I’m Eric Eckert and my story begins on May 29th 1986, I was born from a biological mother who abused drugs & alcohol and put in jail twice while pregnant with me. I was born with a cancer called Fibrosarcoma throughout my body and even in my chest cavity and coming out throughout my back. I was expected to die in several months according to the doctors. The State of Arizona took me away from my birth mother immediately at birth. Several months after my birth the doctors chose to amputate my right foot below my ankle because it was completely full of cancer. I spent the first 3 months of my life in a hospital and a total of 11months of my life on Chemotherapy.
Imagine being surrounded by the unknown. You walk through the arch of your destination, one that you’ve never seen before. Scores of individuals are gathered in circles, chatting away with an increasingly loud volume and staring as you slowly and fearfully move from the outside to the inside. As you proceed to move past the swarms of people, the intense pressure and evident intrigue of the locals creates a sense of the room closing on you, as if someone was turning the room pitch black like the end of an episode from cartoons of decades past. You see a silhouette quickly closing in. The person greets you with a smile and asks your name, but most of your energy is focused on staying awake. The one person then proceeds to fire a barrage of questions, genuinely interested yet unaware of your background, circumstances, feelings, etc.
How frustrating is it to do a puzzle and then get to the end and realize, oh, my gosh, I’m missing a piece?! You almost want to call the manufacturer and be like, nooo! I need it. I need my piece. You need the satisfaction. Because how many of you know the joy of doing a puzzle is actually all about putting the last piece into place?! So, why is it that, in life, we’re always feeling like there’s one last puzzle piece we haven’t found yet?
That is a lie I have listened to more times than I would like to admit. A lie I have convinced myself as truth since being faced with a hard dose of reality after graduating college.
I’ve had a love for nature for as long as I can remember. I spent most of my childhood camping, hiking, going to museums, exploring outdoors, asking questions about literally everything. That eventually led to one single class in high school where my passion for the environment truly took root and motivated me to pursue a degree in that field. Unfortunately, I had this unrealistic expectation when I graduated that a bachelor’s degree with no relevant experience would guarantee me a career job. I was in for a rude awakening.
“You’re a bad kid. I’m sick and tired of you.” These were the words of my father as he physically beat me.
“I don’t want to be with you anymore. You mean nothing to me. You’re not worth it” These were the words I heard from my ex-wife while in divorce proceedings.
“You will never do ministry again. You’re not cut out for this. I don’t ever want to see you here ever again”. These were the last words from a pastor who dismissed me from ministry.
They say our social media is a highlight reel, and they’re right! I wish I could tell you that it all matches up but the truth is, it doesn’t. Believe me, there’s a whole other side of life behind the scenes. A lot of you know this, but I know there’s a lot of you that don’t. Only those close to me have been in constant prayer over me to kneel and stand by my side. This isnt easy to admit and say “out loud” but I think it’s totally worth sharing. I’ve been in a battle. A battle within myself. A spiritual battle, physical and emotional, all at once!
Anytime I go away for a few days and spend some time with God, Satan is waiting around the corner ready to derail my spiritual high with trials and temptations. After the All In Retreat, I was hit with all sorts of trials over a course of a week. I like to say I deal with anxiety and stress pretty well. But I know the war Satan wages in me is in my thoughts. I’m such a deep thinker that it can really take my focus off of God and my mind will go all over the place and look for quick fixes to ease those thoughts.
The first time I recall truly hating Valentine’s Day was when I was a sophomore in college. I had been cheated on by two different boyfriends in a year’s time, and I felt the need to vent that anger to anyone who would listen! I remember rallying with my girlfriends to decorate black t-shirts sponge painted in white, pink, and red with messages like “My Valentine is Ben & Jerry’s,” “Kiss this Cupid,” or my personal favorite on my t-shirt reading “Happy Satan Day!” I donned my black t-shirt with its anti-love message for the world to see because on the inside, my heart had been broken one time too many. Each year as this day would come around, my heart grew darker and bleaker for everything this one day stood for. I let it steal my joy year after year, and I spread that darkness to those around me all in the name of heartbreak.
It’s January 2019! Before jumping in to make all those goals and resolutions, I think it’s awesome to reflect on what we want 2019 to represent, what we want this year to stand for.
To that effect, and in what’s become a yearly tradition of one of my favorite communities, Cornerstone church’s young professionals, my words of the year are…