(^This was the line I said in a video, being funny, that the captions misread as "Dakala Day"- where I got this name.)
Ryan. My name is Ryan and I grew up in a trailer park just passed Industrial Park on the outskirts of a fairly large, entirely mediocre city in Kentucky. The school bus dropped my black friends off at the last projects, crossed the tracks and dropped us white kids at the trailer park. Like a scene out of a book. Cliche even.
My dad was a police officer and my mom was a secretary for Section 8 Housing/my first baseball team. The only white kid in the whole league. They suffered me fairly well. Besides being white, I wasn't athletic. Rather: I was a nerd in a baseball uniform...from the trailer park.
We went to a Pentecostal church. My mom and dad had a rather arranged marriage if you ask me, at least that's what it sounds like in every way. Introduced as pen pals, my dad being an Army MP stationed in Germany through the Vietnam War. They were both in the Pentecostal church before they ever met, and after they married and started a family, they moved back to my mother's hometown. That is the church I grew up in, attending with my mom, dad, sister, grandparents and uncles. They took it all real serious like. Until all of a sudden they didn't seem to anymore.
I won't air the dirty laundry no matter how old it is. Suffice it to say my parents got a divorce and the church split in half, then crumbled, and it was every bit all related and tied up together in one incredible and dumbfounding event. One fell swoop and the battle was lost entirely. I mean sure, we tried to attend church here and there, but all these adults I'd known my whole life, having been decapitated by the devil: we only just ran around like chickens with....well, decapitated. We moved into the city, had 2 addresses, and fell off church entirely.
When I was 15 I moved with my dad up to MI...his hometown for a change and I mean a drastic one. From military melting pot to pig farming unincorporated. Those kids all seemed to be too carefree and focused on their sports and academic careers and it was disturbing to me. No drug deals in the hallways. Nobody getting jumped after school. Not a single cop roaming the halls or parking lot. You didn't even have to go if you didn't want to turns out. Six kids from my class dropped out. They still came to the parties in the corn fields though. A keg, two coolers of jungle juice, three dirt bikes, a kaleidoscope of drugs, and at least 2 fist fights. The country bumpkins were carefree for a reason. I became carefree with them...except I was in jazz band, and even though I wouldn't join the marching band (I wasn't that kind of nerd), they let me play my bass guitar anyway. I wasn't gonna go to football practice. I went to my buddies garage so we could try to be a rock band. Came pretty close too....
We attended no church. My friends and I got real new-agey by nature and chemistry. My dad was trying to survive while growing a whole new head. The deep end looked exciting and so I jumped and nobody stopped me. I was free indeed, and I embraced it. Took a test my senior year that let them know they should give me money for college on the principle of the matter, and so they did and so I went. I tested out of my prerequisites and picked everything I wanted to learn and they paid for it. Political Science. World Religions. Sociology. Philosophy. Writing. The Bible as Literature. Programming Logic. By the time I was done, I was a 4.2 student and an atheist. My favorite topics were quantum mechanics, theoretical cosmology, biogenesis/evolution, and world history. With an iq and an intellect: I was a menace. You can go on for a long time. Sooner or later God will cut you down.
I moved back to help my mom and step dad with their company one summer, with plans to make a bit of money and come back for classes in the fall. Instead, I met Misty and we moved in together. I worked and supported us while she got her nursing degree. We got married and moved to NC where my dad had become quite the professional. Having successfully regrown a head, he went back to school for a bachelor's degree before becoming a contract investigator for the US Government. With top secret pentagon clearance: he cleared people for hire into the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, Dept. of Treasury, Border Patrol, etc... he had money and we weren't broke anymore. It turned out some of his complaints I heard on repeat from the past were true, and we could certainly advance- against fear of doing so -after all.
Misty was a nurse at UNC. She was CN3 and a Charge nurse, eyeballing the bachelors degree that would land her in the mediocrity known as "management". I had a job at Public Works on the streets maintenance division. The plan for me to work and put her through school went off without a hitch. The plan for her to work and support me through school fell to pieces when we bought a car and a house and maxed out our income to become debt slaves for the rest of our lives... or so it looked. I lamented. Asphalt and concrete and weed eating miles of ditches while also digging them was my future. The world needs ditch diggers after all. Who am I to deny my own destiny as it turned out? I didn't care who, I rebelled. If I'm nobody then nobody should care what I do and they did not. "I want to make leather goods and forge knives." The end. That's what I was going to do. Something, anything in an attempt to find real life. Debt slavery was not it: I could tell. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy and perhaps I was. Nothing for it then.
I started my leather career with a cheap tool set from Tandy and my leather jacket that I cut to pieces to sew a bunch of nonsense out of. "This ain't it". I got a book, watched some tutorials, abandoned the use of toxic glue and dyes, and found a saddle maker with garbage bags full of scrap they didn't want to throw away. I developed my own methods for constructing practical pieces that would last and repair. No glue. No stiff creaky leather that'll crack after a year of use. I developed my own methods and rose to the top of my peer group in a little known trend that was about to sweep the US. Bushcraft. Nobody was making leather bags for bushcraft. They all forged knives and made sheaths. I wanted leather gear all the way around. Bags, pouches, belts, straps, harnesses. So that's what I did. Lemme see if I can drum up a pic for ya:
It all seemed to be looking up, except the idiopathic acute pancreatic attacks weren't one offs (I've failed to mention them cause they truly seemed to be). Once or twice we can move on with our lives. Three and four and its at the door. Five and six I'm starting to get sick. Seven, eight...hey hold on...wait...38 and 39 I'm lying on the bathroom floor and dying. Interruption and I'm dust and ashes. It happened fast when it happened. Four months and I had lost 65 lbs. All my body fat. Forty five pounds of muscle. My teeth started to break. I couldn't eat without getting sick. I was wasting away and I was certain I had already gone to hell. It turned out I had NOT gotten away with arguing Christians against the Bible with my IQ and intellect. It turned out I had NOT found true spirituality (metaphysics through study of quantum mechanics and cosmology) in the Bhagavad Gita. I appealed to western medical science and they told me to go die comfortably on the pain pills they'd sell me. Whatever I wanted as a terminal patient. My wife was 6 months pregnant with our first child. I rebelled. Again.
I quit believing in everything altogether. "I don't know the truth at all." My final condition before I attempted to jump the great boa. Here I was at the crossing of the river Jordan, and I had no instructions and no help. Where was Joshua to lead me across? OH NO! WAIT! WHO is Joshua?!?!!! I didn't know him. I was about to cross into the unknown and why, after all I had learned: WAS IT STILL UNKNOWN?! My education FAILED MY LIFE! At a cross roads such as this, I realized absolutely: all I had done in my life; all I had learned and said and done was for nothing at all. I had learned nothing. I had done nothing. I truly was a vapor, and my life was all VANITY, without exception. I cried out to a God I had not served or known. A God I had rejected entirely. From a book I considered the greatest tragedy of all. For me the Bible ruined lives and that's all it could do. Ruined earth in my ignorant estimation. All my heroes had said so. In my condition all my heroes became mute.
I cried out to the God of all creation. "Heal me or kill me: I do not care. Only don't let me die before I know the Truth." I begged God to show me the Truth and nothing else. In his infinitely mercy God sent me his Help. He lifted me gently off the floor and with tender patience: led me.
First to a dinner. Our best friends at the time were the attending physician on my wife's floor, and her husband. We had not seen them in several months as life had gotten busy. When we showed up at their door dinner was canceled. I laid on their couch and told them everything while they looked on at the absolute horror of my condition, and how far I had fallen in such a short time. In a calm panic, the doctor told me of a research clinic tucked away in the back rooms of an obscure floor. Jongbae Park, Doctor of Korean medicine was participating in a program for western medical research. He was to practice Korean medicine and report his results. And so he did. And so I went.
I was sure he was going to kill me after the first visit. I wasn't going to survive the acupuncture, which had my back arched off the table as convulsions wracked my whole body and the sweat poured onto the bed, my teeth chattering so loud I thought I'd lose them. "No pain, no gain" was all he said before he turned off the light and shut the door as he left the room. I dismissed my wife immediately. "Get out I'm going to die in here", I said between chattering teeth. I didn't die in there. Six months later and my teeth didn't even chatter. Jongbae Jay Park taught me how to eat and live. He told me to master one profession before starting another. I mastered leather craft. World renown. I shipped my bags to every continent except Antartica. I had a distributor in Japan and one trying to get me to sell in England, with a third importing my goods into China for the new middle class. Not all at once mind you, I was led to the second place before all that took off.
Second to a book store (first to a dinner, second to a bookstore). The Help of God leading me by the hand in patience. What book am I here to buy? "You'll know it when you see it." And I did. I won't tell you the book as I do not encourage its study. I was led to read so far until an idea so simple came across my path that it stunned me entirely. I had never considered Satan in the equation. Had no logical reason why he would rebel except it was a good one. I, myself, having had plenty of reasons and success rebelling against the status quo, Satan's actions had seemed very reasonable to me, and he appeared to be a sort of good guy after a fashion, rebelling against a brutal dictator or so my professors had taught me. I won't discuss the idea either, except in Bible study with scripture, and I'll never quite say it outright, except I can prove it outright with scripture, but I'm confident I can. Suffice it to say: Satan didn't want to bow to Jesus.
The second book I will name without apology here and expound upon with a dedicated blog post with all arguments represented and answered. The Book of Enoch changed my life. In this book I read that God said from the time BEFORE the flood that he would come down here himself and save us. Understand: I had not yet opened the Bible (for years) in this pursuit, nor was I even close to considering that God was going to lead me there. If I name the first book, which is still on my shelf, ya'll would prolly stone me. Prolly so bruh. The book of Enoch is controversial enough, but to a man that wouldn't think to open a Bible: it was once again a profound revelation. God is recorded in an extra-biblical book that certainly predates the birth of Jesus by 300 years as saying he would come to earth and save it. As soon as I read this I exclaimed "That's talking about JESUS!". Now, I wasn't fast to believe a book just because it's been written, but all of a sudden my heart was softened in a way it had not been. I started investigating, first by video: "what are the Christian's saying again? It's been so long since I actually heard any I wasn't arguing." I stuck to the fringe. Nothing from church. Nothing "official", just ideas and discussions and provocative historical ideals.
On a video talking about how the image of Jesus is Cesare Borgia posing for a painting, and the image of Jesus spread through history...: Hand signs and who commissioned the work and what it actually represents. "Wait, was I taught about a false Jesus?" On a video discussing historical trivialities as they relate to the actual Gospel, the Holy Spirit fell on me like fire from above. Whatever it was the man said, a final piece to a puzzle I had never been able to reconcile. A pitiful shell of a man, sick and dying, submitted to God and relying solely on his Help: I understood beyond all doubt that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. As Enoch had said: God manifest in the flesh. It hit me like Revelation from above, from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. I ran to dig my childhood NIV out of the closet. I cried out to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. "Thou Son of David: HAVE MERCY ON ME!"
I began confessing with my mouth my faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I began to read His Word and believe it. I found I had never been taught Jesus from the Bible. I had never been told his gospel as it's written. Over and over I found the Bible teaches far differently than the church I grew up in. I was bewildered. I sought for a church. The Church. I am finally finding it just now after 13 years. This is enough for today, I will tell you of my baptism another time. Thank you for reading. I have so much to say. I am dead. My life is hid in God with Christ.