I was trying to fall asleep one night, when I started to think about the fact that we really do not know those who are around us… even our own family.
By that, I mean we as people… being who we are – whomever that may be and whatever that may look like. My thoughts mainly focused around the idea of pigeonholing people. We like to think we have a particular person figured out. For example, I would love to say that I have completely figured out my wife. I believe I do know her quite well, but I could never know exactly who she is. Some days she is a complete mystery to me. I guess I am a mystery to her as well.
That being said, my wife probably knows me better than anyone but I know that I still surprise her from time-to-time. Sometimes that brings her frustration and other times happiness. How could she not know me after knowing each other for over 35 years? The question that really needs to be answered is, “How do I expect my wife to know me when I am not sure I know myself?” There are things about me that stay the same because there are some things about me that are the same way I was when I was five.
In other ways I keep changing. Yes, I constantly change. I am influenced by education, interactions, music, experiences, opportunities, all of that. I keep discovering things about myself and sometimes what I find out is not pretty or good. I am sad about that. I wish I could hide those bad things from myself and more importantly from my family. The truth is not that simple. They see my faults before I do.
Like a puzzle, I have always made it a life goal to never be truly figured out. I always wanted to keep ‘em guessing. The problem is that I have finally figured out that I worked way too hard at that. It’s been really easy for me to focus on the negative things I have learned, especially since I’m trying to improve my weaknesses as a husband, father and grandfather. Lately, however, I’ve noticed more positive things. I’m discovering new things about myself that have me a little excited – and surprised. It’s not that these new things are so exciting in themselves; it’s that I’m understanding myself better and seeing more clearly who I am.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss
I thought I would have had this figured out a long time ago. However; the excitement I’m feeling about discovering new things about myself is worth the pain of finding out things I don’t like. Thinking that I’m one thing and finding out I’m something else entirely is scary. I’ve certainly ran away from discovering things about myself before, and I’m absolutely sure that I’m not alone in that.
I want to show you who I am, but I really want to show you that I’m not who you think I am. I’m different. I am many things—and I am one thing. That is for sure, but I am much more than that.
Who am I?
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
I am a man. I am a “brother” and I am a “son” and I am a “father” and a “grandfather”. I am trustworthy and loyal, but at the same time I am no Boy Scout.
As a child I was known as the baby of the family. I am also a “mommas boy”. I was known as the “Lee boy” and Linda Lee’s little brother. I was known as the brother of those that were killed in the car/train accident.
I was picked first and I was picked last. I was the center of attention and I was ignored. I was loved and hated. I was easily forgotten and lost in the crowd. My elementary school classmates would have hard time ever remembering me. Just a picture of someone they don’t remember.
In Junior High, I continued being known Linda Lee’s little brother. I was known as a stutterer and a Smart Aleck to cover the embarrassment of my lack of confidence. I was sure that a light blue Leisure Suit was the solution for all my problems.
I was known to usually to get into fights because I was small for my age and I would not have anyone try to put me in my place. My anger and temper would usually get the best of me and the opponent was usually bigger and older than me. I never walked away from a fight. I’d like to think I never lost one but I am sure there are those that would have a different opinion.
I was legendary at Nerf Basketball in my bedroom and I was sure that with every Beatle, ELO, Elton John, Areosmith, John Denver and Temptations record I sang with would make me a star one day.
In high school, I was still known as Linda Lee’s little brother but I was also known as a runner, the cross-country kid that got de-pantsed in front of the whole school. I was known as the first student in my class to earn his Varsity Letter as a Freshman. I was also known as a transfer student and a basketball player. I was too short, too skinny, too tall, too angry, too jealous, too loud and too confident.
I was known as being smarter than I let anyone know. I did what I had to do to stay eligible for sports. I was a underachiever and at times I overachieved… far beyond my abilities. I was lucky and I was cursed. I was not expected to amount to anything and yet I surpassed everyone’s expectations of what I would do in my life.
Truth is I never reached my full potential.
There was one thing I was but I wasn’t known for it. I was a “Born Again” Christian. I had a very deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ but unfortunately very few people knew this about me. What many knew about me was what they would see at the parties and other places. I would hide this relationship with Jesus Christ yet I would freely show everyone the desperate attempts of a young man trying to fit in. It is truly one of my greatest regrets of my childhood. I wish I would have let others know of my faith. I wish I would have been the witness that God wanted me to be and that includes the time I was a student at Temple Christian Academy.
People have known me by many titles and nicknames.
My sister calls me Dave. (she is the only one gets away with that to my face) She has also called me “Dew Worm” as long as I remember. Why? Who knows? My brother had other nicknames for me that will forever be confined to vaults of my memory and hopefully to those of my family.
In high school, I was “Double Deuce” not because of the modern Urban Dictionary definition of the act of sticking up both middle fingers instead of just one for added emphasis on the unspoken message; while that could have applied to me in some ways it was rather the fact that I wore the number “22″ for every sport I have ever played. I was the original “22″.
I was known as Pam’s ex-boyfriend and from time to time, Michael.
I was known as the first of my family to go to college. Then as a traveler. I left the small confines of that small Ohio town and swam in the Amazon River and sojourned the plains of Africa and shook the hands of two US Presidents all before I was the age of 22.
There was a time when I was known as the “Sound Man”. I engineered the sound board for many of the popular Christian acts of the early ’80′s. I was also known during this time as a roommate to some of my lifelong friends. Then I was known as a college graduate and someone who they used to know.
There was a time when I was known as Mr. Lee; but he died a long time ago.
To some, I was known as Coach, to others the teacher and to some the Principal. If you knew me then, you would much rather have “Pepsi and Popcorn” than “Coffee and Doughnuts” with me. (An inside joke and shout out for all to whom it applies).
I was known as an ordained minister… a Bible teacher… to some a youth pastor, to others a Sunday School teacher.
I am no longer any of these things.
Today… to some I am known as the boss and to some, David.
I am a parent. Parenting is the kind of job for which there is no practice. You give it your best shot, and trust that it is enough. You hope that God will make your children resilient enough that they don’t suffer too much from who you are. I am “Dad” to Nathan and Adam and “David” to Crystal and Cassidy. There is no such thing as “step” anything.
I am my own worst critic.
I am success. I am failure.
I am the silent majority.
I am a loud minority.
I am a friend and I am a foe.
I am the proud husband of Pamela Renee.
I’m not what I thought. I’m more than I’ve been.
I am Indiana William and Brody Michael Kirchenbauer’s grandpa.
I am a man that has come to the conclusion that compassion, understanding and forgiveness of others and their problems are far better than the judgmental legalism he raised with.
I am a simple man looking for grace and forgiveness.
I guess I am just starting to get to really know who I am just because I have the unmitigated gall of taking the time to understand and know who I am.
This I know…
I am not the man I was 20 years ago when I failed in my marriage and lost my ministry. I am convinced that my story is one of caution. Caution for all, because if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. It is a journey that is more common than anyone wants to recognize.
My story… follows a well-traveled spiritual pathway that leads from sin and failure right up to the Cross of Calvary, where our Savior died so we could know forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love. That’s where you’ll find me today, gathered with all the other people who are scarred by their past but who’ve been forgiven, redeemed and gratefully clinging forever at the foot of the old rugged cross.
If you’ve also made mistakes in your life and you long for restoration and wholeness, I hope you’ll come along and share my journey. But please understand…these are my words and I am accountable for them. They tell my story, my journey and the way I tend to be… and I know this… I am not fooling anybody.
David Michael Lee