How I Became Who I Am

“I said sit, damn you, sit.”
I’ve been fidgeting, practically dancing
in my seat.
I have a short attention span.
I’m hyper.
I can’t help it.
So here I am, cowering again;
Looking for a way out; to run and
hide in my secret fort. An old
metal dumpster turned on
its side, between two
abandoned buildings.
It smells like piss from the
bums who seem to keep
mistaking it for a porta-potty,
and yet it smells better than
ice-cold Harvard beets
shoved in my face:
“I said eat ’em. Now! Or it’s straight to bed!”
Promise? Sounds good to me.
I just sat there until everyone
got tired of busting my balls
and I went to my room.
I did not eat the beets.

Much happened in my life after the
Harvard beets “incident.”
(Not that it was the sole cause.)
Booze and drugs followed;
and women; lots of women.
Antisocial behavior
and prison walls.
Big, thick, made of rocks
too big for any man to carry.
This was a job for machines.
I learned that God doesn’t
talk to me
when I’m high, or when I’m
pawning stolen jewelry
to by crack cocaine.
And He’s not fond of
fox hole prayers.
He wanted me to get beyond
all the garbage in my life.
He had a plan.
He always did. All He could do
was wait for me to want it too.

His plan certainly didn’t
involve me selling weed
and smoking all the profit;
painting houses for drugs and
calling it self-employment.
He didn’t want me growing up
day after day
on one drug or another,
eating welfare food, and getting
thrown into the county
then the state
He wanted me to be who He
made me to be.
He wanted me to use the talents
and gifts he gave me – not let them
lay in the “attic”
I like to call my
mind, doing nothing more
than collecting dust.

Here’s the inverse:
To hell with all this
negative talk about how I’m
and I’ll always be
God made me in His own image.
Do you realize what that means?
Either God’s a low-life
drug dealing petty thief, in and out of jail,
(which He ain’t!), or
this phony life I’ve been chasing
is for nought.
I started to realize I was
wasting my time; I was
squandering what God gave me.
I remembered:
God has not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a
sound mind.

I know what you’re
So then where does all
this crap, this violence, this hatred,
this disrespect, this fear, this indifference,
this intolerance, this racism come from?
my friend.
I don’t know the why of all that,
but I do know I was made
for something good.
were made for something good.
Everyone was.

God’s will for me is to
grow into who I am, and reach out in love
to those who are suffering,
placing their needs above mine.
That’s part one.
Moreover, He has given me certain gifts
and talents to use in ministering
to my fellow man.
That’s part two.
That is the person I
am meant to be.
It has always been so.

So, how do I become myself?
Be the me God intended me to be?
This includes you too, my friend.
Ain’t no “white” thing or “straight” thing
or “Christian” thing, because it
doesn’t exclude anyone.
Oh, you have done some things too?
But in God’s eyes, you aren’t what you’ve done before,
and you aren’t to be limited by the color
of your skin,
or your family of origin,
or whether you understand
the science of Albert Einstein.

God made you in His image.
He made me.
He made us all.
There is one body,
but many parts.
If I want to know the real me, all I
have to do is stand still, silent, listening.
And that’s what I did.
I listened for God, and I
heard Him in my heart.
I found the real me.
I finally became myself.
I ain’t belong to nobody else!
Not anymore!
I don’t even belong to the booze and drugs.
Not anymore at all.
It starts with listening for God’s voice
and being willing to believe what he says
you can be.
You, too, can become what God wants you to be.
Just listen and decide.

© Steven Barto 2017

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