. . .in my life, and I feel it's made me a more complete person. There are some things you can't learn without being in a crisis -- chiefly among them is how you'll react in a crisis. That's not something I've always handled well. In fact, for much of my life, when I was faced with a crisis, I've tended to go into a shell about it. It wasn't until now that I finally put into practice something I seem to have always known, but disregarded.
That is, when you think you're about to be overwhelmed by the treachery that is modern life, ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness, nor is it a sign of failure. It's a sign that you're living a life, just like everyone else -- the human condition.
But, it wasn't until my most recent brush with calamity that I actually learned to swallow some of my pride and actually reach out to others in time of need. To say it paid off would be an understatement. As a result of finally learning some humility, my life has become enriched in ways I'd never considered. It has truly been a gift.
First off, I learned how moving the simplest gesture can be. There is something priceless about being moved to tears by five dollars. You don't expect it to happen, first of all. After all, you can generally scrape up five dollars in change if you have to get the sticky coins out of the console in your car. But, when you find yourself in a position where years of slow, steady progress out of a bad place are about to be undone by a bucket of bolts, hoses and wires, a five dollar donation comes wrapped in a smile and a slap on the back that says, "You're going to be OK. I believe in you." And, when you're questioning whether or not you're capable of getting anything right, that five bucks tells you that you are.
And I learned how to pray. Though it's not the first time I've actually said a prayer in my life, it wasn't until now that knew its true meaning. Up until the past few days, whenever I've been confronted with burdens I didn't think I could handle on my own, I've turned to God and asked for help. What I never knew how to do was to simply let it be -- to accept things as they were, and just wait on Him to take care of things. Before, I never truly accepted the fact that some things were simply beyond my control. In dark times, when I've asked God for help, I still seemed to curse my fate under my breath as I pleaded with Him to make this thing, or that, better. I never knew how to say, "OK, God. I understand now that it's all in your hands, so I'll just let you take it from here."
As a result of finally learning how to reach out and ask for help when I need it, I owe thanks to people who extended themselves anonymously, and to people who extended themselves in huge ways, but who would rather it remain a confidential matter. I respect those wishes, and fully understand them. But, I've been the recipient of blessings I never, ever thought I'd see -- blessings that literally saved me from having to move in with my parents, yet again, at the age of 35. Of all the gifts that can be given to a person, there is nothing short of life itself that compares to one's sense of independence. How do you thank someone for that? The only way I know of is to make the very most of it, and do everything I can within my power to see to it that the person feels that their personal investment has paid off.
From a tiny room in a rented home in a small town in western Kentucky, I've felt the kindness of strangers and friends who have never met me -- knowing me only through my words. It's impossible to be a pessimist once you've been given a gift like that. So, the next time I feel like my world is coming down around me, I'll look back on this experience and will be able to say, "As bad as things may seem right now, God always sends an angel."
And all I had to do was ask.