By David C.
Now, I am going to tell you a very long sad story about myself and how I finally figured out true happiness.
As a teenager, I was very much an over-achiever. I was focused on business and personal success and developed a large ego. After high school, I married and went to college, where I lasted two years and got bored. I decided I wasn’t getting anywhere quickly enough, so I dropped out to start my own business – a deli. Unfortunately, the business became fairly successful – expanding, hiring more employees, making good money. Only I didn’t like food service, so I sold it.
After that, I thought I had the magic touch. I thought I could start any business and turn it into a success.
This is the part of the movie when you start yelling at the screen, “No, don’t do it. Don’t start another company. Go back to school.”
I told Carol we were going to build a vending machine empire, and we thought San Diego was a nice place. I raised some investment capital, and we went to live at my sister’s in LA, while I made trips to San Diego to get vending machines placed.
It was a lot harder than I thought. I spent several months pounding the streets, trying to get vending machines placed, and having very little success. I was so convinced I could make it work, and so unwilling to let the business fail and move on, I ended up spending all the money we had saved, all the investor’s money, and every last dime I could borrow from credit cards, or anything. I couldn’t squeeze out another dollar.
Carol was expecting our second child and living with my sister, but I was living in San Diego in a pickup truck – which was not insured and had no license plate. One day I remember I had spent every last penny making phone calls from a pay phone to businesses to take my vending machines (no cell phones back then). I had no food, no money for gas. I walked to a business with one of my vending machines and hung out until someone put money in. As soon as the customer left, I opened it and took out four quarters. I then went to a convenience store, bought two 30-cent hot dogs and put 40 cents of gas in the truck. That was my last day in San Diego.
The next morning, I remembered I had a ticket to a Dodgers game. I scalped the ticket, spent it all on gas, and drove back to my sister’s house.
Now, where was the Lord in all of this? Think about that as I finish the story.
I was at the lowest point of my life. Where was the magic touch? This was not supposed to be happening to me! I was told since I was very young I would be a successful business man.
With absolutely no money, I was forced to give up the business. I was a beaten man at 24. I was humiliated. But was I HUMBLE? I kicked myself and was more critical of myself than anyone else. But after all the kicking, then was I humble?
With some borrowed money, we decided to move and take a job with a company in another state. I was a sellout, because I had to work a job. For the next year and a half, I got involved in countless business ventures, get rich quick schemes, business plans, etc. including moving my family again in pursuit of another big idea. That idea failed too, but I continued pursuing one idea after another. We were living in a trailer literally in the middle of a wrecking yard. I slept on a twin box springs and Carol slept on a twin mattress, both on the floor. One day I had a most humiliating experience. Something I had been working on for months was taken from me and I was told I wasn’t experienced enough to manage it.
I was at the end. Exhausted. No hope left. After three years of pursuing new ideas, dragging my family from city to city, I was at absolute rock bottom. Then a church friend called cheerily reminding me we had appointments that night. I tried to get out of it, but he convinced me we needed to go. As it turned out, I had one of the most important conversations of my life.
He asked me about my life, and listened patiently. Then he told me how his life dramatically changed when he finally decided to do what the Lord wanted him to do. He told me he used to go through the motions of religion, but was never committed. He was unhappy at home and work, and generally would seek worldly stimulation for a little fake happiness.
One day he felt this overwhelming desire to read in the scriptures. He started reading and couldn’t stop. After two days he had a complete change of heart. He just glowed. He’d never been happier. He started doing better at work, and was more loving to his wife and patient with his children. He now sat on the front row at church, wanting to learn, and eager to volunteer for service. He was never “bad” before, but his pride had kept him from giving himself fully to the Lord.
That was it! On that night, my hard heart started to melt. I was experiencing this change of heart. My heart begged for PEACE and HAPPINESS. All of a sudden, material success was of little importance. I just wanted to be genuinely happy. I wanted to have peace, and not this hole in my heart, this fear, anxiety, and turmoil all the time. Do you ever feel that way?
You see, I always felt I would seek the Lord in matters of religion, my family, and specific business problems. I figured when it came to career or business opportunities, “I won’t bother you about that. I have that part covered.” Or, very similar to that were the 1-minute prayers asking for confirmation of my business plans and letting my emotions give me the thumbs up. “Oh yeah, I prayed about it. I feel good about it.” Of course I felt good about it. It was my idea.
I had always feared that if I did what the Lord wanted me to do in my career, I would end up working as a poor seminary teacher somewhere in Utah. You see, I was afraid to ask what HE WANTED FOR ME. I figured, “I’ll make the money, and once I’m on the path, I’ll let the Lord direct my life.”
That night I resolved to do what the Lord wanted me to do. I decided right then I would seek the Lord in all my doings and not deviate from that path. Immediately we experienced a string of miracles. Within 4 months, I was a full-time student again. We both got great jobs, a great apartment (even had a bed), and were the happiest we’d ever been.
Now this is the key. I was extremely proud, yet I thought I wasn’t. I wasn’t arrogant. I never looked down on other people. I was a beaten man. Humiliated. Can someone be like that and still be prideful? There is another type of pride – perhaps more common and lethal. I had pride that caused me to lose my dependence on God. But I thought I hadn’t lost my dependence on God. When I was trying to get vending machines placed, I was praying all the time for a break – desperately. But I wasn’t praying for the right thing. I had already decided what was best and I was telling Him what He should do to help me. Hmmmm…..
It wasn’t until I truly decided I would do WHATEVER the Lord wanted me to do that good things started happening. I couldn’t hold anything in reserve. I had to be 100% honest in my heart, even if it meant being a poor seminary teacher in a small town. As it turned out, that was not what the Lord had in mind. He just needed to know I was willing to completely submit my will to His. And what He had in mind turned out to be more than I had imagined on my own. I finished school and then started an exciting and challenging career with a firm in the Northeast. It turns out, I love problem solving, and the Lord knew that. He helped me find the career path that would let me use my God-given talents to bless others and bring the most happiness and peace in my life.
But I do know my Heavenly Father loves me – more completely than I can comprehend. He wants me to have pure happiness and joy. Happy-to-the-bone happiness. He wants me to have peace in my heart. Do you think he wants that for you?