It is because of our community who supports our work that we are able to be there for first-responders like Brian who serve our communities and keep us safe.
“I was the second born of twins. My older brother died at birth. Somehow, this story of my origins made a huge impact upon me. I considered myself a mistake. I’m not sure how or why this view impressed itself into my mind, but it did. I always considered my older twin the one who should have made it, but I was the one that did.
I was awkward, small for my age, and not a typical boy. I hated cars, sports, and tools. Society told me there was something wrong with me and I never fit in. I wore big glasses and had horrible acne and when puberty hit, no girl liked me. At 14 a youth pastor tried to molest me and when I spoke up no one believed me. I went through a bully stage in middle and high school. I relentlessly verbally clobbered a fellow student who was even weirder and more on the outs socially than I was. A day never went by that I didn’t try to humiliate this girl in class, on the bus, or in the hallways. Sometimes I’d get a laugh from other students who wouldn’t even give me the time of day otherwise.
A few years passed and so did my bully stage. I felt bad and I was full of regret. I thought about writing the girl a letter over the summer before the next year of school began but I kept putting it off. Maybe it was pride or my ego or just the fear that she would laugh at me. It was just a week before school and I was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the kitchen when my mom called out from the other room and asked if I knew, and she called the girl’s name. I said “No” for some reason. My mom said, that there was an article in the paper about how the girl was killed in a head-on collision during her family’s summer vacation.
I felt physically sick. I blamed myself for her death by being a coward and remaining silent. If only I had taken that 30 seconds to write her a short apology she might be alive today. As soon as I graduated I went to join the fire department and became an EMT. Little did I know that it was because subconsciously I knew that no one rescued me from my trauma, pain, and inner turmoil but now maybe I could rescue others.
Over the years working around Houston I witnessed the worst things I could imagine. I felt powerless and full of fear. I began to numb my feelings with drugs and alcohol. I spent the next 17 years saving lives while drugging and gambling. I tried to fill the internal emptiness with man-made things. I lost friends, family and even filed for bankruptcy. I cheated on my wife, I gained and lost countless jobs and eventually, I overdosed on heroin. A medic who was once a colleague had to come to my aid and save my life when I was sprawled out on my parents’ living room floor.
I lost my wife and my kids. When I was at the end of my rope it was time to get busy living or get busy dying. Shield Bearer came into my life. My counselor helped me to face the things I had been running from and to forgive my offenders. Most importantly, I had to forgive myself. I came to realize that I was worthy to live the life that I always wanted. I accepted that I was okay being me and society had been wrong all this time. I’m unique. I have many gifts and I’m able to offer the world something of value.
These discoveries were life-transforming. As a result of therapy, I was ready to chase the dreams I gave up on long ago. I was ready to be unapologetically me. I spent years filling an internal void with man-made things and self-destructive behavior that never satisfied the emptiness I tried to fill. My counselor helped me get to the root of my issues addressing my trauma and underlying emotional needs. My life has improved. I sleep at night and I don’t blackout. I get to live a life beyond my wildest dreams and I get to use my experiences to help others. The pain we go through is uniquely tied to the gifts that God gave us at conception. How will you use your most awful pains to help the world? “ – Brian