Have you ever looked back on your life and thought why has HE put you through all this? And then your next thought is guilt. The guilt comes from the idea that there are so many other issues and problems in the world than your own. God should be blessing the hungry, the poor, and the homeless.
This is where my story begins.
I grew up in a great place. It is a place that people from where I am from do not realize is amazing until they go off to college. They realize how many more opportunities we had living in East Cobb than other people had.
There is no reason to ever take it for granted, and I never have. There is also no reason to ever feel like I was not blessed to have the life I have. But, questioning God because of the things I have been through in my life was something that happened often when I was growing up.
I was brought up in a family where showing and expressing love was just a way of life. My parents got married when they were 19, and their love continues to grow each and every day even today now that they are in their 50s. Saying the words ‘I Love You’ happened every day, every moment we could. The crazy thing is, though, our love for each other grew stronger in the midst of tragedy.
When I was nine, my whole outlook on life changed. That is something that seems unimaginable, but I am here to say it is possible.
My older sister was the spark of our family. She knew what she wanted to do with her life when she was 15 and from then on she worked tirelessly to achieve that goal. She wanted to be a teacher. Growing up in the same house as her, I was her first student. She taught me everything. I learned unconditional love from her, along with my parents. Being in the youngest in the family, we were drawn to each other since she was the oldest. Our relationship, although she was eight and a half years older, was very close.
The summer before her senior year of high school, she was getting ready to become the head wrestling trainer at Pope High School. She was also starting to apply to college and start her future.
She was killed in an automobile accident. That sentence alone changed the course of my family’s life and mine forever.
I remember the first time I questioned God I was in middle school. Thoughts of my sister came into my mind every day, but it was not until I was old enough to fully grasp what happened to her did I begin to question. I was in seventh grade, and I was on a trip to a baseball tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee. I hated long car rides simply because it gave me more time to think about my sister, which made me upset. I started looking out the window up to the sky at the clouds. I wondered if she was up there looking down on me. The clouds have always been a symbol of wonder for me.
That is when I met one of the most influential people in my entire life. Along with my family, my friend Pearce has helped change my mindset about God. In high school, every day I woke up wondering if today would be a good day or one that my sister Kim would be on my mind making the day sad. Pearce guided me down this path that presented God in a way that helped me feel secure.
When I started my senior year at Pope High School, my struggles with my sister’s death were put front and center. People who have not lost a sibling may not understand this, but when you lose an older sibling, the weirdest and worst feeling in the world is the day you pass them in age.
My older brother went through it, and I went through it. The start to my senior year was brutal. For the first time I was trying to cope with the fact that my older sister was always going to be 17, and now I was 18.
I had all of these negative emotions that for the first time I could not suppress alone. I am the king of putting on a happy face in public, but I could not do it anymore. My parents, my brother, and Pearce had always helped me understand that there are people and God to help me through it. At the time, though, I was not ready to hear that.
With the guidance of my parents, I started seeking out therapy. I come from the idea that many others do about depression and therapy: it is only for crazy people. At the time, I was so lost that I really did not care what people thought because I needed help. I needed someone to talk to. I needed some type of support to get me through this. The hardest thing for me was the fact that I never really accepted the death of my sister.
I remember my therapist putting all of my insecurities and suppressed feelings to the forefront. I had never had a totally honest conversation about everything until then.
I soon realized that my emotions and feelings were better off being talked about. Understanding that faith and having a support system you can count on are things that are so precious in this world.
Before my sister’s death, my brother and I weren’t extremely close. Ever since then, we have lived under the notion that we are in this life together. Every chance we see each other our conversations flow into these deep, passionate talks about life and what type of difference we are trying to make in the world. I have always envied him and wanted to be like him.
Talking with him was easy because he was the only person in the entire world that knew exactly what I was going through and what it felt like. Since high school, I have tried to keep my relationships with him, my parents, and my friends as close as possible.
The only difference between now and before is that my questioning of God is short-lived. I have been so blessed in this life. Every moment of weakness I have in my faith quickly becomes overshadowed by stability and love. If there is one thing I have learned from all of this it is that God has made me the way I am and put things in front of me for a certain reason. I would be a completely different person had I not gone through my tragedy or not had the family that I have. I would be a completely different person had I not had a best friend like the one I have.
My sentiment to the world is that struggles are temporary. These short-lived moments of insecurity and weakness that a person feel are all a part of plan that one day will lead you to the greatest life even you couldn’t have scripted for yourself. The pain you go through in the past and the present is something that you are thankful for in the future. That pain led you to happiness.
Now, I will admit I would trade away everything that has ever happened in my life just to talk to my sister one more time. But, I know that what she would want for me the most is for me to end up happy. That alone is what keeps me going.