I really didn’t know how to react to the church I was going to (Oakwood Baptist). I was still angry, but for the life of me, I didn’t know why (my former gay lifestyle would come back to me about a month later). Still though I came. I didn’t have many answers at home and I was utterly baffled by that whole ‘Weird’ Al Yankovich thing (why did I have his autograph and every song, his CDs, and two of his 45s on display?)
But there were practical matters at hand. I had started out-patient therapy and not only learning how to walk, but talk again and real life skills (oh save me from my wife’s cooking!) School was out forever. I was trying to figure out that AutoCAD thing, but I still had double vision so that was useless. I was out of work, but my boss at the TV station had arranged for me to get all of my vacation time, sick leave and emergency money that the station had, and it helped. He also personally gave me a hundred dollars.
I also began making new friends at the church. None of the people I thought were my friends had even said hello when I was in the hospital. One church member was a former truck driver and mechanic. He had a massive accident where an engine part fell on his head and he was having issues with cognition, so he could empathize with my stoke. I was worried about the bills, being out of work and given that Christmas was coming up. We had already missed Halloween for the first time in thirteen years. I prayed to God.
I didn’t remember one of the members of the church, but he remembered me, as a coworker at another TV station, that I had left a year and a half before. His name was Chris. I was there almost twelve years when the opportunity to work for PBS came up. Rather than just up and quit like most operators, I had given a two months notice and trained my replacement.
I got a call from that same TV station. They said they had something for me. I had my wife drive me there (something else I had to get used to, as I had been driving since I was fifteen). I was given an envelope by the receptionist (another new one, shades of Murphy Brown). I said thank you and wheeled myself out to the car (I was exhausted from therapy, so I didn’t use the walker) (besides, the walker made me feel old). When I got to the car, I opened the envelope. Instead of the smarmy condolence card printed on recycled paper from Hallmark that I was expecting, there was nearly a thousand dollars!
I was in shock. I and my wife burst into tears. I had prayed and God had delivered through his servant, my former coworker. We had enough money to pay our bills and mortgage through the end of December. Not one bill nor mortgage payment was missed. The next day at therapy I was informed that I could go back to work part-time in December if I continued to progress at the rate I was going.
I quit using the wheelchair and started using the walker. People at the church were amazed that I had progressed to that point. The next day after therapy there was a knock at the door. I was annoyed, as I was trying to reacquaint myself with the characters I had created for Syntropolis (which I published in 2013).
It was my daughter’s Sunday school teacher, Chris’s wife, Alisa. She had heard of our family’s plight and organized a food drive for us. She brought us groceries, enough to last us through December. I wept again. I had prayed and God had provided. I quit using the walker and started using a cane. The kids came home from school one day. The teachers at their school had gotten together and had bought us a $75 shopping card for groceries. I wept again. I wasn’t even asking for this.
Christmas was coming and I couldn’t get the kids anything. I wasn’t even able to put up the Christmas tree and my wife worked nights. I felt terrible, but they were like soldiers. They didn’t deserve this. Then there came another knock at the door. It was Alisa, my daughter’s Sunday school teacher. She had her arms loaded with wrapped gifts for the kids. She had brought us gifts when I couldn’t provide. I wept again.
This had been done by God-fearing people. I felt so unworthy, and yet they gave me so much and didn’t ask for anything in return. I decided to make Oakwood Baptist our church home. I don’t want to paint life as some Frank Capra movie, because it isn’t. There are people out there with real problems. I am one of them. For a while, I thought of myself as handicapped. A friend at church named Alfred (he is a recovering drug addict) set me straight, telling me that I wasn’t handicapped, but handi-capable. In all our brokenness, aren’t we all? All that is needed is a little faith in God.
About the second week of December of 2012, I was going through my internet browsing history, and discovered I was gay…