My Struggle To Find Balance
For years I struggled internally to find balance. It didn’t seem to matter what I did, or how I did it, I simply could NOT find balance. The sad part is deep down I knew exactly what I needed to do but that wasn’t part of MY plan.
Success was sweet to me. 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 Christian 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 a positive cash flow. I owned 7 apartment complexes (399 units), a car lot and a consulting company. All of them had been profitable business enterprises over the years.
On the home front, my gorgeous wife Jordan was smart and sophisticated (I truly married way about my means!), and my young daughter Abigail was loving, caring and talented. I wanted to give them both the best of everything. We lived in a good upscale neighborhood outside of Winston-Salem, NC, and we had purchased a vacation home in the mountains. I drove a new Porsche and Jordan always had the latest and nicest SUV. We owned show horses and Abigail was considered a child prodigy in equestrian circles.
So, to all outward appearances, I was living the American Dream, and I relished that superficial image of glamorous prosperity.
Trouble Lurking Under the Surface
But underneath my external veneer of entrepreneurial confidence and success, I was really a nervous wreck, plagued by spontaneous, unpredictable panic attacks. The pressures in my life were building almost to an explosive level. Emotionally I was wracked by anxiety and stress. The more my companies grew the more I started to feel like I was trying to put a square peg in a round hole. I know something was off. I always said I just couldn’t put my finger on it … the reality was I didn’t want to put my finger on it.
I was always working frantically just to keep everything going from week to week and month to month. My mind constantly ran numbers and deals. How much did I owe? How much did I have? When was the next deal coming or closing? This kept me on a roller coaster of worry and fright.
I lived in constant fear that my financial house of cards was going to come crashing down any day. I woke up worrying 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 find balance. (hindsight: my problem was I had become consumed with money. Trying to make it and keep it)
So, my solution was to find things to occupy my mind. I was counted among the conspicuous consumers, compulsively buying things I didn’t need. It was a distraction.
Why? I was rationalizing. I didn’t want to deal with the reality of my situation. Sometimes I would make the excuse that I did it to satisfy my wife and daughter because I didn’t want to disappoint them.
Periodically I took my family on vacations to places, like London, Paris, Cancun, the Virgin Islands and Disney 25 times in 5 years. The problem was I was so stressed I couldn’t relax long enough to enjoy them with my wife and daughter. I was always busy on my cell phone or computer, talking, texting or emailing somebody about some business deal or emerging crisis back home. I personally don’t like conflict but I always seemed to be right in the middle of a conflict. Looking back this was a distraction. It kept me from focusing on the real issue.
It even got to the point that I would stay up to 2am or 3am watching tv shows on my iPad because I dreaded getting up in the morning. I knew there were things I had to do but I just couldn’t get my arms around everything.
The moments of happiness I got from trips and materials things didn’t fill the void that was growing bigger and bigger. I constantly felt the burden of managing my multiple businesses and dealing with the constant conflict I had produced. I was stressed, I was anxious and I was becoming lethargic. I had become obsessed with making money but my lack of consistent discipline as a business owner and manager was causing me problems and costing me money. It was really wearing me down.
Ripple Effects of Stress on My Health and Relationships
I was an accomplished athlete in high school, especially in baseball and basketball and soccer. As you know when you are young nothing hurts and you push through. By the age of 16, I was visiting a chiropractor weekly and had had knee surgery. Over the next 10 years the slight pain was manageable but by my late 20’s I was having some severe pain.
By the time I was 35 years old, I was diagnosed with a compressed nerve and degenerative disk disease. Over the years, I had steroid shots in my spine, trigger point injections, massages and pain meds. By the time I turned 40 I was on 240 milligrams of morphine a day.
Between the ages of 39 and 40, I gained 42 pounds! My diet consisted of 12 cokes a day, candy, chips, carbs, occasional protein and very few “green” things. My health had deteriorated to the point where I seriously wondered if I would find myself in a wheelchair before I was 50.
I knew I needed to get some regular physical exercise, but I was too mentally paralyzed by stress to do it. All I could manage to do was work and worry and then worry some more. I had convinced myself I didn’t have the time to work out. This excuse was better than dealing with my stress.
On top of my bad health, my high-intensity work-oriented lifestyle was taking its toll on all my other relationships. Because of the stress that permeated my personality, I was living in constant conflict with everyone with whom I had to deal. I had a short temper and was easily angered. I also had developed a well-deserved reputation as a tough negotiator who drove a hard bargain. Because I could argue longer and talk louder, 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 was 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 essentially bullied my way to victory time and again.
Over 10 years I spent over $300,000 in legal fees just to resolve problems with different parties that probably could have been diffused for next to nothing with a diplomatic phone call or an attentive ear. But I couldn’t make that call or take the time to listen. Even though I had read the scripture hundreds of times that said, “A soft answer turns away wrath,” I wasn’t able to put that simple Biblical principle into practice in my life. My stubborn pride stood in the way.
The hardest hit relationship was my marriage to a woman I dearly loved and adored. Our relationship wasn’t where it needed to be and the reason was because of all the stress I was bringing into our home. I see this now because hindsight is 20/20 but at the time I didn’t believe it was me. I wanted more from our marriage and she wanted more but the ways we were trying to achieve our goals weren’t working.
Neither of us was ever unfaithful, and we had never discussed divorce, but subconsciously I knew my precious bride wasn’t getting what she needed. We had started out aflame with love, as most newlyweds do. But now after ten years, the old flame was flickering and there were growing tensions between us. I could feel Jordan starting to pull away from me, a little at a time. She didn’t like what she was seeing in me. She wasn’t happy and I wasn’t given her much of a reason to be happy.
I had become a moody, withdrawn and unlovable person at times. Every aspect of my life was falling apart around me. The more I tried to find balance in my life the less I had. I felt alone, rejected and miserable. I knew something had to change radically, and soon. I just didn’t know what to do about it, or how to do it.
Note: At the time all this was going on I assumed that gifts and trips were enough to satisfy her needs. In reality, all she wanted was my time and attention.
My Slow Drift Away from God
I didn’t set out to not let God control my life. I also didn’t set out to let God control my life. I set out on life. Things happened, good things and bad things. Over time my relationship with God became like a distant 3rd cousin in another state. We talked when there was a death or wedding in the family.
But in the still of the night, I knew I was trying to run my own life instead of letting God direct me. For years and years, I had buried the thought of turning everything over to God. I rationalized my behavior, made excuses and ultimately always thought “I’ll do that later.”
At this point, I need to explain something about my religious upbringing. I was raised from childhood in a conservative, evangelical Christian home. I was taught the importance of going to church, reading my daily proverb and praying to God.
I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior when I was six, was baptized as a teenager and I considered myself a reasonably good Christian person. I was going through most of the actions required of a Christian.
But the older I got the further I got away from the Lord personally. My words spoken in public said I had faith and loved God. Deep down in my heart, I knew those were mostly just words and I needed to cultivate a more committed relationship with Jesus. But that took something I wasn’t willing to do. It took admitting that MY way wasn’t working. This meant I had to deal with my pride and I wasn’t ready to do that.
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. My thought was simple and essentially two-fold:
1. Giving God control meant I wouldn’t get to do what I wanted. Looking back on this statement makes me kind of laugh. My actions, my control was causing me to be miserable. But at the time it made perfect sense!
2. Once I had gotten everything I wanted in life I would give God control. This made perfect sense to me! Get to where I wanted to be and then let God have control. My thought was if I made just a bit more money then I could spend more time with my family and develop my relationship with God. But the more I made and the bigger my companies grew the more time I spent away from my family and the more miserable I became.
Sure, I had been “praying” now and then asking God to get me through one business deal after another, or out of one messy jam after another. Looking back at my old journals from 2012 and 2013, I can see how I was struggling to find direction from the Bible.
I actually thought for a while that I was truly trusting God. That I was leaning on Him. But as time passed and things continued to spiral downhill in my stress-filled life, I slowly came to realize that I was really just paying lip service to God.
The more I tried to get closer to Jesus, the more I saw how far away I really was. The more I read the Bible about “trusting in the Lord with all your heart,” the more I realized that I was living my life trusting mainly in myself. I had pretty much turned to my own way, hypocritically using God as a sort of fallback safety net when things got too intense for me to handle alone. Usually, I was just vaguely aware of these inconvenient truths.
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.
This was my relationship with God. I hadn’t been putting any time into the relationship but I kept wondering, “Where is God when I need Him most?” God was right there the whole time. He was just waiting for me.
It got to the point where I felt like I was the “mole” in the county fair game “whack a mole.” I would come up with a plan and pop up and God would lovingly bump me and say that isn’t where I want you. Boy was I stubborn. It kept me from giving in. I just had to keep doing it my way.
Obviously, I never said a word about any of these problems to Jordan. My stubborn pride wouldn’t let me. I had to keep up a brave front with her and pretend that everything was all right. That I was a strong man who had a good relationship with God. That I was right in my arguments and decisions. The issues I was having was because OTHER people were not right with God, it wasn’t me.
I just couldn’t bring myself to admit to my wife that I was not the man of God I needed to be. In reality, I was ashamed to admit the truth to her or to anyone else. It was all I could do to admit it to myself and that was a real struggle. My pride and arrogance were out of control at this point. I was a prideful, self-centered, egotistical man who was determined to have God on one side of the fence and my life on the other.
I knew beyond a doubt I needed God in my life. I needed to let God lead, guide and direct me. But I was struggling.
Then one day in the fall of 2014, I had an epiphany of sorts while I was reading Proverbs, honestly, I was just skimming it because I felt guilty for not having a daily devotional. Yet God used this time to show me I was a hypocrite.
Suddenly I saw, with perfect clarity, I was serving myself and my own carnal desires, worshipping material things and success. I was practicing a contemporary form of materialistic idolatry. I was a saved, religious hypocrite who only wanted God involved when I needed Him.
Then it really hit me, I knew I was going to stand in front of God and give an account of my actions. I would give an account of the testimony I had with others. I would answer for the husband and father I had been. Then it really hit me …. My daughter would likely marry the type of man I had become. I was not the man of God that I wanted to be and I certainly wasn’t the man of God I had been created to be. It was time to change.
Over the coming weeks the Holy Spirit really started to work me over and instead of burying the thought of giving God control I started focusing on the thought. All the things I knew, all the scriptures I had heard, all the words of wisdom I had heard over the years really started to come alive. They started to have more and more relevant meaning.
Then one day in the garage my heart and spirit broke and I began to cry. For the first time in my life, I was really moving to give God control of my life. I was moving from the knowing God’s word stage to actually trying to apply it to my life.
For the record, I never cry. I didn’t cry as a child when my dog died. Or when my grandparents died. Not when I got married and not when Abigail was born.
But now I was weeping, involuntarily and uncontrollably. This wasn’t just a little sniveling pity-party kind of crying, either, but rather great gut-wrenching, heaving sobs that twisted my stomach and racked my whole body and shook my soul and wouldn’t quit for hours and left me limp and drained when they finally did stop.
“God, make me the man you want me to be!” “God, take control!” That was the cry of my heart that day.
I confessed and repented of every sin I could think of – including the idolatry of worshipping money and the futility of trying to go my own way without letting the Holy Spirit control my life. I tried to get everything off my chest with God that day. Afterwards, I truly felt better.
But I knew that I wasn’t done yet. I had made things right with God but I still had to make things right with my wife. This thought had kept me pinned for years. How could I go to my wife and tell her I wasn’t the man of God I proclaimed to be? What would she think? How embarrassing would it be?
I walked into our bedroom crying. “I have a confession to make,” I said to Jordan. “There is something I have to tell you . . . right now.”
I could see the question marks rising in her eyes as she tried to discern where this unexpected, spontaneous confessional from her husband might be going. The tears were rolling down my checks.
I was a broken man. I simply stated I was sorry for not being the man of God I had been called to be.
“I have not been the godly husband that I should have been,” I said to her between sobs. “I should have been following God and leading my family in His ways. Instead, I’ve been following the ways of the world. But I want to do better and I have asked God to forgive me and to help me change. I’m asking you to do that, too.”
Honestly, the expression on her face was simple. She thought I had lost my mind.
Season of Change
Frankly, Jordan really didn’t know exactly what to make of my tearful confession that day. It was so totally out of character for me that it took her by surprise. And for the next several months she was understandably skeptical. She was watching me closely and waiting to see what I would do next.
I did realize during this time that Jordan already knew I wasn’t the man of God I said I was. See over the years I had made promises to do better. These promises lasted for a season – a day, a week, a month or maybe even longer – but then I would slip back into my old ways
But over the months Jordan acknowledged and appreciated my sincere desire to give God control of my life. I really appreciated that vote of confidence from Jordan. I needed her support and encouragement. By the same token, she needed to see me stepping up and being a godly husband and making godly decisions for the family, based not on temporary whims or earthly expediency but on the Word of God.
Another thing that amazed me was the reaction I got from other people as I began to make these changes. Because I must confess, I couldn’t keep quiet about what was going on in my life. It was all so radical, so transforming, so liberating to finally be following the will of God! I simply had to tell people what I was doing and why. I had no choice. And when I did . . . almost everyone was moved to start telling me about his own similar worries and problems and to open up and confess and repent – some of them even shedding tears. Friends, business associates, even pastors – everybody was caught in the same trap! I had no idea how bad the “problem” was, even in the Church.
You see I thought I was alone. I thought I was the ONLY Christian man struggling to give God control.
When I released my worry and stress to God, I began to notice physical changes, too. Immediately I felt lighter and freer, and the chronic pain in my back started to decrease. I stopped drinking cokes, started eating better and working out at a gym three days a week.
Within 60 days I had lost 42 pounds and had stopped taking all the pain meds! (My doctor warned me about the consequences of coming off the meds so fast. She was right. It was bad but well worth it.)
Eventually the changes I was making in my own life, as I sincerely tried to put God first, began to effect a change in my spousal relationship with Jordan, too. As I released all the pent-up stress in my life and turned it all over to God, the tension between us just started to melt away. I shared my problems and my fears with Jordan, and oftentimes she was the one who came up with the timely solutions we needed.
We were communicating more honestly with each other, sharing our thoughts and feelings more openly, trusting each other more completely.
Sure, we don’t have a perfect marriage. Who does? But I constantly working on having the best marriage we can have.
Sure, I don’t have a perfect temperament. Who does? But I’m constantly working on trying to show the love of Christ to others.
What I do have is balance. I have control of my life because I’m allowing God to have control of me and I strive daily to keep it this way.
If you are struggling to find balance why not give God’s way a try? What can it hurt?
My Business Experience
Nathan has successfully founded and operated more than two dozen businesses since 1999, grossing over $150 million in gross sales. His experience spans the areas of commercial real estate acquisition and redevelopment, automobile sales, direct product sales, web-based marketing, and strategic partnership facilitation.
He’s had amazing successes and epic failures and learned more from his failures than his successes.
After years of struggling to keep all of the balls in the air, he learned that there are laws and processes that, when implemented, will deliver the desired results.
Nathan is committed to enjoying a true balance between working hard and enjoying life. He is married to his best friend and they have a busy young daughter that keeps them on the go. His hobbies (Yes, hobbies!) include shelling deserted islands, building furniture, raising toys for ChristmasToyDrive.com, reaching inner city kids with The Story Bible, and cultivating his personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Nathan has been a featured guest on Fox News, Fox and Friends, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, C-Span, and various other radio and TV programs. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College and his Master’s degree in Public Policy from Regent University. He is also a member of the John Maxwell Team.
As a teacher and speaker, Nathan has had the honor of presenting to organizations, such as FreedomFest, CPAC, Federation of National Republican Assemblies National Convention, National Religious Broadcasters, the North Carolina Society of Surveyors, Leadership Institute, Center for Christian Statesmanship, numerous Chambers of Commerce, and many other organizations.
Over the years, his companies have been honored with many awards and rankings. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 his parent company was ranked by Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 as one of the fastest growing small businesses in the United States. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, his real estate management company was listed as one of the largest in the Piedmont Triad. In 2011 and 2012, Business Leader Magazine ranked Nathan as one of the 50 Top Entrepreneurs in the Piedmont Triad.
In 2011, Business Leader Magazine ranked his company as one of the top Movers and Shakers in the Piedmont Triad, while the Triad Business Journal identified his company as one of the Triad’s 50 fastest-growing privately held companies, the 7th best small business in the Piedmont Triad, and the 70th small business in the South.
During Nathan’s time as part owner and VP of Sales and Marketing, Physicians Pharmaceuticals (Soy.com) received the Fast 50 Award from the Triad Business Journal for being one of the 50 fastest growing companies in the Piedmont Triad region in 2001, 2002, and 2003. In 2004, Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Physicians Pharmaceuticals as one of the hottest businesses in the functional foods category.
In 1999, Nathan became a member of the National Religious Broadcasters. He served on the NRB internet committee for seven years and was Chairman of the Internet Committee for three years, from 2012-2014. He was a board member from 2013-2015, and served as the founder and chairman of the NRB’s Digital Media Summit.
“not based on or conforming to what is generally done or believed”
When Nathan started with Revival Soy there was no advertising budget and he was VP of Sales and Marketing. His plan? Affiliate marketing. Revival Soy was a small company with no brand id and no track record.
First, he identified other “outlets” that had the same audience as his customer base. The first company was ediets.com. They had an email database of over 4 million emails. After weeks of calling and emailing he finally reached a decision maker. The contract was signed and Ediets.com agreed to send out a stand-alone HTML and they got 50% of the gross sale of the first order.
Ediets.com sent out an email on Friday morning. By Monday morning Revival Soy had doubled in size and wrote ediets.com a check for $200,000. For the next 2 years, ediets.com sent an email almost weekly. This one contract lead Nathan to be able to secure other contracts with dot coms.
Sometimes it just takes thinking outside the box.
The next identified potential customer base were Christians. Nathan learned of a religious organization called the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and their yearly convention was coming up in CA, so off to CA Nathan went.
The NRB convention was huge! The reception of Revival Soy wasn’t. The brand wasn’t known and the affiliate marketing program wasn’t a proven concept with ministries. What to do? When faced with the problem you have several options: spend a lot of money (which Revival didn’t have), build an organic following (which takes time and no guarantee) or find an out of the box solution.
Nathan’s solution was targeting the 700 Club – The Christian Broadcasting Network with an affiliate marketing agreement. Nathan graduated from Regent University (founded by Dr. Pat Robertson) in 1998 with his Master’s Degree in Public Policy. Nathan called CBN and made some inquiries but got bounced around to various departments. He finally landed with the internet department who was interested in the email campaigns. Based on the success of the campaigns with ediets.com and other dot coms CBN.com was willing to test the affiliate program. It worked.
The next target was getting on the 700 Club TV program. The estimated viewers in the United States were tens of millions of people every day. Nathan assumed getting into this door would be a piece of cake. He had a proven track record with CBN.com and the affiliate marketing program contract had been vetted and approved by CBN legal counsel.
It proved to not be a piece of cake. Over the next 6 months, Nathan got bounced around to various departments but couldn’t find the gatekeeper to the TV program. While on a trip to CBN Nathan randomly meets John Rea in the CBN gym. John was a beast. He was in his mid 50’s, a former Navy Seal, a triathlete and just happened to be the head of security for Dr. Pat Robertson.
John and Nathan immediately struck up a friendship. Both John and Nathan were upfront, open and honest about their current needs. John needed a sponsor for his triathlons and Nathan need to get through the gatekeepers at CBN.
The deal was struck between John and Nathan. Revival Soy would sponsor John’s triathlons and John would help Revival get around the gatekeepers. Revival Soy purchased John a titanium bicycle and John informed Nathan of Pat Robertson’s approaching birthday. Nathan asked John what was the oldest piece of workout equipment in Pat’s personal gym. It was his workout bike.
“Hey John, if Revival Soy buys Dr. Robertson a new workout bike could you arrange to have it placed in his personal gym? With a Happy Birthday sign on the handlebars? And a Revival Soy protein bar beside of it?”
Within 3 weeks of this bicycle being placed in Dr. Robertson’s gym, a contract was executed. Over the next 3 years, CBN sold over $25 million of Revival Soy products and received back over $3 million through the affiliate marketing partnership.
Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know, right?
Buy Here Pay Here (BHPH)
When Nathan started his buy here pay here car lot the journey was an interesting one. The model of a BHPH is simple. The dealership purchases a car for $3,000 and sells it for $5,000 and takes $500 down, leaving a balance of $4,500. This means the dealership has $2,500 hard dollars on the street with a $2000 profit per car plus interest. The problem was for every 10 cars sold Nathan had to have $25,000 dollars to cover the difference.
Nathan went to various banks and got a no. The traditional floor plan models didn’t work because you have to pay off the floor plan within 3-5 days of selling the car. That’s when Nathan approached a small community bank and pitched the idea of lending him $2,500 dollars on each deal. The bank would be first lien holder and Nathan would sign as personal guarantor of the promissory note.
Over a four-year period, Nathan was able to build up over $750,000 of credit with the bank. At one point, he had over 500 cars financed through his lot. Over a 7-year period he sold over 7,000 cars. How?
Because he didn’t take no for an answer or that the traditional model of “this is how it is done” meant it couldn’t be done. Nathan’s approach to issues is HOW can it be done.
Time and time again, Nathan has helped others come up with solutions to their problems; find better ways to do things; or see the picture from another angle. Once you can do this, you can grow your business and take control.
Digital Media Summit
The National Religious Broadcasters is one of the largest gatherings of evangelical Christian ministries in the world. They come together to share ideas, glean from each other and grow the Kingdom. Nathan has been attending the NRB convention since 1998. He became involved with the NRB Internet Committee and eventually chaired the committee for three years.
As we all know now, the internet has changed how people are reached but just 10 years ago many ministries (and businesses) weren’t paying attention. The internet’s best use was searching google.
This made the process of educating others very difficult. It was a challenge, and one thing Nathan really enjoys is a challenge. In 2009, permission was granted to bring Lee Brenner from MySpace.com to NRB. It had taken 4 years to get permission and there was massive concern about how it would be accepted by the NRB members. Nathan gauge of success was measured by the room being packed with over 800 attendees. The event was a smashing success.
Unfortunately, it would be another 4 years before the NRB Digital Media Summit would take place. The NRB board kept voting no. Nathan offered a compromise. A test to show the board it would work. The compromise was accepted. The NRB Internet Committee would host the Digital Media Summit the day before the convention started. The NRB Internet Committee was responsible for handling all aspects of the convention: audio, lights, promotion, sponsorships and speakers.
The following year the Digital Media Summit was the talk of the convention. The NRB Internet Committee stepped up and did it all as volunteers and Nathan was able to secure speakers from Facebook, Twitter and Google. Being able to land these speakers was a God thing. Just 6 months earlier Nathan had met Katie Harbath from Facebook who agreed to speak and invite Twitter and Google.
What can you learn from all this? Just because the answer is no doesn’t mean you should stop asking. It just means you should change the question or provide a suitable answer to your question.
Four 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.
The four main areas of my life that where affected by stress and mismanagement: My Finances, My Health, My Family and Relationships, and My Spirituality.
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.
My Family and Relationships
On the home front, my beautiful wife Jordan is smart and sophisticated, 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.
In other relationships, my high-intensity work-oriented lifestyle was 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. I had developed a short temper and was easily angered. I had 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 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!