Today we have a "Friends On Friday" submission from our friend Tom Brennan!
We both thought it would be a good way to start our weekend. Though he wrote this a few years back, its significance remains. Many of us are struggling, nervous about losing our jobs, our homes; life as we know it. And though CHANGE is in the White House, it may take years for us to reinvent America and get things back to the way they were when life was comfortable and we were safe (fiscally and otherwise). So Tom, thanks for your perspective, I hope this helps a soul today!
Me and Jim:
I first met Jim in March of 2003. At the time, the financial services business was really a struggle, and I found myself unable to pay many of the bills that we received on a monthly basis. The St. Vincent De Paul Society came to our home, and gave us $600 to help out on some of our expenses, but they couldn't’t help with our utilities. For that, we had to go to the Salvation Army. Needing to go to the Salvation Army in the first place gave me pause (how the hell did I get to this point in my life?) but I did meet with Jim, and he was able to give me $150 to pay towards the electric bill.
Jim was a great guy, and he shared his story with me. After hearing what happened to him, I was reminded (once again) about how blessed that I have been.
A few years ago, Jim was the pastor of a large and successful parish in Naperville, Illinois. He and his wife owned a fairly new four bedroom home, and he was able to buy a new car every 4 or 5 years.
Then, as he described it, the World Trade Center fell on his head.
At the time, he was in his early 40’s, and was in reasonably good health.
Out of nowhere, he suffered a brain aneurysm that nearly killed him.
Due to the length of time that he was unable to work, he lost his parish.
Without an income, he was unable to continue to pay his regular expenses, and he eventually was forced into bankruptcy. He lost the new four bedroom home in a foreclosure sale, and his car was repossessed.
His wife left him for a boyfriend in St. Louis.
And, yes, he contemplated suicide ………….
Deep down, though, he still had enough faith that he decided to keep on going.
He answered a blind ad in the Chicago Tribune, and eventually was hired by the company that placed the ad. The company was the Salvation Army. In Jim’s words, if you’re in the business of helping people, the Salvation Army is the Cadillac.
He eventually met, and fell I love with, a local school teacher. When I met him, they had become engaged, and have since married.
He was renting a modest, but decent, home on the west side of Aurora, and was driving a 1990 Chevy Lumina that was fully paid for.
In spite of the all the setbacks that he has had, Jim was happy and enthusiastic when I talked with him. In spite of the stress I was living with on a fairly constant basis at that point in my life, meeting Jim was definitely a message that there are LOTS of folks who were much worse off than me.
The message that I get monthly at the CBMC lunches that I attend (Christian Business Men’s Conference) is that our problems will cease to be problems if we allow God to handle them for us.
Sales jobs aren’t easy, and selling cars can be (at times) enormously discouraging. One of my co-workers taped up a Scripture reading on his computer, to help him cope. I made a copy of it, and carry it with me in my briefcase.
The passage is from Psalm 55:22:
Cast your burden upon the lord, and he will sustain you, he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
The message in Jim’s story is that there really is very little separating us from him. There’s an old saying that says something like, “there but for the grace of God go I”.
It’s a frightening thought, but it’s also a comforting thought.
We really can’t control what happens to us, but we CAN control how we respond to our circumstances.
We can (and should) plan for the future (I’ve made LOTS of five year plans that turned out a lot different than I thought they would), but we SHOULD let our future be guided by our creator, and our lives will be a lot simpler.
The next time you’re feeling discouraged, think of the Thin Red Line.
Somewhere, and somehow, Jim and I will be pulling for you.