I am… John Doe

My bio page.  A place to answer the question, “Who am I?”  My initial response is one many will find stereotypically unfunny and yet totally relateable.  I assure you though that my response is anything but trite.  In fact, it is so deeply rooted within my heart and mind that I believe it lies within your heart and mind too.

“I have no idea,” is my first, current and best answer.  I say this without wanting to sound glib.  I hope you’ll stay long enough to understand why I, and perhaps you yourself, feel this way.

Easier to answer are the questions like, “What am I?”, “Where am I?” and, “How did I end up where I am?”

“What am I?”  A husband, father, son, and brother.  Some would call me intelligent, funny, caring, and friend.  Others might say I’m open minded, helpful, a leader, and kind.  I’m also an inmate, prisoner, felon, and captive.  Only God knows the real me: weak, sinner and lost.  Yet God has gathered me in and placed me on a journey with an answer to, “Who am I?” as its destination.

“Where am I?”  A Federal Correctional Institution – prison, captivity, the wilderness in exile seeking rescue.  I’m also finding my way on a path illuminated by God, led by Jesus, and encouraged by the Holy Spirit.

“How did I end up where I am?”  In short, I am where I am because I made some horrible decisions in life.  No single event in my past landed me here, wandering in the wilderness and waiting in exile for rescue.  Lives are a gathering of experiencing and lessons that shape us, right?  Mine include the undeserved graces and blessings from God of a loving supportive family, amazing grown children with good hearts, opportunities of education and career, and above all earthly kindnesses – a friend, partner and wife of over 30 years that I am in no way deserving to call mine.  Every life she encounters is the better for her touch.

Sadly, as in all too many lives, I also carry the ugliness of addiction and scares of childhood sexual abuse.  Hmmm… I should add ‘survivor’ to my answers for “What am I?”  Sadder still, I allowed my addiction to pornography, rooted in my childhood sexual abuse where it was used to train me in actions desirable to my primary abuser and others, to control me for over forty years.  As I allowed myself to sink deeper into my addiction I chose to begin viewing child pornography which lead to my time here in prison, captivity, the wilderness – exile.  Shocking and repulsive I know.  Please walk a few steps on my journey with me though before giving up.  (Please visit the ASCSA page on this blog to learn more about my childhood, addiction to pornography, childhood sexual abuse, the lifelong impacts and battles I’ve fought and continue to fight.)

Returning to the basic question a bio page needs to answer, “Who am I?” and my less than illuminating response, “I have no idea” ; I’ve written of who I was on my journey to exile.  As well as touching on the journey God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit are accompanying me on and it’s that journey out of exile into rescue and the promised land that will define who I am.

I almost forgot, why did I choose John Doe as my name?  Until you are stripped of everything, including your identity or from God’s perspective, you surrender everything including your identity, you cannot fully realize what God’s rescue is really all about and finally answer the question “Who am I?” for yourself.  Until I arrive at God’s destination from my journey out of exile, I am …  John Doe.