“Never, say never!”
The ultimate cliché’ I must have heard 10,000 times … and I hate cliché’s. Really hate them.
Transparent Background Begins Here:
Four years ago, 19 years into my first marriage, I was a divorced man. My entire life, I said I’d never be divorced.
Subsequently, I cashed out well over $100,000 in a 401k to launch a new publishing and business coaching shop. Six months later we experienced the worst recession in 70 years, businesses stopped advertising, and 10 months after the dream began, I fired seven talented employees, many of whom were dear friends, closed the business, and had zero dollars to my name.
Oh, and by the way, I was newly married. Way to impress the bride, huh?
It was the first time in my life when all vision disappeared. Nothing but darkness with no idea what would transpire tomorrow, much less five years from then.
The depression set in, and I really thought I’d die. Most moments, it was the preferred alternative.
Quick summary: Broke. Depressed. Suicidal.
Yes, being around me – well, it was all kicks and grins as you might imagine.
By far, financial ruin wasn’t the worst of it. It was the darkness, for truer words were never spoken when King Solomon said, “without a vision the people perish.”
Never before had I been without a plan, a hope and a vision, and for two years, those things were completely absent. As remote as the most distant galaxy.
Truth is, I thought God was punishing me. That I – the wayward son – had become His favorite whipping post. Reality is – that it was more likely a season of strong discipline – the kind a loving parent gives a misbehaving child.
But whatever it was, it didn’t lessen the agony of so many things that hurt like hell.
Yet it was only for a season, and seasons pass, and time marches on. I’d love to share with you how I pulled myself out of the mirey funk, but I’m sure I had nothing to do with it.
And so the independent thinking, self-employed entrepreneur was thrown back into the working world, at one point working a 20-hour week for a non-profit that paid $10 an hour. Did I mention I was broke, and really needed money?
And for another two years, the jobs came and went, me thinking I was above almost all of it, and that this would be my life’s lot all the rest of my days.
It was no longer dark. Just very, very cloudy and grey.
Wrongly motivated, I went on a seasonal spree contacting a number of Christian missionary-sending organizations thinking I’d dedicate the remainder of my days serving penance for God in some remote part of the world. Inevitably, it came down to one thing. I was a divorced man, and so my testimony could never measure up to that of what a missionary should have. At least that’s what they said. And I accepted that, because they were the ones changing the world for the good, right?
I was unworthy.
And the worst part is, because I was so down – so unforgiving toward myself , so wrong about who God really is – I bought into that idea.
Enough of the Bad News
We’re all sinners who’ve broken God’s laws, and God is intolerant of sin. But Christ showed his love for us by taking the punishment, that should’ve been ours, and He died on a cross making a way out so that we can freely receive the gift forgiveness and right standing.
I spent two years in residency at never-never land, and can assure you Peter Pan was nowhere to be found.
My two years in Never-Never Land (and honestly up to just a few months ago) had me saying (and believing) the following:
- I’d never be self-employed again, yet Dana and I are only days away from launching not one, but three new companies, and it couldn’t be more exciting.
- I’d never play golf again, yet I played three times last week and shot an 83 on a beautiful Fall day in Arkansas.
- I’d never be smart enough, technologically speaking, to move forward in the field of mass communications which I love so dearly, yet I’ve built a half-dozen web and blog sites in the last year, and three more are in the works.
- I’d never see my best friend again, yet he was on the golf course with me last week, witnessed my post at 83, and two days ago shot a 79 himself. What memories!
- That because I’d lost my “testimony,” I’d never be worthy of inspiring others again, yet many readers seem to resonate with what I write.
- That I’d never have the discipline to write a book and “become an author,” yet I know it will come to pass within months.
- That I’d never be a publisher again, yet it was only a few hours ago that we launched this new website for a new global publication that may have more potential than anything I’ve ever dreamed possible.
- That because of the branded “D” (divorce) on my forehead, I’d never be worthy of meaningful Christian service, yet one of the organizations that rejected me two years ago, called just two days ago, and now wants to consider partnership with many of the things we decided to do without their help. All of a sudden, I’m worthy again? I’m happy, but confused.
With forgiveness, comes hope.
And NEVER (there I go again) discount the power of hope.
On a personal note, I mentioned there was a new bride in the midst of all the aforementioned darkness. Anyone else would have justifiably wondered what they’d gotten themselves into, and walked away. She never did. She held my hand, wiped my tears and she gave me hope.
I love you, Dana. I really do.