Today marks 3 years since I lost a big part of my life.
I have to say, I think I am better off.
Growing up, there was a kid that I still admire some days. Full of life, he lived to serve others and make them laugh. He had such a gift for bringing light to a room and charming anyone he met.
There was a day in middle school I’ll never forget. He was cornered by some friends and faced with a dilemma: morality or popularity. Like many middle schoolers, he chose the latter. Man how he was mistaken. This choice led him into many bad decisions, lots of tough mistakes, and several stressful nights.
High school was just an increase of the same. His charm, humor, and good looks were definitely a gift from God, but a curse all in the same. I heard it said once that “an unguarded strength is a double weakness”. That was definitely true for him.
By the grace of God he stayed away from serious trouble. It amazed me how he was always able to slide under the radar. He was so great with the ladies that it made him cool with the guys, except for the guys of some of those ladies. In high school, that was really all that seemed important. He was a ladies man, and that was a big deal.
At one point he actually had other guys approaching him for advice. Some guys just needed some courage and uplifting, others needed a complete over haul. He used to always joke that they stole the idea for the movie “Hitch” after watching his life, except he never got paid for it. One guy actually called him one time just to say thank you, because he was now in a relationship and owed it all to his advice. How cool is that?!
He was a good guy deep inside. He just didn’t always make the best decisions.
I remember when we went to college the path continued. Except now he had less restrictions, more money, and a complete new world of friends. He continued on his course of what he thought was fulfillment, but would soon be his destruction. I remember watching some nights and I would just sit back and be so sad inside. I just knew that what he thought was fulfillment was actually just giving little pieces of himself away. Over and over again I watched him sink into a hole he had no clue he was in.
Then one day, it got the best of him.
He missed a mission trip, one that he had been on every year for several years. It hit him so hard that he realized his priorities were all sorts of messed up. What was he chasing? Where is his life going? All these years of chasing fulfillment, just to turn up completely empty. He gave up.
He decided to take his own mission trip, a month later, to clear his head and get away. Little did he know that he wouldn’t come back.
On the trip they went about 6 hours farther south than planned for a special project. It was hard work and there was no communication with anyone back home. He loved it, except for the restless nights thinking about his life. One night he was listening to a podcast from Andy Stanley called, “The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating” and it was as if it was all about him. He broke. He didn’t want to be a part of it anymore, he didn’t want to live that life. So he gave up.
On July 7, 2012, three years ago today, Daniel Carney gave up his own life. The old Daniel died, and a completely new person came back home to Oklahoma.
Three years ago was not the day I was saved. It was the day that I came to fully realize the grace God has given each of us, each and every day of our lives. The amount of mistakes I had made, the things I had said and done, none of that changed the way my God feels about me. I am loved, I am forgiven, and every battle I ever lost on my own was won by Him.
I have not lived a perfect life since that day. I still make mistakes, I still do dumb stuff. But on that day I realized I am not alone. My fight is already won. I am victorious in all things. I have hope, I have a future, I have a plan for bigger and better things. All of this is written and promised to me (and you if you so choose to believe) through the Word of God.
Maybe an unguarded strength is a double weakness. But for me, my weaknesses will now become my testimony. You can’t have a testimony without first having a test; I just had a lot of them I failed. I don’t have to fight on my own anymore.
Some battles last longer than others, but your perception determines your outcome. My victory will come, but through God alone.
So let me ask you this, have you truly lost your life yet?
I recommend it. It brings true freedom.