God Turned My Crazy Life Upside Down
God Turned My Crazy Life Upside Down. If you peer closely into my eyes, you will see they reflect both deep pain and, ironically, deep peace. Just below my right eye, I have a tattoo of the tres puntos, the three dots. The dots are small but significant to gangsters.
The tattoo is known as “Mi Vida Loca,” which is translated as “My Crazy Life.” In Latino gang culture, that phrase represents the struggles of the underprivileged and minorities. It’s a way of saying, “My life is crazy, but I’m thankful for it,” or, “Life may be crazy, but I’m still here.” Each individual dot represents one of the three destinations that gang life leads to—the grave, the hospital, or prison. We called it the “trinity of life.” Not everyone would experience all three. We may only experience one out of three, or two out of three, but the ultimate price you would pay would be three out of three.
This was our destiny. Bound by honor, we lived to die and died to live for our barrio, our neighborhood, our people. It’s all we had. It’s all we knew, and it was all we had left. It was our familia. The only thing that united us was our brokenness. I fully expected to be dead or in prison before I hit eighteen years old.
To be honest, we were narcissistic too. We had to be narcissistic. We were always watching our backs to survive. I had to make myself as number one. In the gang lifestyle, the deception of being a narcissist is you are so focused on being strong enough to survive that you don’t think about your future, let alone eternity. Perhaps the reality of where we were going to spend the rest of our lives was not as meaningful as what was in front of us.
What’s crazy is, although I was doing everything to survive, I wanted to die. I just wanted the misery—the abandonment, the anxiety, the loneliness, the depression, the fear of not knowing if there was more pain to come—to end. It’s crazy to even think you can make it when everything is against you.
In the gangs, I was a living dead man. In my mind, I was already dead. It was only a matter of time. Death was always near. From getting out of my homie’s car, to waking up and going out of my house to catch the bus to school, death was at my door. I could smell it; I could feel it. I could sense it. Death was always near, and my time was running out. I should have been dead a long time ago. At the same time, I knew something special was going on. Others saw it too, how God miraculously protected me in situations where death was certain. Yet I still couldn’t believe it. I had seen too much violence and sorrow. I often wondered how a just God allows bad things to happen to good people. This question often created so much anger and hate inside me. It was a constant battle in my head—good vs. evil, life vs. death. Yeah, death was stalking me, but life was chasing me as well.
It’s still unbelievable that He would love someone like me, save me from of one of the most notorious Los Angeles gangs, and reveal my true destiny. Going from a kid in Central America filled with confusion and growing bitterness; to the gangs of LA filled with violence, rebellion, and hate; to ultimately being able to share my story with millions around the world—it’s something that could have only happened by the grace of God.
Think about it. I’m an ex-gang member; the world said lock him up, throw the key away. I was a kid who didn’t feel good enough to even sit at the table with anyone other than killers, shot callers, street fighters, drug dealers, and people who relate to the life I came from. Yet here I am cohosting and hosting two worldwide television programs. If God can take a gangster from the streets of Los Angeles and do what He’s done in my life, He can do it for anyone. God had a very different destiny for me than a life on the streets. This is my crazy life.
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