10 09 2012

Image“I have had more trouble with myself than any other man I’ve ever met.”  Dwight L. Moody

It’s been a few years since the day I crossed paths with my friend, Walt and received the oddest greeting he had ever given me.  It went something like this, I had just entered a store and saw him coming toward me; “Hey Walt, how you doing, buddy?!!”  “Oh, hi John,” and walked right passed me, out to the parking lot, went quickly to his car and drove away.  Now maybe that doesn’t sound odd to you, a couple of acquaintances see each other out, a quick greeting and then move on; but that wasn’t Walt.  He was the type of person that if he knew you, it was a big smile, hand shake or a hug, a compliment of some type and then questions on how things were going in your life.  Then he might say, “Hey, got time to get a coffee, my treat?” or maybe “Let’s get together soon, I’d like to hear more on what’s going on with you.”  That’s the Walt I and many others had come to know, not this guy with the quick “howdy” and then move on.  “Okay Miller, think, what’d you do or say to the guy to offend him?”  I haven’t always been known for tact in dealing with people from time to time.  True, I can be blunt, but that’s because I sometimes don’t know a better way to get my point across.  (I’ve learned diplomacy with age; kinda!)  But try as I might, I couldn’t come up with one incident where I might have done anything to Walt.  I was always glad to see him and hear what he had to say, he was completely genuine in his concern for me as well as others, hence I treated him with the highest regard.  Several days passed and I was talking to another friend about my encounter with Walt and how strange it seemed to me.  “Don’t you know?” he said, “Walt left his wife and moved in with someone new.  He left his church and won’t associate with any of us from his past now.  I hear he’s gotten pretty wild in his lifestyle; who would have thought Walt was just waiting for a chance to cut loose!”  Who would have thought it indeed?  I hold no PhD in the study of human nature, but one statement I will make and stand firmly is no one instantaneously changes their lifestyle, ways of thinking or convictions; there is always an underlying reason that perhaps has been building momentum of years.  With Walt I wouldn’t know what that reason was unless I asked.

Phone conversation: “Hello?”  “Hey Walt, this is Miller, lets get together for some coffee.”  “Why, John?” Now there was a question, how should I answer it?  “Well, I could tell you it’s because I miss your ugly face and I’m a glutton for emotional trauma, but I don’t think you’d believe me huh?”  A laugh on the other end, “True I wouldn’t believe you!”  “Well then, let’s not play games, there’s something going on with you that I confess worries me and I want to talk face to face.  I’m not looking for confrontation, but it would mean a lot to me as your friend to hear what’s going on with you.  I won’t judge or lecture you; I just want opportunity to understand what changed.  After that, if you wish, we’ll go our separate ways and I won’t bother you again.”  There was a long pause before he said, “Rex’s, 30 minutes.”  We sat in a booth toward the back so we could have some privacy as we talked.  “So what do ya wanna hear, John?”  “Well, for starters, how are you?”  “Good,” Walt quickly stated, “happier than I’ve been in years.” “That would take some doing, seeing you’re one of the happiest people I’ve ever known.” My comment brought a small smile to his face as he looked down into his coffee cup.  “Are you going to tell me you weren’t really happy,” I questioned.  “Yes and no,” he responded.  “When I was around you and the others I was happy, that was real.  But there were things going on that few knew anything about, financial problems and other pressures I was dealing with.  Then Kate and I started have martial troubles and they just never got better.”  “Okay,” I interrupted, “let’s stop there for a moment.  “You were the person who was always talking to others, including me, on how to overcome difficulties or where to seek help, Dude, you were the go to guy with the answers; what happened?!”

“What happened?  Everything for others, nothing for me, all the things I did for people in need brought me great happiness; I loved being there for them.  But when it came my turn to need help, there was no I could turn to.  My problems kept getting bigger and I had less time and resources to do anyone else any good.  It got to the point where I wasn’t happy at home and if I went out I was afraid of whom I would run into; I couldn’t handle hearing one more problem that someone else had.”  We were quiet for what seemed to be a long time before I asked in a quiet voice; “Walt, wasn’t there anyone you could turn to, to be what you had been to so many others, an ear, a caring heart?”  Another long episode of silence ensued.  “I went to one person who I looked at as someone that might be who you just described, and you know what they told me?  Walt, you know all the answers, you can get this worked out, I’m sure.  They were right; I did know all the answers, except how to make them work in my life.  A month later I moved out and Kate and I divorced.  I never expected to end up like this, but since I walked away it’s been like a heavy burden lifted off my back.  I’m happier now than I have been in years.”  “Okay, but just one more question.”  This is the one I really wanted to hear. “When you think about Kate, your children and grandchildren, and other people who looked up to you, does that bring you happiness also?”  That was the point, I guess, where I stepped over the line.  Walt’s coffee was finished so he stood, laid a 5 on the table and said, “No, no it doesn’t, but that’s why I choose not to think or talk about them.  It was good to see you John, but please, don’t call again,” and he turned and walked out.

There’s a lot more I could tell you about my buddy, Walt, but it’s not necessary for where I’m going with all this which I’m going to sum up in 2 points; ready?
1.) If you find you’re in trouble in such a way it is causing adverse effects on you and your family, Seek Help!  Don’t shoulder these problems alone; find someone who is capable and caring enough to lend you a hand.  Some of the hardest ones to take this advice are the ones like my man Walt who are looked at as leaders or people that have all the answers.  Maybe they see it as a sign of weakness to allow others to know they struggle also, I don’t know what a person’s reasoning is, but I do know we are all susceptible to “Crash and Burn” be it mental, emotional, physical or spiritual, no one is immune.  Please, seek help.  On the other side of the coin, you may know or suspect someone is going through problematic moments in life, don’t be afraid to ask if they need help.  They just might be waiting to see if someone notices and cares enough for them to offer a hand or a heart.  This is one I’ve heard time and again from people; if only someone would have asked.  As a Christian, I have a network of friends that I know care for me and want to know if there’s anything they can do or pray about in my life.  (Galatians 6:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and Romans 15:1 are good reads.)

2.)  I took some classes on money and getting out of debt that changed my life, financially speaking, tremendously.  (I’m not looking to talk about that, but if you want to know more get hold of me and I’ll tell you all about it.)  One of the points I came away with is you must first, and foremost address your basic needs; food, shelter, living expenses.  You cannot shortcut these and expect to have success; you must meet the crucial requirements of you and your family.  That’s the same thing that is needed in the other characteristics of your existence.  Helping others is a wonderful calling, but it is essential that you first meet the needs of you and your family, physically, mentally, emotionally, and yes, spiritually.  Ephesians 5:28-30 says it all.

Over the course of time and maturing, I have learned the importance of what I’m telling you here (which is the only reason I write these, if I feel I have found a treasure I want share it with others), but the most important tool in keeping my life directed on the right path has been prayer.  I gave this stat one other time, but it bears repeating.  Of all the married couples in the United States, 50% will end in divorce.  But with couples that are committed to praying together regularly that rate drops to under, 1%.  This is where the man must make the 1st move, take the love of his life by the hand and say, I love you so much and I want to come before God with you in prayer.  Give it a go, guys; you’ll be amazed at what it will do to your marriage!  I know men who can pray with other men or in a group, but never spend the time to pray with their wives.  Okay, I better stop; I think I’ve said enough.

Guess the reason I wrote this today is because I’ve seen too many good people make bad decisions, that had they done the things I’ve listed above would not have themselves in the shape they ended up in; not because I say so, but because they say so.

As for my old friend Walt, well, it took a while but things actually turned out okay down the road.

But that’s another story! 🙂




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