I Love Life In Spite Of It All [AUDIO]
I really do love life! Thanks to adversities that have come my way, I have learned to savor and appreciate its many blessings. But, that wasn’t always the case. Right at the height of my career, I experienced an unexpected and devastating divorce. To top it all off, a sudden job loss! My brain was on overload. It was as if the foundation of my existence was ripped from my life. If that wasn’t enough, the stress and anxiety put me in a Nashville hospital with a heart condition! Here I was—one of the country’s most honored broadcasters, having received over 100 major broadcast awards. I was a successful 17 year veteran radio news director for the Grand Ole Opry’s WSM Radio, the proud son of 3 sons, a solid (or so I thought) 23 year marriage. Now in an instant, the life I knew and loved was gone. I was totally lost. I wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen. Like many men, I had allowed my career to overwhelm me—at the expense of my family. I was caught up in the ‘me, myself and I addiction.’
Fueled by the losses, I soon became embroiled in an all out pity party! Guess what? I was the only one at the party. My mental outlook could best be described as a “P.L.U.M.”—POOR LITTLE UNFORTUNATE ME. Zig Ziglar would call it a case of “Stinkin’ Thinkin!'”
I’ll never forget my first Christmas alone. I was hiding in my Tennessee apartment and frantically praying for guidance. Although I sought His help, I was really angry at God—blaming Him for all the troubles in my life. I thought of myself as a loser and as a broken man—physically, emotionally and spiritually.
It was on that holy night I gave up on life. Overflowing with depression, I unwrapped a Magnum handgun I purchased the previous day. I didn’t want to die. But, I didn’t want to live. I nervously held the gun to my head. With perspiration dripping from my forehead, the minutes passed like hours. Distracted by the radio, a friend of mine was sharing his story in between Christmas songs. Pastor Dave, a recovering crack cocaine addict, was also reading from the book of Psalm: “Give Thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever. The Lord is with me. I am not afraid. The Lord is with me. He is my Helper.” At that moment, it’s as if an angel from above entered my apartment! I put the gun on the bed, got dressed and drove down to the local mission. Once there, Pastor Dave, who was helping out, came over to me. We sat down in the sanctuary. I told him about the gun and the hopelessness in my life. Surrounded by the mission’s residents, who were joyfully opening their Christmas presents, Pastor Dave gave me an assignment. He urged me to listen to the hundreds of I Love Life interviews I had recorded for over 25 years and concentrate on finding out what it’s taken for each of the guests to triumph over adversity. As I uncover the answers, Pastor Dave told me to incorporate them into my life. Pastor Dave also left me with one statement I’ll never forget. He told me, “Jerry—joy is of light. Sorrow is of darkness. The two cannot dwell together.” Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. Instead of thinking about the blessings of life, my thoughts were consumed with failures, doubts and negativity. Pastor Dave put it this way, “Your mind is like a computer and has to be reprogrammed—not with criticism, but with positive thoughts, ideas and concepts. Positive thoughts, he told me, create positive results. And, if you fill your mind with the word of God, you’ll have the strength to triumph over the tough times in life.” You also need to forgive your wife. “Forgiveness,” he told me, “frees the forgiver more than the forgiven.’” Pastor Dave’s advice, combined with the I Love Life stories proved to be the inspiration to discard the past. With the passing of time, my life was overflowing with an attitude of gratitude!