I am the oldest of three boys and I was born and raised in Chicago. I have fond memories with my family, but have many blank spots about my younger years. Kindergarten thru 3rd grade, all I remember are feelings of just existing. I don’t really remember much during that time about school. I didn’t apply myself to much and did a lot of daydreaming. I did not know how to engage people and anything that was outside of the norm of what I was comfortable with was hard for me to process.
I didn’t feel plugged in to anything that defined me. I took everything that was thrown at me, the good and the bad, but did not know how to filter what I was receiving. I did not have a place of origin. I believe some of my behavioral issues stem from my not knowing how to deal with my mom and dad separating before I started school. I am told that I was kicked out of nursery school for being very hyperactive and despondent. The report was that I should have been placed in a special school for kids with learning disabilities.
My self-esteem and confidence was extremely low. I recall many occasions being picked on and teased by classmates and neighborhood kids. Outside the house, everyone and everything seemed bigger than me and I felt like a speck in the universe. At night I comforted myself by sucking my finger and tweeding my hair in knots. My brother was the only real friend that I could depend on that wouldn’t turn his back on me.
When I was about 9 years old I went to live with my Dad. We stayed busy with a variety of sports and the discipline helped me shape a new attitude on life. Basketball was our focus. The practices were long and hard but being a part of a team was great and I was gaining friends. As time passed my skills and confidence grew. It was refreshing to be good a something for a change.
Although my basketball skills were getting better, I still fought bouts of insecurity. I remember at 14 years old winning Most Valuable Player at a summer basketball tournament in Minnesota. Some of the kids protested the decision. I tried so hard to be accepted that their opinion meant more to me than my own thoughts about myself and I began to wonder if I really deserved the trophy or anything that was good.
In school I always applied myself because in order to play ball I had to maintain my grades. The hard work and sacrifice paid off. After high school, I was accepted into Tuskegee University where I received honors as a student athlete, but I still had issues. I still wanted to be accepted as someone who mattered and not only because of my talents.
The summer of my sophomore year in college I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. It happened at a time when the scholarships, the friends and attention were no longer enough to hit that deep need in my heart for acceptance. The accolades I received were only a temporary bandage on a deeper wound of wanting to be accepted. Many of my relationships ended up in hurt and resentment as I attempted to drown out negative feelings by lashing out in defense, partying or by getting really busy. None of my efforts helped.
My real issue was that I was ashamed of myself and could not accept myself. No matter how much I was affirmed. Family and friends were rooting for me to succeed, but I could not get past the competitive comparisons that I made in my mind. I was always comparing myself to the next person and I never measured up. Consequently, people couldn’t latch on to me because I couldn’t latch on to myself. I made it hard for people to see my worth. Jesus claimed me so that I could love myself and no longer be ashamed of who I was.
My decision to be in relationship with Christ was and still is the greatest choice I have ever made in my life. I spent years wanting to be accepted and now I’m accepted and loved unconditionally by the King of kings. No matter where I am on the scale, Jesus accepts me just the way I am. This truth produced wanders in my life and changed my relationships with people. People became drawn to me because I identified more with my natural self and who God made me to be. I had true inner peace.
I graduated with a Bachelors of Architecture Degree and a year later Andrea and I were married. I worked as a property manager and eventually branched out into my own Kitchen and Bathroom Remodeling business with a trusted friend and mentor. By this time, we had two sons and Drea had left teaching in the school system to home school them.
As the newness of my Christian life began to wane, I allowed my spiritual life to dry out. The old feelings of shame slipped back into my life because I began placing people on the throne of my heart in the place of Jesus. I began to slip into my old way of thinking came back, ‘what people thought about me mattered more than what I thought about myself’. With the responsibilities of family added to the equation, I now needed to step up and once and for all completely squash this fear. It was pecking away at my family and my dreams.
Drea and I struggled, but our commitment to Jesus held us together. Through the many challenges, prayers, talk sessions with mentors and trusted friends, we began to learn how to respect and value each other. We continue to invest in each other daily and have discovered how to pull in the same direction instead of continually living with each other in a tug-of-war. This overflow of intimacy has become an integral part of our relationship. Now, we live to share this intimacy with others.
Sometimes, I feel like I relate to Superman in a lot of ways. As a baby, he was shot across the universe because his planet, Krypton, was in danger of exploding. He was seemingly insignificant in the vast space as he floated around in his capsule, but he would serve a great purpose in the world. In many ways, I floated aimlessly for many years, but God always had a purpose for me.
On earth, Superman was raised by humans who loved and nourished him. However, he could only reach his full potential when he reconnected with his original purpose and was able to learn from his father. I can relate to that. For me, the encouragement that I received from loved ones could not take the place of a relationship with my Heavenly Father. Spending time with Him in my own ‘Fortress of Solitude’ transformed my life. He showed me the full potential of my strengths and made me a ‘Spiritual Superman’. Then I could see my true identity and strength.
Krypton’s explosion had transformed most of the planet’s matter from its original form to a radioactive material, ‘kryptonite’, which was deadly to Superman and rendered him powerless. Every believer has their own ‘kryptonite’. Mine was the shame that came because I did not know how to cope and process the things that were happening around me. Because I felt the effects of this ‘kryptonite’ from such a young age, I did not know that my feelings of helplessness and hopelessness were not meant to be apart of my original plan. I became comfortable being less than average. I am fortunate that I know I was designed me to be so much more.
How have I dealt with my own ‘kryptonite’ of shame and rejection? I remain open and accountable to my Heavenly Father by retreating to my ‘Fortress of Solitude’ daily. I guard my heart from the accusations and offenses that the enemy throws my way. Daily I choose to thank God and celebrate the liberty that I have in Him. Rather than allowing negative experiences from the past to hinder my future, I use my childhood experiences as tools to remind me of God’s overwhelming strength, love and grace in my life.
In STRENGTH… faster than a speeding bullet!
In FAITH… more powerful than a locomotive!
In LOVE… able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!
When we are born again, we become extraordinary… like strange visitors from another world with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men… SPIRITUAL SUPERMEN, who have the power to influence men’s hearts and change the course of the future, as we seek God and build ourselves on bended knee.
We fight a never ending battle for Truth and the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
Eugene Mason III