There’s No Such Thing As A Self-Made Man

There’s no such thing as a self-made man.

Patty lived next door. And I mean lived. She was bursting with imagination, loud, touchy-feely, constantly in motion, like a kid in a mom body. When her daughter Tracie and I started a detective agency, she made us matching jackets and found us a refrigerator box to use as headquarters. When my fourth grade class needed an “art mother” she volunteered as if I was her own kid. Because to her I was.

Marla was the best day care teacher ever. She was a college student who loved art and drama. When I was eight she taught me about impressionism and abstraction and the proper way to hold a pencil and shade and use oil pastels and charcoal. Because of Marla I have sketch pads full of other worlds.

My dad said, “The only way to learn is to ask questions.” So I’d sit in the backseat on the way to grandparents’ and ask what it was like in Vietnam, or if he thought we’d ever live on the moon, and who made God and then we’d sing Sixteen Tons and Amazing Grace.

RJ was a youth intern at church and he stocked the shelves of the grocery store across the street from my house at night. When my life felt particularly awful – in that completely baseless dramatic thirteen year-old sort of way –  he took a break from stacking cans and we sat and talked about girls, God, parents, school, life. At a time when a lot of kids begin to feel worthless, I didn’t.

Mr. Fabor had a jazz trio that played around town some nights and practiced in our band hall after hours one day a week. Mr. Fabor let me watch and listen from my seat against the wall. And then, one life-changing day, he told me to get my sax out and he pulled my chair into their circle.

Steve was a single guy in his thirties, an attorney, CEO of a title company, and he was my Sunday school teacher throughout high school. Every Sunday night a dozen friends and I would eat pizza on the leather furniture in Steve’s immaculate tudor cottage, talk about how our week had gone, pray and watch a movie. He gave me a job at his company – a real adult job with a tie and a desk and everything. He trusted me in a way that made me want to deserve it. Most importantly, Steve dreamed in front of us. He dreamed of using his wealth to mentor more young people. And he did. I wrote the school song for Brook Hill School a few years ago.

Somebody in my church anonymously sent me to college. When I say they “sent me” I mean they paid every expense. And so, for the first time in my life, I actually studied.

Dave let me play sax in his first band: the praise band at University Baptist Church, in its first couple years. Every month, I think it was, someone from UBC’s band would play at Common Grounds. One time the guy scheduled to play couldn’t, so Dave asked me if I’d fill in. In less than a week I wrote my first five songs on guitar. I only knew four chords. That was my first gig. I threw up. But I was hooked.

Greg taught me how to study the bible. Margaret taught me how to perform. Billy taught me about missions. Randy let me sing in church and told me to blog.  Yanci taught me about poverty. Darren and Jon let me teach. Diane taught me how to pray…

There’s no such thing as a self-made man.

Who made you?

Who are you helping God make?