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Choosing Life (Don’t Ever Wonder)

I was 28 when God first spoke to me. In retrospect, I’d heard His voice before, but I was too busy and too distracted to…

by j. brotherlove

I was 28 when God first spoke to me.

In retrospect, I’d heard His voice before, but I was too busy and too distracted to pay attention, I suppose. However, one night in February of 1996, His voice was clear and “radiant”’ and I listened carefully for the first time. God didn’t divulge anything profound by most standards. But he did reveal the secret of life by asking me one question:

“Do you want to live or die?”

Unlike the many mortal words before that — words of pity and concern that swarmed around my head everyday and made me dizzy, words of comfort that only caused me to cry, God’s question was clear and non-emotional; it was logical. Even so, I repeated it to myself several times as I drifted in a near sleep. Falling down a long, dark rabbit hole, I felt my life slowly leaving my withering body in my parents spare bed.

Did I want to live or die? I thought about that as my spirit went into free-fall and my body continued to get smaller. The abdominal pain I was experiencing was so excruciating, and this feeling was so… freeing. And yet, I was being asked a serious question.

I continued to reflect on that question and my situation. At a time when I should be blossoming into an adult I had moved in with my parents. For the past two months, I’d been juggling a toxic relationship with an uncertain career path and experiencing intermittent abdominal pain. Something had to give.

The frequency of jolting pain gradually increased until one day, at a temp assignment, I doubled over from an unusually sharp jab in my abdomen. Now I lay in my parents spare bed, groaning in 10-minute intervals because my doctor hadn’t yet diagnosed me with ulcerative colitis and hadn’t prescribed a treatment to eradicate the pain. I couldn’t eat anything solid and could barely drink anything because it triggered violent intestinal spasms. Life sucked really bad.

“Do you want to live or die?”

Death was very tempting. Death would end my suffering. I tallied my life experiences, naturally focusing more on my mistakes than my accomplishments. I’d made a lot of mistakes and in the past months or so I felt I’d tanked in the test called Life. My relationship was a farce, I didn’t have a permanent job and my friends seemed distant. What did I have to live for?

At that time my closest contacts were Nix, DNR, Ra-Ra, Mau Mau and EJ. With EJ in Atlanta and me in Chicago, he only got part of the story. He didn’t see the pain on my face or seem to understand I was rapidly dropping weight because I couldn’t eat.

EJ responded to my illness by imparting stories of his travels and conquests because, what do you do when your best friend is in tremendous physical pain? I would listen to his stories but I didn’t really care about the new club in DC or the latest gossip.

I liquidated my retirement and bought a computer where I started to write. I’d write stories, write journal entries, write emails. After one of EJ’s latest tales I sent him a missive imparting how I felt he didn’t care about me anymore. Why would he continue to act like life was the same when I was clearly dying?

He replied that he definitely did care but felt hopeless in the situation. Therefore, he felt sharing the things we always shared would help take focus off my pain and make me feel better. I sent him an understanding reply telling him how I felt better that he hadn’t dismissed me as a friend.

His one-sentence email reply:
“Don’t ever wonder.”

To this day whenever I hear “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” by Maxwell, I get teary-eyed. The irony of this story is played out years later when, tables turned and roles reversed, I didn’t perform much differently than EJ.

But back to that night I laid in the bed along with God’s voice asking me The Question. I’d been feeling sorry for myself until I questioned if God was punishing me for all of my wrong-doings then why was I given the opportunity, more importantly, the choice to live? Obviously, this wasn’t the end — unless I wanted it to be. My situation, as bleak as it seemed, was only a setback. Apparently — and I still feel this — I had not fulfilled my Purpose. Given another chance, I could do better. I know I could. I know I can.

That’s why I chose to live.

pub: 11/25/2003 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 9 | subscribe
1. DNR

this took me back…I know that I blocked out how uncertain (bleak) things seemed at that time…thanks for the post.

great post, j. makes me think of those t-shirts with the big “CHOOSE LIFE” screened on the front (ala michael & ridgeley)…perhaps not so corny, after all. i think it’s safe to say, sweetie, that we’re all very happy with your choice.

You should read “Conversations with God” sometime…or just bump a shitload of K - same basic result; life is your job.


That takes me back to a period in my life about 16 years ago. There’s wasn’t physical trauma, but the mental anguish I was dealing with had me making a similar choice. Glad I make the right one.

5. Nix

hey you.

i remember everything about that time in our lives. things were so hard and dark, so much darkness… i was there for your crisis, and i also remember how i had my own death/God issues that year and the following year.

in a sense, we both did die that year. i mean look at how far we have come,how much we have done. we rose like the phoenix.

man i”m glad we both decided to CHOOSE LIFE! (hey you know i would try to fit in a Wham/80s reference whenever possible).

may you have peace and i give thanks to having you in my life in the past,and now and forever.


i feel you on this. lately God has been speaking to me too. but he’s always spoken to me…the difference now is i’m listening and acknowledging his goodness. its amazing what happens when you do that right?
in any case, i feel you


*sigh* I read this, went away, came back, read it again. I don’t know what to say, except (to piggyback off of my girlfriend): I think I need to start listening. I’ve only listened a few times in my life, but overall I’m too damn stubborn. I’m trying though.

Everytime I hear this replay of your life, it never loses its impact. Life is a constant challange and no matter what gets in your way, you keep kickin its ass!

Brother Love, I have been secrectly admiring your words for sometime now, but this post brought me out of the closet.

You are blessed brother. I’m sooo glad you share.


Christopher David