Be Thankful for your life ... "Secrets & Shame: Dear Oprah Diaries"
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. James W. Mercer, Ph.D. Within moments of our first conversation, I knew instantly that he was someone special and we became fast friends.
Last week Dr. Mercer, or James as I call him, asked me to read his book"Secrets & Shame: Dear Oprah Diaries." I have many friends who are published authors and have a stack of 30+ books waiting for me to open its pages, but I promised James that his book would be the next on my list.
As promised, Wednesday night I cuddled on the couch and began to read. I knew it was a book of his memoirs, but did not expect to learn the chilling details of abuse James lived throughout his childhood and well into his teen years. How, I thought, can someone as loving and giving as James be the product of such horrific experiences of physical, mental, and sexual abuse and yet become the man he is today?
"Secrets and Shame" gives a raw and authentic view of one who has been the victim of multiple abuses that a child should never have to face. Living in constant fear with his violent and alcoholic father, James fought to protect his brothers and codependent mother. Later in life he turned to drugs and alcohol to escape his harsh reality, but was able to turn his life around to one of gratitude and giving.
With each page I turned, overwhelming emotions took over me. As quickly as I completed each page, my emotions would change from anger, sadness, fear, love, compassion and even happiness. I so much wanted to believe this was a work of fiction, but knew otherwise.
Through years of abuse, James would find hope to help him move forward. There was love in his heart and the love has now spread to share to children in foster care and many who have been through abusive lifestyles. Currently, he is the owner of Lonestar Social Services in Austin, Texas.
Upon completing the memoir, I reached out to James and thanked him for sharing his story with me and for being brave enough to relive his past. Looking at my own life, I felt nothing but gratitude for having a loving husband where we together raise two healthy boys filled with love and compassion.
With Thanksgiving this Thursday, may we take a moment to look into our own lives and be gracious for what we have. It can be a clean bed, food to eat, a safe home, laughter, fresh linens, working lights, warmth...all the simple pleasures we often take for granted that James did not have growing up in his home.
We all go through difficulties in life, some more difficult than others. I pray none of you experience what James did in his life. However, despite what hardships we face, we have the choice on how to perceive it and move forward. We may need some help along the way, but James is living proof that it can be done.
I pray that every one of us, live a life of gratitude and always have compassion and kindness to others. When you see a someone having a bad day, do not be quick to judge but rather offer a kind gesture or word.
I am not naive to think that horrors don't exist in the world, rather I continue to do my small part each day to bring smiles to people's faces. The media may like to focus on all that is wrong in the world, but I am a firm believer that love wins over hate.
Thank you Dr. Mercer for fighting to live and being a beacon of light to so many young lives!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!