Ed’s Mission In Life

My mission in life…..

Dear Friends and Family,

You may know that I have a passion for reaching out to people in need. This seems simple enough, but I challenged myself during my current job search, and after an inspiring sermon at Forest Hill Church about Generosity through God’s grace, to figure out why. After some soul searching and prayer I identified an event from when I was 13 years old. Our Catholic Sunday School teacher took our class to the local state facility for persons with developmental disabilities to help the younger residents train for the Special Olympics. There I was assigned to assist a twelve-year-old boy named Elliott.

Elliott had a smile that would light up the whole gym as he sang, REPEATEDLY, his favorite song, “You Are My Sunshine”

He was a little guy — maybe 36 inches tall. His family kept him in a crib with a gated and locked top (a cage) for 9 of his 12 years; this stunted his growth but not his strength. He would cling to you like a monkey – wrapping his legs around you and locking them behind you. We were warned to pick him up backwards to avoid those vise-grip legs. Of course, I failed to heed these instructions. I can still feel the power of his hold on me while he peed all over me on more than one occasion.

God touched me that day as I reflected on the beautiful being in front of me with that cute smile and gentle voice,

“You are my Sunshine, my only sunshine,
You make me happy when skies are grey…..”

And, I wondered how anyone could be so cruel to another human being.

The seed for my future purpose in life was planted and I was forever changed.

Unfortunately, the Devil touched me too during that time. My Sunday School teacher was also a pedophile, and I was his next victim. He was my football coach, the neighborhood Citizen of the Year, Mister all around nice guy – Ted Lane. For some reason he picked me out on the football field and then baited me with attention (what adolescent boy wouldn’t want to get a football autographed by the Washington Redskins in person at their practice facility? – He made it happen). Over a period of eighteen to twenty-four months he sexually molested me. On Sundays we would go to church early in the morning and travel into DC to clean a trailer lunch stand that he operated on the construction site where the Library of Congress was being built. During that day while we cleaned he would put the big gray industrial trash cans up on the counter to block the windows and then he would proceed to molest me. Other times he would molest me at his house — once in the attic at his house where I could hear his unsuspecting wife cooking dinner downstairs.

At some point, I either put up too much resistance or I grew too old for Mr. Lane and the molestation stopped. I heard later that he became a middle school teacher and I cringed at the thought of him with such a smörgåsbord of potential victims. But, I soon learned to bury the whole experience. That’s what you did back then.

When I was 17, out of the blue, Mr. Lane asked me if I wanted to join a group of people on a deep sea fishing trip. That day changed my life too. I thought this trip would be safe since it was with a group, so I accepted his invitation. To this day I don’t know why. During the fishing trip, Mr. Lane showed me no particular attention. There was this adolescent boy, however, that he kept teasing and “flirting with”. That boy had a hollow look in his eyes and I just knew that he was Mr. Lane’s current project. And I did nothing. Although I still see to this day that kid’s blank stare, I still did nothing.

Mr. Lane was arrested some years later and is now a registered sex offender in Northern Virginia. I don’t know how many victims he has left in his wake.

I firmly believe God led me to accept the offer to go on that fishing trip when I was 17 so I would witness the pain Mr. Lane was inflicting on that young boy. I eventually learned not to stand on the sidelines, but to be a leader. That experience defined the work I do best today — to reach out to people in need and to be socially and morally involved to help these people develop skills to fight against the injustices placed on them. I accept this as my service to God and, in the absence of a significant tithe, I am generous in giving myself to others. I don’t do it for the money or glory. I do it because I truly believe that is what God wants me to do.

My work as a non-profit executive allowed me to fulfill my calling; and I did pretty well to create services that help those in need. In seven years at my most recent job we added over ten new services, increased the agency revenue ten fold, and increased the number of people served in housing and support programs from 38 per year in 2003 to over 500 in 2010. Yet, my depression and anxiety led to gross errors in managing my personal life, and I was terminated in mid 2010. I’m no longer able to fulfill my mission through that job. I feel great shame and embarrassment for what happened, and I have been reminded of that and more of my character flaws on the front page of the local newspapers probably eight times since mid-September 2010.

But, and this is a big BUT, I have come to terms with the fact that God is now in charge and he is leading me to another venue in which to help people. I’m not sure what that next chapter is, but I am convinced it will be good.
I am struck by a comment one of the Chilean miners said, at the time of his rescue in 2010 after being trapped underground for seventy days. He said, “God was there and the Devil was there; and God won”. Let me tell you, I have spent many days with the Devil in the last ten years and especially since losing my job in mid-June. I don’t ever want to have to share with you what that is like except to say that it truly is by the Grace of God that I am still here. I spent days and nights on end preoccupied with my own death — planning how to commit suicide — not dwelling on those who love or depend on me as that would negate the efforts.

It was his subtle messages to me at the worst of a handful of times that I pulled myself out of despair and survived another day. I give him credit for giving me that one thought at that one moment that literally shook me out of despair and toward hope. Then the thoughts of my children, my family, my mom, my girlfriend, and my former clients and colleagues entered my mind and I managed to begin moving on.

God won. That’s what is different in me between June 2010 and today. Although I am truly penniless (I found myself taking gas from my lawnmower last week and putting it in my car!) and without a job, and I fully expect other devastating articles in the local newspaper about how bad I am, I don’t think I will be dancing with the Devil again. I have turned a big corner and I will once again help people who need it. I am here to serve others……

I ask that you pray for me to sift through my current challenges with courage and perseverance in order for me to fulfill my life mission. I feel I am adrift until I find that, but I am now determined.

Your loving friend, brother, son,

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