Anda di halaman 1dari 41

J O N AT H A N C R A I G

YOU
ARE
THE
REASON
A SURVIVOR’S GUIDE
T O U LT I M AT E S T R E N G T H
You are the Reason
Copyright ©2009 by Jonathan Craig

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced or transmitted


in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy-
ing, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without
written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations
in a review.

Unless otherwise indicated, Bible quotations are taken from the HOLY
BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978,
1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights
reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-9841902-2-5
Printed in the United States of America

Borderline Publishing
305 N. Steelhead Way
Boise, Idaho 83704
www.borderlinepublishing.com

To order more copies of the book, visit us on the web at:


www.jonathancraig.com

Cover design: Jared Swafford — SwingFromTheRafters.com

Printed on post-consumer recycled paper


Acknowledgements
First and foremost, I want to thank my mother who I
phone every morning to discuss life and shoot the
breeze. To my sisters who have always been there when I
needed to laugh and have a great time. My best friend
John who inspired me to take the leap of faith in any-
thing I do, become or have. Thank you to Jeffrey for
believing in my dreams. And to Beth and Annette for 31
years of friendship!

There are many experiences that inspire me to continue


moving forward with life and people who I’ve met along
the journey who I could say thank you too. Just know, if
you are in my life and we have touched each others’
souls, we are friends always and you are deeply loved.

May life bring you happiness and joy as we work each


day together to live inspired lives!

— Jonathan Craig

3
When we come together as one through connecting
our purpose, we then harmonize within the world
and become enlightened

- Jonathan Craig
CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

CHAPTER ONE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Chosen

CHAPTER TWO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Sur viving Trials

CHAPTER THREE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
A Force that Kills

CHAPTER FOUR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
E m b r a c i n g Te r m i n a l I l l n e s s

CHAPTER FIVE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Inspiration

CHAPTER SIX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Creating Something out of Nothing

CHAPTER SEVEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
M o n e y & P o s s e s s i o n s : N e e d i t o r Wa n t i t ?

CHAPTER EIGHT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Faith: Demonstrations of God at Work

CHAPTER NINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
Seven Secrets to Healthy Living

CHAPTER TEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
Yo u , M e a n d t h e P o w e r o f t h e M o m e n t

ABOUT THE AUTHOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

JOURNAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91

5
Introduction

Y ou are the reason. You are the reason I wrote this book because
you must understand the power you have to change the world
around you—through understanding who you are and the
unique gifts you’ve been given. But before I can delve into my philoso-
phy, I want to take you to the beginning of my search. Back to a day I
will never forget…
I was 17 years old and I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a Mack
Truck. I could barely lift my head from the pillow. When I attempted to
move to my side I realized that the skin on my stomach felt like it was
on fire. I then rolled back onto my back and pulled my shirt up to see
what appeared to be a rash. The rash was comprised of small blister-like
bumps with puss in them. I had never experienced pain like this before.
I called my mom up into my room and showed her what was going
on. “Hmm. ... It looks like shingles,” she said as she examined my stom-
ach. I had no idea what shingles were; I just new that I wanted to get
rid of them.
“Mom, I feel awful.”
She felt my forehead. “You definitely have a fever,” she said. “I am
going to call our family doctor and make an appointment for you to see
him.”
Once she had secured an appointment, I dragged myself out of bed
and into the shower. As the warm water hit my body, I remember feel-
ing that I was going to fall over. I had never been so exhausted in all of
my life. Forgetting that I had the menacing rash on my stomach, I ran a
bar of soap over it and the burning intensified, as though I had just had
a cigarette pressed against my bare skin. I quickly attempted to rinse it
off and the warm water only intensified my discomfort. “Ouch!” I
yelped. The pain was almost unbearable.
After getting dressed, I walked down to the garage and climbed into
my truck and drove to the doctor’s office. The thoughts racing through
my head were fairly mundane and routine, mere musings about seeing a
doc who would diagnose my ailments, prescribe some pills and send me
home to rest. I was the epitome of a teenager who wanted a quick fix so

7
I N T R O D U C T I O N

that I could get back to my social life.


Once inside of the doc’s office, I signed in and then went back to see
our family practitioner, who was also a close family friend. He asked for
me to pull my shirt off to show him the rash. I grimaced as the t-shirt
grazed my skin. He looked closely at the area of suspect.
“Hmm...Well, it does look like shingles, Craig.”
“Shingles?” I had a puzzled look on my face.
“Yes. They are somewhat like chicken pox,” he explained. “But this
virus is caused by a very troubled immune system, and that concerns me
because you are a youngster.” Now the doc had a concerned look on his
face, but I was sure it was just a look he gave to all of his patients. I did-
n’t think much of this statement. I just wanted something to take it
away, so I waited for the remedy.
“Are you under a lot of stress?”
I didn’t know how to respond. Stress? Sure. Weren’t we all under
stress? Not quite knowing what I should say, I just sat there with a blank
look on my face.
“Craig. I’d like to run a few tests. I’m concerned about your immune
system. One of the tests I’m going to run is an HIV test,” he explained.
“I’m sure it’s not that, but I want to cover all of our bases.”
HIV was new to me. I had heard that the disease was gaining ground
in the U.S. and many diagnosed weren’t fairing too well. My under-
standing of the disease was very limited, but I did know that if a person
came down with the disease they would likely die in a short span of time.
And I wasn’t ready for any death sentence; I had my whole life ahead of
me.
The doc pricked my arm with a needle and withdrew blood. I turned
my head as he did this the sight of both of them made my stomach
queasy. My exhaustion was heightened with the added stress of a needle
jabbed through my skin.
I left the clinic following my appointment and drove to the pharma-
cy to get the cream the doc prescribed for me. Then, I went home to
rest. I’ll never forget how wonderful it felt as I rubbed the cooling cream
over the annoying shingles. I exhaled with relief and fell into my bed to
sleep the rest of the day away.

8
Y O U A R E T H E R E A S O N

A few days later I began to feel better, but stayed home to fully recov-
er. The phone rang and my mom answered.
“Hi, doctor,” I heard my mom say from the kitchen as I sat watching
TV in the family room. I didn’t hear anything else. She was silent for a
good three to five minutes. Finally, she walked into the family room with
a look I had never seen on her face. She was as white as a ghost. My
stomach shot into my throat as I looked at her.
“What did he say?” I asked nervously.
“He’s on the phone still and wants to talk to you.”
“What is it?”
“He’ll explain it to you.”
I stumbled into the kitchen, hoping that it wasn’t anything major.
“Hi, doc,” I said as I put the phone to my ear.
“Hi Craig, I wanted to update you on your test results.”
He was silent for a few seconds.
My heart skipped a few beats.
“Craig. Umm ... I just informed your mother that you tested positive
for HIV. I’m sorry to tell you that.”
Silence again.
I looked up at my mom and saw tears in her eyes. The room spun
around me as if I were riding a runaway merry-go-round. For a moment,
I felt that I had left my body and didn’t quite know how to find it again.
Pure adrenaline whipped through my limbs and left me breathless.
“Craig? …. Craig?” I finally realized the doc was talking.
“Yeah?”
“You OK?”
“I’m fine,” I responded. What was I to say? I couldn’t find a response
that made sense.
That moment has been the most monumental in my life. I liken it to
being pulled from a car by a stranger and held at gunpoint. Breathless
and filled with fear, I was forced to explore the possibility that I may not
live to see another day.

9
One
CHOSEN

“GOD CREATED YOU AS A UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL. YOU HAVE WITHIN YOU


AN AUTHENTIC GREATNESS ALL YOUR OWN. USE IT; DON’T WASTE
IT! YOU WASTE IT WHEN YOU TRY TO BE SOMEONE ELSE FOR THE
SIMPLE REASON THAT YOU ARE NOT SOMEONE ELSE.”
- DR. MAXWELL MALTZ

11
Y
ou are chosen. That simple message marks the beginning of a spe-
cific journey, one in which only you can take. Far too many peo-
ple wander through life without purpose or meaning. Perhaps
it’s because they simply never believed they were chosen for anything.
But I know differently, mostly because I chose to believe the better
half of the two sides of the adoption coin: I wasn’t wanted or I was cho-
sen. It was something my adoptive parents drilled into me during my
formative years. And I still to this day haven’t stopped believing it.
I was just one-day old when my adoptive parents took me home. My
birth mother gave birth to two children and was raising them in Chicago
before she moved to California. Not long after her move, a long walk to
the doctor’s office (she had no car) based on her suspicion that she had
the flu resulted in a much different diagnosis: she was pregnant with me.
Dating two men at the time, she didn’t bother trying to figure out who
the real father was, so she asked each of them for $100 to have the baby.
Eager to arrive, I came into the world early as a preemie weighing in
at a shade over five pounds. My adoptive parents were unable to have
children and were immediately approached about adopting me. They
came down to the hospital to see me—and a day later, I went home with
them.

A CHANGE IN COURSE

God always has a plan and we don’t know what that plan is—until it’s
time. Looking back on the incredible change in direction that one
moment had on my entire life is truly amazing. My birth mother’s life
has never been very stable. She has battled many ailments—heart disease
and throat cancer to name a couple—and a heavy addiction to smoking.
It’s difficult for me to even imagine how different of a person I would
be had that been the direction my life would’ve taken compared to the
one it did take.
Instead of growing up without a father and not even knowing who my
dad was, the story of my life was drastically different. Though there was
no DNA passed down to me from my adoptive father, I still managed to

13
C H O S E N

grasp his love for creativity. He was a builder—and it explained how my


interest in LEGO color coordination and design grew into a passion for
creatively crafting my own designs later in life. (Little did I know that
my biological family was also creative, something I didn’t discover until
I was well into my 30s.)
I grew up in a home with two parents who raised us in a religious tra-
dition that shunned drinking, smoking and various other indulgences.
At times, our home was full of support, love and acceptance, all key
ingredients I needed to face some of the adversity that would eventual-
ly enter my life. Without them, I’m not quite sure how I would’ve sur-
vived.
Before you get the impression that my Orphan Annie-esque life was
something of a fairy-tale ending, let me squelch that idea. I did grow up
with an amazing mother. She was caring, compassionate, diplomatic,
loyal, refined, genuine and beautiful. But I also grew up with a father
who seemed to be on the same wavelength as my mother—until you
lived with him. He was abusive, both mentally and physically. He was
abused both physically and mentally growing up and obviously didn’t do
much to break that abusive cycle in his family. He repeatedly told me I
would never amount to anything in life and I would never be successful.
As a child, he had nothing, which pushed him to be so driven that he
achieved many things beyond his comprehension, thus providing a com-
fortable lifestyle for his family. Yet life continued to be a mixed bag of
blessings and unbreakable generational curses for him. Through it all, he
struggled with the tension of who he was with who he wanted to be.
Sometimes, the reality of who he was created a harsh environment for
me.
Who knows which course would’ve been less bumpy or more effective
at molding and shaping me into the man God has called me to be. After
experiencing one and peering into what life with my birth mother could
have been, neither have the makings of Easy Street; however, I truly
believe the path God sent me down is the one that was best for me.
No matter which path you find yourself traveling, you must realize
that it is the one that God has for you at this moment and he is with you.
In the midst of our pain and suffering, we find blessings and experience

14
Y O U A R E T H E R E A S O N

life in a way that molds and shapes us forever. Gregg Levoy, author of
Callings, writes, “A key is made for one purpose and one purpose only.
To fit a lock. Not just any lock. One lock. Your lock!” Only you can
unlock the joy that comes in your journey through this life by accepting
what life brings your way and facing it head on.

KNOWING THE TRUTH

While some parents hide from their kids the fact that they were adopt-
ed, mine were forthcoming with my adoption. I was reminded often that
I was adopted, but only for the purposes of letting me know that I was
chosen, special, unique and a gift. Despite my father’s abusive tenden-
cies, he let me know in no uncertain terms that he and my mother chose
me and that I was special to him. As a result, the fact that I was adopt-
ed never bothered me like it does others. I was confident in whom I was
and secure in what my parents thought about me.
However, that didn’t prevent me from wondering about my birth
mother and the rest of my biological family. What would life had been
like if I had stayed with them? I wondered. I also wanted to understand
a little bit more about why I think the way I do, why I do what I do,
and why I collect things. I wanted to know, “What is it about the inter-
nal Jonathan Craig that I did not learn from my adoptive parents?”
These questions began to haunt me and I decided I must make an effort
to answer them.
About this same time, I began writing down a number of things I
wanted to do in life, my life’s master plan. I added meeting my birth
mother to the list. Within a year of writing it down, I met her through
a bizarre set of circumstances.
Not long after I wrote this down, I interviewed to be the host of a TV
show and was one of the two finalists. I didn’t get the job, but my hint
of success encouraged me to continue looking for something else which
could put me in front of a camera. In my search, I stumbled across a
show that was geared toward adoption, reuniting daughters and fathers.
I thought, What about mothers and sons? and I decided to contact the
show.

15
C H O S E N

I emailed the show my story and received a call from a producer who
told me that they decided to interview me even though the show wasn’t
geared toward my story. They put a camera in front of me and asked me
to share. For 45 minutes, I cried and yelled and screamed. It so moved
them that they called me back a week and a half later and said, “We’re
not going to air your story, but we still want to help you find your birth
mother.” I was totally amazed at the generosity of these complete
strangers.
Ten days later, I received a call from a private investigator in Florida
who told me, “We’ve found your birth mother and she’s in Arizona.”
Some representatives from the show phoned her and said, “Someone is
trying to reach you.” Immediately, she responded, “It’s my son, isn’t
it?” Then she said she wanted to speak with me. So we set up a time to
go out to Arizona to meet her. Her name is Gail.
When you ask God for something specifically, it will always be in
God’s timing, when he is ready to give it to you. It’s all about when he
knows you’re ready to handle it.
For me, this reality hit home when I found myself on this trip to meet
my birth mother. I had goosebumps as I arrived, realizing that when I
was 35 I helped design a restaurant across the street from where she
worked as a waitress and my birth father had worked as an executive
chef. Had I met her when I was in my mid-30s, I wouldn’t have been
able to handle this encounter. I was young, worldly, fearful—unable to
acknowledge with compassion and understanding the reality of where I
came from. But, here I was a few years later, more mature and ready and
willing to meet her.
I remember pulling up to Gail’s trailer home in Arizona and not
knowing what to think. I was actually stunned at the humble home in
which she lived, but I thought I could handle just about anything. It was
humbling to realize that I could have ended up with a similar life. I won-
dered which direction my life would have taken. I probably wouldn’t
have known any difference, yet the opportunities that would have been
handed to would have been quite different and living more difficult in
many ways.
Inside her trailer, Gail had it packed full of stuff beyond comprehen-

16
Y O U A R E T H E R E A S O N

sion—knickknacks, heirlooms, and collectibles that only had meaning to


her. It created a cluttered environment that made me wonder if I should
tip-toe through the house for fear that all the mountains of stuff in every
nook and cranny might collapse on me at any moment. Immediately, it
answered one question I had wondered about myself: Why did I collect
so many things? And as I met her and began hearing her story, I was
thankful that my journey now took me into her life years later. With all
her hardships, it was easy to imagine myself as someone who probably
would’ve been smoking, drinking and had serous health ailments. But
there are reasons for everything. Sometimes you just wonder why you
go through what you go through and how you are going to get through
to the end.
My conversation with Gail was strained. Not meeting your birth
mother until you are 40 makes for a difficult and, at times, uncomfort-
able conversation. She was mesmerized by how I looked so much like
my birth father. While she didn’t know whose son I was when she got
pregnant, she knew right away when she saw me as a 40-year-old man.
After our face-to-face meeting, we went to dinner with many of my
biological aunts, uncles, and other various relatives. They all agreed
upon whose son I was. It was very interesting. Apparently, I looked very
much like my birth father in my appearance. And from the way my rel-
atives described my birth father, it would’ve been great to meet him as
well. In the pictures they showed me, he was much older than Gail, tall
and the owner of a full head of gray hair.
As I drove away from her home and returned to the airport, I remem-
ber thinking that we really had nothing in common except that our
favorite food was Chinese food and we both collect things. I found it
quite interesting that I seemed to have much more in common with my
adoptive family—from my ability for design, to my love for travel, to the
extracurricular activities I enjoyed. The stark contrast of my upbringing
with Gail’s lifestyle was drastic. For example, when I met her she still had
never flown on an airplane. When I was six years old, my family put me
on an airplane to visit relatives by myself. This may have a lot to do with
the drastically different life experiences I had in my growing years.
Maybe you’ve never had a taste of any other life than the one you’re

17
C H O S E N

living. And maybe you wish things were different. Don’t shame your
past; instead, allow it to be the chiseling mechanism to shape your
future. Og Mandino wrote, “To change ones life for the better, to res-
urrect ones body and mind from living death, requires many positive
steps - one in front of the other, with your sights always on your goal.”
The reality of my journey is that I was picked out of a litter. I was cho-
sen. Like we all are. Though we may not be literally chosen by adoptive
parents, we are all chosen for something in life. We’re chosen to make a
difference and impact the world around us by using the unique gifts God
has given us.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

1. What is unique and special about your life and life story?

2. What is one thing you feel chosen to do? What purpose have you
found in life?

3. Who can you fall back on when tough times hit you in life?

18
Two
S U RV I V I N G T R I A L S

WHEN WE FORGIVE EVIL WE DO NOT EXCUSE IT, WE DO NOT TOLER-


ATE IT, WE DO NOT SMOTHER IT. WE LOOK THE EVIL FULL IN THE
FACE, CALL IT WHAT IT IS, LET ITS HORROR SHOCK AND STUN AND
ENRAGE US, AND ONLY THEN DO WE FORGIVE IT.
- LEWIS B. SMEDES

19
M
ixed messages are never easy to swallow, much less digest. A
person either delivers dual messages because he or she opts
for convenience in situations over consistency—or there is
an internal struggle regarding what the person wants to be versus what
the person is. Mark my father down for both.
My father came from nothing, a child of Norwegian immigrants. He
realized at an early age that if he was ever going to get anywhere in this
world, he would have to work hard to get there. However, his mischie-
vous side often caused him much undeserved pain. Like most young
boys, he was always up to something—and his father wasn’t too fond of
these antics. His father once tied him to a tree for chasing chickens. My
dad threw balls at windows. He would be punished by being locked in
a closet or whipped severely. Worst of all, his father was also a minister.
Out of this confusing world, emerged my father. He was confounded
by the idea of God’s love because of the way “love” was administered to
him, yet he still served in the church. Deep down, he knew what was
right and really wanted to do the right thing, but it was difficult to over-
come a culture of mixed messages. He didn’t know what to do. So, he
did what most fathers do: He fathered like his father.
In order for abuse to stop, you have to acknowledge it, forgive it, let
it go. My father did none of these very well, making me a prime target
for abuse. My disposition didn’t help either. Like most sons or daugh-
ters do, I challenged my father. My challenge was always, “Why?” A
“here you go, get lost” answer didn’t suffice for me. I needed a logical
explanation for why I needed to do something my father asked me to do
or why it was this way so I could reason it in my own mind. If it made
sense, then it’d be OK. But if I didn’t think so, I would question
“Why?” before promptly being rebuked and told I would never amount
to anything. He would dismiss me by telling me that I was just ignorant.
My best friend came over once and unfortunately witnessed the fury
of my father firsthand. This particular incident started when my father
gave me a remote-controlled airplane for my birthday and my friend and
I were flying it around. Though I’m a risk-taker, I’m not a foolish one.
If I don’t know anything about a particular topic, I’m not going to bluff

21
S U R V I V I N G T R I A L S

my way through it. Since I knew nothing about remote-controlled air-


planes, I suggested my friend and I head down to a local park where
there were a number of remote-controlled airplane operators who could
give us some advice and show us how to work this new toy. But not my
father. No one was going to tell him what to do. He would figure it out
on his own. Despite my pleas for a trip to the park to learn from some
real experts, my father ignored me.
I didn’t have experience flying remote-controlled airplanes, nor did
my father. My intuition regarding the flying of this plane was that it
would best be served by taking off and landing on a flat surface. But
what did I know? Moments after dismissing my request to go to the
park, my father was determined to fly the plane himself. After two loops
around the canyon just beyond our backyard, things didn’t go so well
on the third loop. Moments later as the airplane attempted to come pull
out of a loop, it crashed into the rugged canyon below our yard.
As words welled up in my mouth, I knew releasing them would result
in an unpleasant confrontation with my father. I just had no idea how
unpleasant. Nevertheless, I couldn’t contain myself any longer. “I told
you so!” I blurted out. With that, the beating commenced. My friend
was ringside for the nasty beat down my 6-foot-5, 225-pound father put
on me. I was helpless against his massive frame and boiling anger. After
he finished beating on me, he added, “Now, you can go down and get
your airplane. And if you don’t go get it, you’ll learn what’s good for
you.”
Scared, shaking and embarrassed, I did exactly as my father ordered
me to do. I did not want that to happen again. But I remained confused.
One minute, my father is telling me I’m special and that he and my mom
had chosen me. The next, he’s telling me how worthless I am and beat-
ing me to a pulp. My father just wanted to be right and didn’t want to
listen to his son.
It wasn’t just physical abuse either. There was also mental abuse. As a
16-year-old, I once walked into my father’s office with my 6-year-old sis-
ter to witness him in a moment of unbridled passion with his young sec-
retary. All I wanted was $10 to buy my sister a baseball that she wanted,
but I got much more than what I asked for. With his big powerful frame

22
Y O U A R E T H E R E A S O N

lurching over me as he backed me into a corner, he said, “If you know


what’s good for you, you won’t tell your mother.” It took me three
months before I mustered up the courage to tell my mother what was
going on.
On more than one occasion, my father got his hand caught in the
proverbial cookie jar. Walking in on him in these moments as a teenag-
er, you are distraught and don’t understand that your father is having an
affair on your mother. You don’t grasp the concept at that young age.
But you just know something is wrong, especially when the master bed-
room is closed and your mom exits with bruises on her leg. All his
money couldn’t buy him the happiness he so desperately wanted. So, he
took his frustration out on others.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg with my father. He used to bug
our house and our phones to see if we were up to something we should-
n’t have been into. When I was 19, I started my own limousine service
company. One day while going to pick up a client, he chased me through
the streets in his Mercedes—all because I hung up on him when he
began harassing me. The law enforcement officers were scared of my
father due to the power he held in town. Several days later, he got into
my car and took all of my keys. He then called for a locksmith to come
over and re-key all the locks. When I called the police, they simply said,
“We would love to help you. But he’ll have our badge by the end of the
day if we try to help you. We’re sorry, but we’re not going to do any-
thing.” When your father has that much power over people and conse-
quently over you, what are you supposed to do?

DEALING WITH ABUSE

And I will show that there is no imperfection in the present, and


can be none in the future, and I will show that whatever happens to
anybody it may be turned to beautiful results.
—Walt Whitman

Dealing with abuse isn’t easy. But if you’re brave enough to share
your story, you’ll likely find more people than you imagined who share

23
S U R V I V I N G T R I A L S

similar experiences as you did. In my formative adolescent years, dealing


with abuse was particularly difficult. I was young, vulnerable and long-
ing for love and acceptance more than anything else. Sadly, I began to
view every man in my life as a threat.
So how do you get over abuse? Well, you never really get over it, but
you can forgive the people who tormented you and find freedom again.
Having compassion for others along love and understanding is impor-
tant in this process. Even more paramount is your relationship with God.
You have to ask God for strength to forgive people. You have to ask him
for guidance and be patient enough to listen to what he says.
I also had an extremely loving mother, who constantly assured me
that everything was going to be OK. I remember sitting on the sofa once
in the family room and listening to the song “Somewhere” from the
musical Westside Story:

There’s a place for us,


Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Waits for us Somewhere.

There’s a time for us,


Some day a time for us,
Time together with time to spare,
Time to look, time to care,
Someday!
Somewhere.
We’ll find a new way of living,
We’ll find a way of forgiving
Somewhere.

There’s a place for us,


A time and place for us.
Hold my hand and we’re half way there.
Hold my hand and I’ll take you there
Somehow,
Someday,
Somewhere
24
Y O U A R E T H E R E A S O N

My mother would remind me that someday it would all be fine and


God would protect us from everything. About a year and a half later, my
father had a heart attack and died. And sad to say life began to get bet-
ter for me. However, I was still left with a lot of baggage from years of
abuse and frustration. That’s when I started reading books about mov-
ing forward with your life from authors like James Allen (“As a Man
Thinketh”) and Og Mandino as well as the Bible. I needed to figure out
why I was in the situation I was in and began asking, “What do I need
to do to get out of this?”
The answers came one day at a time as I picked myself up and tried to
move forward. For quite some time I could barely get by—and by the
end of each day I felt like the life was taken out of me. But by the next
morning at 7 a.m., I’d wake up very alive—and vowed to keep on mov-
ing.
I slowly had to learn to put it all behind me in a mental file that I
tucked far, far away. I began encouraging myself, “Just get through the
day. You can do it!” I didn’t want to get up and do it again, but I was-
n’t going to let my past beat me down.
And then somewhere along the line I found prayer and began praying
throughout the day. In time, I discovered that prayer is the key, as it
allowed me to connect with God and to learn to revel in the person he
made me.
You can do the same. For in that relationship you will find protection,
inspiration and meaning—his angels to protect you wherever you travel,
no matter where you go and how you do it.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

1. How do you typically handle trials in your life? Fear? Courage?


Determination?

2. How have you dealt with abuse in your life? Alone? With friends?

3. How has prayer helped you in difficult times?

25
Three
A F O R C E T H AT K I L L S

FIGHT TO STAY CALM ... EVEN SURMOUNT THE CRISIS COMPLETELY


AND TURN IT INTO AN OPPORTUNITY. REFUSE TO RENOUNCE YOUR
SELF-IMAGE. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, YOU MUST KEEP YOUR
GOOD OPINION OF YOURSELF.
- MAXWELL MALTZ

27
T
here are times in our lives where we find ourselves in situations
in which we don’t know quite how we have arrived - or who
we’ve become. We make decisions based on fear, past hurts,
and unconsciously sign our lives over to a force bent on our destruction.
Some refer to this force as the devil, some as karma and others as just as
plain bad luck. Whatever it is, we must realize that our conscious deci-
sions can forever change our lives.
In my teens (16 to be exact), I was impressionable, to say the least.
My lack of connection with my father led me down a path that I could
have never imagined as a child. It all started with a visit to a beach house
of one of my best friend’s uncles in Ventura. We had packed our bags
and driven from Redlands, looking forward to getting away and spend-
ing time on the beach.
Upon our arrival, her uncle greeted us and showed us into his one
bedroom apartment. He outlined the sleeping plan for us—one that saw
my friend stay out on the couch, and me stay with her uncle in his room.
This sounded fine to me as two guys could bunk up easily and give my
friend a bit of privacy. I agreed this would work, and he seemed like a
nice enough guy.
Once we unpacked, the sunny day was spent on the beach, enjoying
the company of my teenage friend. The air was refreshing and the sand
felt wonderful between my toes. I remember thinking to myself that I
would love to live in such a place—to hear the ocean crashing on the
shore and the sea gulls calling to each other in the skies above. The day
ended with a spectacular sunset. And then night rolled in—never did I
expect what would happen next.
I crawled into bed next to her uncle who already appeared to be
asleep. We hadn’t spent much time with him in the day, so I hadn’t got-
ten the chance to get to know him. I just knew that he was her cool
uncle who lived in a great apartment overlooking the ocean. I trusted
that he was a good man. My eyes became heavy, and I drifted off to
sleep. At some point in the night, I was suddenly awakened and startled.
A large male hand covered my mouth while another held my left shoul-
der to the bed. Adrenaline surged through my body and I wanted to

29
A F O R C E T H A T K I L L S

scream at the top of my lungs—but no sound came.


“Don’t say a word,” his ominous voice came out in a shrill whisper.
“Keep your mouth shut or I’ll beat you.”
I looked beyond the bed, toward the bedroom door and realized that
he had shut it. My friend slept peacefully and had no idea what was
going on in her uncle’s room.
I was shocked to see her uncle hovering above me and didn’t know
what to do. My past experiences with my father lashing his anger out on
me were all of the sudden brought to the forefront of my mind. I feared
that my friend’s uncle would do the same to me. And then the unthink-
able happened. He flipped me over on my stomach, held me down and
practically ripped my boxer shorts off. I don’t think I need to go into
much more detail. That night he stripped me of my dignity and self
worth while raping me seven times and continually threatening to beat
me.
After assaulting me, I lay in the dark crying. I was in pain and terri-
fied at what had occurred. He lay next to me not seeming to care one
bit that I was suffering. Occasionally he reminded me that I was to keep
quiet and that I would be sorry if I said anything to anyone. He also told
me that he expected that I would revisit him, or else.
The next morning, I was finally told I was to get up and take a show-
er. I followed his command and took a hot shower. My body ached, and
I sobbed like never before in the mist filled shower.
We then ate breakfast together. My nerves were so out of whack that
I could barely get food down my throat. I tried to keep up a conversa-
tion but my mind was foggy and fatigued. At one point during break-
fast, my friend’s uncle reached under the table with his foot and touched
mine. Seconds later, I scrambled up from the table and ran to the bath-
room just in time to throw up in the toilet.
“I think I have the flu,” I said as I came back into the kitchen. This
was enough to spur my friend on to say that we’d better head home. We
gathered our things and packed our bags. My belongings were in her
uncle’s bedroom, and he followed me in. Once again he threatened me
and told me that he knew where I lived. He then told me that I was to
come back to visit him within a certain timeframe “or else.”

30
Y O U A R E T H E R E A S O N

SELF PERCEPTION

It may seem strange to many that I didn’t kick the guy’s ass, or scream
at that top of my lungs in order to wake my friend, but my self percep-
tion at this point in life was weak. Additionally, I wasn’t a super strong
kid—I was only a shade over 5’8 and somewhat skinny, while her uncle
was taller and stronger. Plus, there was something in him that was
enough to terrify me to death.
Another part of my weakness surrounded my interactions with older
men. I so craved acceptance from my father that there was something in
me that strangely wanted to please my friend’s lunatic uncle. It’s so
strange to see myself writing this because from where I stand right now,
at this time in my life, I would tell him to get lost and have him thrown
into jail.
But what I’m about to write is stranger than fiction: I did what he
commanded me to do. I came back again to visit. In fact, I visited him
several times. At first it was because I feared for my life, and then as time
went on, I shockingly feared the loss of him, my abuser.
Why would I fall into such a trap? Why do many of us seem to fall
into incomprehensible traps? I believe we fall into such traps when our
self perception is low, when we don’t know who we are, and when we
are trying like mad to bury our wounds.
We’ve all got our battles. Some of us have endless fights with alcohol
and/or drug abuse, overeating, or co-dependency. And my experience
in working with hundreds of people is that most of these battles begin
with a root cause. For me, it has always been the need to be accepted by
my father. Even to this day! He died when I was 20 years old, yet I still
find myself wanting to hear him shout from the heavens, “You are OK,
Jonathan! I love you!”
I’ve often wondered: if my father were to stand in front of me and
tell me that he loved me and that he was proud of me, would that be
enough? Would I then heal and become complete? My answer to that
question today is that it may help a bit, but in the end, I must learn to
love myself. I must find acceptance within and offer myself the peace
that I’ve always been looking for from others.

31
A F O R C E T H A T K I L L S

It took about a year to get away from the situation—and then came
my diagnosis at 17. Jonathan Craig: HIV positive.
When all was said and done, I did finally tell my friend that her uncle
had raped me. She confronted him and told him to fall off of the face of
the planet. Never again did she speak to him. A number of years later, I
learned that he had died of AIDS related causes.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

1. Do you have any wounds that you are trying to cover up?

2. If so, what wounds are you not facing?

3. What is the first step to overcoming your wounds?

32
Four
EMBRACING TERMINAL ILLNESS

THE MAN WHO CANNOT ENDURE TO HAVE HIS ERRORS AND


SHORTCOMINGS BROUGHT TO THE SURFACE AND MADE KNOWN, BUT
TRIES TO HIDE THEM, IS UNFIT TO WALK THE HIGHWAY OF TRUTH.
- JAMES ALLEN

33
A
s soon as the doctor finished delivering the news that I had
contracted the HIV virus, my jaw nearly hit the floor, partially
in disbelief, partially in sheer terror. “You may have about a
year to live …” the doctor said over the phone as I quickly went numb.
It’s not exactly the best bedside manner, but 27 years ago, HIV was as
puzzling to doctors and researchers as it was to those suffering from its
ill effects.
They were certain it was a death sentence. And my doctor told me the
news as if it were indeed the beginning of an ominous end: “You may
have about a year to live.” And when you’re a young adult and they tell
you that you have this illness you know nothing about, your mind wan-
ders to dangerous places.
Right away fear and denial began to set in for me—and I fought my
reality hard. I would walk down the street and look at other teenagers
and beat myself up because I was sure that I was the only one with the
disease. And then I’d look at older men and tell myself that I’d never live
to reach their age. A part of me wanted to crawl into a deep dark corner
and just give up, but a voice inside told me to keep going.
I started doing a little research at the time and wasn’t sure what to
think or what to do, especially with all the conflicting advice that I was
receiving from doctors, family and friends.
I decided the only thing I could do was get to know my body bet-
ter—so I began my treatment by going to my family physician and hav-
ing my blood drawn every month to monitor things. At the time, the
medical community was still trying to figure out what was going on. My
T-cells—the all-important cells that help the body fight off disease—
were fine. And I showed no symptoms of AIDS at all.
At one point my doctor approached me with the idea of taking AZT.
He mentioned that HIV patients were taking the drug, yet they weren’t
sure how the drug was working. He explained that the drug may help
stave off the disease and keep it from progressing to AIDS. I told my
mother about the drug and asked her advice; however, intuitively she felt
that I should wait. She said “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it…let’s wait a bit
before you take medication.” Her fear was that since HIV was newly dis-

35
E M B R A C I N G T E R M I N A L I L L N E S S

covered the medication may not have been the most effective treatment.
And years later she was proven right as so many have died as result of the
drug.
Her measured approach to life taught me early on that if you believe
that you are up against doomsday and you fear, you may lose. She also
used to teach me that if you tell yourself that you’re sick, then you just
may become sick.
And years later I read that it is a proven fact: in his book “Callings”
author Gregg Levoy talks about how your thoughts create the sickness
that you desire. Instead of using sickness as a crutch, you need to
embrace it and relate to it so you can understand and move past it. The
power of will and the power of prayer—it all goes in unison with under-
standing what you’re up against. It also goes in relation to your relation-
ship with God. No matter what challenges you’re going through in life,
you need to ask so you can receive.

FROM BAD TO WORSE

It was enough that I was experiencing severe mental trauma over this
discovery that I had a terminal illness and my doctor had given me a year
to live. But then things took a turn for the worse when it came to my
emotional state. Though privacy laws were in place, it was much easier
for someone to view my medical records. And that’s exactly what hap-
pened when a former high school classmate of mine who worked at the
hospital decided to spread the word that I had full-blown AIDS to my
fellow students, which wasn’t true.
This young woman spread it around the community—and being
someone who came from a prominent family, it was juicy gossip. I was
devastated when I heard these lies were being spread. I wondered what
everyone would think. When I went to church, everyone looked differ-
ently at me, so much so that I stopped going .
Additionally, I changed my name at the hospital and met my doctors
at 6 a.m. or 9 or 10 p.m. to avoid being seen. I walked up the back stair-
case six flights of stairs because of the fear factor of people who thought
they would know what I was doing there. After about a year, I stopped

36
Y O U A R E T H E R E A S O N

going to the hospital because it was such a hassle and I didn’t see that
my health was worsening.
Because nothing appeared wrong with me physically and I was tired
of all that had gone on, I decided that I wasn’t going to worry any more
and that ignoring my illness was the best thing to do. And so I kept on
living and vowing to live each day as though it were my last.

AV O I D I N G D I S A S T E R

When I turned 30, a friend of mine asked me to go into an L.A. HIV


clinic with him. He suggested I get tested and find out what my T-cells
were doing. After 11 years of no complications, I contemplated why I
needed to do anything. There had been no complications, but I figured
what could it hurt. I was still somewhat scared because people were
dying of AIDS left and right, especially as the disease spread worldwide.
But up until this point, I had pushed it out of my mind.
In those days, it took about three to six weeks to get your results back,
and when the results finally came in, I was summoned to the hospital for
a consultation. That’s when the doctor delivered the bad news: my T-
cell count was at 60 and my viral count was at 375,000. While those
numbers may mean nothing to you, here is the reality in laymen’s terms:
if I caught a cold, I could die.
Finally, I realized at that point that I was broken. I wanted to know
how I was going to take on this challenge. I said, “Let’s step back emo-
tionally and get emotional later. But right now, let’s take care of the
proper steps today.” There were many issues to address—health, mind,
attitude, finances, relationships. How was I going to work through these
challenges?
I found myself going to doctors every three weeks to get tested. I
would spend an hour and a half each way driving to and from the doc-
tor’s office that it basically took me out of work one day every three
weeks just to learn what was happening to my body. At the same time, I
wanted to find out what caused this to happen to me.
I started seeing a psychologist twice a week at UCLA. Deep down, I
wanted to fix what was wrong with me, but I first wanted to know what

37
E M B R A C I N G T E R M I N A L I L L N E S S

the problem was. For my emotional sanity, I thought that was the best
thing to do.
Meanwhile, I learned my T-cells were broken. I started taking AZT,
coupled with a handful of other drugs which they referred to as a “cock-
tail.” The combination of drugs suppresses the HIV virus and keeps it
asleep. While HIV may be one of the weaker viruses, it’s also one of the
smartest. As long as it’s in your system, it’s hiding but dormant. While
lying dormant, it begins trying to figure you out like a live chessboard.
You’re trying to beat your opponent and your opponent is trying to
guess what you’re going to do. The more you compromise your
immune system, the more AIDS wins the war. Through a microscope, it
looks like a creature with eyes and claws. It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve
ever seen.

WHY AM I STILL HERE?

I started taking the medication almost 14 years ago—and to this day


I haven’t had any more complications. I sometimes think there’s no
story here. I’m doing so well, but at the same time I wonder why I’m
still here? What’s the role that I’m supposed to play? Living with a ter-
minal illness, you wonder that. You wonder, what am I supposed to do?
Maybe I am supposed to inspire others has been the answer I keep hear-
ing.
When we look at things in the world today—consumer products, per-
fume, fashion, travel, vogue magazines, religion—everything sells hope.
It provides hope for people. That’s what I believe my calling has
become, to help others get that opportunity that they wouldn’t neces-
sarily have.
People ask me how I do it all the time. I believe it’s the power of
prayer and my relationship with God. We have the choice to wallow in
our sorrow and disease or get up and make the most of it. No matter
how hard you are struggling, dare get up and do something. Quit com-
plaining the best you can. I know it sounds easier said than done. But
when you take one step at a time eventually you gain enough momen-
tum and you can do things you never imagined.

38
Y O U A R E T H E R E A S O N

REFLECTING WITH GRATEFULNESS

Though I’ve been taking medication for 14 years, I’ve been living
with HIV for 27 years. Every night before I go to bed, I take a single
pill. But two years ago, for 12 of those 14 years, I was taking about 16
pills each and every day. Now thanks to amazing medical advancements,
I take single pill instead. When I made the switch to the single pill, I was
actually fearful that it wouldn’t work but thankfully it has beautifully and
my life has simplified a bit.
I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have a body that has reacted so
well to HIV medication. And strangely enough, I am grateful for the dis-
ease. Many people think I am so strange for saying such a thing, but by
being HIV positive, I have learned to respect my body and to make the
most of each and every moment.
If I could share one thing with the world it would be that no matter
how miserable a situation may seem there is always a lesson to be learned
and there are certainly people worse off than you or me.
Once I went into Starbucks and I noticed an employee vacuuming the
floor. He was obviously mentally retarded, yet he looked so happy. He
didn’t know—and he didn’t care; he was just doing his thing. He was
enjoying life. In that moment, I realized that my being HIV positive was
nothing compared to the struggles that he may face in life, yet he went
about his day with passion and perseverance.
When I hear men and women complaining every day about their basic
struggles in life, I can barely hold back from telling them that they are
luckier than they know. There is so much beauty in life…if we are just to
open our eyes!

DEATH AND DYING

Death and dying is an interesting topic. No one ever gets away from
earth alive. I think that’s what is so mystical about this whole thing. It’s
very unnerving. I’d love to be 100 years old and impacting the world,
but knowing that I may walk into complications with the disease on any

39
E M B R A C I N G T E R M I N A L I L L N E S S

given day can’t help but be at the back of my mind.


The fear of death and dying definitely gives me a unique approach to
life. I’ve been accused of being too conservative. People ask me, “Why
don’t you go out partying? Why don’t you bungee jump?” I don’t want
to go bungee jumping! You’re not in control of it. Flying scares me and
that’s why I try my best to go to sleep on planes once I sit down. If I
constantly worried about everything, I would never leave the house. But
I don’t want to escalate the possibility of going any sooner by taking
some unnecessary risk.
I don’t want God taking me home early. I think when some people
have medical complications, they say, “I’m ready” and the power of their
word and their thoughts allow them to move on to the next realm.
I am no where near that stage in my life and so each day I wake up
and fight to see another day, and I dare you to do the same. Revel in
each day and you will be surprised at the gifts you receive!!

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

1. Why do you think you’ve been given a chance to live?

2. What makes you special to the world?

3. Have you considered that illness is here for a reason?

40

Minat Terkait