Thursday, September 2, 2010

You Changed My Life: The Long Lasting After Effects

Hey gang!

Last night, after I finished my review of Max Lucado’s You Changed My Life, I began thinking. I know, you are thinking, “Frank, that’s dangerous! Stop yourself!” A changed life often has a ripple effect.
In the early 1990’s, DC Comics did a very poor comic book series across their entire universe called Armageddon. In the series, Matthew Ryder became Waverider, a man who had built a time machine in the future and returned to the past to try to stop his terrible present from being true. His present was that a super hero became a ruler named Monarch (inventive, right?) and he wiped out all the other heroes to rule as he pleased. He ended up ruling the Earth into the ground.

Waverider kept touching heroes and seeing if they could indeed become Monarch. It was a neat little ability he had to be able to read the person’s future by this manner. However, each time he did so, it changed the future. After a whole summer of crossovers and making me buy several comics that I would never normally purchase, the Monarch was revealed and beaten.

However, DC felt that they had not had enough fun with Waverider and continued to use him. Two years later, they ended up using him to help the heroes find who else was taking them to a time called Zero Hour. Overall, in this edition, another hero was playing God and wanted to make a planet that would be better. In the end, they tore up one of the greatest heroes in history in Hal Jordan, the greatest of the Green Lanterns. Yes, that includes Guy Gardner.

Again, as timelines were crossed the ripple effect took place and changed both present and future. Last time, I told you about Mrs. Booth, my senior English teacher and how her presence changed my life. With 23-24 years passed since that year under her care, I thought how different things could have been if she had not been my teacher.

We’ll begin with the obvious. There would have been no college for me. At least, not in the sense that I went to Fairmont State and became an elementary teaching graduate four and a half years later. I did have other aspirations and I occasionally wonder what would have happened if I had taken those turns.

I could have gone into radio. I long had a desire to announce sporting events and with my background in many of the sports statistically, I had the knowledge to go that direction. Those that know me also know that I have a clef pallet that I was born with. Fortunately, I did not have a hairlip to go with it. Unfortunately, the small hole in the roof of my mouth left me with a little vibration that sounds like a weird laugh if I don’t close my mouth quick enough after speaking. It’s really annoying when I am nervous. People throughout my life have made fun of it and it could have been a deterrent from radio stations giving me a chance.

The other thought that I almost pursued was signing up for Devry University and their computer tech program. I am average in brains (which may be a reach in some people’s minds) and it would have been very hard to learn, but it could have been a good career for me. I would’ve seen Chicago much more than I ever have living three hours from it now.

Without college, I never would have met Eddie Gennoy. Eddie and I became friends in English classes that I took at the college and he persuaded me to begin writing for The Columns, FSC’s newspaper. After a semester of writing fluff comedy and entertainment pieces, he helped hand me the Sports Editor position. I took off almost immediately and wrote plenty between 1992-94 because of that friendship.

With no Mrs. Booth, I also would never have bothered to find my father again. At 16, I was very angry at my dad for leaving my mom behind and leaving me to desperately seek male role models as I grew up. After meeting him in 1991 on my first trip to Alaska, he even told me that I probably was better off being raised by my mom. Without those meetings, however; I would never have understood medical histories that I have or spiritual tendencies that have miraculously passed through generations, including the good and the bad.

Without making that effort, dad wouldn’t have agreed to help pay my way through college. He realized that without him, it just wasn’t going to happen. While people have criticized my dad, including myself at times, this was the one great thing that I give him credit for. I have all the knowledge that I have because he helped mom make that opportunity possible. To me, that might be his greatest legacy.

I also would not have ever known if he received God or not. If you look back at my article on Father’s Day, I learned that news at his visitation and funeral. Because of that trip to Alaska to meet him, it intensified my wanting to know my siblings. I have two sisters and a brother today because seeing pictures of them gave me the hunger to know them.

Finally, without Mrs. Booth pressing me on toward college, she indirectly put me face to face with the man I give credit for helping walk the final years toward Christ, my friend Alvin Smith. Alvin and I knew each other in high school through other friends, but in college, our friendship cemented. We hung out and probably should own stock in the Hardee’s Corporation for as many sandwiches and fries that we ate there. It was that final year from 1993-94 that Alvin and I became like brothers. Two of the other partners of the rectangular table, Kevin and Chris, moved on to Pittsburgh. It was then that Alvin began using his faith to take me to concerts and eventually to making a decision for Christ in 1994. You can read about that on any December 27 posting. You’ll have to read the story to understand why. The funny part of the post story is that Alvin came to salvation after I did. I didn’t know that until years afterward.

So Frank, why did you use almost 1,100 words to talk about this? Here’s why. You never know who or when you will make the difference and change someone’s life. I am not a great author like Max Lucado, but I can tell you many stories of people who have changed me. I often thank God that I am not the same man as I was in 1986, 1994, or sometimes even yesterday afternoon at dinner time. God continues to grow me through the people he sends my way. He does it for you too.

If you’ve been lucky enough to have someone change your life for the good, thank Him. If you haven’t, pray for someone to pass your way that resembles the life Jesus Christ lived and shared with us through God’s Holy Word in the Bible. Don’t ask for someone to come by and give you the winning lottery numbers. Money doesn’t always bring happiness and also carries the temptation of putting a root inside of you to carry you to evil destruction. Ask for someone to reach into your heart and make you better, not bitter. Someone that will change you in a way that will make you smile and help that smile to last every time you think of them.

I love you guys,

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