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.
My dad is a pastor, so I grew up in a loving Christian home where my parents always taught of God’s love for me. When I was six, I made the decision to accept Christ. As I look back on it, I know it was a genuine decision, but it wasn’t until many years later that I came to truly know and appreciate a deep relationship with God.
I was a pretty good kid as the years went by. In high school, I was the type of kid who would rather stay home playing games or watching movies with my parents instead of going out and partying. I had a strong sense of identity in Christ and was proud of being a Christian. I was the drama and choir geek who, on the outside at least, seemed to be proud of her outgoing, crazy, loud self. However, on the inside, I felt a strong need to belong. I wanted to be the popular one, the girl who got the guy, the one who every girl wanted to be.
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.
As Easter approaches, I spent my day reflecting on today’s date – March 31. It was Easter day six years ago today. That morning was both an amazing and difficult day for me. It was the morning I got baptized and also the morning my Grandmother passed away.
“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.