Chapter 1: Trauma (Part 1)
The dam was just about to burst. Feeling such an enormous amount of pressure crushing against every part of my being, I finally reached my breaking point. Pressure to lead UTM (Urban Transformation Ministries) as its founding executive director even though I lacked certain administrative gifts—-Pressure to raise enough funds to support the ministry so that I could provide for our family—-Pressure from doing grief counseling as a result of a UTM student losing his life to gun violence on the streets of Grand Rapids—-Pressure to discover why our third child, Ashlyn, could not talk nor use her motor skills, even though she turned three in a month—-Pressure to make sure my seven year old and eldest child, Tiera, learned how to read, which prompted us to home school her for a year—-Pressure to finish up my Seminary degree, which I dragged out for my fourteenth year—-Pressure to help my wife Sherilyn as she began caring for her mother, whose Parkinson’s disease had taken a turn for the worse—- Pressure to serve my family even more sacrificially because Sherilyn was pregnant with our 4th child—-Pressure because our two best friend couples from our church that we shared life with were reeling from unhealthy marriages. And as we attempted to counsel them, we unknowingly developed a co-dependent relationship with them. All of these pressures created cracks in the wall of the dam that contained and controlled my feelings. Only one more crisis would trigger a flood of emotions from a breached dam within me. The crisis arrived in the form of a gun pointed at me.
On a late December evening driving through my neighborhood, I paused for a stop sign at a corner. As I gazed to the right of me, a young drug-dealer on the corner pulled out his gun with a laser scope and aimed its red dot at my forehead. With a blink of an eye, my entire life flashed before me as every life moment that I lived—-along with every life moment I desired to live in the future (including a vision of my oldest daughter Tiera walking down the aisle arm-in-arm with me for her wedding), I experienced in a couple heartbeats. Since I also happened to be talking to Sherilyn on my cell phone, I blurted out that I might not live through our phone conversation. Sherilyn immediately interceded for me in prayer with Tiera. With a pull of his trigger I would’ve been a dead man, but suddenly out of sheer terror, my entire body jolted with fear, which caused the gunman to double up with laughter allowing me to drive away.
Unnerved with panic, it took a good while to calm myself down. I thanked God for sparing my life and went on with my business. Regrettably, I did not think to call the police, most likely due to the shock and trauma of the gun pointed at my head. However, I forced this traumatic incident in the deepest part of my brain, hidden from everyone to keep the dam from bursting.