My dad’s an alcoholic. My mom was just a crazy Puerto Rican. Only those who are Puerto Rican understand what I’m talking about. My mom is a fighter, and she backs down from no one. One day she grabbed a big grill fork, raised it in the air, and said, “Try me!” I would have to stand between my mother and father, saying, “No, no. Chill out. Relax. No, no, no, dad. Mom!” To be honest, those fights traumatized me. I thought, “At any moment, if my dad becomes more intoxicated, or mom gets even more crazy, they could kill each other.” As I grew up I was always protective of either my mom, my dad, or my two little brothers, at the time.
Once, mom cooked some soup, and when she served it I felt it was too hot to eat. Dad, seated at the table, was again drunk that day. My mom is a very loud person to this day. (I love you, mom.) When I refused to eat the hot soup she told my dad to deal with it. My father dealt with it by picking me up, and literally threw me across the room into the wall, like I was a doll. That day is etched in my memory because, not only did he throw me against the wall, he began punching and kicking me so hard, man, just beating me, all because I didn’t want to eat the hot soup.
After dad beat me, it was tag-team action between mom and dad, as they continued to beat me. Then, after that, mom beat me. I was, like, “Dang, at least mom could save me, or something.”, but, no. My mom was a very verbally abusive person. When dad went to prison, mom tried her best to support the family. I tried my best to prove my self to my mom. I wrestled in school and was also in a lot of different sports. I was in ROTC. I was in the marching band. Only once did my mom attend an event. She came to a band rehearsal. She embarrassed me in front of everyone. My Principal was standing right there. When he heard her he told us to leave. I was so hurt. Mom was really never there for me. The only thing she would say, is, “You’re going to end up like your father, a bum on the street, a loser, an alcoholic.” As a kid, growing up hearing those things hurt me. I thought, “Man, after everything I do for you, this is how you love me.”
Another story about mom is about my being in the first grade. Mom had prepared my lunchbox. My thermos leaked, which destroyed my class pictures. When I showed her the pictures I was thinking, “I hope mom doesn’t get mad.” Well, she did get mad. The first blow was her forearm to my lip, causing it to bleed. The blood was gushing. There were some occasions that I didn’t attend school for two days to a week because I was so messed up. In my heart I really wanted to tell somebody, but I was afraid that if I did my family would be split up. I believed the only person able to keep my family together was me. That scared me. As I talk about it, I become emotional. The only thing I could think about was my brothers. I didn’t want them to go through what I had gone through.
If it weren’t for my grandma’s prayers I don’t think I would be where I am today. I remember, as a young boy, her taking me to her room and teaching me to kneel and pray the Lord’s Prayer. After praying the Lord’s Prayer, she would begin to experience the Holy Spirit, and the presence of the Lord as she started *interceding in prayer. I remember her praying over me, asking for the Lord to protect me, and to protect whatever calling he has for me. I believe it was the prayers of my grandmother that stopped me from becoming like my dad or my mom.
We went to church off and on. My first pastor, as a kid, I called my **“Baby Pastor.” He would tell me, “‘If your father and your mother forsake you, the Lord will never forsake you.’ (Psalm 27:10) The Lord will become your father and the mother you never had.” That stayed with me. I remember feeling God’s presence and love at fourteen years old. At the time I didn’t know it was his love. Now I do. I thought, “I don’t know what this is, but it feels so good.” That was my first personal experience with the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit. It was amazing. I gave my life to the Lord.
One Sunday morning my mother told me, “I don’t want you going to church.” I completely rebelled against her that day. I thought, “I don’t give a flip what you say. I’m going to church.” I called my pastor and said, “I’m ready. Can you pick me up?” I didn’t tell him what mom had said. He said, “I’ll be right there.” My mom became furious. She began cussing me, throwing F bombs, and every curse word imaginable. Mixed with her cussing, she told me, “I don’t want you going to church. I’m your mother, and you need to honor me.” I answered, “Mom, I know I have to honor you, but I’m going to church.” The reason I did that was because I was hungry for the presence of God in that place, hungry for another encounter with him. She said, “All right, go to church, but you will see what’s going to happen.”
As the pastor was about to start preaching, one of the elders of the church went and whispered in his ear. We didn’t know what was gong on. He acknowledged with a nod of his head and stopped the service. He then informed the congregation, “There is an issue going on in the church. I need you to start praying. Our church *intercessors began praying. I still didn’t know what was going on. He then looked at me and said, “I need you to come with me.” At that moment I knew whatever was going on had to do with me. When I went outside with my pastor, my mother was there with two Sheriffs. I was fourteen years old. Mom was telling my pastor off, cursing a storm right outside the church building. She let my pastor know, “This is still my son. He is still a minor and needs to obey my rules. If I say he is not to attend church, he is not to attend church.” This is hard to talk about because it brings back so much emotion. I remember her saying, “If you keep going this route you’re never going to be anything in life. Church is never going to do anything for you.” I hung my head and thought, “How can you embarrass me in front of these people, in front of the cops, in front of my church, which is like family to me?” because I really never had a family. I was hurt. The rage came back, and I said, “How much more of this can I take?”
There were three times at the age of sixteen that I wanted to kill myself. I was tired. I thought, “My mother doesn’t love me. My father is nowhere to be seen. My family doesn’t give a snot about me. Why am I in this world? I’m not going to be anything anyway. At least, that’s what my mother says.” When a parent tells you that, you believe it because that’s your father. That’s your mother. These are the people who gave birth to you. You believe stuff like this when you’re a kid. I believed it, man. I believed I was going to be a bum on the street. I believed I was going to end up just like my father.
At this time, my mom was seeing a lot of men. She was sleeping around, drinking, doing God knows what. My mindset was, “Mom’s not paying the bills, so I gotta work and make some money so I can support my bros.” We really didn’t have anything to eat. We were living on cereal, milk, and sometimes, eggs, bread, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That’s it because mom was spending her money on whatever she wanted to do.
I remember one night after getting off work. I hadn’t been scheduled to work, but after school I stopped by. They were so busy I went to work in my school clothes. My manager knew something was going on, so he allowed me to work so I didn’t have to go home. I got home at 1:00am. I remember leaving my bedroom window open so my mom wouldn’t hear me come in. I was so down and so depressed. I knelt down by my bed. I had thoughts coming into my head, “Why don’t you just kill yourself. If you kill yourself it will be all over. You won’t have to hurt anymore.” I wanted to do it so bad because of all the emotional hurt and pain. Kneeling by my bed, I started crying, and I remembered what my “Baby Pastor” used to tell me, Psalm 27:10, “If your father and your mother forsakes you, the Lord will never forsake you.” I understood that to mean God will pick you up and He’ll become your mother. He’ll become your father. I cried out to God, “Lord, I need your help. I can’t do this no more. I don’t know what else to do. I can’t do this no more. Show me a sign that you love me. Show me a sign that you’re here, because all I want to do is take my life.” I remember this night like it was yesterday. My brothers were faking sleep. They both came to either side, and they began to hug me and say, “We love you. We love you for everything that you do for us. We love you. Don’t leave us. You’re the only thing we have.” That night I made a decision to fight for my brothers.
Eventually, as I matured in God’s word and in my spiritual life, in tears, I called my mother, and said, “Mom, I forgive you.” From that day our relationship began to mend. It’s still not 100% what it can be. I’m not going to lie, but everything takes work. She understands what she has done wrong and has started going back to church. She’s still off and on, but that’s okay. I believe through prayer God is going to change her. I’m praying she will become that spiritual mom that I need.
*a prayer or petition to God on behalf of another
**a personal term of affection given to his childhood pastor