The Dying Sheep 20 Year Anniversary Tour: Part 6, The Darkest Day

Here we are, the pinnacle of The Dying Sheep’s 20th Anniversary Tour. On this day 20 years ago I had my one and only suicide attempt. One of the strangest days of my life.

I was actually on a trip to a church camp in youth group. I took a bunch of pills. Later that night I changed my mind and spent the entire night trying to puke them up. Involuntarily puked when everyone got up and got taken to the ER by my youth minister. After some time there an being given something for the nausea I was taken by to the camp and put back into the mix.

I was not into it at all at that point. I still felt really nauseous and sad. We were at a pizza buffet and I remember sitting out in the lobby by myself, and this guy came over and got my attention. We went outside and talked. He was the first person I ever met that understood what I was going through. The camp was at a college, but I have no idea if he was part of the camp or not or just a college student. All I know is that he motioned to someone that he appeared to know to take me with them for the day (I had missed some of the morning stuff so I didn’t have a group).

I saw the young man one or twice more during the day. Once again, didn’t know anything about him but he seemed to go to the college but not be on staff to work the camp maybe. Later on that night there was a music performance and I saw him one more time in the lobby outside of the venue. We exchanged addresses and he left. I never saw him again. When we were leaving the next day I hoped I would find him to introduce him to my youth minister, but I never found him. I wrote him once, and he never wrote back.

I’m honestly still not sure if he was a human or an angel. He could have been either. I’ve just always had a strange feeling about him and how he moved about that day through the event. Either way he was my angel that day. I’ve never found him online. I wish I could, its still one of my greatest wishes is to find him again.

So yeah, I still call it the one of the worst and best days of my life because it was my darkest moment, but it was also paired with that spiritual encounter that helped me hang on for 20 years.

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The Dying Sheep’s 20 Year Anniversary Tour: Part 5, Moments with God

So here I am. 20 years of depression and anxiety. 20 years of fighting with addiction and wanting to end it all. Here I am, still faithful to God. Still believing in what his plans are for me. Is it true that struggles make your faith strong? Absolutely. I wouldn’t have the faith I do now without these last 20 years. Here’s a mix of moments and where these last few years following God have taken me.

  1. All the places I’ve taken my story of these last 20 years. I’ve gotten to tell my testimony in many places. From this blog, to a tv interview, to live on radio, in groups and on pages on social media, to on stage at churches…I’ve been able to testify to my tale in many places over the years. It all started with God asking me, “this seems really important to you, the question is….what are you willing to do for it?” and I said “anything!” so I’ve tried to do everything I can.
  2. High school is where my faith became my own. In the beginnings of all this is where it turned from my parent’s faith to mine. That’s where I first promised I would stick around and have faith in what day God chose me to leave this world instead of my own choice.
  3. It took me a while to realize it, but God had never left me. I remember the day I realized that. It was after college sometime, and I was just looking back on things. It finally dawned on me that God had been with me all along. I felt he had abandoned me in those darkest days. That day is when I put down The Dying Sheep name.
  4. I’ve always loved it when God sends a sign in the sky. There’s been some particularly good ones. I remember one drive I was praying hard and the clouds and sun formed this amazing picture as I prayed. I’ve always loved faces in the clouds too. I remember one time I started praying to the face in the cloud, and just as I completed my prayer and told God I love him the face went away, staying just long enough to listen.
  5. I’ve met some great people over the years. I had great friends in college. I’ve met awesome people through Christian rock concerts. I have a few awesome friends locally and have a great bible study with. there’s been a lot of great connections.
  6. 5 years ago God pushed me to quit drinking. He wouldn’t give up on it. He kept saying I could do it when I doubted. He even sent The Protest and their song “control” during that time. I was finally able to quit later in the year.
  7. I’ve connect with God a lot through writing. Sometimes he answers me very clearly through a poem I’m writing. I feel like the holy spirit gives me an image to write about to help express what I’m feeling, and sometimes God comes in and answer me in that image. A few of my works are very precious because of that.

This part seems kind of random. Just wanted to ramble about a few moments with God for a part. Had to ramble a bit for this week because next Tuesday is the exact 20th anniversary of my only suicide attempt.

I long for the day I get to go home to eternity, but I could never take back these last 20 years.

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The only promise I keep

I will fail God many times in this life. I will break many promises. In fact I will break almost every promise. There is one promise I intend to keep. I will not give up on him and what he has planned for me. The world can make me look a fool all they want, I will not break this promise. Even if it is the only promise I have kept when I depart this world. I will have that promise in my hand unbroken when I receive the victor’s crown.

Will you keep your robes that wear out and your riches that will surely rust? Will you hold tight to the crown the world gave you that can not last and will crumble right off the top of your head?

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The Dying Sheep’s 20 Year Anniversary Tour: Part 4, Anxiety

Oh anxiety, I hate you the most. I’d rather be depressed my entire life than have to deal with you.

My biggest struggles with anxiety have been the last 8 years. I developed allergies to disposable gloves while working on labs. The experience was traumatic and triggered intense anxiety and compulsions. I started worrying about germs and getting contaminated in ways I never was worried about. I worked in labs for a few more years, and I had to wear nitrile gloves for the job so my hands just took a beating the whole time. I kept compulsively washing my hands.

I haven’t worked in labs for a couple of years or so now, but the routines are still there. The compulsions and thoughts are still there. My old self never came back. My hands are still not in that great of shape. Hand washing and keeping things “clean” feels like the only way I can have control sometimes.

8 years later, I still don’t feel clean. To be completely honest, I have not desired to live much these last 8 years.

This year has been extremely out of control. Its been extremely stressful. The emotions the world puts off are very difficult to deal with. There has been a few months this year that have felt like one straight month long anxiety attack. I just want peace. I just want to have hopes and dreams again. Right now I don’t even want to look ahead to Christmas.

The only thing I take for anxiety is CBD oil, but it works well. Just like depression, I haven’t taken a lot of meds or gone a lot of therapy sessions for my anxiety.

My wisdom on anxiety is minimal because I still greatly struggle with it, but here is what I have:

  1. Anxiety is a reaction in your body. It was a beginning and it has an end. It will reach a conclusion. It feels like the world is ending and it won’t end, but the feeling will end. If you can hold on and let it run its course, it will end.
  2. Until the reaction ends, finding healthy ways to cope is important. Self harm is escaping and avoiding and turns into an unhealthy addiction. I recommend expression, exercise and helping others. Expression is important. Get the poison out and talk or write about it. Talking about tough anxiety symptoms can help because you can find other people who struggle too. Some symptoms feel like something worse and its really just anxiety, like for me struggling to swallow is a symptom I have been able to deal with better after talking about it. Healthy ways to deal with anxious energy like exercise is good. Its like it distracts your body and gets it focused on something else. Creating something beautiful and focusing on brilliant colors or scenes in art can help. As I said before, finding ways to help others and get your mind off yourself is also very helpful.

That’s the best I can do with anxiety. Remember that the reaction won’t last and find a healthy way to see it through until it does end. Maybe 2021 will bring some peace.

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Welcome To The Freakshow (inspired by multiple works by The Protest)

A young man and his friends were traveling together. On a crisp fall day they rode their bikes side by side down a well worn path. The air was cool and fresh. The leaves displayed an array of colors to their right and left. Not a single cloud hung in the sky.

They approached a fork in the road. One of the girls in their group pointed to the left, “this way to the great city! See, the way is nice and smooth. It will be a enjoyable and easy ride!” The young man looked down and saw to their right another path. Hidden in the trees and brush, it was a narrow way barely worn by feet or tires. He was drawn to this inconspicuous path. “We should go this way!” He said. They rolled their eyes at him, “That way looks stupid and difficult. If you go that way, you are on your own”

He thought for a minute. “Very well then, I must take the narrow way”. His friends shrugged their shoulders and carried on riding the well worn rode towards the city. The young man pushed the branches and vines aside and took the small path to the right.

The path was so narrow and difficult he had to abandon his bicycle and continue on foot. He winded through the dense trees slowly to not lose track of the way. The land below him quickly began to slope up and make the steps before him steep. “With this rate of climbing altitude, there’s no telling where I will end up” he thought to himself.

The vegetation wasn’t forgiving and scratched his limbs. The rocky uneven ground had no mercy and broke skin when he fell. This way was not easy. It left many wounds on his body. “Is all this pain even worth?” He said as doubt began to fill his thoughts. The young man was not one to give up easily, however. He continued forward.

After much walking, an opening appeared ahead of him through the dense woods. The land gradually became more even. An open field appeared before him. As he moved aside the last branches and bushes, he saw a large white tent in the middle of that open field.

He made his way across the field. The tent was large. It was also in the middle of nowhere and puzzled the man, “who would hold any sort of outdoor event in a place like this?” He said to himself out loud.

He made his way to the front. Before he could peak inside, a person opened the entry way in front of him. It startled him and he jumped back. A peculiarly dressed woman stood before him.

She tipped her hat to him in greeting, “I’ve been waiting for you my friend. It’s good to see the narrow way did not defeat you. Now the question is, will you dare come inside?”

At first the young man assumed she was the ringmaster of some strange circus with the style of clothing she wore when she swung open the entry side and appeared before him. However, it was unlike any ringmaster he had seen before. Instead of bright hues or red and gold, she was covered in all black.

The usual ringmaster’s jacket was black as night. The tall black boots seemed more like boots for battle or combat instead of entertainment. Instead of a whip she wore a sword at her side. The top hat was the most odd to him. Besides the apparent theme of black it held, the sides were laden with skulls and monarch butterflies. A large one almost the size of his own jutted from the front as if it could be released from the wool and fabric and lunge at him, and its empty eye sockets almost felt as if they were actually watching him. The large skull was covered in replicas of large monarch butterflies on its forehead and jaw. Smaller skulls and butterflies encircled the larger model at the front around the sides of the top hat.

Questions began to flood his mind, but he was still drawn to this place regardless. He was a bit too nervous to speak up now so he decided to accept her challenge and enter with the hopes of asking her later. “Yeah, I’ll come in,” was all he could muster to say in reply.

She opened the way inside and motioned for him to enter in front of her. He slowly made his way from the open field outside to the inside of the large white tent. His environment quickly changed from a quiet and peaceful setting with few colors to a bright, loud, and colorful one. The music was loud. The lights were bright. As he made his way inside, many other strange people appeared. They were all so different from himself. They looked different. They talked different. They acted different. They were alien to him and it alarmed him.

He gathered up enough courage to speak up, “Hey, what is all this, and who are all these weird people? And who are you?”

The woman stopped in her tracks. The young man looked around and realized he was standing at the center of a darkened stage. The lights were not on. The room was not occupied with spectators. The noise and music of the strange occupants still carried into the area they stood so the woman had to speak up.”

My name is Legacy. I am only here to guide you and ask you one question. What do you want to leave behind after you are gone?”

The young man had never really considered a question such as that. “I don’t know. Does it matter what I leave behind? There’s nothing for me after this life. I always thought I should just have fun and enjoy myself while I’m here because this is the end. What’s so great about this place? The great city has so much more to offer and much more fun things to do. I should have went with my friends!”

Legacy spoke again, “Oh really? Is that what you think? That the great city is some sort of paradise? Let me show you what your paradise truly is. Come with me outside.”

They walked across the stage of the other side of the tent. In the backstage area Legacy opened another entry point and gestured for the young man to walk outside. He found himself on a high hilltop looking over many mountain peaks and a valley below. In the valley below, he saw the great city.”

There it is! The great city where my friends went! Oh its so beautiful. I should have gone there instead of this tent.”

“Are you sure about your thoughts my friend? Look harder towards the center,” Legacy replied back to all his mourning. He did what she said and looked more intently at the city. At first he did not understand what she was talking about. He allowed his eyes to focus, and soon enough, a terrible sight appeared at the center of the great city. He gasped and was filled with fear.

“Legacy, what is that?!?! It looks horrible! Is that where my friends are?!

“Yes indeed, the great city looked spectacular at first. However, it at the center it held an awful secret.

Legacy answered the young man, “I will tell you all there is to know about the great city. Yes it is true, the road to the city is wide and easily traversed. It is smooth with many lanes so multitudes can journey it stress free. Yes, the great city looks amazing from the outside. Its lights are captivating. Its buildings of brillant architecture tower into the clouds. The guard at the gate smiles as you pass through inside. At first you will find yourself surrounded by fantastic sights, activities, pleasures, and delicacies.

However, that is all a façade to ensnare its victims. You see, at the center there is a abyss filled with fire. It has an appetite that is insatiable. It only desires destruction. Once a person makes their way through the gate and far enough into town, they are allowed to partake in the festivities long enough to get comfortable. As soon as their heart commits to the city, the guards come with shackles to bind them. Then they are led to the firey abyss.”

The young man was upset and deeply disturbed, “My friends are going to be killed? That’s horrible! I must go save them! Maybe they haven’t made it to the gate yet!”

When he tried to run off, Legacy grabbed his shoulder to stop him and she spoke again, “That is the path they have chosen. They must learn for themselves if that is right for them. You however, chose the narrow path. It was very difficult was it not? It was hard for all of us. It is not flat. It is filled with uneven ground and obstacles. It leaves wounds and scars on all of us. We all faced that road, and we all made it here. This is where you belong.”

The young man looked back at the tent, “Are you sure I belong here? Everyone was so different than what I know. They all acted and looked so strange. Like aliens or something.”

Legacy smiled at him, “They all say that at first. Yes we are different from the rest of the world. That’s because this is not our home. This place is temporary. We are the only hope for this world. We are a light on this hilltop the great city can see if they look hard enough. If you stay here, you can light the way for your friends.

I will ask you again. What do you do you want to leave behind when you are gone?”

The young man thought for a moment. He looked down in the valley at the great city. The burning embers of the abyss at its center were cleverly hidden by colorful walls and gleaming lights. He looked back at the white tent and listened to the voices and music that seeped out of the edges and seams over to them. He then thought of his friends and everyone else that had crossed paths with him who were not on this hilltop with him.

“I want to leave love behind. I want to leave hope behind for those around me. I don’t want to be imprisoned in chains behind those city gates. I want to be free.”

Legacy was delighted at his answer, “Perfect! That is what we all seek here. They are not free down there, you are correct. Maybe they think that we are some sort of freakshow up here restricted and stuck because of our ways. Trust me, that is not the case. We are quite free up here. They are the ones in chains. Let us return to the tent. Your place has been prepared for you.”

When the young man walked back inside the tent, he found a completely different sight than before. Instead of a room full of circus sideshows with strange appearances, he found people that were just like him. Instead of a room full of freaks, he saw a family of people all working hard to keep the mission going. He saw his family.

He spoke, “Legacy, why has everything changed? This isn’t what I saw before. I saw a circus freakshow the first time. Now everyone looks normal just like me.”

Legacy laughed a bit, “That is how it always goes. We are strange and unusual at first to all those who walk in. Once a person realizes that it is the great city that is the odd one, they view us quite different. We are all different though. We have all gone different paths to get here. We all have different experiences and skills. So we all have our specific place here and our specific tasks. You have a place here too that you were carefully and lovingly crafted to do, and you are the only one that can do it.”

They came to an open spot amongst the group with a cleared table and a clean canvas backdrop and Legacy continued, “Here is your place my friend. It was prepared for you long ago. I’m so glad you finally found us.”

The young man smiled, “I’m glad I made it here too. Now it’s time to get started!”

Some time passed on that hilltop. The young man found his place under the tent. He fit right in and was a great asset to them. One day a form came up from the path, and the young man was the first to see them.

“Someone is coming!” he exclaimed! He went out to greet them, but Legacy grabbed his shoulder to stop him, “Wait, they must approach the tent on their own.”

As they got closer, they both saw that the person was a young woman, and they had chains locked around their wrists and ankles. The chains had length so they could still climb and walk, but it was not easy. They were covered in ash and soot. Down their cheeks through the filth on their face you could see the paths their tears streamed down their face. Once they were almost the point the young man could speak to them, he realized something.

“Legacy! I know this person! I know her! She is one of my friends. She looks terrible. What happened to her? I want to help her!”

Legacy answered him, “She must have made it to the gates and went inside. It’s a miracle she made it out. She appears to have gone quite far into the city. Do not worry; I have just the thing to help her.”

The young woman finally reached the front of the tent. She collapsed in exhaustion in front of its walls. The entry point opened. The young man ran over to her and embraced her on the ground, “You’re here! I can’t believe it! How did you find us?”

The young woman spoke between labored breathing, “I saw the tent up on the hill in the distance, and I thought of you. I didn’t want to live like that anymore. It took everything I had to escape. I have made it all this way, but I am still in chains and do not know how to break free of them though.”

A sound broke their conversation. It was the sound of Legacy’s sword. She pulled the sword from its sheath. It shined brilliantly in the sun. It was perfectly cleaned and polished.

Legacy held it in one hand and used her fingers from her other hand to trace the blade, “This sword will break those chains, have no fear,” she looked at the young woman as she held the sword, “I have one question for you though, what do you want to leave behind when you are gone?”

VERSES:
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:11-12)

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Cor. 12:12-14)

19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:19-20)

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (1 Peter 4:1-6)

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.(1 Peter 4:12-14)

17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)

(The Protest has an album called Legacy with a skull with monarch butterflies on it. I really love that cover and wanted to do a steampunk top hat for it. With help from a friend we made it and made a jacket to match it. Later on I thought it would be fun to write a story to make a character out of it. The songs referenced from The Protest are Welcome to the Freakshow and Legacy. For the story I described the hat mostly and just went with more of a ringmaster’s outfit and left that part up to the reader a bit)

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Poem: I Found Them

I found them
I found them did I not,
Serpent?

That is the meaning of this
This weight in the air
and this darkness in the sky
It’s because I found them

I poked and prodded
I search and wandered
and I found them

The one you were holding onto
The one you didn’t want to lose grip of
The one you wanted to keep for yourself

And now here we are
The only one standing between me and them
Is you

I finally found them
and now it’s time for war

(For over a year and a half I have made a hobby of contacting many many churches about Christian rock concerts in their area. Since March 2019 I have contacted 5,630 unique churches in about 30 states by Facebook, email, twitter, and Instagram. It has resulted in much spiritual torment. I have felt strongly for a while that when I hit a huge wave of spiritual resistance while working its because I’m in a area where there is someone Satan doesn’t want at the show I am promoting. I have seen visions of Satan standing between me and someone at the gates of hell. Its a spiritual tug of war with Satan to get them there. I know these concerts save people because I’ve seen how strongly evil forces will react to stop me)

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The Dying Sheep’s 20 Year Anniversary Tour: Part 3, Depression

20 years with depression. I don’t like thinking about it. Thinking about it requires thinking about all the lost time to self deprecating thoughts and lack of motivation. That alone can start a tailspin of dark thoughts.

Most of my time with depression has been unmedicated. I took meds for a brief time in high school and that’s it. I have also done very little therapy over the years. I had a brief period when my disposable glove allergy started where I saw someone and a few horrible experiences with psychiatrists. Horrible because just being in the room with them upset me. Hard to describe, they were so godless and cold, being around them upset me. So I looked crazy to them but they were the ones upsetting me.

Depression is something I have come to peace with and am okay with having to deal with the rest of my life. I have become familiar with its workings over the years and can handle it a little better than I use to. If I could be depressed the rest of my life and have no anxiety I would take that choice in a heart beat.

Here is a bit of my wisdom from the last 20 years.

1. Depression wants you to lay down and die and give up. All its forces push on you to just stop everything. It can feel like a literal weight on you pushing you towards the ground. Its important to see just how depression is effecting you. Then when it hits, you know what it is. Its easier to deal with when you know what it is.

2. Don’t give up anything to it. Don’t change your schedule for it. You have to keep your life going as much as possible. Even if its hard. Even if it hurts. Don’t stop your life for depression. Keep going to work and school. Keep seeing family and friends. Keep doing those hobbies. If you must slow down a bit go ahead, but don’t give them up. It’s harder to get them back if you put them down for depression. Its harder to get going again if you completely stop and lay down. Its comfortable laying down and giving up, but we can’t stay down.

3. What you see about yourself isn’t what other people see. You are loved so much more than you think you are. People think higher of you than you think they do. People would miss you more than you think they would if you were gone. People in your life would do anything to help you if you asked them. Your dark inward thoughts are highly inaccurate and full of lies.

4. As I’ve said before, proper expression is important. You can’t just escape and avoid what you are feeling. There is no escape from it. You can attempt to immerse yourself in whatever unhealthy coping mechanisms you desires, but those feelings are right there waiting for you. Who cares what others think of it and if they think you are just a victim wanting attention. It can be a matter of life and death that you express what you are feeling and get that poison out of you in some way by giving voice to it

5. Depression is very self centered. It makes you obsessed with yourself. All you think about is yourself and what you think of yourself. The world disappears around you and you are stuck in yourself thinking about yourself. To get your thoughts off of yourself look for ways to help others. When you are helping others you think about them and how you want to make their lives better. Thinking other helping others feels so much better than being stuck inside yourself,

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The Battlefield (Inspired by Dead Militia by Disciple)

Background: Pictures below the story. It started with a hat. I have a friend who had purchased a bunch of old marching band hats and was making steampunk hats out of them. I decided to decorate one too, and I thought of doing one for the song “Dead Militia” by Disciple. We gave it a roman helmet look and it turned out cool. Later on I decorated by military style jack to go with the helmet and did my make up for a “commander of the Dead Militia” look. So after all that one day I thought about trying to write a story about the commander of the Dead Militia for the heck of it.

The dawn was approaching, but the night still clung tightly in those early hours. Deep In the dark his eyes sprung open. Covered in sweat and heart pounding he sat up. Another nightmare had stolen what little sleep he would get that day once again.

Above him was the ceiling of his tattered and torn tent. Below him was a few blankets and the cold dust of the earth that was black as night encircled in those fragile walls. The only other things he had with him was his uniform and his weapons. There was no room for vast amounts of possessions in war. The birds began to chirp and sing. They heralded the coming day. He wiped the sweat and dreams away from his brow, “I should probably get up. Today is another day we must fight”.He was not just any soldier out there this day. He was the leader of them all. The most experienced and war torn of all the souls on that field. The Commander of the Dead Militia. 5 blood stained stars adorned his jacket. Across his chest he wore many medals of honor, all ripped and unraveled from bullets and blades.

The Spirit Fire award in its bold black and white design with the Chi-rho he wore proudly, the Lion Heart in its roaring gold glory, the Kill Shot award, and many more told a life long story of war and wounds. All played out on this field. Just like today.

His body was covered in scars. Bits of flesh torn away from his body by a vast array of weapons. From guns to swords, to arrows and spears, and even stones and fists. From the front lines of that battlefield he faced them all, and none have taken him down. He was the most experienced veteran to walk that field. He’d seen it all and survived it all.

“We do not leave the battle unscathed,” he often said. His right hand is missing two finger tips via an enemy sword. His left kidney removed long ago due to damage from enemy fire. Broken on the battlefield, but still standing…still ready to fight.

He was fearless. He was the embodiment of endurance and perseverance. He boldly tossed aside anything that stood in his way of victory on that battlefield. He would not be stopped. When his own body turned on him and his right eye began to fail him, he ordered the medics to pluck it out. “I will feast in the banquet halls of Heaven incomplete if I must. I will not dine in hell because of this eye,” is what he said that day. The epitome of self sacrifice for the sake of victory.

That eye patch struck fear deep within the bones of any enemy who even just gazed on it for a moment. His body was mortal, but his drive was unstoppable and refused to die. It terrified them.

“We must get up. It is time to fight,” he said to himself as he got dressed and prepared for the day ahead. His covered his battered body in that uniformed filled with military honors and faded colors. The perfect vision of a true warrior. The outside laden with stories of honor and glory, and the inside clothed in wounds and bruises.

He opened the front of his tent departed it. The first glimpse of those gleaming medals and the intensity in his one remaining eye shook fear in the devil himself. The commander’s troops were starting to stir and ready themselves for the day.

They were battle weary just like him. They were all worn and torn as they slept in their tents night by night after they fought day by day. Some of them gave up arms and legs to live to see another day and continue on. They were covered in scars just like him. His rank said he was above them, but truly they were all the same. There was no men in all the earth better to fight alongside than these men.

His top lieutenants were already dressed and gathered. There was a sadness in their eyes today. Much more than usual. He approached them, “What troubles you this fine morning?”One of them replied, “Commander, I’m just not sure we can do this again. We fight the same fight every day. It seems like we will never be victorious. Is this even worth it?”

The Commander paused for a moment. It was easy to become discouraged on the battlefield, that is for sure. He had been there many times himself. “Listen up troops!” he said as he centered himself in the large group that had formed. When the Commander spoke you listened, so all in range to hear dropped what they were doing to hear the words of their great leader.

“First let me say, I am very proud to fight alongside each and every one of you. I look into the crowd and I see many bloody and beaten soldiers. Bandages and crutches as far as the eye can see. We are battle weary, that is for sure. We are all tired of fighting, I know this.

The time for ceasing is not here yet. You see those tents? Our tents are temporary. These tents are not our home. We are not home yet! Therefore we can not stop fighting because we are not home yet. We are fighting to go home. It will not be much longer. It feels like an eternity of fighting and hurting, but truly the fight is only a short time compared to the time we will savor once we finally get home.

You do not fight alone. You have many fighting alongside you this morning. We are all injured and scarred. We are all battered and beaten and aching for home. We will all make it home if we stand together and fight this day. Your days in these tents will not be much longer. I promise. Will you fight with me this day?”

Their commander was strength itself. Their commander was faith itself. Every cell in his body gave off the sweet aroma of courage under fire that infiltrated his troops weary bones to give every leg the ability to stand again and every arm the will to hold his weapon again.

He continued, “We are built to hold each other up. At any given time some of us are up, and some of us are down. You know full well the days I have spent in darkness just the same as all of you. It is vital for victory that those who are up encourage those that are down. Remember the times you were raised up when you were down, and you must do the same for others when they are down. We fight this together. We shall carry each other to the battlefield. The finish line is just across that darkness on the other side of the field.”

All wounds felt bearable. All fingers and toes had feeling again. All feet still attached could walk. All eyes still in socket could see. They were revitalized for the coming day. They chanted and cheered for their commander, the power and determination of them all.

It was just before dawn when they set up lines on the battlefield.

Even in the dark of night, there was a greater blackness before them. There stood the enemy across that battlefield bathed in the blood of all those who came before them. Some of them had swords and shields that glinted under the stars. Some of them had guns with piercing bullets full of skull splitting shrapnel. Even larger weapons moved about in the shadows that none could see until they were face to face with it. What weapons you came up against one could never know, that was their secret.

The commander went before his troops and spoke, “Don’t ever forget, these tents we sleep in night after night are not our home. We are fighting for home. Home is just ahead on the other side of those mountains. The enemy wants to keep you from going home. They are the deepest darkness to ever walk these fields. Many of our own have fallen them and their crafty weapons.

They are the dark, but we are the light! What do you see every morning? You see the sun pierce through the night and overcome it to give forth the day. The night never prevails over the sun because the light is more powerful. We are that light! We are the only light that can defeat this darkness. We will be victorious if we stand together. Hold tight to those who falter and do not give up the path forward.

“The commander took his place on the front lines side by side with his comrades. He took pride fighting alongside them. They were a mass of broken beaten bodies longing for eternal rest.

The sun broke from the horizon and poured over the field. The Commander gave a great cry. His troops followed suit.

“ATTACK!!”

(Completed 10/24/2019)

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The Dying Sheep’s 20 Year Anniversary Tour: Part 2, Self Harm

Wow, its been a long ride with self harm. A long tiring ride with self harm. I first tried self harm via cutting 20 years ago this year. I remember the day. I was in my room and I just decided to try it. Can’t tell you where I got the idea honestly, but I’m willing to bet I got it from somewhere.

It started with just a few cuts, and I would wait to let them heal and do more so it wasn’t as often at first. Then it just turned into more and more. The early stuff was shallow and didn’t scar. The later stuff is what I still have to wear every day because over time I cut deeper. Never as deep as what I’ve seen other people do, but enough I’m stuck with the scars now.

The second half of high school through the first half of college is the main time period I self harmed. I was big on smearing blood in the pages of my poetry journals that are filled with anger and pain because I felt that was the only way I could express what was going on inside.

It wasn’t easy to quit at first. I was so angry about “having to quit” for months. I didn’t do it for me at first. It took a while before I could do it for myself. I’ve had some very long clean streaks, and I’ve also broken those very long clean streaks.

What wisdom do I have for you from these 20 years?

1. It started with a choice, and it has to end with a choice. When you first start you CHOSE to do it. When its time to stop you must CHOOSE to end it. Don’t give me that “I can’t help it, I can’t control it” crap. Its a choice the whole time. Addiction brain washes you into thinking you have no choice and makes the choice incredibly hard, but the choice is still there. Addiction tells you “you are going to regret saying no, you can’t live without this, its going to be horrible without this, YOU NEED THIS DON’T SAY NO”….and NONE OF THAT IS TRUE. Saying no is the BEST choice you will make and you will be just fine and better without it. You don’t need it. Don’t listen to the lies, you still have a choice. This won’t end until you choose to say no. Then you have to keep saying no over and over again, every minute, every day, every week, every month, every year. Keep saying no over and over no matter how many times it takes.

2. What do you think you need it for? Healthy alternatives that fulfill what you are looking for in self harm are important. I think the most important is expression. Express what you are feeling and get it out and face it. Face it and deal with it. It doesn’t have to be talking to people, eww no I hate talking to people lol. I recommend writing about it. You can even fit what you feel into metaphorical images and display your pain for the world without them knowing exactly what you are talking about. I think exercise is the healthiest way to get some sort of “pain” but its good for you.

3. You are going to relapse. Its going to happen. And its okay! We all do it. Its hard to quit. Yes its going to feel like you are back on square one when you relapse, and it feels horrible to realize you are back there again. I’ve been there I know. A relapse doesn’t take away from you’ve accomplish. Everything you did before is still amazing and awesome. Just an hour, a day, a month away from self harm is absolutely truly an amazing accomplishment because sometimes getting to just a minute clean is agony. So don’t berate yourself too much for a relapse, and remember all you have accomplished. However, when you fall down you NEED to get up as soon as possible. Do not stay down for long. Don’t stay back with it for too long. The longer you stay down the harder it is to get back up. What really matters in your journey is not how many times you relapsed and fell down…what REALLY matters is that after EVERY SINGLE TIME you fell down that you got back up and kept going.

There’s many of us fighting the same battle beside you. You are not alone. Come fight with us.

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The Dying Sheep’s 20 Year Anniversary Tour: Part 1

2020 is the 20th anniversary of when it all started. My depression really kicked in hard that year. I tried self harm for the first time. I had my one and only suicide attempt that year. 20 years ago I created The Dying Sheep name and felt like God had left me like the 1 lost sheep that he never went to find.

20 years later. I know God never abandoned me, he was there the entire time. I still fight depression, but I know more about it. I still have self harm urges, but I’ve got a long clean streak in my hands. I have promised God that I will have faith in what day he has planned for me to leave this earth and not pick my own day. I’ve gotten to do all sorts of stuff with my experiences to help others. Still here, 20 years later.

I have a few things I have learned over these 20 years. I will spread them out over the remaining part of the year.

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