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Bankrupt in Bridgeport

Aug 1, 2008
In the preface to Trail Thoughts, I describe my early life of career building as a pursuit of the youthful dreams common in those times: "...I was drawn to Manhattan because of its magnetic energy, its endless promise and its aura of mystery." But while the initial trajectory of my life there seemed to be rising to the upper reaches of success, the reality was just the reverse. For nineteen years after beginning my climb to the top, I found myself bankrupt in Bridgeport.

There would not be much more to say if the story had ended in that place, but in the midst of the turmoil of my failure, I experienced very real miracles. For as my prospects dropped from poor to nil, one door after another opened up, freeing me time and again from danger and destruction.

Because I lived under the assumptions of the performance based culture, I despaired of anything good coming from my disaster. To me failure was to be avoided at all costs because from my earliest days I had the ideal of success drilled into me. Failure was a black hole and anything associated with it was considered synonymous with weakness. As long as I stayed on that one way road, there was no alternative to the hopelessness of being pulled inevitably to my own destruction. It was in this state of despair that doors began to open and ways out came into focus.

Freedom from despair and ruin is a good thing, but rebuilding a new life on the same old tattered assumptions is quite another. Since I now believe that the hand of God was behind the miracles in Bridgeport, I have also come to see that God graciously steered me away from the destructive principles that landed me in trouble in the first place. Soon enough, I began attending church after years of absence. And even more significantly, I began reading the Bible on a daily basis.

At first, I understood very little of what I read, but over time, I came to see that the story of rebellion and exile found throughout the Bible was my story too. I came to see that God wants all of His children to find their way back to Him. He is a God of restoration and the parable of the lost son returning home to a forgiving and loving father is a story anyone in touch with reality can identify with. Certainly I did. And as time passed and my biblical knowledge became deeper, I began to understand how essential the Bridgeport experience was to the formation of character that conformed to what God wanted for me from the beginning. My descent into darkness turned out to be a fortunate fall.

Today my life is lived within the larger framework of the biblical narrative. I still "trace a solitary path between the walls of the narrow glass and concrete canyons" of the city, but the mainspring of my journey is entirely new. Trail Thoughts is one aspect of that difference. It was not written to tell an indifferent world about my story; it was written to share with people near and far the original story that the world so desperately needs to hear. So thank God for Bridgeport. It was there that I experienced the transforming power of the grace of a loving and forgiving God.
About the Author
Eric Kampmann received an undergraduate degree from Brown University and a graduate degree in English at Stony Brook. Eric is the author of two other books: Tree of Life (2003) and The Book Publisher's Handbook (2007). For information on his newest book, Trail Thoughts, visit: Trail Thoughts.
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