It was 1985 and I was sound asleep in bed at 4am. I woke up to the fire alarm and I (Zach) remember thinking at that young age, “Man, mom is cooking again…” and I went back to sleep.
But my house WAS on fire.
My mother woke me and my 3 siblings (Gabriel, Abigail and Sarah) and we gathered in the living room where flames were running up the wall. We sat on the couch and watched the reflection of the fire on our TV while we waiting for everyone to group up.
We ran out of the house wearing nothing but our winter boots and pajamas as fire blew the windows out behind us when we opened the back door.
We just escaped with our lives.
I was 6 years old, and my dad was not there.
My dad had left my mother and us 4 kids the year before, and now here we were alone in the dark of that 4am Northern, MN winter, and we had lost everything.
It all went up in flames. And from that day on I felt like my childhood did as well.
That was the first of many traumas in my life over the next decade that included abuse, neglect, and a max of a 3rd grade education that caused me to believe one thing…
I am Powerless over my Fate.
And this is what I begin speaking to myself internally for many years to come. This became who I was and who I told myself I was destined to be. But the story doesn’t end there.
After spending 10 years hiding my identity, lying to most people I met about the truth of my life, at 17 years old something happened. I met Jesus at a youth retreat and realized that He believed in me.
That gave me hope.
Even though my father had seemingly abandoned us and I barely knew him, this new Father was there for me and seemed to deeply care for me. I started to see light at the end of this dark road of hiding that I had been on.
When I was 21 I met someone else. A youth pastor who for one meal together became an earthly father I had never known. He believed in me, told me I could do MORE than what I had been doing, and that gave me direction.
When I was 24 I met someone new.
Jody believed in me and wanted to know me and wanted to love this nobody kid who had no dad, no education and no dreams. It is incredible to have someone who believes in you. It is life-giving to have someone that thinks you have value even when you are totally flawed.
That gave me vision.
Then 2 years ago I met someone who absolutely wrecked me.
After not being sure if we could ever have children, and after losing 3 before him, a miracle happened.
We met our son, Jaxon Gray.
He showed me something buried deep within my past. He showed me how I had been hiding for a long time. Hiding from my true self. Hiding from the person that God had created me to be. I started to see that the fears I had for him were really the unmet needs I had in myself.
He has become a teacher of sorts to me. A revealer and a seeker of my own soul. He is a part of my DNA and there is something about him I can’t ignore.
He showed me how much I STILL need my own dad and how much I want Jaxon to know his.
All of my hopes and my dreams and everything I wanted as a child have became wrapped up in my desire to give him everything I never had. Things like a father who never leaves, a home that is secure, an education that he can access anytime he wants and more. But through all of that desire to give to him, I am realizing that he is awaking my deep seated fear of intimacy and helping me to see that I need to change my mind-set if I want to be free.
He has given me a renewed purpose. That purpose is to become a better man. To finally love with abandon like he loves. To look into someone else’s eyes without fear like he can. Without fear that they might know the truth about who I am. To dance and sing and shout for joy just because!
My little son is more free than I have ever known since that cold day in 1985 when some inside of me burned up in that fire.
This journey with him has been the hardest journey of my life and the last two years I have had to dig deep into the muck and mire of me by watching my reflection in him.
But something interesting is happening. I am finally finding my true self. My TRUE purpose. Who I was created to be. That person is still hard to see at times but I know he is there.
I am still deep in this journey and have a long way to go. But today, Jody and I want to bring you something.
Hope that there IS a way out. There IS a way to peace and to being free.
Now I have met someone new.
Man, I am gonna be messed up with this one! Only God knows what she will teach me. I don’t know if I am ready to learn what she can teach!
My life experiences have showed me how what you believe in your mind can limit you from walking in your true potential.
In this 3 part series that dives deep into our story (and yours) we are going to show you how to break the cycle of living a poverty mind-set and start living your TRUE potential that YOU were created for. Welcome to part 1 of Today We are Rich (based on Tim Sanders book by the same name).
We are beyond excited that you are here with us. We are honored to be able to speak to over 55,000 of you that are on this newsletter list. All of us are in need of something, and these next 3 weeks are going to be powerful, and COULD be life-changing if you allow them to be.
We believe that there is more out there for you – untapped potential that you can have access to if you want it. If you press in these next few weeks, you can get something that you might have never known was possible.
See you next week when we reveal the Poverty Mind-Set and how to start breaking free from it and pursuing the change that can impact your business, your photography, and your personal lives in ways you never imagined.