My Uncle Bill is somewhat of a misfit. Well, he’s a screw-up. Growing up I never did see him much, largely in part because of my mother’s distrust of him. It always seemed like at every family gathering the hot topic was Bill’s latest run in with the law or how he pissed off another very influential person. People would say how he needs to get outside help to try to put his shambled life back together. Then, he would show up with like 15 minutes left in the party, and everyone would forget about all his mishaps and faults, and enjoy in his contagiously amazing attitude. You know how the Statue of Liberty states, “Give me your tired, your poor,” well Uncle Bill could even make those people smile. But, then he would leave and everyone would forget his cheer and just dwell and complain about his faults once more.
Well, one Christmas, he gave me the surprisingly awkward gift of a Bible. It was a King James Version with a real nice red leather bound case with a gold zipper and golden pages. But hell, I was 8 years old. To top it off, I didn’t even come from a really strict religious upbringing. This gift coming from my crazy uncle, who I saw as the funniest guy in the world, was a little bit of a shocker. Give me a Yo-Yo; give me light up shoes, but a Bible? Needless to say it was quickly designated a spot in the back of my closet.
Flash forward, four years into the future. I had just finished having an argument with my Step-Dad. I fumed to my room, red as ever and about to explode. My hatred for the man seeped out of every pore of my body. From my head, to my toes and through my tears I hated him. I lied in bed and cried. I was paralyzed by my anger. I couldn’t think or move or breathe without feeling the sharp pangs of my hatred biting at me. Then, something peculiar happened. The bright gold glitter of the Bible’s pages caught my eye. Even in my rage, my curiosity took over me. I had just seen on TV a special about the man who wore that huge rainbow wig and traveled to nearly every major sporting event in the past 20 years holding that huge John 3:16 sign. So, I picked up my Bible and tried to find the passage. Obviously my search for the passage was flawed because it was probably the first time I had ever opened a Bible, and instead of John 3:16 I read the following, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you,” (Matthew 5:44) When I read those words, they soothed me. The knot in my stomach unwound. My heart settled back down. My mind eased its grip on my hatred and relaxed. I knew that I had just found something extraordinary.
To this day I still write letters to my Uncle Bill. He’s completely isolated himself these days. He no longer comes to family Christmas parties or gives fun presents. He doesn’t even return my letters. He lives up in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, alone with the wilderness. People make fun of him, calling him a castaway, a mountain man, a failure. However, he has made an everlasting change in my life in one simple gesture. I believe everyone on this earth can help change a life.
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