Testing My Faith - by Jeff Buck
I have always considered myself as just your average working-man trying to provide for his family. When my wife and I decided to start a life together nearly thirteen years ago, we had set very high, yet attainable, goals for the decade to come. We knowingly expected to encounter obstructions along the way but, nothing could have prepared us for the grief and adversity we would come to experience.
I’ve been working in the construction industry since I was twenty years old. A decade later, I decided it was time to launch my own contracting business. My wife, Lynette, encouraged the choice I had made and participated with scheduling jobs and payroll. Our business evolved into an overnight success that yielded a welcoming profit the very first year. Two years later, Lynette fulfilled her dream of starting her own cleaning business. We did it…the two of us had accomplished our goals of being debt free accompanied by very comfortable salaries. We were driving new vehicles, traveling three times per year and enjoying life.
In 2006, I had purchased new motorcycles for the family to ride when we vacationed in northern Michigan. We lived in a small town that was famous for its gravel pits and the locals, including me, would ride our off-road vehicles there. The day after Thanksgiving that same year, I decided to take the day off from work to ride at the gravel pit with a friend and my son. There was a specific section of jumps that we enjoyed riding on that would launch us over fifteen feet in the air. I was increasing my speed each time I approached the jumps and after a dozen attempts, disaster struck. I had to throw the bike away from me in mid-air and attempt to regain my composure.
I was falling from nearly twelve feet in the sky in a forward motion of about thirty miles per hour when my body finally hit the hard, compacted ground with a thud. I wasn’t able to get my legs under me so my tail-bone absorbed the full impact. I still can’t recall much immediately following the crash other than I couldn’t move my legs and I was in an extreme amount of pain.
I woke up in a hospital four days later to learn that I had completely shattered the T-12 vertebrae in my spinal column which embedded bone shards in my spinal cord. My career as a contractor came to an abrupt end as I was forced to learn how to walk again. The doctors had me on a very high dose of pain medication during the next six months which sent me into the deepest and darkest depression. I could no longer provide for my family and our home and vehicles were starting to disappear one-by-one.
My world was crashing down on me as I was in and out of stress centers and contemplating suicide. Lynette had kept suggesting that I talk to God and ask him for guidance and forgiveness. She had attended a local congregation for the past few years and was finally able to convince me to join her. After service that morning, Father Dave led me to his quarters to introduce himself and question me about my demons and struggles. I told him about my feelings of worthlessness and asked what I have to look forward to other than more misery. Father Dave could feel my sense of desperation and urgency. I was “saved” that Sunday morning and pronounced as a “born again Christian”.
That was my life five years ago. Today, I’m a full-time student pursuing a degree in Electronic Engineering Technology at ITT Technical Institute. I’m maintaining a perfect GPA of 4.0 and I’m also the current president of the Alpha Beta Kappa National Honor Society. I thank God for every morning that I’m able to climb out of bed, walk down a flight of stairs to the patio and watch the sun rise. I had taken so much for granted in the past. I had thought that life was about having nice things and maintaining a successful image to family and friends.
Don’t get me wrong, my life is still filled with adversity. I just lost my father in December of 2010 and then my mother eleven months later. Both of my parents were only sixty-one years old when they passed. I could have very easily slipped back into the depression state I had experienced in the past. However, I had come to the conclusion that God was “testing my faith”. He had given me the strength, wisdom and knowledge to understand that this was a time to celebrate the memorable moments which my mother and father had shared with each other, friends and family.