Who am I? As a teenager, I ask myself that question all the time. I’ve been raised in church all my life, but that doesn’t mean I always believed it.
Who am I? As a teenager, I ask myself that question all the time. As a Christian, my identity is rooted in God. I haven’t always thought that way, though. I’ve been raised in church all my life, but that doesn’t mean I always believed it. I grew up as the middle child in a household with four children. I was born super early, at 32 weeks to be exact, and I’ve been told that I looked like an alien as a newborn, as my ears hadn’t fully developed yet. I was super tiny and unexpected to survive or be taken home for a long time. Thanks to God, I defied expectations and survived anyway, even being taken out of the hospital pretty quickly.
I continued to grow, and as a young’un, I grew up watching cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 edition), Sonic X, and others. I’ve loved drawing and cartoons for as long as I can remember, and that love for cartoons began at an early age. My earliest works of art depict the cast of VeggieTales, which was really big when I was growing up. I’ve also always been coming up with narrative stories to tell, which dates back to even before I could write. It wasn’t all peachy, though. When I got to elementary school, I was bullied. People convinced me I was less than they were. My friends left me one by one, leaving me alone. I was a pariah, but I never turned to God for a solution. I sat alone at recess, drawing under a tree. I retreated into a shell, not allowing my parents or anybody else to help me. I had told my teachers about the bullying, but they didn’t care. It wasn’t their job to save my soul and my sanity. They let it continue unabated.
We started homeschooling for middle school, when I plunged into the depths of insecurity and Godlessness. I cast God aside on the inside, but continued to pretend like I still cared at youth groups and in church. As I plunged further and deeper into sin and faithlessness, I began to die inside. This continued for years. I can’t tell you the point exactly when I came back around, as it was more of a slow evolution than an explosive change. I can tell you that it began after I viewed the film God’s Not Dead, which despite its poor writing, had a message that shook me to the core. It told me God was alive, despite what I had come to believe. That is where my evolution began. I also began drawing and coming up with original characters at this time.
Around that same time, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, which is a severe allergy to gluten. My mom and sister had been diagnosed with it before, and I was next in line. There is no cure for Celiac disease, and it just continues to get worse, giving you worse and worse symptoms. I had muscle spasms, severe stomach pain, and even developed lactose intolerance (which was especially painful, as dairy products and I have a special relationship). For two years, I struggled with this sickness. It severely limited where we could go and what we could do, as even contact with something containing wheat could set us off if we weren’t careful. It defined our lives and put walls around us. Miraculously, I didn’t have to put up with it for long.
In April 2016, my mother and some friends from her small group went to the Azusa revivals in Los Angeles, California. While I won’t relate the full story to you now, she was having an awful reaction to something she had been told was gluten free. She sat in the stands, unable to stand up because of the stomach pain. All of a sudden, the lady on the stage started talking about somebody in the audience with all her symptoms, and said she was going to be healed. She came home and shared this with us. We all got down and sincerely prayed for healing, and it came. Now, my whole family can eat whatever we want. I’ve been enjoying donuts and fried food again. This was a miracle, as there is no cure for Celiac disease. Your condition just continues to degenerate. I thank God constantly for this. We are no longer walled in by this disease and are no longer limited in what we can do.
Throughout all of this, I was getting more involved in art. I had started watching videos by thecartoonblock, or as I’d like to call him, Sensei Burse. Sensei Burse taught me the fundamentals of art, and nowadays I continue to evolve and improve. If somehow you’re reading this Sensei Burse, thanks for your help.
I know this was long, and it’s unfinished, but I can’t help that. I’m talkative and I’ve lived a storied life, even though I’m not an adult yet.