Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Gift of Easter

Happy Easter Everyone!

I certainly have plenty of reasons, and context, to celebrate this holiday today, as do we all. In an very real and tangible way, I have seen Christ's miracle of death and rebirth acted out in my own life as of late, and through this, I have learned some very valuable information that I would like to share with you all.

The gift of life is REAL, and is for ALL of us. I am going to get into some controversial stuff here today, and undoubtedly anger some people, but I am no longer afraid to speak the truth. In fact, I have to.

Through Jesus' ultimate gift of sacrifice, he DID indeed bring eternal life to us all. This is present and available for us whether we choose to believe in religious dogma surrounding Christ or not. There are many ways to God, and many ways to heaven, and Christ was not put here to condemn anyone following a true path of compassion and love to the one True God. Indeed, Jesus did say, "The way to God is through me." If we make the common mistake of worshipping Jesus as a MAN, we are making the fallacy of thinking that if we do not worship Jesus the figure, we are doomed. But if we realize Jesus as a spirit, a concept, a way to God, we know that if we try our best to be Christlike, approaching the world again with pure love and compassion, we are following the true way and can know we are improving our souls for the eternal. No man or religion can shut this door to us, or tell us that if we don't believe a certain way, we are doomed. The promise of Life is much bigger than any earthbound concept or definition, and cannot be denied to any of us, no matter who we are, what we have done, or what we believe or don't believe.

It is not our place on earth to judge, condemn, or make any assumptions about our neighbors. Our only job here is to love one another, and spread that pure love until even our enemies can see the Way. It's really that simple. This may not be what many of you, my dear friends, believe, but I have to speak what I know deep within to be true. I have known these truths, in fact, for a long time, but now I simply am compelled to tell the truth at every opportunity. I am afraid of no man or judgement on this earth, and must share God's message of hope and faith with you all! In fact, to be completely honest, after receiving the last rites and confessing my sins nearly a month ago (I had not been to confession since I was kid... talk about sweating like a schoolboy!) I have done my best to remain sinless and tried to let God be my guide at every new temptation or challenge. And that is why I can write this today with a clear conscience and a full heart: Jesus's gift today is for us ALL!

When I had my first bleed in 1995 at age 25, I was camping out in the middle of the woods in Groesbeck with my dear friends Ron Kimbell, Jake Spelman, and Jon Guyton. It was Good Friday, and we were having a glorious night of friendship, guitars, beers, and Taco Bell around a big campfire. Before we dug into our Nachos Bellgrande, I felt compelled to say a prayer. Granted, I had not been feeling right the past few months, and knew something very dark was happening to me. I felt as if a demon, or demons were inhabiting my body and mind, and I could not do anything about it. My liver levels were very abnormal, several painful biopsies showed something very wrong, and yet no doctors really had a clue as to what was happening to me. I was hallucinating, feeling doomed and cursed, and could find no peace. I obsessed over a dear female friend who was in my little college band and wrote dark and beautiful poetry for her to sing as I watched in torment. In frustration and pain at my inability to reach her, I chose to ram my fist into a brick wall one night. I lost. I completely shattered my hand, and still have yet to regain full mobility. A week later, I was in Groesback with the guys...

I woke up the next morning to a black, dark sky to the East. Falling out of my tent, I looked into the blackness and felt sick and dizzy. Then I began to profusely cough up blood. This was not Taco Bell, I thought. I paused, dumbfounded, and waited for a few minutes. Then another wave hit me and I began to do it again, this time to an even greater degree. I called out to the guys, who rose in shock and speechlessness. None of us knew what to do, so Ron and Jake went to find help from any nearby farmer who might be awake. This was, of course, in the prehistoric days before cell phones. Jon Guyton stayed behind and simply held onto me as I wretched and passed in and out of consciousness before his eyes. Finally, after no luck locating help, the boys loaded me into Jake's truck, and away we went, towards Waco. Halfway through Mart, I told Jake to pull over, that I wasn't going to make it. I collapsed on the sidewalk, losing more blood as he ran down the street to get help, waking the whole town if he needed to. One old timer ambled along and asked me, "Son, what ails ye?" I said I didn't know. It was all I could muster. He sat down next to me and put a hand on my shoulder to steady me for what seemed like an eternity. Finally an ambulance came roaring around the corner with Jake in tow. A elderly couple who owned the EMS service carted me quickly into Hillcrest hospital in Waco. I remember thinking, "if they can just fix me up, I can still keep my fishing date later today with my dad." But, the blood kept coming, My parents arrived, as did all the guys, and the EMS couple stayed as doctors worked for fourteen or so hours to save me. As they were trying to find the source of the bleeding, and after losing so much blood, I finally gave up the ghost. I was gone for about three minutes, I'm told. Fortunately, the combination of life-saving tactics and blood transfusions brought me back. But was something else afoot here? Surely it must be.

I awoke the next evening, on Easter Sunday, with my family and friends all around me. During many more weeks in the hospital, I saw demons, in fact the devil himself, fighting over my soul, physically jumping on and attacking my body as I lay in bed. Then, with Jesus appearing at request to dispel them all and surround me with his doves and angels, I knew I was safe. I was told something by God in those hours that I have only shared with my father and a very few others, and I am now finally working on fulfilling that sacred message.

So, what did this all mean for me? Were those dates significant in any way? I thought at the time that God had chosen me for something special, and now all I had to do was let it happen. I was wrong. If anything, this was simply significant for me in the fact that it stopped my wandering and brought me back to God. I no longer doubted the truth of Jesus' power, and could finally believe again in the God of my youth. The picture was just a little bigger now.

The next six years were simple and pure and blissful: I would finish school, meet my wife, move to Austin and fulfill my dream of starting a successful band with Jake and Jon. I would begin my first job as as Television Producer for a Fox Sports fishing show, and narrator for a show about hunting in Mexico. Then, one fateful morning in 2001, my second bleed happened. I was soon diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, and told I could no longer work and must go on permanent disability. This proved to be the wrong move. I lost my way soon after, losing faith and hope in God and in myself. Surely this had meant nothing if I was not healed and it just happened again. I began to drink, hate myself on a very deep level, and sink into a deep, unbreakable despair that I could not find my way out of. I was unavailable for Amanda and untrue to my own soul and to God. My level of denial was so deep... I reasoned, I will not let this disease define who I am! I will just be like everyone else now, whatever that means! I was a lot of fun to be around, and had some great times to be sure, but these were all empty experiences, and held no joy or comfort for me. Finally, I decided I could no longer stomach myself and began to re-enter the workforce, first through my old friend Jon Guyton, who had now risen high in the ranks of a German corporation (I was an accountant and financial analyst for the second time after college, albeit briefly) and then on to KVUE, where I found my true passion and fulfillment as a TV Producer in the Creative Department, working amongst the greatest family of professionals and peers I've ever known. I'll return there and start at my newly-promoted position soon. I also managed to quit the drink, saving myself from an endless nightmare of damnation and pain. Most importantly, I began to re-cultivate my connection to God, and have never looked back.

In 2009, I had a third bleed. This proved to be the most complicated one yet to fix, and yet they did. In fact, if you go back to the beginning of this blog, we've made full circle. I was soon listed for a transplant and waited until now to finally receive this miracle.

I guess I felt compelled to share this backstory with you today to give you some of my personal perspective on Easter. My journey to this point had been long and hard. But Jesus' promise never failed me, and never let me down. The Grail was always within my reach... I simply had to drink from the cup once again.

But, enough about me. I am merely a messenger, that is all. I won't dwell on, or repeat to you, what happened to me and how AWESOME it was anymore. Instead, I must now look to the future and begin to pay back this glorious gift that I have been given. A very first and simple phase of this charge is quite apparent. We must, MUST, increase organ donorship. It's such a simple thing to go to and register! It takes just a minute, and it's free! Also, if you don't have have a heart at the bottom of your license, you may no longer be registered, even if you did it years ago. I am told that Texas switched over in 2008, and all registrations must now go through this official site. Whether you do it on the website or the DMV, it all goes through the same location. So, better to check than to not know for sure, yes?

And, what better way than to be Christlike than to give that gift of life to another! Take this body and eat... Take this blood and drink... in this way, we can become the miracle for others to receive.

Thank you for spending time with me on this precious Easter Sunday. My gift is the Jesus' gift of eternal life, and it is for each of you. Whatever you believe, it is yours to take in knowing that my love for you knows no bounds.


1 comment:

  1. Pat, you are such an inspiration! I love this post. I haven't seen you or Amanda in a while and I'm so glad to know that your future is so bright!