My Story, Part 3: Another Chapter from My Life: The Michigan Episode

Downtown Saginaw Michigan
Downtown Saginaw, MI

If you are so inclined, first read post one and post two in this series.

Perhaps me telling my life’s story is a way of making sense of what God has been doing in the world around me and my place within it. Perhaps, my reflection is a kind of autobiographical reasoning in which I am seeking to gain insight into myself. After all, people often weave selective parts of their life story into a narrative in order to help form and understand identity (i.e., autobiographical reflection often shapes who one is). Regardless, my life story doesn’t just say what happened; it says what was important to me. And, as my life story enters it’s next chapter, this reflection may assist my future decisions to become more set in stone. Nonetheless, one thing is for sure, when I look back over my life. The Lord has been there holding my hand the whole way.

As I briefly mentioned in my first post, when I arrived in Michigan to live with my mother, I had some trouble adapting—for I was a poor-speaking Appalachian hillbilly, who now found myself in the modern world. I had come from a small coal-heated school in Isonville, KY—a place where cursing brought the discipline of a wood paddle. Inversely, in Michigan, my first high school (i.e., Dwight D. Eisenhower, Saginaw) was plagued with gang violence. For example, during my first year (1987), my algebra teacher was shot in the leg during class and a portion of the school was burned down due to arson.

These, and many other negative experiences, ultimately fostered a type of adolescent behavior in me that was destructive. Quite honestly, like any hillbilly immigrant adapting to the big city would do, I turned to the street and ran with a gang of my own—a gang, who sold drugs, wreaked havoc, and would later chase my best friend and me through the Fashion Square Mall, because I wanted out. As a result of living on the street, I skipped much of my freshman year (and later my 11th grade year). I came so low one night that I found myself with nowhere to go. As I recall, on the corner of Salzburg Ave and South Wenona in Bay City, there used to sit a 7-11, and behind it a river walk and park, where I made a bench my bed for many nights. That first night, I remember crying out to God.

Eventually, my mother found me and sought to help me. At the time, she was surviving on a single income and living on government assistance, but she still somehow found the money to enroll me in a private Christian school with hopes that it would turn me around (i.e., Community Baptist Christian School, an Independent Fundamental Baptist institution in Shields, MI). It did, but I’m not so sure it was the school that helped; instead, I think it was probably my newly found friend and his parents—yes, the same one who was with me when I was chased through the mall.

When word of my troubles reached my aunt and uncle in Tennessee, they promptly put me on an airplane to Nashville. Later on, I would return to Michigan and attend the same Christian school—working in the evenings at a Burger King to pay my own tuition. Ultimately, I would land back in Nashville in 1990. However, that is for another post, as I am out of time for the morning.

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