Photo by Sabine van Straaten on Unsplash

Without going into a lot of detail, I left home when I was 13 years old.  I primarily stayed with a friend and his family until I graduated high school, at which time, my friend and I got a place of our own.  When I look back, this was a pivotal time in my life that would change me for many years to come; some for the better, and some, not so much.

Here are a few ways that decision, and the circumstances leading to it, changed me, for better and for worse:

  1. I learned to look out for myself at an early age.  I became very independent and remain that way to this day.  I live by the mantra, “if I want a job done right, I’ll just do it myself.”  From a young age I have been making tough life decisions and earning my own way.  I put more into the world than I take out of it.

    On the other side of that coin, I learned to distrust people.  Until I matured in life, I assumed most people had ulterior motives for engaging in a relationship with me.  I always saw others through the lens of a hurt young boy that was not protected by the people that should have loved him the most.  It took a long time to get to the place where I assumed the best in others. (After reading this, it is easy to make the assumption of abuse.  To be transparent, I never suffered any physical abuse.  The trouble that I suffered was verbal and emotional.)

  2. I have become a protector of people.  One thing that stirs a fire inside me is to see someone mistreated.  I am quick to come to others defense.  I have no tolerance for people that are unkind to their fellow man.  I assume this part of who I am comes from not having an advocate of my own, and I never want others to feel like they are powerless to stop someone that is mistreating them.

    On the other side of the coin, I was insecure even into adulthood.  In my 40’s now, I still find that I have to fight against insecurities that stem from my childhood.  By the grace of God, I know my value and I am confident in the person I have become, but now and again, that scared little boy wants to come to the surface.

  3. I learned to push forward through uncertainty.  Many times in my life as a teenager and young adult, I did not know where my life was going, and I did not have answers to difficult problems.  In spite of that, I knew I wanted a better life than the one I came from, so each day, I just put one foot in front of the other, and I marched on.  I did each day, what I needed to do, regardless of how I felt or how uncertain life was.

    On the other side of the coin, I lacked a compass for my life.  I did not know where I was going or why.  I was just running.  Not running towards anything, but running away from my dysfunctional childhood life.  While I grew up fast and I seemed to be more responsible than most people my age, I had no purpose for living.  I was in my mid twenties before I found real meaning for my life.  To this day, I regret having wasted so much time.

For me, leaving home at an early age was a necessity.  Thankfully, my parents gave me the freedom to go.  In our day and time, that may seem bad, but it was one of the best things that happened to me.  It set me on a different trajectory that allowed me to break away from generations of a repetitive family history.

Looking back, there are so many things that I was the first to do, in my family.  I try not to live in too much regret of the past.  I do my best to embrace it, because those circumstances helped shape the man I am today.  My prayer today is that none of that pain and frustration would be wasted.  That God would use it to make me better.

I want to encourage you to take a look at your past and identify one or two things that changed your life, and ask how.  Then walk through the good and the bad to help refresh your perspective on life.

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