I’m a stay-at-home father of two-toddlers, and until March 18, 2022, I was a full-time student at Liberty University—LUO. Juggling these two responsibilities turned out to be a defining moment in my life. I think it’s worth recapping, don’t you? If not, too bad. You’re here anyway, so keep reading. 😂
Why did I go back?
I’m thirty-two-years-old at the time this article is written. However, my 29th-year around the sun is the inflection point which led me back to school. That’s when my wife and I purchased our first-home [I still think too early lol]. We were living in downtown Boston, in the Back Bay neighborhood. I worked downtown and she had a short commute outside the city. Every Sunday we would attend the Old South Church or Trinity—both located in Copley Square. Life never felt better for use newlyweds, but it wasn’t long before my wife was pregnant with our eldest. Our one-bedroom, $2500-per month, 5th floor walk-up was not ideal for a baby. Plus, daycare was at the time $2,000 per child. So, like many people, we were forced to migrate to cheaper pastures. We found New Hampshire.
Derry, New Hampshire was the longtime home of Robert Frost. This poem is in dedication to my favorite poetry book: North of Boston, and his poem October.
We both hate the suburbs, she was raised in one, and I always loathed them [I grew up on a farm], so the greater Boston area was off the table. I found a job as a Real Estate Agent in my new town, but I knew, somewhere inside me, it wasn’t gong to work-out. I had done the sales-circuit many times, and I always ended up feeling betrayed and asked to take advantage of people, so I hated it, but I had always wanted to do real estate, and I told myself it might be different this time. It was, but it wasn’t enough of a difference for me, for a good reason.
Going back to school meant I had to come out the closet
When my father died, I put on a mask. I did not choose to hide who I am, I was compelled too. See, I’m a creative. I write, and I make art. I am obsessed with understanding and examining and revealing the human condition. My calling is to sow empathy into the hearts of my generation.
Art fulfills me, and it has fulfilled millions for thousands-of-years. A few people in this world think art is useless, because they don’t see it as a viable business to spend your time making-up stories that probably won’t sell well anyhow. But they are dead wrong. Fortune favors the bold, and poverty-of-spirit preys on the cautious. Or as the Bible says, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world [that means to achieve his dreams] and lose his own soul” [his individuality]. By the time my son was born, I was a coward. I wore the mask so well, I convinced myself the person I pretended to be was who I really was. I found the freedom of the cross at nineteen, but ten-years later, when my boy was in my arms, the cross had nearly killed me. The artist and academic in me was all but snuffed out.
So, too, was the case of my bi-sexuality. Topic not related to school, so I won’t dig deeper there.
When I held my son, I regretted ever listening to people who had never been where I wanted to go.
I remember my wife being asleep in the hospital bed, and my newborn-son and I were getting to know each other while she slept off 42 hours of labor. When I held my son, I regretted ever listening to people who had never been where I wanted to go. I knew the world would do the same to him, so the happiest moment of my life had a cloud overhead. It’s amazing how your world restarts when you hold your child for the first time.
I asked Jesus, “how do I protect him from people who will tell him he must think about money first, he must love this way, he must pray this way, he must study this, he mustn’t study that, he must live a specific set of linear steps until one-day his new heart is old and stops beating? How do I teach this boy to always love himself, but to never put himself ahead of anyone else, to always love his neighbor, and to always give freely, without prejudice, to all who have need?”
That prayer led to a peaceful respite washing me clean that night. I knew I had to turn around. I had read once nothing weighs down a child more than a parent’s regret.
“My children,” I told myself, “will not carry their father’s burdens, as I did.”
I was still a coward, so the beautiful boldness of my declaration faded into me casting myself, once again, to the side. I used the virtuous excuse of ‘it’s best for my family.’ But, God was not having it. He was going to get me back to college, and at that time, I promise you, college was very far from my thoughts.
I gave real estate all of me. I just didn’t have the heart for it, once I got a handle on it, and that was debilitating. Then, while in a meeting, I look on the television in Dover, NH, and I see a pandemic warning on the news. A month later, I’m in North Carolina, I get an email that daycare is closing to non-essentials, and the great toilet paper wars had began. Like millions, I was the one parent that needed to stay home.
Starting in early 2020, I went back to college full-time, while raising my kids. I devoted much of my free-time, which shrinks with the more babies we make, to scripture and art. I threw away that damn mask, and came out the closet in life. I’m an artist, and I’m a writer, and I’m not turning back, not anymore. I began to truly lean on Matthew chapter 6. Don’t be lazy, go read it.
Now, I’ve published twice before I finished school, and I’ve painted incredible creations. My most recent painting is valued at $2200 USD. My writings are now found in seventeen countries. That’s insane!
Maybe that isn’t much to most of you, but for me, finishing school and finding success in writing and art is the beginning of a very ambitious journey I’m on: to change the hearts of a generation by blessing them with fiction’s superpower—empathy. Words are more powerful than anything else in Heaven or on Earth. There is no civilization without communication.
Now: I’m done!
My degree reads: B.S. English and Writing: Creative Writing, Minor: History. I finished with a department GPA of 3.71 and a cumulative GPA of 3.21. I did not make up the classes I dropped out on ten-years ago, because they weren’t relatable to the degree I wanted now.
I’m quite proud to graduate college at 32. Liberty and I will never agree on few specific religious teachings, but I could hardly have gone to a better school. My professors openly prayed with me, and all my classmates were super interesting people. I even made one of my best, if not my very best of writing friends. I’ll leave her name unwritten, but we helped push each other in our classes and in our art. Iron sharpens iron, and writers sharpen writers.
Although, the world collapsed around me in the pandemic, I kept my eyes on the future, and my heart in the present. George Floyd, my diagnosis’s of anxiety/depression and O.C.D., Trumps order to trample D.C. protestors in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, the Jan. 6 riot, a personal friend of mine dying of Covid, my grandfather passing away, the rise of white nationalism, the far-right hijacking of the American Church, the rampant uptick of racism in grandparents/boomers all-over-the-place, the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, etcetera, all happened while I was raising my kids and taking classes, and all the while, God rebuilt me block-by-block. I changed as the world changed. Woe to those who didn’t. I feel more prepared for this world than the one before Covid. And, a lot of that, I believe, has much to do with me finishing school. I’ve never felt lighter.