I was 6 years old and it was a very unstable time in my life. I was feeding off the fall-out of my parent’s divorce…under the influence of my mom’s fears and insecurities. Because of my dad’s departure, I was beginning to develop some of my own.

When it came to doing life, my mom didn’t know how to make healthy choices. When it came to dealing with emotional pain, she would always put band-aids over gaping wounds and unaware that she was continuing to bleed out. Her answer to dealing with the failure of relationships was to get right back into more bad relationships; kind of like trying to cure cancer with Tylenol.

Her latest pain reliever was a man named Gilbert. He was a handsome Hispanic man, dripping with charm and machismo. Gilbert was the product of a tight knit family, where traditionally, the men proved their manly prowess through fighting and drinking. This was a legacy passed down from young to old and a distorted rite of passage. Tribes have rituals, and this was theirs ̶ a child groomed to out-drink and out-fight another man. This was their path to manhood.

Gilbert’s brother, Reuben had an altar at his home, where this ritual was practiced. The altar, in a bonus room, near the front of the house, was a boxing ring. In this tribe, if a boy could stand and lace his own shoes, he was old enough to lace up gloves and begin proving his worth.

As a casualty of war from a broken marriage of two alcoholics, and being a kid from a different culture, this all felt foreign to me. As I walked into that room, toward the turnbuckles of that ring, I could smell the sweat and see the dried bloodstains on the canvas. I was a stranger in a strange land and it was all very unsettling.

As a worrisome and timid kid, wrestling with fresh feelings of rejection, the last thing I wanted was to be put in the predicament of proving my worth. I had no foundation. I had no frame of reference from which to derive any sense of self worth. Any measure of developing confidence in my life had been shattered by my parents’ severed marriage. Although, difficult, if not impossible, for a 6-year-old mind to understand or a 6-year-old mouth to verbalize…I felt like an abandoned, unloved, outcast, being fed to the wolves.

In the midst of trying to take it all in and make sense of what I was seeing, I was ushered into the corner of the ring where I was gloved and expected to take on an opponent I was not prepared to face.

I gazed across the ring at my 6-year-old counterpart. He was excited and confident and ready to engage. I was anything but…See, I had no identity, no heritage, and no heart to fuel the fire to fight. The fight was lost before it ever started. Moments later, leaning against the ropes with my nose bloodied, I stood there stunned, crying…just wanting to be loved and wondering why people wanted to hurt me.

Years later, I am able to make some sense of what confused me as a child. There is a time to fight, but Gilbert’s family fought for the wrong reason, or at least with the wrong motive. See, a child should never have to fight to prove their worth. Their worth should be instilled in them, through the unconditional love and acceptance of a parent. A child should never have to fight to feel like he or she belongs, they should know, without hesitation, that they do.

Unfortunately, in this fallen world, such parenting skills easily falter and God must communicate to this painful reality. In the hostile environment of this enemy-influenced world, exists an atmosphere… an atmosphere attempting to make us feel that we will never measure up. To this God speaks through the pen of the Apostle Paul to a young, insecure Minister named, Timothy. In 1 Timothy 6:12, He reminds him to “fight the good fight of faith.” This is indeed a good fight…a right time to fight…a rightly motivated fight. For Paul is not exhorting Timothy to fight to earn God’s approval, he is encouraging him to fight, to maintain the awareness, that he already has.

I have learned that it is only from a foundation of love, that we can effectively and righteously fight. Jude 21 says, “Keep yourselves in the love of the Lord.” Now, this is something worth fighting for. For it is the confidence that springs from the awareness of this love that equips us to fight against an enemy. An enemy that not only wants destroy each of us, but he wants to destroy all of us.


On Friday, July 4, 2014, Robert Lawrence said:

Incredible story bro...so true and my heart breaks for your past. I went through the same thing in Juvie but I can't imagine that being done by those who claimed to love and protect you...



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