Faith…how does faith affect my life and business? Faith is my path. It is my belief. It is my strength. It is my undying understanding that all things are happening as they should. It is my guide and my direction. It is also my clarity in all things.
My personal faith began many years ago when my mother committed suicide. I was eleven years old. The pain was unbelievable. (thank you for letting me share this with you) I remember that day clearly. I was picked up from school and taken to my Aunt and Uncle’s home and with my closest brother and sister, were put into a small sunroom. It was Dec 20, 1971. I curled up under an afghan blanket. I remember tucking it in all around me…head and all. I did not want to come out. My father worked 40 minutes away from us and was not there yet.
Then a miracle happened. Rev. Robert James Duthie was in his first year as a pastor in our small town’s United Church. He walked in the room and after attending to my older brother and sister, he sat down beside me. Then he spoke to me in a calm yet clear voice. He told me he was sad that I had to go through this at such a young age, but to take comfort in knowing that God had a plan and to have “faith”. He said I would be faced with a crossroads when I decided to come out from under that blanket. He said there would be a decision to make and it would be mine and mine alone. I could choose the bad road or the good road in life. I could let anger, grief, depression and anxiety lead me down the big, wide, easy, comfortable and light bad road or I could let “faith”, positive spirit, happiness, kindness, reflection and understanding lead me down the uncomfortably narrow and dark good road. It seemed so confusing until he shared more.
“The bad road in life,” he continued, “is easy to choose as there are many on it and misery welcomes company. But as you go down this road, it will become darker and darker and narrower and narrower. Options will become less and less. People no longer will want to help, they will want to take. And it only gets narrower and tougher.”
“The good road in life”, Rev Duthie’s voice rising up, “was a difficult choice, for it is so hard to make a good decision in such dark, and unimaginably hard times. The road is so narrow it seems like you can only put one foot in front of another. But when you make this decision, you will soon come to understand that the road gets lighter and lighter, the steps get longer as the road widens. You will meet loving people who are there to help, share, guide and love. You will meet me on this road, or not, for I may be down the road in my life, but we will both be on that road.
He was not pushy…he was only kind. He simply wanted me to know of the decision I was about to be faced with. Perhaps he knew this lesson would be with me for the rest of my life. Perhaps he also knew that God would present me with this cross roads many times and that each time…there was a choice to make. He even said sometimes I may take the wrong road. “Please do not go down the bad road for so long that you lose where you are….and know that going from the bad road to the beginning of the good road is a simply as making one life decision. Faith can change everything with one simple life decision to walk the good road that God has laid out for you.” I chose the good road.
Recently I discovered that Rev. Duthie had passed on. I had not seen him for decades yet had never forgotten the kindness and how beautiful his method was in delivering me God’s message of choices. Recently I wrote this on obituary page.
Thank you for being there when I needed His message so many years ago. I was 11 years old and you were in your first year as a pastor when I lost my mother to suicide. You were there in the heart-wrenching aftermath to bring me one of the greatest messages of my life. The word of God and your way of delivering his message has lifted me up ever since. Thank you! RIP Rev Duthie...you made a difference in many lives.
Time and success tends to change things in a person’s life. Thinking that I was intelligent enough, a very hard worker, intellectual, creative and talented, I did not think “I” was that person who still needed faith as I saw some needed faith. I mean really, I am a creator and educator and have many things are going well in my life. I have faced adversity and came back strong. I just thought I did not need faith as much as when I was facing adversity. I was wrong. I am very happy to say, I was very wrong and the results of welcoming faith into my life “again” are and have been outstanding.
It all started with my Santa sessions…yes…when Santa Cliff Snider came to be my Santa it was a blessing. He has gently guided me to understand my faith in God again. He has never pushed…he has only offered guidance.
When I began creating the magical Santa images and artwork, it did not exist in the world. It was new and my ego and the artist in me were happy to be creating something that not only unique but was connecting with society. It was Santa and joyous…what was there not to love.
Then one day I realized I was telling the story of my childhood through my sessions. It was a happy and beautiful story, as I saw it through my inner child’s mind’s eye. We went through the progression of the story and created a page and image for every scene…I then began putting this story to poetry. These custom books for my clients were stunning. So much purpose and meaning were written into the books. Words to live by for sure. Santa Cliff loved what we were doing.
Then a child asked a very interesting question prior to, he and Santa, having milk and cookies during a session. He asked if they could pray. It was beautiful…and they did. From that point on we always asked children to pray prior to milk and cookies. This was powerful and led me to ask Santa to do a look where he fell asleep in his rocking chair while reading the Bible (the client’s family Bible) and the children would wake him by sprinkling magic on his toes. When he woke, I asked him to read to the children. They would then know the real meaning of Christmas. Suddenly my books changed forever. There was so much more purpose and meaning to the poetry and message. We were teaching children the message of Christ and the gift of God. It was life changing for myself and my clients. I seemed to understand that we were now doing more than photography, we were sharing the message of Christ for generations.
Yet I was still driving my own “life car”. Once again, my ego got in the way of my faith. It was not until I faced my latest challenge that I heard the voice of Rev. Duthie tell me, “You are on your road Larry, you can take your hands off the wheel now.” And I did. For the first time in my life, I surrendered. And life began to change immediately. Since that time I have been blessed with everything I need to passionately and powerfully move forward with in my life. There is now a sense of love and meaning in all things I do. The people who have surrounded me and the depth of daily purpose has been incredible. The more I share the more I get back in kind.
God wanted me to stay focused, work hard and smart, yet have faith in His plan. Do not force God’s plan, just be open to His plan. Let it become visible, for your road is already right under your feet. Choose the good road and it will materialize. He is not asking us to understand it, just to have “Faith” in it. Faith is real. Prayer is real. Once you surrender, you will understand the power and grace of “Faith” and how it will change all aspects of your life.
For all of you who have read this, please know I believe in your journey and hope you have made the choice to walk the “good road”. Please know I am somewhere on that road…perhaps we will meet.
Lawrence (Larry) Hersberger