Archive for May 12, 2015

createbetterI know I called this Create a Better Life, but if I led you to believe you would always be happy, I apologize. You won’t always be happy. The best way I can illustrate this is with a story. My story…

The first 22 years of my life were tough. When I was little, I wanted to be some sort of entertainer. I did ventriloquism, puppetry, told jokes, did impressions. I was always trying to entertain my sister, my cousins and anyone else who would listen. My first pay check was for $1.00 from the Bernville Women’s Club for my ventriloquist act and impressions. The problem was school. In school, I was a human target. Kids were constantly harassing and or beating on me. It was awful. Eventually all my entertaining instincts went away and were replaced by an intense fear of public speaking. Human targets learn to hide.

Eventually, I tried to do things to fit in. My drug of choice was alcohol and in no time I developed a pretty major problem. By the time I was 22 I was depressed, suicidal and pretty addicted to alcohol. My sister was concerned. She decided I drank because I was lonely, and she was right. She decided to remedy this by setting me up on a blind date. I was excited, until I found out the girl’s dad was a preacher. I hadn’t been in church in ten years and was never serious about it. I was sure he would take one look at me and throw me out. Nonetheless, I found out the night before our date and it was too late to cancel so I faced my fears and went.

Now I had always determined that should I ever get someone to date me, I would be a good guy. I would not pull up to the house and honk the horn, I would walk to the door and face her dad and pick up this girl. I got to the house and got a reprieve. He wasn’t home. Instead I got to meet another family member, Shadrach. The best way to describe Shadrach was 100 pounds of snarling teeth, the family German Shepherd. Now I am pretty sure a man of the cloth should not have a demon possessed pet and I was equally sure you shouldn’t name a demon possessed animal after someone from the Bible and yet there he was. As soon as my car pulled up to the house Shadrach was up on that door looking like he was prepared for a dental examination, showing me every one of his teeth and barking and growling in such a way that I knew better than to challenge him.

I honked the horn.

We went out on our date and she was awesome. I married her two years later and we’ve been married for the last 27 years. She is awesome. Oh and by the way her dad didn’t throw me out, He was kind to me. Why do I tell this happy story under the title You Will NOT Always Be Happy. Because it is all part of a better life.

I wasn’t happy when I pulled up to pick up my date and could not get out of the car but I have been able to tell that story in probably close to 100 churches and gotten a good laugh on my way to a great point every single time. (By the way Shadrach, who was kind to everyone else, basically hated me for years. He accepted me shortly before he died.) I wasn’t happy when I found out my now wife’s father was a preacher, but had I let my fears turn me around I would never met one of the most influential people of my entire life, not to mention I would not have my wife and my two sons and the grand baby I can’t wait to meet. I also would never have come to faith. I would not have come back to church. Honestly I don’t believe I would be alive today had that not happened and I definitely would not be doing what I am doing. You see it was in the church that I regained my ability to speak in public and had my childhood dreams restored in a way that was beyond my dreams. I get to travel all over the country and paint pictures and tell people the great story of my God and what He has done in my life.

And one last thing. The first 22 years of my life were tough. The last 29 have been tough too. It hasn’t been easy and my wife and I have not always been happy, but we’ve learned something that is key. Happiness in marriage and in all aspects of life is not brought by flighty feelings. It’s brought by love and determination. We love each other and we are determined to see it through. The last 29 years have been tough, but they have been better because I have not had to face any of the tough things alone.

You will NOT always be happy in this journey to a better life. But all of life, the good, the bad and the ugly, work to give us a story worth telling, compassion for others and just enough of what I call divine discontent to want to create a better life.