I grew up in a small rural town in Ohio. It was there, at age 13, I first noticed my calling to help people--as a paper boy. In those days we personally delivered the paper to each home. We'd knock on the door and say, "Paper!" At times people would share with me about their hardships. I simply listened to them, and sometimes shared my thoughts. This was my first experience as a counselor.
At the age of 17 my uncle invited me to church, but I declined. He kept asking me, however, so I finally accepted so that he'd leave me alone! The preacher's message hit my soul. I not only became a Christian that day, but felt a call to help people through being a minister.
It was about that time my eye doctor diagnosed me with a genetic condition called retinitis pigmentosa. I had some difficulty driving at night before the appointment. The diagnosis confirmed why. The future was certain--my sight would gradually decline until complete blindness set in.
My condition, however, did not stop my pursuit to become a minister. I enrolled in a bachelor's degree program, and eventually met my future wife during my undergrad. At first I was hesitant to entertain marriage because she would eventually end up with a blind man--but she wasn't concerned about that. She was committed to me.
I starting pastoring a church at the age of 23, soon after my wife and I wed. During this time I earned a PHD in theology and counseling, which I completed at age 36. At age 38 my diminishing eyesight finally caught up with me. My doctor informed me I could no longer drive. I was devastated. Driving was one of my favorite things to do--but, I continued with my calling to help people through ministry and counseling.
We all need to make a choice as we face difficult circumstances. We can live in victory or victimhood. Victim-thinking leads us down a negative path of anger and resentment. Victor-thinking puts our mind in a healthy posture of success. The choice of victory isn't the easy path--but it is right one. Attitude is everything.
I felt it was right to transition from pastoring once I could no longer drive. My church wanted to keep me, but I knew in the long term they needed another leader. My wife and I then moved to the Portland, Oregon area. Since then I have served as a minister of counseling at various churches. I still serve at this capacity (at the time of this writing I am 81).
At the age of 60 my eyesight was completely gone, though I am blessed to detect bright sunlight. The most challenging part of this phase was not seeing my family's faces any longer. I still remember them as they were over 20 years ago, however, and our relationships with one another have continued to grow.
I can do anything others can do, or some form of it. With the help of friends I even play golf! And, at the age of 70 my family surprised me with the opportunity to drive a muscle car on a track with the help of a professional driver! It was a blast.
Each morning my wife describes the sunrise. I can see it perfectly in my mind. I have learned to see even while blind. I am blessed. Serving people deeply satisfies my soul, something which I have done since being a paper boy at the age of 13. I have a marriage of over 57 years, two daughters, and four grandchildren.
A person reaps what they sow. Negative and unhealthy mindsets will not result in positive and healthy returns. Positive and healthy mindsets are the only way reap meaningful and beneficial outcomes. The journey of life will have unfair and sad things happen along the way. Let these be an opportunity for victory rather than victimhood. Keep moving forward. We have more control over our lives than we realize!
Other articles in The Three N's of Life Development series:
Nature, Nurture & Narrative - Overview of the Three N's.
Narrative & Nurture - How your Narrative can speaker louder than your Nurture.
Narrative & Nature - How your Narrative can speaker louder than your Nature.
The information provided is for self-exploration only and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease. Always consult with a licensed professional who specializes in the area you are seeking to understand and treat.