It's funny how easily we focus on what we do not have, rather than what we do have. We see something taken away or a goal missed as a negative... or even failure. We see barricades as a bad thing, versus a God-given direction to put us on the right path. We lose out on something and are angry at the loss rather than realize the new found freedom we have just acquired.
I remember losing my home on the affluently-dense Cooper Point Rd in Olympia when my business failed due to the student loan crisis. Next was my BMW. Looking back, I smile. I lost a home that was now worth hundreds of thousands less than what I owed... a car that had dropped in value by 50% in a matter of months. My loss wasn't something to be angry about. It was a chain of events that loosed the shackles of my financial future.
When I started my vocational school years ago, I learned that the multi-purpose room in the Capital Medical Center's "Physician Pond" was available to my use because I was a paying tenant. Awesome! Free rent! Based on the size, I could fit three massage tables. That's six students at $10,000.00 in tuition each. I was so excited. $60,000.00 in income a year and free rent!
When I told the landlord which nights I needed the room to make the schedule work, he said, "Great. Just one small hitch... the woman that teaches yoga here on Tuesday nights would need to agree to giving up her time slot."
I wrinkled my brow... "She's not a tenant though, right? I have priority on requests?"
"Nope. She's been here longer. I wouldn't want to upset her. Just give her a call" he said as he shrugged his shoulders.
The next day I called the woman and asked her about possibly moving her night so I could start my school. I explained how amazing it was going to be and how it was a dream I'd had for the past decade... Somehow she didn't catch the vision I had. "No." That was it. Just "No."
I was devastated. I was so angry that my school wasn't going to be able to have access to this nifty, tiny space for free. Who cared that the space that would require me to buy a box van to store our school supplies, moving them in every day and out every night. It didn't matter that it would be a school classroom that wasn't my own to design and decorate as needed. But it was my amazing plan, and now my amazing plan was being derailed by a yoga teacher. Seriously??
I licked my wounds for a few days and then noticed a sign for a space across the street in the adjacent medical park. It had never been built-out for a tenant. Virgin space. A space that would allow me to keep my educational materials in place and I could decorate as needed... a place that would cost less than two-student's combined tuitions annually... I could have a bigger space and make the same income with only two more students. Huh.
Then the wheels started churning... I envisioned a rock polisher...
As a boy, I had a huge interest in rocks and out of my paper route income, I bought a rock polisher. I learned early on that if I only put four or five rocks in that polisher, the rocks would just crash against each other resulting in spots that looked shiny, but in general, they would not end up as beautiful, finished stones. If I put dozens of rocks in together, however, I would have a barrel of amazing, beautiful, shiny gems when the process was complete.
I could see the end result. Me and a few students together for a year would likely produce mediocre results. Then I envisioned dozens of students working with dozens of teachers. Bingo. My insurmountable hurdle that made me so angry was a actually a blessing to my business. It was because of that stubborn yoga teacher that I ended up with a superior school.
When it gets crazy, pray for more rocks
Often the forces of life seem to come at us, chipping away at our exterior, pummeling us relentlessly. If you look back over your life though, often those tough times are what gave you the wisdom and strength to endure and have the characteristics needed to bless and shine into other people's lives today.
Obstacles are often really not obstacles at all. Rather, they are God's gentle, guiding hand, allowing us to avoid pitfalls and situations that would produce disastrous results. What we see as a stiff board or barricade holding us back is actually His arm with a finger pointing in a direction we couldn't fathom.
So why am I talking about rock polishers and barricades in my blog about losing my tongue? Good question.
The week prior to my surgery, I invited thousands of massage therapists to join me at The Evergreen State College for a free seminar... the only catch? They would need to sign a release for potentially appearing in my video recording. I knew I was going to lose my voice as it was and wanted to get the message out, unencumbered by a speech impediment. It was a lot of fun and nearly 150 therapists were able to learn that day.
This morning I was working on that video footage, editing it into a final DVD of my complete Secrets of Deep Tissue course. Watching myself on the screen, hearing my voice, the gift God had given me. As the clips played, one after the other, I became a little sad. This would never be again as it is today. It will recover and retrain my voice to an unknown degree, but never would it be exactly the same. Would I have the stage voice again that I've taken for granted all of these years?
It was though a whisper was breathed through me at that moment that said,
"You will go from a perfect voice that was heard before rooms of less than 100 to an imperfect voice that thousands will intently listen to. It isn't the voice. It's the message."
Wow. It's not a barracade at all. It's a ramp shooting me into bigger things than I had envisioned, and I am so incredibly grateful. I want to use whatever I have to bless others, for I am a blessed man.
A Blessed Man