The Golden Boy (Ken MacRae)

The Golden Boy

A childhood friend of mine recently published a book called The Golden Boy. Grant Matheson is the son of a Presbyterian Minister. He achieved high marks in school, ran marathons, became a Doctor, got married and had children. People looked up to him. He was respected in his community. In other words he was the Golden boy. Then drugs consumed his life. Eventually the addiction cost him his job, his marriage, his health and his finances. Thankfully he got the help he needed and is now living drug free.

It was hard to read his book. I wish I had been there for him during his time of struggle. Yet I didn’t know him during that period of his life. I knew him when he was the Golden Boy. We went to church together. We were in youth group. Before paintball was invented we had pellet gun fights with other friends. We played in our weekly church floor hockey games. During university we drifted apart. He had his own set of friends and I found a different set of friends.

Sometimes we get the impression that all addicts are losers. They come from a poor neighbourhood, grew up in a bad home, or intellectually lacking in life. The reality is that anyone can become an addict to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex or whatever. The good news is that addiction can be overcome. Help is available for all people. Help cannot be forced. One must want to get better. It is not easy. The temptation will always be there. One’s lifestyle will have to be adjusted. One may have to change friends. You have to learn to forgive yourself, but sadly others may not forgive you.

As a chaplain I read the book from a spiritual perspective. I kept seeing a void in Grant’s life. I have seen the same thing in many people. People who are never content. I’ve known people who are consumed with reaching the next rank level. People throw aside a marriage for another person who is more appealing. People go from job to job for the next one will always be better. Failure or remorse consumes them.

How do we find contentment in life yet positively push ourselves to reach various goals in our life? I hate to use a cliché, but in our journey through life, stop and smell the roses. Cherish what we have around us. Enjoy our friends, and family. Laugh now and again. Focus on what we have and not so much on what we don’t have.

As for that void in many of our lives, I believe that people have a spiritual void. We have a yearning for something beyond us. We may try to fill that yearning with drugs, or excitements, or bigger pay checks and bigger toys. Yet I have personally found that people who have God in their life, a real faith that goes beyond just attending a faith service, tend to be more content.

Yes, I’m aware of ministers and chaplains who have addiction problems. Anyone can lose focus in their life. Anyone can get back on track. Even a Golden boy.

Maj Kenneth MacRae, 1 CMBG Chaplain