Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"


     When I first began in this business, I had no idea what to do.  Talking with a friend who had much more experience than me, I said, “I have a strong desire in my heart, but other that that, I don’t have a clue.”
     “That is the first key,” said my mentor, “and there is a second one.
     “And what is that?” I asked.
     “First, to find what’s in your heart, then do what is required.  Then we have a chance to know something wonderful.  There are no guarantees, but at least we have a chance.”
     Sounded like good advice to me, but I still didn’t know what to do.
     When I was eighteen, I asked my Dad for some advice.  Now this was strange behavior, because at that age, the only thing I was good at was not taking my Dad’s advice.  But on this occasion I had a serious problem, and I wanted him to tell me what to do.  After I spun my tale, he listened intently, and I said, “So, what am I to do?”
     He thought for a time, and at last said, “That would be up to you.”
     What?  What did he just say? I was stunned.  I suddenly felt my problem floating down the river, and sat there amazed at what I had just heard.  The one time in my life when I actively welcomed my Dad’s counsel, wanted him to be bossy and very directive –know it all even – he says,
“That would be up to you.”
     And those words had the strangest effect on me.  His answer made me feel like an adult.  He was treating me with something new – he was treating me like a man.  Made me feel good and gave me strength.
     Later in life, I had a problem, and this one was serious.  So, I once again asked that old question.  “What am I to do?”  I looked up the heavens and put a heartfelt, genuine question out to the Spirit.  I said my most sincere prayer ever.  “What am I to do?” I asked.
     Then because I was in the process of learning a new thing –and still am – I waited.  I was (and still am) learning that any question you put out to the stars will have an answer…if you don’t press.  You can’t press.  So I waited.
     The next day, I was surprised to see an old friend coming up my walk.  An old professor I had taught with years before was striding up my lane. I opened the door and after greeting him warmly, invited him in.
     “No,” he said, “I don’t have time.  I brought you something.  It’s a tape and for some reason, I thought of you when I heard it.  Thought you might enjoy it.”  And with that, he was on his way.
     I listened to the tape.  The tape was by a man named Ravi Zacharias, a minister and religious scholar.  On the tape, he told the story of a man named Hobart Mower.  If you and I sat down at my kitchen table at our farm, and invented a resume, Hobart Mower’s would still be better.
     Dr. Mower had attended Harvard and taught at Yale.  He reached the pinnacle of his profession by becoming the president of the American Psychological Association.  Dr. Mower traveled the country lecturing on the meaning of life and found that meaning to be in family.  At fifty-one years of age, his children were grown and gone, and his wife divorced him.
Hobart Mower asked the question.
     “What am I to do?”
His answer was to take his life.  He decided the struggle wasn’t worth it.
     And I looked up at the heavens, and said, “I send out a heartfelt prayer, and you send me this answer?  Gee, thanks.”
     The next day, I went to the university to teach my class.  As I was often in the habit of doing, I arrived early to spend some time in the library.  While browsing the books, I noticed one oddly placed behind a stack of others.  I reached through the shelves and retrieved, “How To Survive Practically Anything,” by Dr. Dan Montgomery.
     While Dr. Montgomery’s background wasn’t quite as shiny as Hobart’s, it wasn’t too bad either.  Dr. Dan had a doctorate in psychology and a thriving practice as a Christian psychologist.  His office was in Orange County, huge traffic, beautiful wife and daughter and home, and huge income. 
     One day the government defaulted on a contract. Dr. Dan felt the sting. A short time later, a new highway took a route separating his office from the heavy traffic flow.  His business suffered even more.  His wife left him and took their beautiful daughter, and Dr. Dan no longer wanted his big expensive home because his heart was broken.  And Dr. Dan asked that question…
     “What am I to do?”
And his answer was quite different from Dr. Mower’s.  Dr. Dan decided that if life was going to hand him fertilizer, he would grow roses.  He then described his struggle to come back to the world, and how the journey was so worth enduring the down times.  He decided the struggle was worth it.
     And I looked up at the heavens, and said, “Wow.  That was good.  I send out a heartfelt prayer, and within two days, You send me the answer.  Thank You.”
     I was stunned.  I sat there amazed at what I had just heard and read in the last forty-eight hours.  Two lives, two huge tapestries had been laid out before me, two men with problems like we all have in life, and who chose very different paths.  One took his life and the other made a new life.
     The answer to my prayer had come.  What was I to do?”
     “That would be up to you.”
I realized I could do anything I chose.  I could choose misery or I could choose to be productive, and I said, “I’m picking option number two!”
     And I did, and every day has not been perfect.  But…
     There have been so many days, people and events since that time that are precious to me.  People and places and horses that were the best things, and so worth whatever minor struggles I had to endure.
     What are we to do?  Find what’s in our heart and then do what is required.  To struggle and win, to fail and fall, and rise again.  Then we have a chance to know something wonderful.  There are no guarantees, but at least we have a chance.


Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, begin it well and serenely with too high a spirit to be bothered with your old nonsense. ----Ralph Waldo Emerson

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