the movies on AMC. My life meant something to God, and He had disallowed my death.
My life is about living for God. I know how to deal with those haters: I show them love, whether they like it or not. If I see someone in need, I try to help them right on the spot. Yeah, I do random acts of kindness. But I don't do it mindlessly. I do it because God asked me to follow one rule: treat others the way you want to be treated—not leave them all alone.
You see, I have a reason to be who I am because, long ago, I was a lost lamb, and God came to save me. He created a new person and saved me from making the wrong choice about my life.
You probably have your own story written on a slate. I know that everyone's story is different, but there is a reason why we need to share them with each other. Not so we can feel sorry for each other or cry over our pains, but because our triumphs are stories of celebration. We are the new roots and branches on the vine of Jesus Christ.
—Seth - age 16, 8th grade