At one of the lowest points in my life some 35 years ago, my father told me that when I got past the problems I was facing, I should probably move away from Bristol. "You'll never make anything of yourself around here" he said. In retrospect, I know that statement wasn't really about me. His instructions were more about his vanity, and how embarrassed he was of his oldest son's actions. They had very little to do with my future.
Regardless of his motivation, it didn't take very long for me to prove his statement wrong. And I believe that when he died, he was actually proud of the man I'd become. But he would never take back those words, he just wasn't that kind of man. For what it's worth, at the time he said that, I saw his statement as more of a challenge that an instruction. I love it when someone tells me I can't do something. I just have to prove them wrong.
But earlier this week, something strange happened. While talking with a new friend and potential financial adviser, I told him this little story, and followed that with a somewhat boastful "he was wrong." But somehow, a few minutes later, I made a discovery: He should have been right. Maybe he was right.
I've told many of my friends about just how blessed I was to have the life I have now. And to be honest, it has become somewhat humbling. And in the last several months, I have tried to share my good fortune while maintaining my humility. The funny thing is, my attempts at humility have multiplied my blessings over and over again through my friends, both old and new.
But it was through this discussion with this new friend that I learned just why I should feel blessed, and why I feel so humbled right now. My father was right. I had ruined my life. I shouldn't have been able to have made anything of myself. It really is a miracle that I made it this far. I could not have done all this alone.
By focusing on some basic spiritual concepts, I found the strength to pick myself up, dust myself off, and make something of myself. But I wasn't alone. So many of my friends have helped me over the years, even at time when I had fallen too far to save. I was given chances and opportunities that at the time, I know I didn't deserve. And by living a life based on these concepts, new doors for me while old ones rarely close.
Today, more than 30 years since my father said those words that I can never forget, I have so much to be thankful for. I have everything I need, and most of what I want. After spending most of my adult life with no more friends than I could count on a single hand, I have more good friends that I can count, more than I ever dreamed I would have.
Many people would say I'm lucky, but luck is a thing of cards and dice. And I've never thought reducing the value of your life down to the value of a game of chance. I'm not where I am because of luck, I'm here because I could clear my mind, consider where each pathway in front of me might take me, and then following the path that would hopefully lead to my success.
The funny thing is 30 years ago, when my father told me what I should do, he was probably right. He really should have been right. Even then, I was able to discover the first of these principles and set my life in the right direction. But even still, finding those initial changes required to save my life weren't something I could have ever done alone. God was with me every step of the way.
But my gratitude doesn't end there. So many of you have been brought into my life for a reason that only became apparent in the last couple of days. You are in my life so that I may learn to be a better man through your examples. I want to thank you – the family and friends I share my life with now – for allowing me into your life. It honestly wouldn't be the same without you.
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