You could call it a mid-life crisis, I guess. Lots of crap had happened to me all at once. I had been divorced, and single, a long time. I was lonely for a long, long time. Then, I was in love, and that woman rejected me too. My business was failing; my income was declining. My health was in crisis. It seemed every time I turned around, I needed another surgery. I was in constant, chronic pain. It felt like my world was crumbling down all around me. I had been mad at God – but that obviously wasn’t working either. It was robbing my peace, and my joy. And in doing so, I was playing the victim. So instead of being mad at Him, and rejecting Him – I pursued him. I asked Him what He was trying to tell me? What are the lessons I need to learn? How can I grow and change through all of this? Become better, instead of bitter? Essentially, I was a broken dude, down on my knees, sick and tired of trying and striving, and without any answers. All I know is, I was miserable and in some pretty severe emotional and spiritual pain.
One day, I was in the church library – looking for something to read, because I was hungry for answers. By the age of 40, I hadn’t been able to figure it out on my own. Common sense told me that I needed someone who had what I needed – to tell me. Someone out there would have the keys to my dilemma. I won’t go into all of it. It’s too personal for a blog. There are too many other people involved. But I will tell you this: I discovered an author named John Eldredge in that library. I first read The Journey of Desire, and then, Wild at Heart – and soon, I found myself wanting to read everything this man had ever written – because the message he was sending was just what I needed.
See what happens when you embrace God instead of rejecting Him? Instead of being angry?
I went to a mens retreat – a “Wild at Heart Boot Camp” for men, and that was a life-changing event for me. One of the things we did, during a quiet time, was ask God for a name. I’m not talking about my given name: Timothy James Anderson. I’m talking about a name that describes my character, my very make-up – and the very purpose of my life. Something He imprinted on me that is unique; something planned long, long ago.
During my quiet time, the name I heard was Compassionate Guide, and when I heard it, I immediately began to weep uncontrollably – for that is exactly what I needed to hear from Him. That was over a decade ago, but even now, it still has such power as to evoke the very same emotions. Uffda.
You see, if I would have been really aware of my heart, my character, my purpose – I would have known that this was my name much earlier in life. My mother would attest to the fact that when I was a boy, I had a small aluminum fishing boat and motor available to me (thank you so much, mom and dad, for that boat, and the freedom to use it at such a young age)! For what parent nowadays would allow their 8 or 10 year old son to go out on the water all day, alone, to fish, swim, explore? What if he drowns? Gets lost? Gets hungry? Gets covered in leeches? Nope. The only prerequisite was “be home for dinner at 5:30.” My mother would tell you stories about how I would try to coax (and succeeded in coaxing) complete strangers to come out in the boat with me. Anyone that would come and visit our home, I asked. I wanted to guide them to a big northern pike, a big sunfish, or, catch a whole mess of turtles. I wanted them to experience what I had discovered and loved to much. Compassionate Guide.
When I became a mature enough Christian to start giving of myself, my resources, and my time – my pastor had me fill out a Spiritual Gifts Inventory. The answers came out that my gifts were all wrapped up in helping people – essentially mercy, compassion, and servanthood.
But somehow, life happened, and I got off track. I wanted to be a guide, but I wasn’t supported by my loved ones, and I didn’t have the guts to go do it anyway – so I tried to be a wildlife biologist instead. After that, I worked with my father and owned a photo lab/camera store for close to 20 years. By the way, I will never ever regret those years – for it was all part of my journey; part of what made me who I am today – but the truth is, I was not feeling fulfilled and satisfied at that time; I wasn’t living my God-given purpose.
When I was given the name “Compassionate Guide“, I immediately carved out time in my schedule to take this on as my profession, and my ministry. I built a website, and made it go active online. I mentored men at Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, and I mentored boys without fathers through the Kinship Partners program. I took a leadership role in calling other men in my sphere of influence to become active in doing this as well. I gained the confidence to speak in larger arenas at sport shows, mens retreats, and banquets. And God blessed it all abundantly. Sometimes in life, we hit massive growth spurts. That was one of mine. How ironic that it came after immense hardship. Now, I tend to get kind of excited and expectant when bad stuff happens – because I truly believe that something good will be right on the tail end of it. But that’s another story…
A funny thing happened though – something that I didn’t expect. You see, in the midst of fishing; in the midst of the mundane casting and casting and casting that IS musky fishing, I got into these deep conversations with men – men who opened themselves up to me in the context of fishing (something that we were both very passionate about) and in that – I discovered true intimacy. Intimacy in brotherhood – the way God truly intended. And you know what? I found that I actually thrived just as much on the intimacy as I did on the fishing! Helping my client catch his first musky, or biggest musky, was just the icing on the cake. Lord – how I enjoyed being able to help that fisherman who was going through a divorce, or struggling with his spirituality, or not knowing what to do with a wayward child.
And that, my friends, is how I was lead to be a Marriage and Family Therapist. My body was wearing out. Too many joints that are bone on bone. Too much pain. I had to start thinking about the long term: something I could do (along with some fishing) for the rest of my life – in order to make a living, and, in order to be in ministry. When I went through my divorce, at the age of 25, a licensed psychologist in my town helped me immensely, and I remember thinking to myself: “I don’t think it will ever happen, but if I ever go back to school, that’s what I will do.” Well – I did it at the age of 46, and began practicing in the Brainerd (Minnesota) Lakes Area.
Hard to believe that was already over 6 years ago! I have been using my life experience, my intuition, my God-given instincts, those gifts of mercy and compassion, and of course – my life experience in so many areas of life – because I have screwed up and struggled just like so many of my clients do. Heck, I know first hand what it feels like, and being a survivor, I know how to climb out of those train-wrecks too.
The other day, I was driving my boat across the bay, and reflecting on all of this. It all seems so clear to me now. It could be nothing other than God orchestrated. For here I am, with roughly 1500 people per summer in front of me, wanting to go out on the ocean and have a good time. I am a biologist. A naturalist. An outdoorsman. I fish freshwater. I fish saltwater. I catch everything. I hunt everything. I can talk and communicate about most things. I have the boat to get around. I have the credentials to entertain guests on the ocean legally. I care about people. I STILL want them to experience what I have experienced. I want to show everyone a good time. And over and over, in the boat, I experience the surprised intimacy with complete strangers. I get to influence their lives for the better. And sometimes, they influence me.
Amidst it all, I have met my wife Maria. I get to experience adventure and fulfillment in two states – Minnesota and Alaska. In Minnesota, I get to continue with my therapy practice at Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge during the months of October through May. For me, variety is the spice of life, and boy, do I have it!
As I drove my boat across the bay the other day, I was remembering how He thwarted my plans, called me out, renewed my desire, and gave me the courage to fight for what He had instilled in me from the beginning. I was thanking God for my name. For helping me, through all the twists and turns that life has brought, to be able to discover it. To live it. Thanking Him for helping me to KNOW peace, and satisfaction, and fulfillment. To KNOW intimacy – the way it was designed to be.
I have learned that life has a way of morphing – just like it did when guiding lead me to work in therapy. Just like being in MN morphed into being in MN and AK. I’m feeling some tugging on my heart – that I may someday be “Compassionate Guide” in Florida, in my retirement years. That I may spend a little of each year in three states. That there will be new opportunities for ministry and intimacy in other places.
I write all of this because my testimony, if God is ever to use it, MUST be intimate. Simply put – that’s what we are made for. For all of us have the desire to truly be known by others. And we will, if only we will let it be – by being transparent and vulnerable. You know what? I just write – then give it over to God, and let Him use it. Let The Spirit move. Stop trying. Just be.
In closing (yes, summer season is winding down) : To all of our guests at Majestic View – thanks so much for staying with Maria and I. Thanks so much to those of you who went out on the ocean with me in 2017. For those of you reading this blog- we invite you to come and stay with us. Come have an adventure on Kachemak Bay with me! You have my word that I will do everything in my power to make your dreams come true, and the some 🙂
Most of all – to God be the glory. Thank you God, for the name You gave me: Compassionate Guide. It is all so obvious to me now – how You orchestrated all of this in my life. It is both awesome and amazing! May my testimony cause stirrings in others to pursue You, and experience this very same kind of purpose, fulfillment, and intimacy in their own lives – until we experience the ultimate: being in Your presence forever. AMEN!
What is the name God has given YOU? Seek and ye shall find!
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