lessons from someone i may never see again, sitting on a bus i will never ride recurrently.

as i moved to the back of the bus i began to complain to someone accompanying me as to how early are flight got in, and why our manager booked a flight were we had to be up so early to fly to LA. as the hotel shuttle began to move i realized that the only seats still available were directly in the rear of the bus but was already being occupied by someone who owned a wheelchair.
"there's plenty of room back here mate," i heard in an obvious australian accent.
as i sat down beside him i realized that there was something different about this 24 year old man. you see, he didn't have any arms or legs, and he later explained that he was born like that. but that is not what made him different, what set him apart from all the other weary travelers is that he had a smile on his face and how he seemed rather exuberant for this hour of the morning.
he opened up the conversation and it seemed that even though we had never met we picked up right where we left off.
he was a motivational speaker from australia flying into LA to do a seminar, as we entered into our conversation his words seemed only to uplift as you would expect for someone in his profession, and i was in awe to the fact that i didn't get the feeling that deep inside he hurt. it was a genuine and heartfelt lust for life he emanated. he was genuinely content with who he was, and the cards he had been dealt.
he had accomplished so much even though he had been born 'different'; 2 college degrees, spoken with several CEO's, even presidents of nations, and had spoke in every inhabited continent. his life was amazing, and the obstacles he overcame seem nearly impossible even to someone who is operating all their faculty's like myself.
he left me with a sense of purpose, not what the definition of what purpose is, but the fact that anyone regardless of sexual orientation, religion, color, or physical deformities can desire, seek, and fulfill their purpose.
don't look at what you don't have, look at what you have (no matter how little or obsolete you think what you possess is)  and begin to utilize it for the betterment. for instance being sexually abused as a child is a horrid think to have to go through as a child, i wish that no one would ever have to go through such a traumatic experience. but instead of constantly asking 'why me?' for years and years ask 'who?, who can i help deliver from this abuse?" or "who can i help recover from their past." i understand that it is not easy to get over something traumatic in your life, but helping someone else may help you in your own recovery. by realizing you are not alone can give you a support system in recovery.
don't look at what you don't have, or what may have been lost in the past, but look at what you still have, and the talents and ability's you can share with others.
right before my new friend got off the bus he said " i don't shake hands for obvious reasons, i just hug," so as i embraced my new friend i realized that even though we had known each other for a few short moments he was a massive hero in my life, a person i will not forget any time soon.
as far as complaining about the little things in life, including flights, schedules, or lack of food selection, i have took a vow of silence. i'm sure its one i'm not going to live up to all the time. but i have a new sense of lasting inspiration now... a man i may never see again, on a bus i will never ride again. its not our lack we must concentrate upon but a future based firmly upon the little talents and ability's we do have.


Kate said…
good stuff...i love learning the lessons life teaches us when we're least expecting it...

okay usually i hate those lessons cause they're not fun to learn, but sometimes they're not so bad..glad you got a "not so bad" one

did that make any sense?
micah said…
i love meeting people who make that subtle or not so subtle impact on you whether you expect it or not.
it's odd how much these people impact you without their knowing it...
David Malcolm said…
I'm doing research for a psych paper right now on dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities) and the research suggests a strong link to abuse/truama as a child and the development of alters.
On of the books "The Myth of Sanity Divided Consciousness and the Promise of Awareness" starts out by talking about the work of the doctor with patients who have been through intense trauma. She talks about how if anything once they get through it, because they've had to chose, had to fight to live, they often go on to live far more profoundly meaningful lives. A sense of, if one's past has been profoundly painful, then one must go on to live a beautiful life, if only to prove that life was worth living.

It's a beautiful thought. I'm always made incredibly glad when I can inspire someone to live life meaningfully, without them having had to live my life.
andrya said…
wow. you always pick the right time to say just the right thing. i have been dwelling a lot lately on "what is wrong in my life right now" things. of course they are nothing of the sort that this man faces daily. i truly appreciate people like him. thank you very much for your post. -andrya
Anonymous said…
that's rather amazing that you met him. he recently spoke at a church in my area; i wasn't able to attend, but just last week the girls in my bible study were raving about how incredible this man is and how they wouldn't mind dating him. :) they showed me his website and a rather powerful video. i'm so glad you had the opportunity to meet him and to be inspired by how he embraces life despite "unfortunate" circumstances. i place unfortunate in quotes because i'm not certain that he is all that unfortunate.

~katrina marie
Michelle said…
thank you for sharing that, Stephen. it's really awesome how we meet people when we least expect it - people who, unbeknownst to us, would make such an impact in our lives. i'm always intrigued by how God orchestrates these meetings and the lessons that eventually stem from them. i pray what you've learnt from this gentleman will continue to hide in your heart for a long time to come.

i can't wait to see you guys in Perth! (please come, please come.)

love michelle
Book of James said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Book of James said…
Thanks Stephen,

It's not about us is it?

I continue to rediscover the art of giving myself to others.

There is healing in helping others.
Casey said…
It's a choice to be made: you can choose to dwell on your life's supposed shortcomings, or you can choose to seize the day and use what God gave you. It's a fight to choose the second option routinely, but it will definitely make your life, and the world, better.
Josh said…
What a fantastic and holy moment that must have been! Thanks for sharing, Stephen.
Fillian said…
Thats amazing, I'd like to meet him and discuss the magic in beauty he sounds like a living soul..
Book of James said…
You can find out more about Nick here:

themockingbyrd said…
An epiphany, indeed.

It strikes me reading the entry that, while you're right, a certain part of fulfilling God's purpose for our lives is undergoing change. If I can somehow frame what I'm attempting to say with any degree of relevance or lucidity--I think I'm thinking of the difference between seeking a way to fulfill our purpose with what we are, and looking at ourselves and being complacent about what we still need to change.

Admittedly, I'm talking more about character than uncontrollable exterior circumstances, it's not our lack we must concentrate on, but I think an awareness that we are not yet that which we wish to become is good.
Antoinette said…
I hope one day I'd be able to attend one of his speeches and meet him. He sounds like such an inspiration, and we could all learn a lot from him. Earlier today I was thinking about my life, mistakes, and all of my faults; and I also realized that there are some things you can't change. It takes a lot (for me, at least) to actually accept that and still be able to realize your full potential. I guess the next step after that is to figure out how to both strengths and weaknesses to work in your favor.
Anonymous said…
I go to a pretty young church, just the average age of the people there and the community itself is only a few years old. I'm a college kid so I guess we're the babies of the bunch. There's a lady there who's "older" only because she's 40 and that's older than my 21; neither one of us can remember how we met, we just know we did and that God wanted us to invest in each other. By our circumstances or His timing, we finally have been spending time together in the last few months. Coincidentally when I've finally begun to work through issues I have stemming from my relationship with my mom. In a way she's taking on the motherly things that are absent in my life [just being encouraging and loving].

I won't blame the state of where I am on my mom, because God's growing me into a beautiful woman because of where I've been. The irony I find is that both my mom and this woman had similar childhoods, abused and neglected and lacking the love that all young girls should have, especially from their fathers. So I have in my life living examples of both ends of the spectrum--one who has let these darknesses conquer her, and one who's given them to God in an honest and inspiring way. We all want to, but she LOVES her enemy. It's amazing.

I guess my point here is in response to what you were saying about getting past however we've been shortchanged and using it for the greater good in a sense. I've found that the strongest words of truth and encouragement come straight from those who've been in the pit. At the same time though, so do the strongest words of detriment. The Bible says in various places words are incredibly powerful and we are to be only encouraging. You never know the state someone's heart is in when you deliver words. I hope to God we'll all do this more each day because I think it could be the most beautiful glimpse of humanity's purpose seen since Eden.

Thanks for sharing :)
Anonymous said…
Australians are amazing, I love my country!
kayla moon said…
it is sad that i as an australian have not heard of this man
he sounds truly inspiring
it shows you how much we take for granted
thank-you so much for sharing this!!
Katie said…
thank you, Stephen (and God who works through you) for so often saying exactly what i need to hear.
Kaila said…
I have a passion for music.

There was one night I was at a family get together, not my favorite thing in the world. Ben is my step mom's cousin and he built a recording studio in his backyard. He, some other people and I spent most of the party in there. It looked like a coffee shop, it was very serene. A 13 year old who lived next door wrote her own music and lyrics on the piano. Me being naive to her talent, when she was about to perform I was expecting something very bland. She may be one of the most talented people I know. Ben recognizing it, let her record a song for free. She inspired me to work at the things I really wanted. I was hurting over a boy and that was the first time I was able to get my mind off of him. She also taught me there is so much more to life than romance, and that I should live my life for that one thing I am passionate about. Mine is music and literary arts.
aestheticheart said…
that is so inspiring. it's amazing how meeting a stranger can change your life.
Brightest said…
One of the most amazing things about life is how everyone we meet and everything we experience has the ability to have some sort of impact on us. I remember there was this day when I was in Safeway and I was just in a sour mood. I just had so much to do and not enough time and it was just not happeing with me. As I was walking through the store I saw the cutest little boy, roughly around three years old, and he started playing peekabo with me. He reminded me of what it means to be carefree and happy.

This may seem like a relatively insignificant event to you or anybody else, but to this day I still think of that little boy when I am in the grocery store and smile.

This writing was a nice reminder of what really is important and how I shouldn't let daily annoyances get me so upset. It is important to remember what I have and understand how lucky I am. I really am one lucky girl, too lucky probably, I'm spoiled and always want things to go (Just another flaw.)

I feel like when I read this thing of yours, sometimes something will strike a chord and I'll think,"Hey...Tristan, stop being a baby." It's nice. I'm not going to say it's changing my life, but it does change the way I think about things sometimes. So yeah...I'm glad you write about things like this.

"Do not be too moral. You might cheat yourself out of much life. Aim high above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something."
M. Shotliff said…
"I once complained I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet." - Old Irish Proverb (Your blog kinda reminded me of that.)

For someone with a "disability", he sounds more able than a lot of people I know.

Who needs limbs when you have motivation and an amazing attitude towards life on your side?
Anonymous said…
Got stood up for a date tonight, decided to catch up with your journal, thanks for making me feel a little less alone.

"Last night I drempt someone loved me
No hope, no harm
Just another false alarm."
Colleen said…
heck, yes.
Anonymous said…
it's funny that you wrote about not complaining because i was just reading in people magazine about a church/pastor in Arlington that preached this concept and is now a nationwide success. they sell the rubber bracelets like 'livestrong' or 'one', so here's the website if you're interested. http://www.ascboston.org/index2.html
Jon (Max) Evans said…
In all my life, I cannot think of any one occasion where reading a blog post had ever made me cry. This is a brilliant post, and although I was abused as a child, and lay silent in my black hole.. This makes me want to try to climb out. Maybe help people along the way. As I did before. I don't think I've ever heard anything put the way you put it. But it was truly amazing. Thank you Stephen.
deb said…
i love giving hugs. but once in a while, it's nice to be on the receiving end of it.
I so easily forget that the glass is half full. I think I've dwelled on "what bad thing is going to happpen next?", that I've forgotten what I'm capable of. Thanks for posting your experience and I'm glad you met someone who's a living testament to what's possible in one's life. He's reached more lives than he knows because of you. It's pretty sweet, I guess.
ashley said…
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie... i think we all love Nick (i assume your talking about him anyway)... and to watch that guy hug someone else (when he has no arms) is amazing, you realise a hug is so much more than just wrapping your arms around someone but an embrace or a connection... mate...
Anonymous said…
i've been thinking about this; i commented once already...the one starting about the young church....in any case, i keep coming back to this in my mind. i took my church's youth group to the twloha's stop the bleeding tour stop in jax, fl last fall. thought itd be good for them. i'm from melbourne, as is the guy who started it, so i try to support it as much as possible.

i didn't think i'd walk away pondering as much as i did, but part of it was talking to renee. she's about my age so we were just kinda chatting and i was talking to her about the youth group and stuff, she asked me what i did, i said student and all the basic answers that i guess define me somehow, and asked her the same. she mentioned her dog, her work, and that she just tries to deal with "this" everyday.

it hit me then that i was conversing with someone with the bravery to fight THE battle for her heart every time she gets out of bed. and yet not only was she out of bed, she drove to jax from orlando almost spontaneously for the show to be a voice speaking against darkness. that was months ago and i still think about it a lot.

if you guys havent yet i really encourage you to check twloha out at myspace.com/towriteloveonherarms

becky said…
sounds like you met one of henri nouwen's "wounded healers"...
isn't that what we all should hope to be?

"When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.”
Cheryl said…
People are put in our lives for reasons...my daughter is that for me. She has overcome so many obstacles and yet she teaches me strength and courage and humility everyday. Without knowing it.

I had another young friend who taught me a lesson through her death. She taught me about keeping in touch and staying real. I wrote this and it's dedicated to her:

hidden moments
wasted days
words passed over; never said

calmly chatting
day by day
til the words repeat...

forever they go on
lingering, tragically held in time
emotions unspoken
heartfelt and true
fear settles in and the words get caught in the mind

cautiously, carefully
hold the words close
never to hurt, never to feel
mute in all but the sound

I haven't ever done this before - posted on a blog. Saw it on the new Anberlin (awesome!) album. Hope I'm doing it right.
Victory Within said…
I just saw you guys last night at the EL Rey and I would have to say it changed alot of what I think about music. It inspired as a musician and a christian. A friends told me to check out your blog and I have to say when I read this it made me realize alot of things I have been dwelling on with music and my life in general. Both my wife and I love the show last night. I have been a fan for a while now but I would say now your one of my favorite bands of all time and an inspiration to how I would like my life's course to run. I just would like to say thank you.
Victory Within
audrey said…
amazing, isn't it, how God always finds discreet ways to let us know that He is omnipresent and listening, both to the words we speak and the feelings in our hearts. amazing how He places just the right person in our lives at just the right moment to teach us something we might not have learned otherwise (perhaps because of our own blindness or unwillingness?).

no doubt you two were a blessing to one another. i love stories like this because they remind me of how small the world really is, and how life should be just that way, where none of us are strangers at all and we have so much love to give and lessons to teach and burdens to share.
Harlequinn said…
That guy, Nick, is amazing. My friend was helping him out on a recent trip to Cambodia, and he said it was astonishing how much he really could do.

Its awesome you got the chance to meet him.. and it seems like it was definitely orchestrated by God, as another person said :)

very encouraging.
Jennifer said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said…
It's amazing how everyone we come in contact with on a daily basis can impact our lives in ways we never even imagined, no matter how brief the encounter. For a very special reason, both of your paths were meant to cross. You will see your friend again someday.
I have a friend like that who has had crippled hands since birth but he is an amazing artist. It is awesome to see him living life as if nothing is different between him and the rest of the world. Another interesting thing about it is to see how other people (strangers) look at him as if they are nervous or just don't want to be around him, simply because he is different...
sj. said…
i agree with Ashley..
"aussie aussie aussie oi oi oi"

nick is a real inspiration hey (assuming that it really is the person you're talking about)

but thanks for sharing how his life impacted yours.

loveenduresall said…
I myself have gone through so much over the past year and complained "why me" or "poor me" or "this isnt fair I didnt do anything to deserve this"....well, over this year God had shown me that everything I have gone through and will go through is not about me...it is about going through it and helping others who may be going through the same things. When you help others it takes the focus off of ourselves and helps us to heal. God will take our weaknesses and use them for His glory.
-A :)
Adriaan said…
I really liked this blog, Stephen. It kind of goes hand in hand with a belief of my own I have. What you think you are, is ultimately what you become.

In essence, by deeming yourself able to certain things, you set your limits and potentially hamper your own ability to grow and expand into someone much greater and more experienced.

Again, brilliant job here, highlighting something some people have difficulty discovering.
lariwang said…
I'm from australia and I think I have met this guy before
a couple of years back he spoke at my school. I go to an all girls high school, so you can imagine the amount of whinging that goes on there.
But after he shared his life with us we were all inspired. over 1000 girls and for the rest of the day no one complained about anything.

larissa x
i said…
that was really cool. i know thats an understatement, but still, you get the idea. i seem to find myself complaining about here and now, and even the past. i complain about when a pineapple can fell on my head and i should've gotten stitches. but, weirdly, i love telling people about my scars and stories i have from the past. it's people like that who make me wanna be a better person, so i will try to strive for being better. Thanks,
[[pheonix]] said…
I hear people ask 'why?'
but i dream of things and ask 'why not?'
Anonymous said…
(4 years later)

Thats amazing. I've definitely heard of this guy and you're the lead singer of my favourite band so this is awesome! haha

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