His Childhood Nightmares Came From His Family

“I heard a guy say one time that anger is fear under pressure. When I was growing up, fear was prevalent in my life, growing up in the way that I did with the sexual abuse and domestic violence. You know, you get used to it, that’s the thing, and then it starts driving your life without you even really knowing. You start structuring your life around that fear,” Calvin says.  

Calvin’s childhood nightmares often came at the hands of his own family members. “I remember it being overwhelming, to the point where I would just stay outside got to the point where I would just stay outside until I absolutely had to come in the house. I was just too little to fight back,” he recalls. “You just don’t fight when you’re six. You just submit, and that’s what I did.”

When a school principal threatened to paddle him for misbehavior in 6th grade, something in Calvin snapped. “The day before I was raped and then I was beaten shortly after that. And I went to school like everything was normal, that’s how it was when I grew up. But something was happening inside of me,” he says. “I went into what I believe was an anger blackout. He was trying to drag me up the steps and I almost at the top and I went into what I believe was an anger blackout. I grabbed the rails and kicked him to the bottom of the steps and just kind of followed him down and started stomping on him. I left the school that day and set it in my head, that’s it. That’s it, man, I’m going to fight back.” Calvin was sent to juvenile detention for a year, but says it was still better than being at home. I could take care of myself with kids being locked up my age, but at home, it wasn’t like that, so I just felt safer being locked up.”

Once released, he turned to drugs to further escape his home life. Calvin also broke into houses to support his habit. “The first time I smoked marijuana it was like, my problems went away,” he says. “And I don’t know that I was able to function normally but I was able to function without the anxiety and the fear, you know, that was so prevalent.

While the drugs relaxed him, alcohol fueled his anger. “Anytime I wanted to do something to somebody in a violent way, I always drank on it, always. I knew that if I drank, then it was game on,” he says.  

His addiction escalated to cocaine and meth. For years he was in and out of jail and left two broken families in his wake. “Really it wasn’t just two failed marriages. It was every relationship I’ve ever had was failed,” Calvin says. “I was a violent person to every woman I was ever with. I was that way with my kids. You know. I mean, the anger that I carried, it didn’t discriminate.”
Calvin continued his downward spiral, stealing over $10,000 worth of construction equipment and selling it for drug money. When he woke up from his binge, he was under an interstate bridge. “I was done” Calvin says. “Life had become that miserable, but in in the end, it wasn’t what was done to me; it was what I had done to people. I couldn’t escape the guilt and shame of what I had done, and I wanted to stop hurting people.”

He learned that the Healing Place, a faith-based rehab facility, would give him a place to sleep. “I climbed in my bunk and I faced the wall and I just started crying,” Calvin recalls. “The only words I could utter was ‘God, please help me,’ and He did. God showed up in my life that day in the form of a whisper, and what He said to me is ‘Calvin, I love you, and I don’t care about what you’ve done. I care about what you’re going to do.’ And that was it for me. I mean, up to that point in my life I don’t think I’d recognized anything that would resemble love.”

Calvin surrendered his life to Christ and woke up the next morning a free man. “I slept better that night than I had slept in years, but I didn’t go to bed thinking about using and I didn’t wake up that way. I knew when I woke up that next day that God had taken it, but I also knew that there was work to do.”

Delivered of his addiction and his anger, Calvin continued to grow in his faith. He completed rehab and was able to forgive the family members who abused him.
“I finally got to a spot where I knew in my heart that I could say that I loved the men that molested me, and so much changed in that moment, with a one-week span,” he says. “This may sound kind of crazy, but all my life I never wanted to be me. As a kid I always imagined myself being someone else. But on the day I realized I loved the men that had molested me, I’ve never, ever wanted to be anyone but Calvin since that day. If you really dig into that message that Christ is pouring out there about love, it opens the door for forgiveness and it stays open,” he says. “So I learned to love them out of the love for them, I just intuitively forgave them, and that was big for me. The freedom that came from simply loving.”

Today, he runs the ‘Love Transformation Project,’ a ministry to the homeless in Louisville, Kentucky. And for the first time in his life, Calvin has a real family.  

“I feel like the guys under the bridges are our family,” Calvin says. “The kids we minister to in the parks are now our family. “I never felt like I had a father, never felt like I had brothers and sisters, and I remember one night, I got on my knees and I said ‘God, please, will you adopt me?’ I know that’s a crazy prayer for a grown man, but I felt God say ‘It’s done.’ And I felt the love of a Father in a way that I had never felt--something that wasn’t going to hurt me, but would inevitably protect me. I don’t think there’s been a time in my life since that day that I’ve not felt that sense of family.”

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