Five Areas of Life
At the relatively young age of 40, I had worked long and hard, and I was enjoying the fruits of my honest labors. As a hard-driving entrepreneur, I had managed to parlay my God-given business acumen, natural tenacity, and technological savvy into a bevy of business interests that generated hefty profits and positive cash flow. I owned a car lot, seven apartment complexes (399 units), and a consulting and internet media company. I got married in 2003 to Jordan, and we had Abigail in 2005.
I was living the American Dream.
But internally I was miserable. I was a nervous wreck, plagued by spontaneous, unpredictable panic attacks, struggling daily to keep my mind focused on the tasks at hand. I was fighting to find balance in my life and was failing.
On the home front, my beautiful wife Jordan is smart and successful, and my young daughter Abigail is extremely talented and bright. I desired to give them both the best of everything.
But even my fairytale marriage with the woman I dearly loved was suffering because of all the stress I was bringing into our home. I had become a moody, withdrawn and almost unlovable person. I felt alone and rejected and miserable. Unfortunately, I had made her feel the same. I wasn’t the man of God she had married, and I wasn’t giving her the attention or love she deserved.
My daughter’s demeanor had even started to mirror my demeanor. My cheerful, easygoing daughter was stressed and worried about her school work and wasn’t sleeping well at night.
I was always working frantically just to keep everything going. Despite the persistent financial pressure, I was counted among the conspicuous consumers, compulsively buying things I didn’t need and sometimes couldn’t afford and then just stuffing them into storage because there was no room for them in the house.
I convinced myself that these never-ending acquisitions were good investments for the future. Sometimes I would make the excuse that I did it to satisfy my wife and daughter because I didn’t want to disappoint them. But the truth was, I merely liked to spend money.
Periodically I took my family on vacation, but I couldn’t relax enough to enjoy them. I was always busy on my cell phone or computer, talking or texting or emailing somebody about some business deal or “emerging crisis” back home.
I went to bed worried about business and money, I woke up worrying about business and money, and I spent most of the day worrying about business and money.
My thought was simple; if I could make more money, then I would have the time to do the things I wanted to do. I was wrong.
I was a competitive athlete in high school and college, especially in basketball, but along the way I hurt my back. What started out as a pinched nerve had turned into degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and bone spurs. I was living on 240 milligrams of morphine a day to handle the pain, along with steroid shots in my spine and trigger point injections.
On top of that, I was 42-pounds overweight, and I knew that I needed to exercise, but I was too mentally paralyzed by stress to do it. All I could manage to do was work and worry. The more stress I had, the worse my back became because I was sedentary.
My diet was horrible. I consumed 12-18 coke cola’s a day along with enough sugar and carbs every day to last a week.
Physically, I was a wreck and was doing nothing to change it.
Emotionally, I was on a roller coaster of anger, irritability, and depression.
For years and years, I wanted control of my life. I wanted to be able to relax and hang out with my family without the persistent stress. I was the guy walking 10 feet behind my family on every vacation because I “had” to work.
My thought was simple. If I had money I could solve all my problems. But the more money I made, the bigger my businesses got, the worse my stress got, and the more control I lost. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that money doesn’t solve problems. In fact, money causes more problems when not managed properly.
Ultimately, I lived in constant fear that my financial house of cards was going to come crashing down. I woke up worried about money, worried about it all day, and went to bed worried about it. The odd thing is, I didn’t really have a reason to be worried. I had money in the bank, businesses were doing well but I just couldn’t get my arms around running my businesses and being a husband and father.
My high-intensity work-oriented lifestyle was also taking its toll on other relationships as well. Because of the stress that permeated my personality, I was living in almost constant conflict with everyone with whom I had to deal with. I had developed a short temper and was easily angered. I had earned a well-deserved reputation as a tough negotiator who drove a hard bargain. Why? Because I could argue longer and talk louder than my “opponents”, therefore I usually won. But I didn’t make many friends in the process.
I definitely knew how to make the other guy cry “uncle” and did so without remorse. After all, this is business, and I saw that as a zero-sum game. For me to win, the other guy had to lose. I didn’t hesitate to call in the lawyers – or threaten to do so – when I couldn’t get my way otherwise. I bullied my way to victory time and again.
Over the years I kept asking myself, “Where is God when I need Him most?” I knew that I desperately needed help in every area of my life. So, as a last resort, I turned to God and repeatedly started praying “Help me, Lord.” I was going to an ATM and trying to pull out money. When money wouldn’t come out I was upset with the ATM. I was upset it wouldn’t give me money! Why wasn’t it giving me money?
Well, then it hit me! I hadn’t put any money in the bank. I hadn’t even been working a job to make any money to put into the bank. So, the reason there was no money in the ATM was 100% my fault.
I need to explain something my religious upbringing. I was raised in a Christian home, and my father was a preacher. I knew God from attending Sunday School, Church, reading the Bible and family devotions. At the age of 6, I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart and was baptized as a teenager.
But as life set in I knew I wasn’t walking closely with the Lord. I was fully aware that I needed to cultivate a more committed relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I just didn’t make this a priority of my life. I rationalized and procrastinated. I just wasn’t quite ready to do something as radical as turning my life completely over to God to run however He saw fit.
As more and more time passed and things continued to spiral downhill in my stress-filled life, I slowly came to realize my lip service to God wasn’t going to cut it. I was a hypocrite. I told others I was a Christian, but my fruit wasn’t that of a Christian. I knew without God's help and guidance I was never going to find balance in my life.
I had become something I didn’t want to be. My actions were affecting me, my family and my businesses. Of course, I hadn’t intentionally set out on this path! But here I was, all the traditional methods of getting back on track had failed me - money didn’t work, and materials things didn’t work.
If you are there, you know the feeling. You feel trapped and alone. Thankfully, there is a way out. By taking the necessary steps, I found the right path and came to terms with myself, my family, my finances, my health, and my walk with God.
If you need help in finding your way back to the right path I can help you or I will help you find someone! The hardest step I ever took was admitting to myself that I had to make a change. I encourage you to take that step! Trust me, it’s worth it!