Exactly a week after the monumental Friday night, my time had come to share. Approaching the platform, I knew that once I finished telling these things, my life to that point would stay up on stage for everyone to view and remember. They’d know things that perhaps they hadn’t before. Finally, with a deep breath, I began to tell about some of the pain I’d been through. Prior to deciding to tell my story, I’d been apprehensive to share because I didn’t deem it “bad enough” or “sad enough” for people to care. However, I threw out that notion, remembering that despite my story’s lack of drug usage or death or abuse, pain resides in my heart. Pain of any magnitude matters.

I was born and raised in the Seventh-Day Adventist church. I’ve been in this same church, went to the same school, and even lived in the same house for my entire life. I grew up fairly normal and in a good family environment with supportive parents. As I went through grade school, I was always “popular”, had lots of friends, got decent grades, and had an overall love for life. This homey safe haven that I grew up in was a great contrast to how my parents had been raised though. As I got older, I learned of family issues that had happened when I was younger, or before I was born. Slowly but surely, my young brain was exposed to stories. Stories of abuse, addiction, gambling, cheating, lying, and just rotten behavior in general. These dreadfully ugly things haunted and disturbed me. They still do if I let myself dwell upon them. My parents however, made extra effort to keep me away from these things and thus brought me up in a good home that didn’t follow the trends of their parents and grandparents.

Unfortunately, things  don’t always stay the way people would like. To keep things short and not draw out unnecessary details, I’ll just be artfully blunt. Last year in April, my parents separated and soon divorced after some infidelity and alcohol, which resulted in my dad moving to Omaha. Life became not-so-peachy and I found myself stuck in a broken home with nothing to hold on to but anger and bitterness toward my father. Slowly but surely, I came to God with these feelings and thoughts to try and reconcile them. However, these things still remain locked up inside. Its a work in progress to heal, and I trust that it will in time.

I told many of these family issues that night along with other things as I shared up front. Ironically enough, the contrast of the bright stage lights and the dark room surrounding me reflected the feeling of the space as I let everything out. The darkness was not foreboding, nor the light overpowered by the black all around me. The darkness was friendly. It signaled Josh Marshall being cracked open and revealed more openly to the world. The light shone into the dark and I breathed easier as I left the stage, burdenless. People patted me on the back or hugged me or gave nods as if to say “I feel ya, man” or “I understand”. Others came up later to talk to me or posted on my FaceBook later saying how they appreciated the things I’d said and been open about. I didn’t mind affirmation and support, but I don’t want to be mistaken for an attention getter. I hoped what I’d shared could be useful to others; something they could relate to.

My story, like everyone else’s, has a purpose… To be shared. Every day adds another chapter, another sentence, another element to a person’s “life-book”. But no two books are alike. That is what makes us special. The story given to us is OURS. Each life-book contains its own unique folds, tears, and blood stains. It features silly love notes, angry scribbles, and gentle contented poetry that spans and reoccurs over a lifetime. Donald Miller writes in his book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” that we can choose to “live a better story”. I’ve learned that I have a choice. I could sit on my butt all day and mope about how much life sucks, or I can get up every day with an intent to be positive and not let the past drag me down. If you’re dissatisfied with how your life is going, do something about it. Choose differently. Change habits, change thinking, change moods. Reinvent your perspective. All of this can be accomplished with God’s help. He, of all people, wants you to live a better story for Him and is more than willing to guide you along that path.

So as you all probably know, the school year is over and the Atmosphere Project is in limbo, as it were. I’m outta CVA and the future rests in the hands of the students of this next year and the years following it. However, I’ll remain a support for those that need it, considering I’m close friends with many of the current students. I wish CVA the best in the years to come and that the project will continue to grow and finally permeate the halls and walls of the school that I considered a 2nd home. This concludes my Atmosphere series, but more blogs are to come! Sorry, Reader, for the long time in between posts 🙂