Kalen's #YouAreBRAVE Story

When I was eleven years old, I entered Middle School, which marked a new chapter of my life. I thought that the two years I would spend in Middle School would be awesome; I would meet new people, learn new things, and discover more of life. At that age, I lacked understanding of the world around me and did not truly know the ultimate purpose in life, and I would not know until 9 years later. Those two short years marked the beginning of becoming a person with crippling insecurities, great frustration, and hopelessness. The 2003-2004 school years were not what I was expecting—it was horrible. I wanted to be accepted and I received rejection from most people. I had earned a nickname from my peers—“Smeagle.” Yes, the grotesque distortion of someone that was almost human. “HEY, SMEAGLE” and “HEY, DOESN’T THIS KID LOOK EXACTLY LIKE SMEAGLE?” Soon, there were people that I had never met in my life calling me this name who I had never met before. As miniscule as it may seem, this made a huge impact on me. I had a kid come up to me and say, “Hey, would you sign your autograph on your picture for me?”—it was a picture book based on the Lord of the Rings movie. It’s not like I was a passive kid, I definitely let people know I hated what was going on. Of course, I would make myself a public spectacle. My 7th grade year I had straight F’s. I had a few classes where I actually sat off in a corner alone. Half way into that school year, my mother noticed something very disturbing. My eyes were bulging forth from my eye sockets, constantly irritable, and always in the kitchen looking for snacks with tons on sugar. My mother was shocked one night to find me sleeping in a puddle of sweat—she checked my pulse, clocked it at 120bpd, and noticed my eyelids did not close completely. I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease or Hyperthyroidism. A disease does not usually affect males. All of the heartbreak, frustration, and hopelessness I was going through with my new nickname and the weight of my new discovery were crippling. It was terrible. Instead of people comforting me and people coming along side me, I was ridiculed for something I had no control over. “SHUT UP, SMEAGLE NO ONE WAS TALKING TO YOU.” I started hating people. I started getting into fights. I probably fought 5 times in middle school. I hated the fact that I could do nothing about what was happening to me. I wanted revenge, but I truly wanted acceptance. The damaged that single year caused was irreversible. I do not think I had any insecurities of that magnitude before that time. Every time I looked in the mirror, I believed that was a hideous grotesque cave dwelling creature. To this day, I still struggle with my face. I get depressed sometimes because I feel that I am far from handsome. I grew my hair down to my shoulders to cover my face. I could hide in it. Moreover, I look at people for their appearance first because that is how others treated me during a crucial time of learning how to interact with others. Unfortunately, because I suffered, I took my pain and shared it with people. I hurt people because I was hurt. I thought that was how life was supposed to be. I had no guidance. I did not know truth. I had never met Hope and did not know Love. My life was by all standards of the world—an accident. My biological father was only partially in my life and the man who raised me did not have the manual to raise me correctly. My real dad was an Atheist and so I became and one as well. In high school, the nickname “Smeagle” was not how my peers addressed me, but it did come up and it still hurt. I became so hardhearted and cold. I picked on people who I thought were lesser than myself and hated my own family. My sophomore year I discovered Marijuana and that began a chapter in my life that would eventually lead me to My Jesus. I Smoked Marijuana for five years and eventually began drinking hard liquor. There were nights I passed out on the sidewalk. I experimented with Magic Mushrooms, Salvia, artificial Marijuana, Percocet, Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Ritalin, and Ecstasy. I remember being so desperate to get high that I would spend hours using paper clips to scrap Marijuana resin from the inside of a pipe or bong just so I could get high for half an hour. Using Hallucinogens I was trying to change my reality. I drank to numb the pain. I smoked marijuana heavily to escape. I took painkillers to feel good. I abused Ritalin to have a good time and after that, I found out that Ecstasy was something that was no longer out of my reach. The night I met my Lord and Savior, I was at Disneyland California Adventure under the influence of three pills of Ecstasy and I heard His beautiful voice for the first time. “Kalen, you told yourself you would never be the person you have become”—He spoke to me and I could not resist Him. Everything I knew of Him—that was not much—came pouring out of my mouth and that night I surrendered my life to Him.  Today, I can honestly look back into my life and point out all the moments when My Lord was calling me. It took 19 years for me to respond to His love. All the damage, frustration, pain, hopelessness, and vagueness of life started to heal and the picture of life came into focus. Since that day, my life has never been the same. Jesus made me new. He gave me life and healed my heart. Now, I want to share His love with people who were just as lost as I was back then.