I met JR Rendon back at my old neighborhood and we’ve been friends ever since. He is a young man struggling with kidney failure since he was 14 years old. When I published AS CLEAR AS CLAIRE, I gave him a copy of my book. A short time later I ran into him and he asked me to help him tell his story. You never know how your single act of obedience will be used to inspire and even unlock someone else. Recently JR came to my home and he shared the details of his experience with me; afterwards I took his notes along with mine and used them to build the story. With his permission I am posting it here because it is his wish that people read it in order to be helped. Thank you JR for allowing me this honor!
We all have issues; you have a choice in how to overcome them. God has given all of us the gift of choice. In Genesis He tell us: “ I have set before you life and death; blessing and curse. Choose life that you and your children may live. Well, I want to share with you how I was choosing death for a long time and I was getting nowhere.
It all started for me when I was 14 and I realized I had no control over some of the problems in my life. I was fine one day and the next day something unexpected happened: I found out I was sick. It happened on a Friday when I visited my family doctor for a regular check up. Dr. Felter did his normal routine with me and asked me how I was . I joked that I wished I were taller and he told me not to worry because being tall was over rated. We both laughed because he happened to be only a little taller than me. Before I left his office he did order some blood work to be done for me and after he took some samples I was free to go.
I went home that afternoon feeling pretty good about my life. Once I got home I called Erik and Victor and told them to meet me at the skate park. I was going to pound all of my pent up energy into my board and forget all about the hassles of the past week. That whole week end I spent with my family; we hung out and had a huge cook out in our back yard. Some of my family came from Cali and it was fun to be with my cousins again. I had no
idea what was coming to me.
Monday rolled around as usual with the speed of a lightning bolt. Dr. Felter called my mom and I saw her face change in a flash; her smile disappeared from her small face only to be replaced by deep furrowed lines of worry on her forehead. That concerned me . Once she hung up with Dr. Felter, she told me,
“ Junior, hurry up and put some clothes on.”
“ Mom, I’m tired I was gonna go skate …” she interrupted me,
“ C’mon we have to go NOW!” I didn’t say another word and did as she said. On the ride in our white family sedan my thoughts were racing as in a Nascar speed track ; all my thoughts were crashing into each other and I felt loco.
Once we arrived at the hospital we went to emergency and they did all the routine work on me. They asked me for a urine sample and then gave me a bed to rest in because I was in for a long wait. Finally after what seemed forever and a day a young doctor with a heavy Russian accent came in to speak to us. I read his name tag: Dr. Malkov and I tried hard to listen to what he was saying.. He told my mom that there was blood in my urine sample . I looked from my mom to the doctor and I panicked because the looks on both of their faces was not a good one. Shortly afterwards I was transferred to Sun Valley hospital where they specialize in helping people with kidney failure.
I was starting to feel like a specimen on a petri dish from all of the blood tests, x-rays, biopsies and cat scans I had to endure. And, after all the results came back, my tormentors my doctors could not figure out why I was so sick and growing sicker . I was admitted into the hospital and kept under close observation for the next three weeks. When my sentence expired, I was released and the doctors still had no idea as to what was wrong . I felt pretty good as I made my way home that day.
I had not been home for long when my condition took a turn for the worst. All the food I ate, I would vomit and as if I needed any more cause for concern, I started spitting up blood. Great, I had made it out of that blasted hospital for almost a whole week and my mom had to rush me back before I even had a chance to go skating again with Erik and Victor. Once at the hospital I began vomiting blood; so I was hooked up to an IV and the doctors tending to me began administering medications in order to stop the bleeding and the vomiting. Meanwhile x-rays were ordered for me and once the results returned they showed blood in my lungs. I had to stay for more observation in the ER for 2 nights.
After the two days I was transported to another hospital where the doctors ordered lung and kidney biopsies for me. Once the results returned, the experts informed us that they had found scar tissue in my lungs from all the bleeding. At this time I learned I had kidney failure and that I would have to undergo dialysis and meanwhile I would be placed on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.
I was dumbstruck along with my parents; I felt fear running through me as never before- a chill would course through my veins that not even the hot sun in this scorching desert I call home could dispel. My parents, Sharon and Manny both shared my fear and that day I remember crying my eyes out. Man, I didn’t know I had THAT many tears and still they wouldn’t stop coming.
At this point in my journey I began to feel a strong anger toward God. I would think; ’Really, God? Why me? I hated that I was having to miss so much school. Soon it became tougher to keep up; I went from being a some what out going kid at school to someone who decided to completely shy away from people. I missed so many days that on the weeks when I did go to school I would show up only to feel judged and snubbed by the other kids. So I decided to put an a coat of armor as self protection. I was so sick of everything and everybody and I put on my best tough ass look that I could muster as a way to cope with all of this misfortune.
Before I discovered about my sickness I would put up with all of the mean teasing from bullies at school; and believe me that was no picnic but at least I believed in myself enough to just shrug off the stupid hurtful words. Now though, things were different and I felt my patience ebbing low and I got to where I wanted to beat the next person who called me “Big Eyes” to a bloody pulp. Prior to the illness, I had been able to talk to just about anyone who tried to friend me. Now I had become quite shy and I tried to stay away from people so they would not talk to me. I remember hanging my head low a lot and the bad attitude I wore now was what I thought was giving me the strength to get by each day; I was so wrong but back then I didn’t know it. My bad attitude toward everything was hurting me more than I could ever imagine.
I began dialysis right away; I had lost a lot of weight and my nice brown skin was now sallow and pale. I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I had to go to dialysis 3 times per week and each session lasted 3 and ½ hours.
7 years have passed since this illness came into my life. I still go to dialysis and I’m on the waiting list for a kidney. I have since discarded my bad attitude like a cheap coat you throw away in the dumpster because it was dragging me down and impeding my process. I have also stopped asking God, “ Why me?” Now I have more of a clear understanding and I see that none of this is God’s fault. God did not make me sick as I was under the wrong impression before. I blamed God for this and it drove me far away from Him which is not what I wanted at all.
God uses everything , good and bad that happens to us for HIS glory. No, He is not getting any glory from my sickness; He IS however getting glory from how I choose to handle this. The choice is mine: Do I trust Him completely no matter how this turns out? Or, Do I keep trying to make sense of it all and try to take care of it myself with out His help? He gets the glory when I allow Him to take care of me because that’s when He shows up and shows off. God loves it when we trust Him even when there is no apparent reason to keep trusting Him. Little did I know that in all of this He was growing my faith by leaps and bounds. Everything works for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
Ask yourself right now; am I willing to TRUST that God is God and that he can and will help me in whatever situation I may be facing? Or, am I going to go on doubting Him and struggling to make it work on my own. All God asks of you is obedience and the rest He takes care of. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him and that takes FAITH my friend.
As I look back on these last 7 years I am able to see how God has had my back through this whole ordeal. Once I almost had a heart attack and the next day I got out of my hospital bed and started walking around because I felt good; this surprised all of the doctors. Miracles are real and I believe that God does big and small miracles for us all the time; we have to be in tune though and believe that He is who He says He is.
I have come to accept where I am right now in my life. I don’t fight it anymore; my bad attitude had me in the same place the children of Israel were in when they left Egypt. They complained bitterly that God had brought them out to the desert to abandon them; this angered God because they would not trust Him. Without realizing it, their grumbling made a short journey into one that took them the long way through the desert .They reached the promised land 40 years later when they could have gotten there in a week‘s time. Well, I know what they went through personally because of my sour attitude and all of the complaining I did.
As I see it now, God was never and has never been out to get me. He chose me, hand picked me even to demonstrate His love and power to and through me. God taught me that just because the doctors give me a bad prognosis, it doesn’t mean I have to live my life in fear. If I TRUST Him, I can over come whatever comes my way. Before when I was letting the sickness rule me, I was miserable because it was in control which drove me to a terrible, unbearable depression. Looking back now out of my fear I was choosing death every single day and I spent my days wallowing and brooding in self pity. We don’t move God with our begging and our tears- FAITH is the only way to get God to move on your behalf. It doesn’t work any other way.
So when I stopped playing the self pity woe is me game, that’s when everything changed for me. Hind sight has shown me that I made these past 5 years harder on myself and this held me back from making any progress; my wrong choices made my journey much longer and harder to bear . Blaming God is pointless. I chose this for myself, He had a better plan for me and out of fear, doubt and unbelief I chose wrong. The day I chose to shut my complaining mouth up and I asked God to forgive me for all of my complaining was a pivotal point in my life. Ever since, things have begun to move for me. Everyday that passes by is bringing me closer to my kidney transplant.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Impossible is nothing. Keep trusting and believing. Believe and let live!
WRITTEN BY EVA SANTIAGO BASED ON THE FACTS JR RENDON TOLD