The Power of Belief
My nephew, Zach McCormick’s, graduation party was more than a celebration, it was a triumphant moment. Just a few years earlier, none of us truly knew what might lie ahead of him. He was a troubled young man in search of his identity. Like most teenagers, Zach rebelled. He found himself mixed up with the wrong crowd and filled with anger that led him down a destructive path.
His father, Daryl, searched for answers, but found himself lost for what steps to take next. I remember speaking with Daryl one day as he confided in me on Zach’s situation. I could hear the despair in Daryl’s voice as he openly omitted that he was not sure what to do with Zach after many failed attempts for a resolution.
I felt for Daryl and Zach. I knew they struggled and I was not sure of an answer myself, other than a change of landscape for Zach might be the only answer. I suggested that Daryl speak with my parents and see if they would agree to take Zach for the rest of the school year. To Daryl’s credit, he was open to the suggestion. It was hard for him, but he was willing to do whatever it took to save his son.
Mom and Dad were down in Florida enjoying their retirement when Daryl called on them for help. My parents responded quickly and packed up their winter Florida home, and moved back to Southern Indiana so Zach could live with them and finish out the school year.
Dad laid down the ground rules for Zach and provided him with structure. Mom provided him the comfort he needed as he healed and evaluated his life. It was not an easy journey, but Zach slowly came around and began to respond to my parents and rebuild his relationship with his Dad from a distance. It only took one semester in Indiana for Zach to pull himself together. He moved back home with his father over the summer. He enrolled in a different high school, found a job, and successfully completed his senior year at home.
Soon, Zach announced that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and enlist in the U.S. Army. We were thrilled that Zach had a plan for his future, but we were quite surprised when Zach invited my parents to come and witness his baptismal at his local church. Mom was exhilarated by the news and Dad recounted the peace he saw on Zach’s face when he emerged a new man from the baptismal waters. Zach turned his life around and we all could take a deep breath, because he was going to be just fine.
Recently, friends and family huddled around Zach as he opened gifts and thanked everyone for coming to his graduation party. Tears filled my parent’s eyes and Daryl beamed with pride as they stood by Zach so we could take pictures of the happy moment. It was a great time of joy that we were not sure would be possible only a short time ago.
As I reflect on that moment, I go back to the core group of supporters for Zach, his father and my parents. A trio of family members willing to fill the gap for a young man they loved. But it was not love that saved Zach, it was belief.
I’ve read many tragic stories of young men and women, just like Zach, that didn’t thrive in life. Most of them were loved by someone, but most failed to believe in them. It’s easy to love someone, but sometimes it can be difficult to believe in them. When Zach was at his low point, his father could have given up, just loved him the best he could and try to erase his mistakes with unconditional love, but Zach needed more than love from his father. My parents could have simply loved on Zach and excused his behavior because he lacked a mother growing up or because he was associated with the wrong crowd, but he needed more than love. Zach lacked the confidence that he was good enough for this world, and until he could believe in himself, he needed those close to him to believe that he could do it.
Zach hid behind his anger and sarcasm, but deep within his soul, he was crying for help. Daryl and my parents responded and lifted him up. They never turned away from him and lifted him up with their belief that he was a good person and worth saving. Zach regained his confidence and now believes in himself, because Daryl, Mom and Dad believed in him first.
Do you have someone close to you that is struggling? Maybe they just need the gift of belief to buoy them through the storm. Do you believe in them? Show them.