I had a rough childhood. I had a rough set of teen years. I had a rough young adulthood. I guess I’ve had a rough life. Or have I ? I recently attended a funeral of an amazing friend of mine. A man who inspired me to really give everthing I had to living life to the fullest. Something he said inspired me so deeply it shook me to the core. This is a guy who died of brain cancer and I’m trying to reflect on a conversation that was discussed at the celebration of his life.
Imagine one day winning the lottery and being unhappy that you only received a majority of your winnings. That just wouldn’t be right. Well as an American who has lived a rough life, and has also lived, and appreciated living in a third world country I see things differently than I did when I was younger, and less exposed to the world.
My friend realized that even though he had cancer, he managed to do so much in life, and to have so many opportunities. I guess his life and death allowed me to continue celebrating life, even though I haven’t received all of my “lottery winnings”, because the lot I’ve been cast is much better than others. Imagine living in Africa, or Haiti, or any of the other places that are scourged with poverty.
I was born in 1980 in Salt Lake City, Utah to David and Patricia Cummings. Little did I know I was destined to be in a home that I truly don’t understand even though it’s been 30 years later. For whatever reason life just didn’t dish our family a good portion of normalcy. I have hardly a memory of my childhood, or even of my adopted family life. So many things have happened in the last few years that I guess an amnesia has set in. A massive traumatic event can do that to you, as well as developmental issues that surrounded my childhood could be the reason for it. I was in and out of foster homes until I was 6 years old, when I was adopted by the Krug Family. My life would change forever. I was given the opportunity to change my name from my old name of David Felix Cummings to David ( I got to choose ) Krug. I chose the name Paul. Even at a young age I had this deep connection with my creator. I intensely adored him, and he’s the fondest memory of my youth. Many a night I lay in bed in prayer, fearful of losing my family. Literally crying out to God for protection, and healing. My name has always been a symbol to me of God’s grace and his mercy.
The name I chose when I was adopted was Paul, partly because of the bible character who changed his name, and partly because of what it meant. My new name would mean “Beloved Little Vessel”. Truly my entire life I have felt beloved and chosen by my creator to be used by Him.
Regardless of my childhood, and in hindsight I know that I now disagree with how my adoptive family chose to raise me. I think they had the best of intentions and the sincerest of loves but for whatever reason things didn’t work out. I blame a large part of my difficulties in childhood to “attachment therapy”, and “rebirthing therapy”. These were some of the hardest, and most difficult traumas any child and/or young person can go through. Not a day goes by when I don’t wonder what could have been different. But I can’t change the past.
By the time I was 13 I was ‘shipped out’, of my own accord, and somewhat not of my own accord to a place in Montana that somewhat resembled a boarding school, and a quasi-cultish environment. It was called Pinehaven.
Pinehaven claims to be a stable, controlled, secure environment in which young people can reach the potential that God has placed within them.
I’ve already forgiven Pinehaven in my heart for it’s ineffectiveness at fulfilling it’s role in raising up young people to be adequately prepared for “The Real World”. But it took me many years to forgive my own family for exiling me to a place that broke my heart. My heart really has never recovered. As a result largely there’s this empty place that I can never seem to fulfill it’s called family.
The closest thing I have to family is a close knit circle of friends who all attended Pinehaven, and the deep drive and desire in my own heart to leave a consistent tidal wave of reckless compassion.
Sometimes my family is a Fortune 100 executive, or a homeless bum, or a housewife, or a school teacher, a prostitute, a porn peddler, a drug lord, or even a web developer. To me we are all created with the equal opportunity to fail or succeed at one thing in life. Loving one other. Whether that’s helping sustain each other, or bringing a level of happiness to those around us.
I’m not afraid to fight my 9 year battle with a crippling disease that’s winning it’s war to make me blind. I actually see the world better than I ever have, although dimly. I’m not afraid to live on a sidewalk for 9 months while I wait and see what God has in store for me next. I’m not afraid to build a six figure business
and give the profits away to those in need. I’m not afraid to take care of a man whose not my father, or my grandfather yet showed me how to love. I’m not afraid to say I’ve been a failure, and a success. I’m just not afraid of much. But I’m afraid of one thing dearly. Losing those whom I love. It seems to be a perpetual pattern in my life. Sometimes it’s caused by outside events, sometimes it’s caused by internal events. But what I’ve noticed in life is that we come into this world surrounded by those who love us, and those we love and over time we all pass away alone.
I’m not blind, but I see dimly. The things that I remember about my childhood was that I was different. I was smart, analytical, and broken. Not much has changed. That child just grew up to be a man. It’s been a long journey, a painful journey, a beautiful one. I’m still smart, still analytical, and still very much broken. But I wouldn’t change a whole lot because the journey has made me who I am today.
The brokenness allows me to relate to those who need relating to. The journey has given me humility to recognize my imperfections, to embrace my passion and drive and to still at night cry out to God for healing. To walk with him in the midst of the talents he’s given me to help make the world, and my own world a better place.
I believe that this journey from childhood to man has taught me the one thing that’s important in life. Relationships are the real riches in life, and the only rewards we can leave out of this world with.