Once upon a time, I was at a party, with my people. I saw one of my friends going to the balcony and I decided to join him. I slid the door open after him, and I immediately felt the evening breeze that Montreal so graciously and abundantly offers during the summer. We shared a cigarette and we got to talking. I hadn’t seen him in years, and I was extremely happy to see him. Before I joined him on the balcony, I had noticed there was something different about him, and I couldn’t really identify it. Nevertheless, as time went by, I figured it out; it was his demeanor. There was something radically different about him. It wasn’t physical because he was still the handsome man he had always been, armed with that killer smile of his and his infectious laugh.

The difference was a peace and a calm emanating from him. It was unmistakable. It was plain to see. Moreover, that peace wasn’t overwhelming or invasive. The peace didn’t act like a conquering battalion looking for some new space to occupy. He wasn’t screaming his peace or showing it off; the peace was simply there. My friend was simply there, and his peace slowly filled out the room. At some point, I had to ask him about it, so I did. He smiled and told me he had found Jesus lately and that simple fact had changed his life.

I couldn’t contain my joy and I hugged him. I will spare you the details of what we talked about so my buddy could remain anonymous and keep the peace he has worked so hard for! He took his time and told me about his story. He wasn’t shy at all, and he talked while being extremely vulnerable, which is something we rarely see in people. The vulnerability he displayed showed he was confident in his story and the surrounding narrative. He spoke to me about inner peace, and he admitted that peace was fickle, and it could be taken away at any time, implying there is an element of being careful to not slip back into the old destructive habits he once partook in. His awareness, his willingness to recognize his own faults, shortcomings, failures, hurt he inflicted on others and especially on himself, almost brought me to tears.

He shared his journey, as candidly as anyone could. I listened, and I could only ask questions. He spoke about realizing his own faults but especially the root cause of his own behavior that drove people away and made him a person who wasn’t easy to live with, if not impossible to live with. He spoke about realizing he wasn’t doing well and how this realization floored him and broke him to pieces. He spoke about how forgiving himself might have been the hardest thing he’s ever done. He spoke about accepting responsibilities for his actions. He spoke about apologizing and making amends. He spoke about all the hardships, failures, loneliness of the journey, the tough moments, the desperation, the helplessness he felt as he went through his journey. He spoke about pain and sorrow.

When he found Jesus and accepted to live by his wonderful message, he had to go through a myriad of steps to understand his soul better. He went through penance, contrition, and accepting his own flaws as a person. The thing that struck me the most was his willingness to share with me his story without trying to push his beliefs on me or on anybody else. He said himself, “my journey is my own and no two journeys are similar.” That type of awareness, of humility, of mental strength, and of self-control left me in awe. He didn’t push for anything, nor did he care what my beliefs were, in the nicest way possible. He was simply sharing his journey with an old friend. Moreover, he listened as much as he spoke, and he answered my many questions. He was present, physically, and especially mentally and emotionally. He was simply another dude sharing his experience, fully aware his experience was his own and that everybody would have to walk their own path.

Towards the end, he spoke about finding Jesus Christ and how he wasn’t sure if he found Christ or if it was the other way around. He spoke about his faith and how it keeps him leveled and happy. He spoke about having a relationship with Christ as an adult and how it had given him the fortitude and strength to keep going and to become a better man. He talked about the bad stuff he had within him, such as the lies, manipulation, deception and self-deception, the psychological torment and emotional hell he had to go through to see and feel the light. He mentioned Jesus as his north star, his compass and at no point did he try to talk about anything else, but his own journey.

And because of that simple fact, he gained more of my respect. He fully understands that faith is a personal thing and custom-made to fit his own life because no two lives are alike. He spoke with humility and used the latter to share his story. He understands how lucky and blessed he is to be alive, functional and to have been able to diagnose his problems. He told me, “Knowing what ails you is one thing; living with some of it and stay vigilant is a whole other thing.” That last part made me smile because I knew he understood how faith works. If you don’t take care of faith, if it isn’t tested occasionally, if you aren’t tempted now and then, well, how can you really assess the strength of your faith? How can you call yourself a believer or a follower if your own world and principles aren’t challenged? Faith is meant to be challenged, the way Christ’s resolve was challenged when he got arrested, beaten and finally nailed on the cross when he couldn’t take the physical torment anymore. You want to believe? You go ahead and do that. But be ready to have your faith challenged by incidents and people.

We also agreed on the fact that one must go through darkness and hardships to appreciate and understand what the light is all about. One must go through hell to see paradise. One must go through the grinder for faith to be renewed and strengthened. One must know what desperation feels like to avoid it. And one can never dissociate the bad and the good; they are interconnected. That’s how life is.

Finding Jesus could very well the best thing that happened to my buddy. I couldn’t be more thrilled for him. This life ain’t easy and personally, I always root for people to find peace, joy, and a way to live their lives according to their values, so long as they aren’t hurting anybody or spreading hate. My buddy is one of the best personifications of what peace through Jesus looks like.

When it came to say goodbye, I thanked him for sharing his journey with me, and I could see the same humility in his eyes. I could see how proud he was of himself for still standing. I could see his joy for sharing a personal story that might help someone else. Furthermore, I could see how joyful he was to have seen me. I could see how his heart survived all his trials and tribulations because he was still capable of love and of spreading that love. I could see how resilient he was.

My brother, you can stand tall because you truly are a warrior. You fought for your sanity, your peace, your happiness, your transformation. You are a warrior who spreads no violence but wisdom. You don’t spread any destruction, but love. You spread no judgment; simply humility and understanding. You found Jesus and I wish you to keep this relationship with him intact. Thank you for sharing all that with me. I love you. May the peace and calm that emanate through you, help someone else in the future. I would say you are what a true follower of Christ should be like.

Just one man’s opinion.

Now smile and go on with your day!

Freeman. B

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