A Jamaican’s Journey To Time And Patience: Broken Vows, Shattered Dreams, Redeeming Grace, by Derrick Garland Coy
This is the second memoir that I have read in the past few weeks  that brought to mind my own painful childhood and its repercussions on my life. This is not an easy book to read; it could not have been an easy book to write. The author begins his autobiography (and it should be noted that this book is an autobiography instead of a memoir, as the focus of this book is on the life of the author and not on the greater context of that life) by looking at his ancestral history and examining the complicated group of fiercely independent exiles that made up his known family background. Included in this is a lengthy series of patterns that repeats itself throughout the book. Some of these patterns are recognized, such as the repeated problem of fathers abandoning their children and showing a difficulty in commitment and intimacy, and some of these patterns are unrecognized (bi-polar tendencies, a willingness to compromise with sin in order to preserve family peace, and a largely emotion-based relationship with Jesus Christ as opposed to full commitment to following God’s ways).
The book is extremely detailed about the author’s troubled childhood. I found this part particularly difficult to read in light of my own personal life experiences. This book is not suitable for children, though some of the horrors that happen to children are not suitable, as the author is grimly honest about the sexual abuse he suffered during his childhood, his own sexual experimentation and problems with fidelity, as well as the sad results of the alcoholism of his stepfather and second wife as well as numerous accounts of physical abuse. The author deserves considerable credit for wrestling with tough questions of faith and judgment, as well as having taken a lot of effort to try to mend fences and rebuild bridges burned in large part by his own emotional wariness and difficulties with trust and intimacy, as well as for his frank openness and honesty about his life.
Speaking personally, in reading the patterns of this author’s life I saw some very clear connections with my own life, whether one is looking at a troubled background in a variety of ways, broken families, struggles with intimacy, difficulties in settling down and finding stability, as well as a strong desire to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. As someone who has struggled with many of the same issues as the author in my own personal and family background (despite our differences in ethnic origin), I felt a great deal of sympathy for the author, even if some of the details of his own life were very chilling and even horrifying. This account as a whole is an honest portrayal of God’s grace and mercy in dealing with broken and sinful human beings, and the author makes it clear that he had engaged hypocritically in his (mercifully brief) time as a pastor and afterwards as a lapsed Christian.
A particularly poignant aspect of this autobiography are the dreams of the author and how they were and were not fulfilled. He succeeded to a great degree in discovering the history of his own family and the dreadful secrets their family members carried around with them. Clearly the author is a man sinned against and sinning, as is true for all of us. The dream of the author to make a film is a worthy one, though perhaps the author would be sufficiently gratified to have his own life be the subject of greater attention. This work is fortunate in serving as an example of the ways in which the lives of men (like myself) are greatly marred. Hopefully Coy’s honesty in wrestling with the demons of his own upbringing encourage more men to be honest about the brutal effects of broken families and multiple forms of abuse on the development of godly character and proper manhood in one’s life, for as therapeutic as writing this work must have been for the author, it has the potential to be a source of encouragement for others who have walked the same troubled path that he has, seeking the same redeeming grace of our Lord and Savoir, Jesus Christ.