Wasteland Kings

This is how I plan on starting my book. I’m putting together the material that will be critiqued at the writer’s conference. I thought that y’all would like to take a look at it and let me know what you think. Next week will be from another section that I plan on taking to the conference. 

My life pretty much fell apart the summer before my senior year of high school.

That summer, my dad passed away from bladder cancer. We all knew it was coming. He had fought bravely for years, but the doctors informed us a few weeks before his passing that his case was beyond saving. I think this foreknowledge softened the blow, but the loss still knocked me off my feet.

Unfortunately, things didn’t improve from there. Sometime after we lost my dad, my mother was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers and I started to watch her fade away. My mother’s case of Alzheimer’s was remarkably quick and within a couple years she no longer knew who I was. I lost the woman I knew as my mother sometime in between my freshmen and sophomore year of college in 2007. I lost her again when she passed away in 2011.

From 2005 to 2012, my life was defined by chaos.

I wouldn’t have said that at the time and even now I struggle to put those words on the page. I get defensive when I think of my life this way. I don’t want to admit that my life felt completely out of control.

My life certainly didn’t look out of control. I was successful in all my classes and I never drank, partied, or had sex. A small village of friends sprang up to help me through my struggles.

I still felt like I was at the mercy of the difficult circumstances that life had thrown at me. Losing my parents had wrecked havoc in my life and even after my mother’s passing I continued to wait for the next disaster I knew would come around the corner. I constantly worried that I would never escape a life that I felt was defined by pain and struggle.

You may wonder why I wouldn’t have used the word chaos during that time and why I need to force it on the page now. During those hard times and still today, one of my default defense mechanisms is to ignore or avoid a problem. I assume that if I don’t pay attention to something it won’t affect me as much.

Ignoring the chaos was simply an attempt to exert some sort of control over a life that was crumbling beneath me. Unfortunately, this was not my only way of trying to exert control over the chaos. I fell into addictions to pornography and co-dependency, which is basically an addiction to people.

From an objective perspective, I could’ve easily told you why ignoring the chaos, looking at porn, and being co-dependent were terrible decisions. That didn’t change the fact that I dove headfirst into all of them. My life felt like it was in free fall and I ran to those things because I thought they offered a way to slow or stop the fall.

Basically, when my life fell into chaos I decided to use any available means to take control of it. I decided to best fight the chaos in my life I needed to take control of it any way I could. That wasn’t my brightest idea.

The astronaut Chris Hadfield said in a TED talk that ‘there is no problem so bad that you can’t make it worse’. That is just what I did. I took my chaotic life and I made it much worse.

I studied history in college and I remember reading countless stories of rulers or political rulers who somehow gained by power and then acted like complete idiots. They acted against all sound wisdom and logic. That last sentence sums up quite a few of my decisions in the years between 2005-2012.

I saw the chaos in my life and I decided the best way to deal with it was to take control of my life. I decided to make myself king of my world. Even though I wanted to involve God’s wisdom and Christian theology in my decisions, I still thought I needed control in order to hold back the chaos.

I knew quite a bit of head knowledge about Christianity because I was raised in a Christian home, went to a Christian high school, and had plenty of Christian friends. I knew that I was supposed to let go of my life and make Jesus Lord of my life. My heart on the other hand had very little interest in that idea.

For every time I told myself that I needed to submit to Jesus, my heart would rebel against what I knew to be true and pull me into looking at porn. My knowledge about God wasn’t enough to convince me that I could trust God with the choices in my life. I thought I was the best authority because I was the only one who understood my pain.



Image Copyright: Steven Depolo

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