Your Story : Brian Petty Ii

Apr 29, 2021 Wellness, Faith, Your Story
"I used to always believe that my past defined who I was, but as I grew more I realized that your past ONLY shapes who you are and I fully have the choice of who that IS." - Brian Petty II

My story takes place in Detroit, MI. I have 3 older sisters, Tasha (31), Nakita (29), and Mishka (28) with me coming in as a the youngest and the only boy at 24! My mom is Korean and my dad is Black. I actually took a DNA test with 23andMe. My break down is 52.8% Korean, 30.3% African, and 14.2% European. Growing up, I received some high expectations from my mom but also the ones that my sisters placed, as well. In school, I was expected to be #1 and so I strived to do just that. I thought if I achieved high enough, then I would receive all the praise and love that I always wanted.

In 2007, at the age of 11, my parents separated. I never had a true relationship with my father so it made the separation a little easier for me compared to my sisters but as time went on, I felt something missing inside of me. To be named exactly as your father (I am the second), but to never know him, was such a hard concept for me to grasp. The question of "who would name their son after them but not be in their life?" haunted me up until college.
On top of my parent’s separation in 5th grade, I experienced being bullied. As a child, I didn't really grasp the concept of being bullied but I would get teased and even physically picked on for being Asian. I was constantly called Chinese (even though I am part Korean) and told that I wasn't Black. This made me want to disassociate from either identity & just be “American.” This was the forming of an identity crisis that I would soon explore more in high school and parts of college.

As middle school went on, I found myself still achieving for #1 but also disconnecting myself from my mom, and even my sisters. Trying to figure out who I am without having a father or male role model in my life was difficult. Who could I ask? Google. The internet became my best friend in terms of research, and I researched and learned things that a human should've taught me. I remember a vivid moment of crying in my room during 8th grade spring break and telling myself that I would no longer be this soft, "mama boy", kid and I believe that was a moment when I hardened my heart. As I entered high school, I was excited for the fresh start it would be for me and it was. High school was amazing, minus my freshman year.

Freshman year I discovered self harm through a friend and experienced it first hand during the winter months. It was during these months that I experienced seasonal depression but did not understand or fully realize what it was until college. However, that following summer of 2011, I was invited to a week long church camp, and this is where I met Jesus for the first time. It was at this camp that I realized He loved me and made me new again. The scars I once had on my wrist (that I blamed on my cat) were completely gone.

As high school went on, I fell more in love with God and the church. However, in the summer of 2013, while at home I experienced an attempt break in at my house. This event traumatized me for the entire summer. Having to go to court and to the police precinct to do a live line up and point out the guy, was just too much for little me. We went to the church for comfort, help with grief and love/prayer but did not receive it the way we needed, so my mom and I stopped attending. I never realized how much the church played a huge part in my faith until I started attending again in later years.
The summer of 2013 was the start of a 2.5 year season of me not having a daily relationship with God. As I entered my senior year, I was determined to come out on top. I became the editor in chief of my school's newspaper, NHS president and valedictorian with a full ride to Oakland University. I remember visiting Oakland in October of my senior year and just falling in love with the campus. As time went on through my senior year, even though I wasn’t attending a church, I never lost my belief in God. I just lost my relationship with Him but knew He was with me through it all.

As I entered college, I tasted a freedom I never had before and had access to people who loved and accepted me. People who wouldn't bully me for being Asian and Black, and acknowledged both sides of me. I partied a lot my freshman year and got into drinking and smoking. Though I was experimenting with all of this, God was still with me. I ended up becoming a Resident Assistant my sophomore year and thought I was truly #1, on top of the mountain.

However, in the middle of September 2015, during a 1on1, my boss asked me if I was using marijuana in my room -- I couldn't lie to him and told him yes. The face of disappointment came upon him and I was devastated. At the time, I didn't know that this was God humbling me and calling me back home to Him. I was removed from campus and in a search of looking for belonging, I joined a fraternity that was, and still is, such a great community to me. It gave me the belonging that I longed for, but God desired even more for me.

In January 2016, I started a one year probation with Oakland County due to my marijuana incident. In February 2016, I stepped foot inside Kensington Church (Orion) and, I cried. I cried throughout the entire worship session and knew this place was home. That was the start of me coming back home to Christ but I had a hard time separating the Greek life that I had entered in. I was living this lukewarm life, trying to live in both worlds and in July 2016, I violated my probation by testing positive on my breathalyzer test. In August 2016, I had a court case date, and the judge sent me to jail for 3 nights at the Oakland County Jail. THIS was rock bottom for me. I thought my life was over, but quickly realized that those 3 days were the BEST 3 days of my life. I had no communication to others and was focused on being in prayer and reflection.

Once I got out, I was determined to be ALL IN for God. I attended ManUp 2016 for the first time and just felt so loved by God. In November 2016, I rededicated my life to Christ and got baptized again by my mentor. I pursued a relationship with God and felt a calling on my life to be in ministry. I worked at SpringHill camps for 3 summers, interned and worked at Kensington Church and was highly involved in with 18/29 young adults community at Kensington.
Currently, I am a Hall Director at Rochester University. Ironically this is the SAME position as my first boss who confronted me about my marijuana use in the dorm & ultimately changed the trajectory of my life to date. To me, this is God showing redemption in this chapter of my story. I have a community of friends that love me for who I am and not what I can do. That’s me.

Want to know more about Brian? Here’s a quick snapshot :

What's one word the best describes you & why?
Redemption - God has truly redeemed me a lot from my past and is opening doors and opportunities for me to connect with others and help them.

What's one thing you do daily that you can't live without?

What's one habit you're working to improve & why are you motivated to do so?
Doing something every day - as long as I check one box off of my to do list - something as small as making my bed, I’m good for the day! I am motivated to do this because I believe in doing small things to create change. I heard this quote once that Rome was not built in one day but they were laying bricks every hour. I now take that quote and apply it to my own life.

What does faith mean to you?
Faith means a lot to me. It's the thing that keeps me going. Though it may be cheesy, faith is fuel for me. It's the thing that gives me life every day.

What's brings you joy?
Loving others and seeing people feel connected. I think as a child, I often felt lonely and alone. I have a vivid memory of me wanting to play with my 3 older sisters and them telling me no. For some reason that memory has wounded me, but also has created me to be who I am today. I hope to only love others and help people feel connected and have a sense of belonging.

Thank you, so much, for sharing YOUR STORY, Brian.
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