Imagine - if you can - being detained for 10 days... because of your religious beliefs. Now Imagine this happening in America.
This is a true story...
There once was a man from Nantucket,
Who's problems could fill many buckets!
While weeping his loss and then finding a cross...
Considered - it just must be God who hath stuck it!
It was a Good Friday - literally - "Good Friday", April 6th 2007. Life was a series of tragedies that had struck - one right after the other. After suffering the loss of a set of twins, downsize of the company I had worked over a decade for, combined with (due to all of the above) a crumbling marriage that once was the envy of everyone within our circle of friends, and a physical assult from someome that I thought was my friend... I found myself of all things - praying.
Praying? Really? Before God stepped into my life, I knew full well how to pray. You stuck your head in a toilet blowing foam and asking God to save you! "Oh Please Save ME!... so I can go out drinking with my buddies later tonight." But this time it was different. For all the things that life was throwing at me - all at once with hurricane force - I had been brought to tears begging, for God to help me. It was on this day, on the set of a movie titled "Die Cheerleader Die!" that I, would become one of God's biggest cheerleaders. The irony, the symbolism... beautiful. :)
As I wandered around in a park - Wing Park - in Elgin, Illinois - roughly 40 yards off the set of a movie that I hoped would be my big break, I had my head down and I was cyring. I remember asking, "Please, please let this be the day my life changes." As I continued to wander around off set with my head down and in tears - I noticed a little sparkle in the grass at my feet. I bent down to see what it was and I found - a crucifix. It was 9:00am in the morning. They say - this is when Jesus was crucified.
My life was so screwed up I didn't even know what day it was - Friday or otherwise. I showed it to another member of the cast - who freaked out - "Do you know what day it is?" she said in a hushed tone. "It's Good Friday." she said as she repeatedly made the sign of the cross. It was not until later that all the details and significance of the incident would sink in. Good Friday - Crucifix - 9:00am - Wing Park... Welcome aboard cheerleader. God does have a sense of humor.
My life got pretty weird then - odd things started happening. I noticed a strange rise in what I know were not coincidences. I felt like there was something special about me - that God perhaps was touching my life - but why?
There was obviously a hand of protection upon me - evident in so many ways. I remember friends at work cautioning me not to bring my new car to work at Walmart - that something could 'happen' to it in the parking lot. I told them that everything that happens is allowed by God. And if He opened the skies and pummelled it with hail it would be something that I would accept as His will. A few days after making that comment, a tornado went through the town while I was working. Though the phyical damage was relatively light - the rain that fell was amazing. What was even more amazing was the idea that as I walked up to my car I a bit sick to my stomach when I realized that I left the sunroof open - yet inside the car was 'bone dry'. The funnel cloud that roared overhead picked up dumpsters and redeposited them in random locations around the town, flipping shopping carts through the parking lot of the store, and knocking out the towns power, dumping rain at the rate of 2" every 30 minutes.
Another incident occured while riding my motorcycle with my wife through the two laners out in 'corn country'. I had removed the windshield so that I could 'feel the ride'. It was quite windy and the wind had gotten up underneath my glasses and caused my eyes to water and at one point I had set the throttle lock and pulled my glasses off to wind my eyes - with a sweaty arm. Almost instantly - the salt was frying my eye balls and I exclaimed, "God! I wish I had some tissues!"
As I put my glasses back on, I noticed up ahead on the other side of the double yellows what appeared to be a 'road kill'. As I approached it I thought about it's last moments and prayed that it had felt no pain and considered the family it had left behind. I spun my head to look upon it as I went past and was floored as I passed a full unopened box of Kleenex® Tissues - right there in the middle of the road! I have to admit that I got a bit pumped on that one. The idea that God would actually answer prayers like that... instant gratification! Amazing! Unbelievable!! Especially unbelieveable to medical professionals... read on; trooper.
I began to have major anxiety. Sleep and food were not as important to me as discovering just what all this meant. My wife as an observer was obviously beginning to have some concerns. She was startled when I came to her in a near panic state and blurt out "they" were going to 'take me away'. She asked, "Who is going to take you away?" I told her, "I don't know - but you will have the ability to stop it and you are not going to" - it was Tuesday afternoon. This prophecy was to be fullfilled on the upcoming Friday.
When Friday arrived - I would be going to work and my wife, having the day off, would be going boating with my best man and now brother-in-law Steve and her sister. Steve is a good guy but his name should really be called Mayhem. My wife was going boating with someone that had almost accidentally killed his wife in that boat the week before.
He was unable to ge the motor started as they prepared to launch the boat the previous Friday. Steve unhitched the trailer and headed for Walmart. When he returned, he found the lot littered with the towns emergency crew. In forgetting to chock the wheels on the trailer, the boat had rolled across the parking lot and crashed into some other boat trailers which was a good thing because it kept the entire rig - boat, trailer, and wife - from going into the river. Bad indeed does work out for good.
As I was about to head out the door that Friday morning, I turned to my wife and asked her to drop me off at work because God was telling me I wasn't going to be driving my car home. She looked at me puzzled and asked how I was going to get home? I told her I didn't know - but what I did know was that I was not going to be driving my car. I told her, "God is telling me not to take my car to work today... because I will not be driving it home".
I offered that it was her opportunity to laugh at me if I was wrong - that I would have to "walk home from work." Again, I could see that my wife was concerned. She did not understand that I was not necessarily hearing voices - but getting a feeling in my heart. And those feelings were spot on. All of it would come true... exactly as I had stated.
My wife finally agreed - and she dropped me off at work and went boating with my accident prone brother-in-law, "Mud". We jokingly call him "Mud". Not because he is a bad guy of sorts - in fact the opposite is true - but because on one particular instance had earned him that "nickname". Mud, had once while delivering pizza's, pizza's that had to be at the customers house within a certain time frame or they were free... decided that it was necessary to take a shortcut across a corn field in a Plymoth Horizon. Bad idea. His car was buried so deep in that field that not only did the pizza not make it on time - but it would require many tow straps linked together to pull him out of there. Yes, Mud... I mean, Steven is a good man, albeit dangerous to be around. The man played a big part in starting my marriage... and ending it as well.
My wife had dropped me off at work and as I entered the building - my manager came up to me and advised that they needed to speak to me in the managers office. I was not sure what it was about - but since I had been employee of the month and was certainly one of the facilities most respected employees - what did I have to fear? I had no idea.
In the office I would find that one of the customers who's vehicle we had worked on - the week before - had filed a complaint about how rudely I had treated her children. It was said that I had yelled at them and 'roughed them up'. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I had arrived for my shift at the Tire and Lube Center and at the counter was the mother of two impatiently waiting for her car. I appologized for the inconvienience and told her that I would go see what was going on. After directing my crew on the situation and getting them moving on getting her car completed, I went back to the counter and explained what was going on to her. Suddenly during the conversation, she turned and snapped at the two children she had with her.
They were doing the "Curley" on the floor - one of my favorite Stooges moves - 'walking around in circles' as they lay on their sides. They were totally trashing their pink dresses. I felt bad for them and told the mother that I would see if I could get them to sit down for her.
I motioned to the bench that was next to the service counter and asked them politely to sit for a minute. "Come here - have a seat for a minute... why are you driving your mom crazy?" Their response was perfect and brought a giggle out of me... In stereo they cried out, "Cause it's FUN!!" Kids say the darndest things... can't wait to see mine. It's interesting that I told one of my cashiers - Brenda - that God was going to teach her some patience and that this was not the last we were going to hear from her. I had no idea.
In the managers office, I was told that I had scolded them and even shaken them up. I was flabbergasted. I could not even believe that they would consider - especially with regards to my past performance - that I would do such a thing. I sat down to fill out the statement they were requesting regarding the incident - and the chest pain began. I felt like I was having a heart attack though I had no idea what that actually felt like, and somebody called an ambulance. Prophecy #1 and #2 were about to be fullfilled, but not before #3 - would be scribed, fullfilled and proven as what I felt was fact. I would read the minds of my accusers - and I guess they didn't like it. Because it prompted them to take me into custody.
I sat in the managers office struggling to fill out the statement they had requested. And as I tried to remember, in the greatest detail possible - each and every second of that event in the way that it actually happened - I looked at the ceiling and sighed, wondering... why? But as I looked up - it struck me... there were no less than 5 video surveilence cameras pointed at that very spot where the incident 'supposedly' happened!!
I immediately felt as if a weight of the world - in the least - MY WORLD had been lifted off of my shoulders. But God's plan is what it is and I can assure you - no matter how confident you are... you will NOT escape His will. And He will quickly reduce you to powder so that He can make you into whatever it is that He has planned for you.
I stood up from the desk where I was writing and asked the stores manager, "What happens if I don't fill this out?" I was told that I would be suspended while they investigated and if I had screwed up - I would be fired. I then asked, "Well, what if I didn't screw up?" I was told that in that case I would be called back to work. I asked one more question, "Well, what about the 'time' I've lost?" To which he replied, "We have to pay you for it." I was covering my ass.
Does this line of communication seem to indicate to anybody reading this that my thoughts - although pumped up on God - were scattered or unclear? Well, I guess it was time for the 'professionals' to decide.
At that point I turned to leave - vacation through false accusation. But it was not over yet. As I turned to leave, into the office walked 3 EMT's. They were big, and scary, and they ordered me to sit down. In fact - they acted more like police officers than they did EMT's. Perhaps somebody had fed them 'their' version of what they thought was going on inside me head and heart. They ordered me to "sit down" and began asking me questions - questions which I didn't appreciate because I soon figured out my mental state was being questioned.
"Do you know what day it is?" I said, "Yes - It's Friday." "Do you know who the president is?" I restrained from any political opinions and or any of the current slurs of the media and said, "Barrack Obama." The next question really hit home as to what they were aluding to... "Can you spell your last name backwards?" I was now a bit miffed to say the least.
Here before these men stood - well sat - a man who had found a cross, witnessed very strange things (only a few of which are stated here), and had attributed these to acts of God, and so had decided to redesign the 'me' that existed in this world - to follow God. I think what saddens me most is the idea that one of these men - professed to be a Christian - would be the one judging me.
I advised them that they were thinking perhaps that I was not of sound mind because I had recently given my life to Christ - I told them I was a man of God. I told them that I did not appreciate the way I was being treated and offered, "How about if I ask you guys a question?" They responded, "Sure."
I picked a piece of paper from the printer sitting on my right and the pen that I had been writing with, and in the plain sight of no less than 5 store managers - wrote down (3) answers and turned the paper over to conceal what I had writen and I asked, "Who is it that goes to church every Sunday?" It was interesting that I said 'who' and not 'if'. It was if knew more than I should have known. The Holy Spirit was working through me now... and what happened next I was going to prove it.
The EMT furthest to the right - bald headed with a gotee - exclaimed emphatically, "Me! Me!" Perhaps his enthusiasm was because he thought that my question was going to be one he could answer - since he was such a 'righteous man'. I said, "Good, you are the one I am to ask first." But the question he would be asked would not be one that he would correctly answer - I wonder now what church he did go to. My question was about religion - specifically about love. The kind of love that Paul describes in the Bible. A question about how much a man could love his wife. A man that once had the most beautiful marriage that a couple could wish for - destroyed because of the pains of the loss of two little miracles that would be never have a life in this world - but instead would be taken immediately to the next. This man who would not leave his wifes side, sleeping next to her in a hospital on an ottoman for days until labor could be induced so that she could deliver their little girls bodies into this world. A man who would do ANYTHING in the world to have that woman and that relationship restored to what it was before the pain of the loss of their children would crush their relationship.
He was not ready for the question and his repsonse - exploded from him, "DIVORCE! IMMEDIATELY!! DIVORCE!!" I asked the man to his right, "You?" He said, "I don't know - I have bad anger problems - I'd probably hit her or something." And to the last, "and You?" He replied, "I'd tell her to leave and don't come back."
It was at this point, in front of all of those people - as many as could be jammed into that tiny little office to get a glimpse of the 'drama' that their hearts and eyes lived for - that I held up the paper with their answers... sticking it in their faces. I had written down...
I stood and shoved the paper to their faces and shouted... "Here! Here are your answers! Pre-written by me before you spoke them! This is the way the way that God talk's to me!"
I had simply looked into their eyes and known what was in their hearts. I can do this, but I cannot say that I like it that I can. In this world there is much that I find disappointing - all the day long.
At this point I was taken into custody and escorted from the building. I told them that I did not want to go to the hospital. But it seemed that for some reason the choice was not mine. Being a Christian was okay - unless you prophecy I suppose. It was a good thing that I hadn't brought my car to work - because as per prophecy #2, I certainly was NOT going to be driving it home. I was told that they were just going to "check me out" and release me - this was a bold faced lie.
Arriving at the hospital I was told to dress into a hospital gown - sure - normal procedure right? Wrong again. I had been admitted before I was ever even evaluated or asked what was going on. I became aggitated and asked to leave - I was told that someone had to pick me up. I asked them if they had called my wife. They said, "She has been contacted and she is on her way." This was another lie. My wife knew nothing of what was going on and had not started the less than 2 hour journey to come to my aid.
I asked to speak to ANY religous person that could understand me - that request was denied as well. I had become a religious prisoner in a country where everybody else is allowed to have their own beliefs. I found that like much of what I see in this place... much of it - too much - are flat out lies.
Lies never fix anything - they are ambigous piece of information. Information that means 'everything' so in effect means 'nothing'. The problem in this case was that they told these lies to a man who was having an anxiety attack. A man who would NOT be given his medication for it - though he had a prescription for it. They knew this I would suppose in doing their jobs when they contacted my primary care physician. A man who after waiting for his wife who was out boating with one of the most dangerous people that he knew - in a place no more than 2 hours away - would take the better part of 7 hours to finally arrive.
They held me in a tiny little room - without food for all that time. They did nothing to calm me but instead demanded my blood and urine - which I refused to give. Until of course they threatened me with a catheter. They got their urine sample PDQ on that note!! OUCH!! But for all this - for all the anxiety that THEY caused, my actions would translate to:
Pre-occupation with religion, suicidal, and possibly homicidal. Really?
I guess being upset over wrongful imprisoned while somebody threatens to forcibly confiscate your (drug free) urine is NOT an acceptable response. I was about to be incarcerated for 10 days - in the United States of America, for becoming a Christian. My pre-occupation with religion was business that was my own. Suicidal? Well if I was so pre-occupied with religion... would I destroy my own temple? Obviously they were making professional judgement calls in an area of psychology that they knew nothing about. Homicidal? Well, had I NOT been of sound mind - I could have - via my Marine Corps training I suppose - littered the floor with their bodies had that been my desire. I suppose I could have claimed that I had just decided to... STAND MY GROUND - feeling that they were all working with the devil and that my personal safety was being threatened. But wasn't it? I don't fight battles like these - I leave them in God's hands. History has shown me personally that the results are more than acceptable.
By the time my wife arrived - they would give her their professional opinions. Yet, not a single one of them were clergy. I think that would qualify as negligence on their part. They had provided her with information regarding a situation that they knew nothing about - true belief in God.
Thanks to their mal-practice, prophecy #1 would now be fullfilled. My wife - though even though I begged - and told her, "See? See?!! I told you this was going to happen!!" She signed me over. These scientists, these secular professionals had lied to the love of my life and I became a religious prisoner... in America. A land where I was promised freedom of religion.
As they rolled me into the 'behavioral unit' in a wheel chair I laughed - nervously of course. I just could not believe that this was happening to me - the whole idea was absurd. I asked God, "What is going to happen to me Father?" I opened my bible for the answer - to what I know is not a random page. There are no coincidences in this world - none. Though doing this is something that theologians and clergy will tell you is something that you are not supposed to do, but He answered me. On the page at the top left was the following...
"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for 10 days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor's crown."
My first stop as a 'prisoner' would be the recreation room. At that time of night there was little to do besides put puzzles together, read or watch TV. Oddly - someone had snuck a DVD into the facility that shouldn't have been - I supposed because of the nudity and such. Of all things the things I might have seen on a TV in a place like this - but really - nurse Ratchet going off because of the hookers that had been brought in for "entertainment purposes"?
"One who flew over the Coocoo's Nest"
I thought, "THAT'S ME!!! THE GUY WHO'S NOT CRAZY - IN THE NUT HOUSE!!!" But what I found ironic would be a warning as to what I was about the means that they would use to attempt to frighten me into denying my faith.
This is a true story - and legal case? Find me a lawyer that wants to take this on... Erin Brockovich is a ghost.
During my tenure I would experience drugs that would turn me into a monster that my friends feared - they liked the Jesus freak much much better and were happy at his return. They would also cause a temporary form of TD - tardive dyskinesia. Side effects would include things such as, when opening my mouth - my eyes would close and vise versa. I was threatened with ECT - electro convulsive shock therapy - in an attempt to get me to take medication I did not want or need. All of this climaxed as I lay in the floor with a blood pressure of 192/181 and my psychiatrist - who was Islamic(?) - whispered hauntingly in my ear... "WHERE IS YOUR FAITH NOW?"... Everything is documented. I find it interesting that the 'beast's number' showed up every where. In the paperwork associated with the incident. My insurance claim number had "666" in it, my policy number (unrelated) had '666" in it, each and every prescription that they fed me had "666" in it... coincidence or spiritual battle? You decide.
I was later released on my own and my psych doctor actually left the country and I was stuck paying much of my bills because the necessary paperwork was not correctly filled out. Isn't this a HIPPA violation? As I started to find resources to help me pay for them and reqeuested detailed billing... the charges began to 'disappear'. I would be told - "Oh, that's been taken care of." Even my representative from the GAC buried her head in the sand...
Yup, this is America.
I imagine myself high fiving Jesus as He gives me a hug and kiss and welcomes me home saying... "Bro' YOU are a MADMAN!!"