Hi! My name is Claudio Acevedo. I am a simple man with a great story; however, I am not that great of a story-teller.
I was born in The Dominican Republic, a Caribbean island between Puerto Rico and Cuba. I shared my mom’s womb with my twin sister, Mariel. Was it tough to share so little space for nine long months? M,mm…I can’t really remember much. But I do remember it was tough growing up. We were born to a very loving mother, Ana. After divorcing my mother, my father left the country and emigrated to the U.S. in search of a better future. My sister and I were six years old. Things changed a lot for us after that. My mom had to work many hours outside the house to provide the basic needs of the house. I was growing up without a strong figure in the house thinking that I would soon occupy that space in my house. I reached the age of fourteen and I had really evolved into a pretty wild boy: violence, arrogance, pride, immorality, carelessness, etc. You know . . . the typical stuff of an incomplete teenager. I think my sister was going through the same things, but in the incomprehensible way the opposite sex does it.
Mariel and I didn’t have a healthy relationship at all. I mean, we would fight over anything. Sometimes we hurt each other physically, but most of the time we said things to each other that hurt my heart deeply. I mean she was my sister and she loved me, you know…but we just didn’t know better. My mom added some tension to this ongoing tragedy as well. Just as my sister and I would release anger and worries through insults, my mom would pour her anxiety into drinking alcohol. She loved us and she wanted the best for us, but she just didn’t know better. At the age of fourteen I wasn’t coping with this reality very well. As I said, it was tough.
You could say things were pretty foggy, shady, and turbulent for me. There’s this saying that goes: “The darkest hour of the night is the closest one to the morning.” It’s funny because that’s the essence of my story. At this very dark moment of my life God shone his light upon me and upon those around me. “God?” you may ask, “In the midst of all this you knew about God?” No really. I forgot to mention that I related God to my religious stereotypes and negative impressions. Everything happened quite surprisingly…
I visited a local church in my neighborhood, for I had heard that there were a lot of girls in the youth group. So there I was looking for Crystal and/or Christine…. But little did I know that I was going to find Jesus Christ in the process.
I got involved a little bit in the youth group ‘cause it was so much fun. We sang, read the Bible, discussed relevant issues for young people, played games, and prayed. Shortly after getting involved, I heard there was a retreat weekend coming up. Frankly, I did not know what a retreat was, but it sounded like a weekend away from home! I remember the last day of the retreat we spoke about sin. I realized that I was “sinful and fell short of the glory of God.” I was able to identify so much filth in my heart… I felt like I had mud on my chest separating my heart from any real contact with God’s love… or my mom’s love… or my sister’s. That afternoon became the last hour of darkness in my life… a powerful light faded all darkness in me. I confessed and repented for being all the things I mentioned above. All that time feeling lonely when Jesus cared for me so much … I regret no knowing better before. There was no magic thing going on; I had started the most incredible relationship one could ever have, I met Jesus Christ and invited Him to come into my heart and make me the kind of person He wants me to be. Like in all relationships, I put time and effort into it. Overflowing with gratitude for His love and mercy, I started loving my mom and my sister in a more expressive way. It didn’t all happen over night, but my mom started changing. Since I wasn’t willing to fight with my sister no more, guess what? . . .My sister did not feel like fighting with me, either. Well, things started changing for good.
I told you I wasn’t so hot at story-telling…you probably know the ending of my story by now. I am twenty now, and I should let you know that my mom is unarguably my best friend today. My sister is still pretty tough on me, but we lovingly and respectfully solve our differences. This isn’t the result of last night’s lotto… it took time for us to allow God to work through us increasingly more. See, having Jesus doesn’t mean being exempt from the struggles of life and its harshness, but it means knowing better how to avoid them and cope with them.
I let you take control, now. How would you put this story in your own words? Or better yet, how can you make it applicable to your own life?
Claudio J. Acevedo.