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"It was my final year of high school when my father left my mom and me. On Christmas day, no less. And it's almost bizarre after all this time to look back on that. I can still remember the sounds of their conversation from my room that morning. Not to get too hung up on this turning point, but my dad and I never had the best relationship. We were very different people and perhaps we just didn't want to try hard enough. I didn't want to be molded in his image, I wanted to explore my own interests and passions and ultimately, that created distance. What I didn't realize was that when he left, I lost something. I suddenly had no one to ask the tough questions. No one to show me the ropes. To nudge me in the right direction as a father should guide his son.
Fast forward a bit to college. Much had happened and it hadn't been the smoothest road. And in this time, I had picked up one rather unfortunate habit. Not drugs, nothing illegal. But I had chosen to shut the world out. I kept to myself, didn't reach out to other people, didn't make friends. I closed myself up in my in own solitary life. But there would come a time for change. There was a man that I looked up to from a distance. We'll call him Samuel. He was a family man, he loved people, he cared. A personable, kindhearted, down-to-earth man of integrity. You're just drawn to people like that, you know? And these qualities I saw in him I wanted to learn for myself. I wanted to become that kind of person. But there was one problem: I would have to change. I couldn't be that kind of person as an antisocial, sad sap.
Thing is, he was a family friend and he knew my story. Being the kind of person that he is, we got to talking one day and he was just pouring into my life, showing understanding and empathy. Ultimately, I just spilled everything like a waterfall: the darkest moments that still followed me, the people that walked away, loss, heartache, life. He didn't bat and eye, he didn't judge. Instead, he took me under his wing and mentored me. Yes, he had a family of his own that naturally required his attention but every week, he would nevertheless take time to talk with me. Anything I was going through was fair game and all he did was show kindness and understanding. Rather than tell me how to solve all my problems, he would show me how to work through them. There were times I would call in a panic, so worked up and freaking out when hardship came crashing through my door, and he would take the time to talk me down and get a grip. Samuel taught me how to really handle life. Ho w to handle hardship when I felt utterly lost and in the dark. He would always say, 'Just do the next right thing.' You can't see ten steps ahead sometimes. You don't always know what consequences your choices will bring but you can always make the decision to do the next right thing where you are now. There was something else he shared with me and I'll close with it. It was a quote by C.S. Lewis.
'To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.' "