I Love Life: If You Feel Like Giving Up, Check Out This Life Changing Story
While researching inspirational stories for my “I Love Life” radio shows and books on overcoming adversities, I made contact with a South Dakota man who was touched by the power of faith! His name: Lee Green. Here is Lee’s life changing story!
While in the Navy back in 1973, Lee Green experienced dizzy spells so strong he would topple from his chair or run into a wall.
“I was taken to sick bay and tested to make sure I wasn’t on drugs. When they found out I wasn’t, they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.
Instead of going away, Lee was hounded with the dizzy spells off and on for years. Finally, surgery promised instant relief. In 1991, specialists at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota determined Lee’s left middle ear was diseased.
“They went in right after the first of the year, drilled a hole in my skull behind my left ear, searched out a major nerve and snipped it in two. When I regained consciousness a couple days later, I had a terrific headache.”
That’s an understatement! Lee has lived with the pounding headache every minute of his life from 1991 to this day.
“If you had my headache today, you wouldn’t be at work. It’s a constant thing. I’ve had the very same headache since January 1991. It never goes away. I can take the edge off using medications. But, it doesn’t go away.”
How does Lee deal with the migraine intensity pain every day?
“It’s really been difficult over the years affecting me physically emotionally and spiritually. I’ve had to give up so much that was important to me. I lost my career in the military because of the pain. After awhile, knowing I’ll always have the pain, I just learned to accept it and move on.”
But, Lee admits he’s been consumed with both anger and depression.
“The anger was all about the career I no longer had in the service. I started out in the Navy but retired out of the United States Air Force. I had almost 20 years with the military and enjoyed it very much. The depression was to the extent where I had seriously considered suicide. So much so, I had the place and the means to do it. It was just a matter of when to take my life. I had gone so far as to have spotted a location where I knew it would take paramedics time to get out there. I wanted it to be far enough away so I would be dead when they arrived.”
But the obsessive thoughts of suicide came to a sudden end when Lee attended the funeral of a family friend who died of breast cancer.
“She knew for several years, there was nothing doctors could do for her. Her husband and 2 children knew she wouldn’t survive. During the funeral service, my wife and I sat a couple rolls back from the family. I watched them have a melt down. They knew this was coming, but the impact upon them was so great, they were emotionally frozen. At that moment, it was as if God threw a light switch on. Taking my life was over! God was telling me during the funeral, ‘you can’t do this to your family.’ I’ve never had any experience like that in my life. It was so crystal clear in just a few moments. I haven’t thought about suicide since the funeral service. These days, I talk about it to people who are struggling with depression and have considered suicide. But, as far as doing it to myself, those days are way gone.”
While in the throes of depression, Lee discovered his true purpose in life.
“I didn’t see it coming. You could say I’m a slow learner. I kept asking, what is it I’m supposed to be doing?’ There has to be a reason I’m going through all this turmoil. And, then I had the answer. I was at a service in my church and the minister, Pastor Kevin Kloster, was talking about 2nd Corinthians and it just clicked. The apostle Paul had asked God to remove the thorn in his side. God’s response was ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’ We can become strong, despite our weaknesses, through God. We can look for new ways to serve while dealing with the weaknesses we may suffer from. The weakness of my own health is now my strength when it comes to my ministry of caring for others. I know that is it only through God’s grace that I have reached this point.”
Since the life changing moment, Lee has begun studying to become a licensed local pastor.
“I have a series of exams and papers to write. I’ll become a certified candidate and then attend school for a couple of weeks. After completing the courses, I’ll go before the bishop for an interview. That’s when I may be assigned a church. Right now, I’m waiting to go to the school.”
Currently, Lee is serving as his church’s director of congregational care. “Pastor Kloster has allowed me to conduct services at our church. I also visit our shut-ins’ and members who are hospitalized. I’m able to keep my total attention on the people while I’m with them. That doesn’t mean that afterwards I don’t have a problem. But, at the time, God allows me the opportunity to do what He’s called me to do.”
Lee is not a complainer. Despite the intensive migraine pain he has lived with since 1991, Lee wakes up every morning empowered with enthusiasm and a positive outlook.
“In this calling, there’s a greater reason for me to get out of bed in the morning. You have to have a reason to get out of bed. Otherwise, you just lay there. I’ve been blessed with this opportunity and purpose in my life.”
Lee’s purpose is centered in his faith.
“God is just constantly working through me and giving me the strength and drive to get past my physical problems.”
Among the joys in Lee’s life is celebrating communion with others.
“Celebrating the sacrament of communion with those that aren’t able to make it to the services or those in the hospital and going through surgery is a true joy. I’ve watched people who have been extremely anxious, upset and distraught before going into a major surgery. After communion, you can see the peace that comes over them. God’s spirit reassures them everything is all right and it’s in Gods hands now. Communion for me is not going forward and asking for the forgiveness of our sins. Christ says ‘do this in the remembrance of Me.’ When you celebrate communion, remember the things that Christ has done for you. It’s also important to remember the many blessings that God has placed upon you. Just like a warm blanket placed over you, you experience an overwhelming sense of calm.”
It’s been said, ‘enthusiasm is faith set on fire.’ In spite of the pain he endures, Lee Green’s enthusiasm is inspiring to the people in his ministry, a ministry that is touching lives with the word of God.