FREEDOM COMES WITH PAIN AND CHALLENGES
“This freedom is not free. The freedom that I experience spiritually is not free. It’s come with pain, and challenges, but I appreciate it so much more. The freedom of loving myself. The freedom of being OK in my own skin, is a feeling beyond description. And it’s one that for 29 years I never thought I would experience. I’m incredibly grateful for that.”
David Charpentier showed up as a great gift in my life in 1999. Little did I know that a man with whom I had so little in common would become one of my best friends. David is a former U.S. Army captain and ranger, father of three, and step- father to one; his civilian career was in sales and operations, and he’s now a stay-at-home dad. He was an avid hockey player until age took a toll on his knees, then he ran a skate sharpening business. David also enjoys hunting. He couldn’t be much more different from me!
But what David did that impacted me so much was that he loved me as a brother fully, completely, and without reservation. David was born on Christmas Eve, and so I only half-joked with his parents once that he might indeed be the Messiah! My friendship with David was the first time in my life where I felt, or allowed myself to feel, completely accepted for who I was with no need to change to suit someone’s particular set of needs. It is through this feeling of being loved unconditionally that I have come to understand the concept of God’s Divine love for us, for mankind. And, in some ways, all of our best friends who love us with no reservation and with nothing requested in return are the very essence of the love of Christ, or of the “I-Thou” relationship.
What’s even more amazing is that David was able to give me this gift even while he struggled for years with his own sense of unworthiness, his lack of groundedness, his secret shame. He was adopted at birth, never seen by his birth mother at the time, put in a foster home for six weeks, then moved to his adoptive parents’ home. Today I realize that David’s journey is the journey of almost every human being. To grow up with some sense of doubt. To grow up with some aspect of the belief that we are not enough or we won’t have enough. To figure out how to come to terms with that belief, and to come out the other side stronger, more at peace.
The spiritual journey that Portraits in Faith is all about is essentially each person’s individual journey to realize that we are all worthy, we will be given all that is required for our journey, and that we are eternally connected to each other and the Divine. This is what I have learned from my dear friend, David Charpentier.