Keion Boyde, Founder of Above Amazing
Coming from a barely middle class family with a single mother who woke up at 4:30 in the morning to take a shower and head to work for up to 13 hours a day to take care of her two young boys.
Many mornings of hearing her cry, and never knowing why. All I could do was make up reasons.
Maybe she was asking God why? Why is life so hard? Why she had to face life alone? Why she couldn’t find a dependable spouse? Why we had to struggle?
Still don’t know why and will not ask. Only thing I knew, I was going to grow up to be the best man possible.
One year things got bad. My mom’s checks were getting garnisheed and the car went down. She was angry and sometimes just sad for a long time.
What I love about her is how well she adjusted to this temporary lifestyle we had to endure. We survived and are still moving.
The man that you see today came from a very long process. Honestly I am still in the process of becoming the man I want to be.
Being from Gary, Indiana — the former murder capital of the U. S. — everywhere I went that stigma would sit right on my head. When traveling in my teenage years, people often asked ‘is it bad there?’ ‘I heard you can’t walk up the street?’ ‘Do you hear gun shots all day?’ ‘Have you ever been shot?’ That last question was funny, in a way.
Even as a teen, I knew that this not-so-good perception our city was something I should not be carrying. Growing up, I was fortunate to see another side a Gary — a side that was classy, eloquent and hopeful. This gave me a different perception from most of my friends.
Please don’t get me wrong, we dealt with the murders, drugs and poor education issues. I am saying there is more to our city than what was being presented in the media.
I was determined not to allow this inaccurate stigma to lay over my life personally. At 15 a began to get to work on developing myself beyond the social standard of where I was birthed. I became highly dedicated to serving people and pouring out myself as much was possible.
My Spiritual Journey
At 15, I began to take a journey with God. Little did I know my life would be forever changed.
By 16, I was preaching the Gospel at mostly at local churches. I joined a thriving church of 15 members. Our membership grew into 125 members less than two years.
By 18, God allowed me to start our first youth ministry at my high school. God was moving strong. In those first two years many youth and adults were counseled through our ministry.
The Start of the Valley
I am a praying man! I’m not ashamed of that.
One day a voice spoke to me and said, “Keion, you will be doing what you are doing now, but on a larger scale, but you will have to endure tests for it.” I was 18 at the time and excited, because God had finally spoken to me in a audible voice.
At the time, I was running a successful youth group called YOUTH ART THOU. We had fundraisers, walk-a-thons, clothes drives, food drives, concerts, prayer around the pole and of course our weekly meetings. I was also head of Operations for the Youth Candy Store at my church. This was my first taste of business, and I liked it!
All of these amazing things was happening the first half of my senior year in high school. I was happy and finally knew what it felt like to live on cloud 9. Everything I hoped for was happening. Being very disciplined — nothing could shake my foundation.
The memory is fresh, like it was yesterday. It was warm and beautiful outside. School that day was great. After school I was dropped off at my church leader’s work. I came in like it was a regular day and said hi to everyone as usual.
As we were driving home after my church leader got off work, I remember this sad look upon their face. The leader looked over at me and said Keion I messed up. This leader and I had faced many trails together. We were successful at every roadblock that came our way. My mind was already set for Victory. The leader told me in parts of what had occurred.
Honestly, I did not know how to take what was told to me. I knew this time it would be different, but I did not know the level of difficulty we would have to face ahead. Out of respect for those directly involved, I will not go into details.
This was my first lesson of the importance of character in leadership.
This one tragic event altered my outlook of life. I developed a hard heart and became distant, confused and shaken.
The people that taught me about love, mercy, grace, kindness, forgiveness, peace and being understanding swept all of that teaching under the rug during this event.
I was hearing of the disrespectful actions being taken. People being mean to one another. Clicks had formed. What had taken two years to grow, depleted in two weeks. I mean things got bad.
People started loosing there jobs. Families suddenly moved to other states. Young women were pregnant. Our church building was sold from under us. My leader face depression and suicide.
The pressure was real! I could not believe what was happening. I was lost, confused and hurting. I had to find a way of escape. My school counselor approached me about college. Honestly had never considered college until that point. My plans was to stay and help build up the church.
Now I was looking to get away and stay away forever. I did not care to where I was going, as long as it was not in Gary. I told myself the first college that approves me, I’m taking it. I did maybe ten applications and was denied by all but 1.
University of Southern Indiana (USI) I did not know anything about the school, never even heard of it. All I knew, this was my chance to run. So that’s what I did.
So I got to USI with no plan, no goals, no knowledge of what I really wanted to do. The satisfaction came from saying I was in college. That was good enough for me.
I was finally away from my problems back home in Gary. I soon found out that problems ultimately exist within the mind. Although my body was in a new place, my mind was still back home in Gary.
I was excited to be at USI for about 2 weeks, then my own reality hit. I found myself trapped within my own head devastated about the previous events. College is about networking, being social, trying new things. I was far from all of that. I did not speak much to anyone on campus. I did manage to make a few friends. But overall I stayed trapped in my room depressed and thinking about suicide.
I allowed myself to get so depressed that I would sleep for hours. I was always late for class. My skin flaked from dryness, I was not eating much at all. I did not want people to know what I was facing in private. So I dressed up, I smiled, I spoke with sense, I stayed encouraging others. I made sure that I appeared like success and in control. But that was far from the truth. Behind the smile and the dress clothes, I was slowly dying.
I was at USI for three years and accomplished nothing. I made 4 suicide attempts in my college apartments. Twice my sophomore and twice my Junior year. I checked myself in a mental institution. I sabotaged and hurt many of the the friendships I formed. I drove people nuts!!! Not that I tried to intentionally but hurt people hurt people. I could not find anything to satisfy me. I was that far gone.
So I decided to finally go back home to Gary to face my fears.
When I first got back home to Gary, it was bitter sweet. I was happy to see all of my people but everywhere I turned I was reminded of that tragic event. I was still very depressed and it began to show. The years that I kept my pain hidden was now showing on the outside.
I developed into a cold person. I had no mercy for anyone. The young lady I was dating at the time tried to warn me about my hostile changes, but I did not care. I did not listen. All I knew, I was tired of hurting, so a built a a character to help protect me.
I won’t go through any details of the things I have done from the ages of 24 to 27. But I will tell you a story that helped me to see that it was time for a change.
Myself and the young lady I was dating at the time, was sitting in her parents basement. She decided to watch a home video of a dinner I put together for our one year anniversary. At the time we watched the video we were about 6 years into our relationship. As we were watching the dinner I looked over and saw her crying.
In my tough voice, I asked what was wrong. She looked at me, pointed to the TV and said that is the guy I fell in love with. On the outside I remained calm, cool and putting on my bad boy act. But on the inside that statement broke me. I remember thinking the thought, “I miss that guy, too!”
That night I looked in the mirror and for the first time I did not recognize myself. I couldn’t believe the person I have become. I knew I could do better.
I remember laying on the bed and looking up to God. I made a promise to God stating that, “If you give me a second chance at life, I promise to go hard!”
And I’m Doing Just that!
Now I am more focus than ever. More determined than ever, to take those life experiences and use them for the greater good.
The next half of my life will be the best half of my life. I wake up every day knowing exactly what to do. I am intentional about life. I focus on Legacy and planning for future generations pass my life time.
I am determined to set a new standard for my bloodline. With new standards, come new and productive habits.
There is a saying I made up doing one of the roughest periods of my life.
“In everything I do, I do it all in excellence. I am greater far beyond what my natrual eye can see. I will approach my craft professionally , knowing that i’m gifted, talented, able and annointed to reach my destiny. I will go the extra mile to accomplish each and every goal. I AM VICTORY , I AM CHAMPION, life will not defeat me.”
This is something I say to myself on a daily basis. I invite you to use it for yourself if you ever find the need to.
This second half of my life will be focused on time freedom through God, Humanitarianism and Entrepreneurship.
Thank you so much for embarking on this Above Amazing journey with me.
– Keion Boyde, Above Amazing