Sometimes, the most disappointing times of life can actually be springboards to better days. At the age of 21, I was a single father with custody of my two-year-old daughter. As her sole provider, in more ways than one, life hit me with a two by four upside the head. I spent my weeks stretched thin––working a restaurant valet job, on the ramp at American Airlines, and I had my own multi-level marketing business. On top of that, I was broken-hearted and lonely.
Have you ever found yourself wondering, “How did I end up here?” During that time in my life, I had set my hopes on going into the military or even becoming an entrepreneur. In a matter and mixture of different decisions, I watched all of it seemingly disappear. I remember looking at my life, wondering how I got there and worrying about how I was going to raise my daughter on my own. Nothing in life could have prepared me for this moment or this feeling. I struggled with depression and anger. I contemplated suicide on more than one occasion. I’m so thankful that I did not follow through on the thoughts.
Now, I’m not telling you this to garner sympathy or to paint a picture of “woe is me.” Rather, I share my experience, because I want you to know that even in your lowest of lows… there is hope. What a life of joy I would have missed out on had I not pushed through that difficult chapter in my life. I wish there was a formula on how to no longer struggle with anxiety or depression, or even ten steps on how to keep moving on when you feel like you’re at your breaking point. While I don’t have a quick fix for these feelings, I can tell you what pulled me out of the darkest points of my life.
I shudder to think about where my first-born daughter, Courtney, and I would be right now if it weren’t for the support and sacrifice of my parents. They loved me through the hardest season of my life and came alongside me to help me become the best father I could be. There really aren’t enough words to convey the gratitude I have for how they pulled me through that time in my life.
Not only did my family support me, but I also had friends that wouldn’t give up on me. One friend in particular kept inviting me to come to his church. Day after day at work, “Come to my church,” he’d say. Then, it turned to almost begging. He could see that I was not in a good place. He resorted to bribing. He said, “If you come to church, I’ll take you and your daughter out to breakfast.” I thought about it and reluctantly said yes. Never underestimate the power of eggs and bacon! That Sunday, overdressed in my Sunday-best, I surrendered my life to Jesus.
When I surrendered my life to Jesus that day, I remember thinking about how broken my life was before I stepped through the doors of the church. As worship started, I felt God. For the first time, I not only felt purpose, but most importantly, I felt hope. This encounter completely transformed my life. It would take several years of perseverance and healing, but by the time I was 25, I met the love of my life, Lisa. We now have three daughters together, a son-in-law, and two beautiful grandbabies. As hard as I remember that time in my life being, I look at the blessings I have now and I can see how Jesus was with me every step of the way.
My hope for you is that whatever season of life you’re in reading this, you know that you are not alone. No matter your struggle, situation, or setback, don’t give up. I promise you; it will get better. Why? Because there is always hope.
Mike Kai is passionate about building the worldwide church. A visionary leader with a heart to advance the kingdom of God, he has guided a small congregation in Hawai’i from humble beginnings in 2001 to a thriving multi-site congregation named Inspire Church. The author of The Pound for Pound Principle, Plateaus and That Doesn’t Just Happen, Mike speaks at conferences and to congregations all over the world and conducts pastors’ and leaders’ roundtables. Mike and his wife, Lisa, reside in Honolulu and are the proud parents of three daughters and two grandchildren.