31 Aug Lamplighter
I gave my life to Jesus when I was 19 years old. It happened on March 30th, 2002. It didn’t happen at a church during an alter call. There wasn’t inspirational music playing, low-lit candles, or even an audience. I was laying on the floor in my Auntie Vera’s living room reading my Bible.
I never really read my Bible before. I mean, I took it to church, underlined some things, but never really read it when no one was watching to see how Jesus-y I was. I remember asking my Auntie Vera a couple years before that how I should read the Bible. Like, where do I start? I remember her telling me that the easy thing to do to sorta “get started” was to read Proverbs. To only read one chapter, and to know which chapter to read by the day it was. She told me, “There’s 31 chapters in Proverbs, so find out what day it is, read that chapter, and it’s a good way to get used to reading. And if you ever miss a day, it’s okay, because next month, you’ll come across that day and make up for it.”
With that in mind, I read my Bible, Proverbs 30. I’m not sure my life would’ve changed had I read any other chapter that day, but this one killed me. You see, if you know me, you know I’m big on legacies. Maybe it’s because I dealt with the reality that I will one day die while fighting cancer, or maybe I watch too many epic movies where the main character is obsessed with how he’s remembered, I don’t know… But it’s something I think about all the time, having a life that truly matters and makes a difference.
So there it was, “Surely I am more stupid than any man, and do not have the understanding of man. I neither learned wisdom nor have knowledge of the Holy One…”
and it goes on, but those two verses, 1 and 2, ROCKED. MY. WORLD.
This dude is IN THE BIBLE and he’s calling himself the stupidest person around. He’s IN THE BIBLE and he’s saying he doesn’t even know who God is. Seriously? If this guy is more stupid than any man, then what am I?
What am I?
I read on and the humility of the authors tone shook me. He asked God for just enough. Neither poverty nor riches. To be surrounded around truth. These are things I just couldn’t identify with. I was only 19 but this much I did know, I was doing things the wrong way. That evening, I closed my Bible, looked to the heavens, said “okay, Lord.” and went to sleep.
I promised God that I would do everything I can to stay humble (I know, my face is on the sidebar of this website, but hopefully you understand my heart). I promised God that I would work hard and not seek poverty or riches (lest I be full and deny Him, or be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.).
These have been the 2 pillars of my life… my compass. Humility and contentment. I have failed. I am failing. I will fail again. But my heading is the same. Humility and contentment.
Most of you never knew me before Gamerosity. My struggle to matter. I thought God wanted me to be a pastor but I never even got one interview for the position. I truly thought my identity was in being a pastor. Teaching high school kids about Jesus and helping them through life’s difficulties was where all that surviving cancer and dealing with my faith was all going to be “worth it.”
But it never came.
So one day I asked my friends on Facebook if there was a kid with cancer who could use a smile. We met Michael and his family and gifted him an Xbox 360. The feeling was amazing, but my two pillars, humility and contentment kept me focused. Instead of feeling good about what I had done, I felt compelled to continue giving. I had enough. I have enough. I am enough. God is enough.
Gamerosity was born through this process. Gamerosity evolved through this process. Gamerosity remains because of this process. Humility and contentment.
As we grew, the “Manny” brand began to grow and I was at a crossroads. Do I buy into this lie that I’m more than what I really am? Do I feed that “monster” that facade that manipulation that tries to convince people I’m more than some brown dude that struggles with his weight, loves sports, enjoys a good beer, curses sometimes, really just wants to design logos all day, and FOR ONCE finish a season of NBA2K before the season ends?
Humility and contentment.
I can’t be that guy for you or anyone. I don’t think I need to be for Gamerosity to survive. In fact, because of humility and contentment Gamerosity has turned into something truly beautiful and awe inspiring. The only way this community could come together the way it has is if I let go and started handing the keys of charity over to the other kids and families looking for an opportunity to give back. It’s difficult sometimes fighting that temptation to be “that guy” but really, there’s enough “that guy”‘s around that I don’t need to be.
I see it’s fruits nearly every day. I see it when Jennah books and organizes an end of year banquet on her own because this is no longer MY charity, but OURS. I see it when Griff posts an amazing Instagram shot because he gets to express his creativity in a positive way. I see it when I get tagged in a photo of two heroes meeting for the first time for a delivery. I see it when a sweet 9 year old cancer survivor donates her birthday so other kids can get Hero Packages, too. There’s so much beauty happening, and to be completely honest, it brings me so much joy seeing something that began as an idea being expressed in different, creative ways because they’ve been freed up to care.
On the 30th of every month, I take a look within and remember this truth: Surely I am more stupid than any man.
Stay humble. Seek contentment. Be a lamp for others. Help others find their way. A lamp can’t light it’s own way. A lamp’s purpose is to light the way for others. You’ll find that, in doing so, your life will find deep, meaningful purpose.