I have a friend who is the most interesting person I know. Her life is one long adventure. She can’t just tell you what she has been doing, but with everything she touches, there is a story. She gets herself into the most amazing circumstances. She sees humor in everything.
I remember a story she once told me about a man she met where she often had dinner. It was a rustic place on a lake and the locals gathered around the bar and ate dinner. She talks to everyone and she found this particular man interesting. They shared a love of food and she told him about a restaurant she liked in another town not far away. He suggested that they go in a few weeks.
They agreed to meet at the little rustic inn and he would drive her to the restaurant in the neighboring town. It was early in the day when they met and the sunlight revealed more than she ever saw at night as she was always racing into the rustic inn near closing time. She arrived first and as he walked in, she noticed he walked with a noticeable limp and had a cane. He had dressed up for the occasion and this is when she realized he was from a vintage considerably older than she. She always admired him in his jeans and his cotton fishing shirt so the polyester sport coat and pants threw her off a bit.
She loves to hear people’s story. She is never judgmental and has a soft spot for the underdog and particularly the disabled. The man escorted her to his car and she noticed it was a big Towne car with a handicapped sticker hanging from the mirror. As he opened the door for her she spotted the oxygen tank in the back seat. He was winded from the short walk to the car and from making his way around the car to his side after opening the door for her.
Dinner was interesting and she learned he was quite disabled and required the oxygen to help him breath. It finally dawned on her that this was a man much older than she and he was probably in heaven that he had found a younger interesting woman to have dinner with him. She laughed when she told me the story. She has never had the best luck attracting men and this was no exception. She laughed as she vowed to be a bit more observant the next time and look for the dead giveaways of age like portable oxygen and handicapped stickers.
She is a giving person and does for others before she thinks of herself. She thinks everyone has value and it is her job to determine all the fine points about someone. She sees everything in the most positive light and when things don’t go exactly as planned, she just laughs and makes a funny story of the adventure.
Her faith is strong and she fortifies herself with the promises of the Lord. She is always by herself as God seems to want to keep her single or maybe it is that she is so different few people know what to make of her or maybe they just can’t keep pace with her. She jumps on her horse and rides. If she wants to do something, she just goes. She talks to whoever she encounters and turns most occasions where she is by herself into great adventures. She initiates conversations and asks a million questions. Most people seem grateful she is nervy enough to start a conversation and they enjoy the exchange with her.
She is seldom ever sick or perhaps never admits it. She told me that she carried around 30 years of pain and debilitating health and she finally learned the secret to beating it. She vowed never to allow aches and pains or ill health to be part of her life or conversation again. She follows a health regime that is simple incorporating balanced thoughts and natural solutions.
While she is 56 years old, she thinks of herself as a kid. She has been a trusting and generous person and also a risk taker. She has spent her money on helping others. She had a dear friend cause the ruination of a business she started with her own money. At the first hint of trouble with this business partner, her friends told her to kick the girl to the curb and find a replacement. My friend talked to her business partner about Jesus and loved her in spite of her dishonesty. She treated her friend like Jesus treated other outcasts and offered her the salvation that Jesus brings. Her friend went off to take advantage of her bigger than ever. This caused the demise of the business and financial devastation.
I asked her how she was able to view the entire debacle without anger and bearing grudges. She told me that she did what Jesus would have done and some people accept the gift and go on to change themselves but the vast majority do not. She was doing her part as Jesus instructed. Perhaps it was a lesson learned but she chooses to view the event as an incredible adventure in her life by creating this one-of-a-kind business and realizes she exercised some great skills by bringing her larger-than-life idea to fruition.
She thought she had met the man of her dreams and she set off for Kansas to live the life she dreamed of on a farm in the middle of nowhere with cows and streams and rolling hills. The man turned out to be a fraud and nothing of what he represented himself to be. While this move to Kansas used about all that was left of her funds, she does not see this as an epic failure but rather the greatest few months of adventure she has ever known. She wrote lots of hilarious stories as a result. She got of glimpse of what the middle of nowhere looked like, she drove a tractor, she made hay while the sun shined and she counted the cows every day. She will have you in stitches telling her stories of living the life of a pioneer woman.
She recently moved from Florida to Indiana in hopes of an improvement to her economic situation. She looks forward to full time adventure and employment. She has grown in her faith in ways which are simply unimaginable. I asked her how she was not worried about having only a couple of months of income left and being 56 and essentially starting over. She needs a roof over her head and a job and she needs about 10 miracles to work out her future.
She just smiles and tells me that she finally has it figured out. She has been leading the parade all this time. She knows now that God is the one who needs to tell her what to do next. She is calmly and patiently waiting for Him to guide her. She is doing much in preparation, learning new skills, pursuing her dreams of writing and creating and she simply believes she is a successful writer and photographer. Worry is not in her vocabulary. She reads a new best seller which motivated her in her prayers and in her faith she writes to the author to thank him and to ask permission to use a few quotes from his book in her creative projects. Mark Batterson gave his blessing and wished her well.
She is one of a kind in her looks. Like the rest of us, she is a bit over-weight but she dresses in a funky way that calls attention more to her eclectic taste than to her extra pounds. She uses her unusual dress, her wild fur coats and her exotic cowboy boots as conversation starters. Everybody likes her and wants to hang out with her and listen to the latest zany capers. She has a flair for cooking and everyone looks forward to the peach cobbler or English trifle she brings to a luncheon.
She once told me she had considered suicide. This is unfathomable from such a positive, do anything type person. She tells me she dug out of the hole, changed her perspective and transformed her thinking. It was months of self-development with complete help from God. She learned about God’s desires for her and she decided to simply believe. She knew her only remaining resource was what she could accomplish with her mind and she set out to harness it and to use it.
It was a transformation like nothing her church has ever seen. A simple choice to change what she allowed into her sphere. She changed what she thought, what she listened to, who her friends were and she is counting on God in a way that puts Him in charge. It is His reputation at stake, not hers. He makes the promises, she is just taking Him up on them. She is following everything He has outlined for her.
Deb Bragg, a Christian counselor listened intently to the painful story of the woman sitting across the couch from her. The woman’s face was dull and her affect was flat. Her eyes were dim as she told her story while trying to keep her emotions in check. The two hour story began…
Here I am 56 years old. I live with my mom as I had to return to Indiana from FL because my work ended and I could not find any other work in the small town where I lived. I lived in a mobile home in Florida and it was hit by a tornado last June. While I had insurance it did not pay at all what I needed to repair the place. I had it for sale and the market was so bad I would be lucky to get $10,000 for it and after the real estate commission well, what sort of house could I replace it with?
My realtor called me with an offer shortly after I listed it and she complained that all my stuff was in boxes and the prospective buyers could not even get through to see it much less do an inspection. She wanted my stuff moved and I felt pressured into moving everything to Kansas. I just met a man I hoped was my dream come true. I had been out to his farm once and wanted to go try the rugged life style and decided to take a big chance and move all my stuff there. I had been in Kansas only a few weeks when I learned that they guy was a fraud. All the energy, all the effort, all the money of moving and then I had to load it all up and move it to my mom’s. That was the measure of my ultimate failure and my greatest fear, having to return to my hometown with my tail between my legs and live with my mom at age 56.
I just can’t get a good man. I am so lonely. I want to go to dinner but hate to go alone. If I do go alone, no one talks to me. Once I did strike up a conversation with a guy and we seemed to hit it off. He offered to take me to dinner and I went but when he opened the door of his car, I saw an oxygen tank in the back. I had never seen him stand or walk before and he had to walk with a cane. He had a handicapped sticker in his car and we drove around forever looking for a close parking place so he would not have to walk far. Then I learn he has had open heart surgery and has a million things wrong including COPD and that is why he needed the oxygen and on top of that, he goes outside after dinner to have a cigarette. Is this all I can seem to attract, an old man who might actually die before I get home?
I finally meet the man of my dreams and he is younger than me, thin, good looking and then I find out everything he ever said about himself is not true. I was just not worth the effort for him to love me. I have never been worth the effort. My first husband left me for his secretary, my second husband was an alcoholic and my third relationship was with a man much older than me who was jealous and selfish and I cried myself to sleep most nights wondering what I had gotten myself into.
I lived with him because we were involved in a car accident and I had a head injury. I could not even take care of myself. I could not work at my job as I lost all abilities. I had to relearn my multiplication tables. I was a commercial real estate appraiser and lost my income and livelihood in an instant. I did not work for a year and everything I have tried after that has never worked out. I put money into the house of the man I was living with so it was livable for me. He kicked me out in a jealous sugar induced rage and I was homeless. That is when I bought the little mobile home I had in Florida. I worked until my jobs ran out and then I was forced to move back to my hometown.
I have so many problems as a result of the car accident and head injury. I can’t stand noise, I can’t deal with smells and perfumes turn me inside out. I can’t stand barking dogs and fireworks and loud music. I can’t work in an office because I am so distracted I can’t perform. I can’t think clearly and people get on my nerves. I went to see a psychologist and had a lot of testing done. I have lost so much in memory ability and reasoning skills. I don’t know what I am going to do.
I started a business as a way to buy myself a job that I could do. My best friend from youth joined me in this. I gave her the use of the company credit card and she misused it and then she had car trouble and her car completely stopped. She used the credit card to rent a car as she did not have her own credit card. She promised to pay it back and when she couldn’t, I kept bailing her out, trying to do what I thought Jesus wanted me to do and when I finally got to the bottom of all her deception, I thought she sincerely wanted to learn to do better. I bailed her out of some other pawn shop messes and later learned she was embezzling and she actually pawned one of our company photo printers. I had to shut down my business because of what she did. I lost thousands. I had a new vehicle I could not sell except for a $10,000 loss, I had purchased a mobile home for her to live in and that became mine and sold for a loss after many months, I could not sell the business assets and my entire retirement savings was put into that business and I could not recoup a dime. I am such a failure. Obviously a very poor judge of character with not enough sense to cut my losses and kick these losers to the curb.
So here I am living in my mom’s house. We are complete opposites and we don’t get along. She has a new boyfriend and wants her privacy and she is stuck with me as I don’t even have a job now as I am transitioning and winding down from my old work and I have not found anything I can yet do with all these limitations. I have no means to get away and live anywhere else. I can’t even support myself. We get on each other’s nerves. I want everything out and in site because I can’t remember where things are kept. She wants everything neatly organized and hidden behind a door.
I am so worried I don’t know what to do. I can’t get a man, I can’t get a job, I have no friends and no one seems to like me. I am fat and don’t fit in anywhere. I am the only single person at my church. Everyone else is a happily married couple. All my life I have failed. I have had three failed marriages, I can’t keep a job, all my entrepreneurial ventures have failed. I have had such bad luck and the car accident left me with little ability and I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, obsessive compulsive personality disorder, sensory processing disorder, anxiety and depression. Plus I have serious brain dysfunction in terms of memory but yet I don’t qualify for disability. I am so hopeless and desperate. I am a burden to my family and how could I end up this way at age 56. I have no retirement savings and nothing to fall back on. I don’t even have a job. I pray and nothing happens. I read the bible but nothing makes sense. All the problems are so overwhelming and I don’t see how it is possible for any resolution or solution to rescue me from the mess of a life I am living and I can’t stand being such a burden and obligation to my family. I think my only option is to kill myself.
Once I Was Blind But Now I See
Both stories are about the same person. The only difference is the perspective in which the story is told. We all have ability to change the focal point of our mind. We can choose to be failures or we can choose to be winners.
The medical community does us no favors when we are labeled. It is easy to believe you are a dysfunction when you are clinically referred to as a dysfunction.
As I reflect upon the 30 years of pain that comprised my life, I see how God undid the pain in an instant when I changed the focus of my thoughts and realized I needed to go to Him for the solution.
I consulted with my friend Jim Robertson from the King Institute and I asked him for advice on what sequences I should do to repair my brain function. His reply had nothing to do with sequences. Instead, he told me to take off the grave clothes. I did not even know what that meant.
He went on to say “that as we think, so is our heart.” He said all disease and illness begins as a thought. To reverse the illness, we need to identify the negative thought we are thinking, then replace it with a new thought that counteracts the negative and is based on scriptural truth.
He sent me seven pages of explanation that I simply did not understand. I shared it with my pastor and Pastor Gary said he loved what Jim wrote and he felt they could be brothers. Well that really did not help!
I consulted with a Christian counselor. She listened to my thoughts on things and informed me that my thinking was what was dysfunctional. I had a distorted way of thinking about things. She taught me how to identify when I was doing this and then learn what God would say on the matter.
She said she would look for a list of scriptural references to counteract my distorted thoughts. I told her I wanted to create the list myself.
And so began my love of God’s word and my total and complete transformation. I wrote both stories above. Story #1 is how I feel today. Story #2 reflected the depths and despair of my dysfunctional thoughts. I am charting my own journey in writing this series and I re-read Jim’s letter, from three years ago, I now understand every word! The greatest summation of the entire transformation is “once I was blind, but now I see.”