Allow me to tell you an abbreviated version of my life story. You may find it sad, intriguing, inspiring, or maybe you will find it to be extraordinarily mediocre. All that is unimportant. The importance of my life story lies in its qualia. With any luck, reading about me will stir you up to love and good works--even more as we see the day approaching.
I am the son of two parents, but such is the fate of man. I was an intelligent child--sometimes my intelligence frightened my parents (obviously, walking and reading evidently should not be conjugally learned skills). As an aside, I would consider myself to be very intelligent, but not so smart as to be insane. However, my parents did not want me to be weird, and I greatly appreciate that. Since my parents did not want to put me into a think tank of a school, they decided to home school me. My mother educated me from first grade through fifth grade.
I attended a private kindergarten, during which time I acquired the epithet of "the most stubborn child I've ever taught" by my teacher (with sixty years of experience, mind you), of which title I am exceedingly proud. I was a good kid; I never engaged in too much mischief, or did much of which anyone would disapprove. In fact, the preacher's son at the local church called me a "goody-two-shoes" with some regularity.
However, not all was well with me. I was always very anxious, and I established unreasonable expectations for myself. I was a fearful little chap, mortified of the prospect of events like nuclear war. As I became older, I came to posses and unreasonable fear of torture, of all things. If I ever failed, or looked like I might fail, to meet some expectation I had constructed for myself, my personality was of such stuff that I railed against myself with unfortunate zest. Thus, depression became a subconscious enemy of mine, starting even at four or five years old.
My parents are Christians, and since this was the case, I was always at church. My family attended the local First Baptist Church and we were heavily involved therein. For as long as I can remember, I intellectually assented to Christianity; it just made sense. However, my beliefs rarely translated into actions. Not that I was a little heathen; on the contrary, I possessed exceptional moral character for a child of about 7 years old. My morality, however, was in no way due to my religion. It was simply an outworking of my personality and rearing.
When I was eight years old, I remember the preacher delivering a sermon dealing with individual salvation. I was sitting beside my mother and praying. When she asked me what I was doing, I told her that I was praying that one of my friends would be saved. As I remember it, she took that as a sign that I was under conviction, and told me I needed to go to the front and talk to the pastor. I did as I was told without hesitation, and a few weeks later I was baptized.
My “conversion” was not genuine. After that experience, nothing really changed in my life. I was still plagued by the same fears, still nursed the same shortcomings in my character, and continued to live in exactly the same manner as before. The only really noticeable effect of my “conversion” was that I now struggled with myself over the state of my soul. Subconsciously, I knew I was not a real Christian, but I was clinging to the false assurance of ritual. I do not want it to appear that my mother is to blame for this. I do not remember the circumstances all too clearly, but I do know that whatever her actions, her motivations were purely characterized by concern for my soul. Two years passed, and as a “ten-ager” I had not ceased wrestling with the issue of my false faith. I attended a “revival” service at my church, and the preacher talked about the brevity of life as an impetus for salvation. His message struck a chord with me, so I decided to try to deal with my salvation issues with some finality. I went forward and was baptized again.
I do not know if this experience was a genuine conversion or not. At the time, it seemed to be real. However, I think that testing one’s faith in this dichotomous manner—the before and after—proves to be counter-productive if one is raised in church. What is important is one’s present life. The question is not, “Was I saved then?” It is, “Am I pursuing Christ with fervor now?”
Nevertheless, I did begin to notice some distinct changes in my life. The problems I mentioned earlier started to fade. I became intensely interested in theology, thanks in large part to my parents and Pat Stewart, a pastor and dear friend of the family in Illinois. My mother started to give me bits and pieces of theological books to read, and they had the desired effect—I was hooked. From that time onward, I grabbed anything dealing with the study of God within my reach. Everything divine appealed to me, but I especially enjoyed reading the Puritans. These were rigorously intellectual people, but their intellect in no way interfered with their passion for Christ. I read some fairly heavy stuff for my age. I am most thankful to have read The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen in my early to mid-teens. Reading that book was an exercise for my heart and my mind. I heartily recommend that book to anyone seeking to know God, the nature of Christ’ atonement, or how to write an inordinately complicated sentence.
Now, let me elaborate a bit on my schooling. As I mentioned previously, my mother educated me at home starting in the first grade and continued until I finished my fifth grade year (I skipped fourth grade). During my home school years, my standardized test scores were always in the 99th percentile in everything. How I wished for those scores on my college entrance tests! But it was not to be; team sports made me dumb. From age 9 to age 11, I practiced TaeKwonDo, and wasn’t too shabby. I even won a national sparring tournament once. The martial arts did not lower my test scores; they made me a more rounded person, closer to being the Renaissance pre-teen. But, when I entered Tabernacle Christian School (affectionately termed, “The Nacle” by my friends and I) my sixth grade year, one thing about me was exceptional: I was taller than every other guy.
So it seemed that I was destined to play basketball. Admittedly, I was a pretty sad sight at first, but my height compensated for what I lacked in skill. Basketball then proceeded to effectively commandeer my life. I spent countless hours each day in the attempt to perfect my game. I became fairly proficient at the sport, and earning the MVP/Best Offensive player awards came to be a rather commonplace occurrence. As one might expect, all those hours playing basketball did not leave much time for the improvement of the mind or the social life.
Providence, however, stepped in very kindly, although I did not appreciate it so much at the time. The summer of my junior year, I believe I contracted spinal meningitis. Inevitably, my muscles began to atrophy, stunting my athletic ability somewhat. But I persevered, and when I had came back to full health near the end of my junior year. In early February, we played our arch rival, Trinity Christian Academy, in Oxford. Near the commencement of the game, a certain chain of events took place which led to the destruction of my left ACL. Even after two reconstructive surgeries, my knee was never the same. During my senior year I hobbled around the court, assuming the role of the team elder at the age of 16. Even so, I managed to score my 1,000th career varsity point that year.
After rehabbing my knee, I became a bit disenchanted with the entire sporting venture. So, I instead devoted time to learning how to play guitar. I believe music is a worthwhile occupation, far superior to any sport, simply because it art. As someone once said, “All art aspires to music.” Perhaps my convictions on sports and music are a bit arbitrary, but perhaps not. Either way, I began to learn some music theory and taught myself to play the guitar and the bass.
Soon after I had gained rudimentary musical knowledge, one of my friends from the Nacle and I decided to start a band; I was living the teenage dream. We convinced another student at the Nacle to play drums for us, and we were off. Honestly, our first attempts at making music strike me as unmentionably horrid. Not one of us had any idea what he was doing. The most musically talented member of our yet unnamed group was Marshall, our drummer, but he was not familiar with the sort of music that Walker and I enjoyed.
In an attempt to resolve this difficulty, we employed the talents of a former Nacle student, Lauderdale, for our second guitarist. He was older than the rest of us, and actually had some experience. As we played together more frequently, our skills improved and we began to write our own songs. As of now, I think we have around ten. We have played a grand total of three shows to date, although we plan on playing more shows in the future. A CD of our music should be available soon, and, if you desire it, I should be able to send you an .mp3 via AIM.
When I realized that the likelihood of becoming a rock star was unfortunately minuscule, I devoted more time to reading, writing, and thinking, although not necessarily in that order. This devotion was the effect of the Providence I mentioned earlier. In addition to all the events I have mentioned, being spurned by the only girl I had ever loved, the girl I planned to marry, was a quite soul-wrenching experience that, although I would not care to relive it, produced a beneficial overall effect on my character. I will not go into any detail in this account, but suffice it to say that her rejection of me enabled me to be more incisive about life than I had previously been. This too, was in the plan of God. Through my every experience He has been actively conforming me to the image of His Son.
Even though sports had dimmed my wit, I still managed to achieve high enough test score to receive several scholarships from various universities and be admitted into their honors programs. After considering all my options, I chose the University of Alabama at Birmingham. My decision sprung from several lines of reasoning. First, I wanted to be close to home, and Birmingham was only 12 miles away. Second, my love was attending that university (obviously, her explicit opinion of me had not soured at this point). Third, UAB has an excellent pre-med program, and its medical school is topnotch. Since I planned on being a doctor, UAB seemed to be the logical choice.
Until a few months ago, I was ambivalent regarding my career prospects. However, I knew that whatever my proposed career, there were two requisites: it must be personally interesting and positively impact people’s lives, thereby glorifying God. Oh yes, there was a third one—it needed to pay money. This third was the one that troubled me. Without regard to money, I wanted to major in English and/or philosophy, obtain the highest degree possible, and teach. I thought this was a pretty good plan. Other people, it seemed, did not think so. “Why not be a doctor,” they asked. “Then you could help people and make a lot of money, too!” Their arguments won me over, and I determined to enter medical school upon graduation.
My parents asked me a wonderful question about halfway through my first semester, when I voiced some hesitations concerning the medical field. It was really a simple question, and I had considered my answer before, just not too seriously. They said, “If you could do anything, and money wasn’t a problem, what would you do?” Of course, I wanted to teach philosophy or theology or English or something, but I just didn’t think that it would be practical. An English degree is a degree in unemployment—even more so for a philosophy degree. My parents help me to realize that didn’t matter. God had gifted me in certain areas, and He expects me to use those gifts to do something I enjoy. In short, I have reconciled myself to the concept of being a highly educated, passionate, happy homeless person.
The preceding, in about 2,000 words, is the life of Daniel Davis. I think it’s a fair summation of the events of the past 18 years. Message me if you have any questions, comments, or if you want one of my sappy songs. Thank you.