For the next few weeks, I am going to do a series on the topic “Steps to Real Change: Lessons I have Learned Along the Way. To begin the series, I will share my story with you.
In 1968, when I was developing in my mother’s womb, technology had not yet advanced so that anyone saw my birth defects coming. After a long and difficult labor, my mom gave birth to a son with multiple birth defects. Me.
At first, the doctors and nurses let Mom rest and didn’t show me to her. She spent all night not knowing what happened to me. She lay in her bed wondering if I was okay and what I looked like.
The next day, to prepare my mother for the surprise, they brought her pictures of me. They showed her first-born son with a cleft lip, cleft palate, and webbed fingers. After digesting this news, my mother, bless her, welcomed me with open arms.
During my next 17 years, I spent a lot of time at Riley Hospital. I saw a level of human suffering from which most kids my age were shielded. Because many of my operations required skin grafts, I was usually sent to the burn unit, where the nurses were best equipped to tend to my needs. Normally I spent a week or so there to heal after my surgeries. I witnessed many kids enduring agony.
Other difficult experiences shaped my life me during this time. My father’s alcoholism marital infidelity, and rage were regular features of our home life. My dad beat up my mom, often leaving her face black and blue. It was nothing to see him drunk, even driving us home while drunk. We were not allowed to object. He was in total control. When I was 5, my mom had had enough and filed for divorce.
As a 5-year-old, I was trying to deal with the trauma of surgeries and the consequences that go along with them. My parents’ divorce hit me hard, as I had no sense of security in my life. I lacked the secure environment that comes when both parents are present. My mom did her best, but she was saddled with her own problems.
By the age of 15, I was hurting and consumed by self-loathing, anger, and rebellion. The years of childhood trauma had taken their toll.
I took my first drink at a friend’s house on a cold winter’s Saturday afternoon. We were talking in his room when my friend Troy suggested that we go downstairs to the liquor cabinet. I liked the idea, so down we went. He poured the vodka and lemonade, and I drank the enticing mixture. Suddenly the pain, anger, and bitterness from my life of rejection vanished.
That same year I began to battle with suicidal thoughts. From the time I was 15 until my conversion, I contemplated suicide almost daily. During my senior year of high school while I was living with a friend, I went so far as to put the barrel of a gun to my temple. Thank God, that’s as far as it went.
At 21, the trajectory of my life dramatically changed when I converted to Christianity. It wasn’t that I no longer had issues. It was just that now I could have the victory over them if I surrendered those areas of my life to Christ. Acquiring victory in the weak areas of my life drove me to go deeper and deeper in my understanding of the gospel. Fear also melted from my heart. I began to understand how much God loved me. I realized I didn’t have to earn His approval. He was no longer the traffic cop in the sky, waiting to punish me. Instead, God became my loving Heavenly Father. The more that I understood how much I had been forgiven, the more I understood His love, which allowed me to grow in my understanding of His grace.
It has been 28 years ago since my conversion. My life has dramatically changed. I have been able to achieve a lot, but the most significant achievement has been surrendering my life to Christ, then daily surrendering every area to Him Christ allowing his to do his work in me. Join me the next few weeks as I share the truths I have learned to bring about real change.
Orr, Tim. Letters to My Daughter: The story of how one family overcame tragedy and loss (pp. 1-3). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Kindle Edition.