I Love Life: Finding Purpose Through Faith
While in the Navy back in 1973, Lee Green experienced dizzy spells so strong he would topple from his chair or run into a wall.
“I was taken to sick bay and tested to make sure I wasn’t on drugs. When they found out I wasn’t, they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.
Instead of going away, Lee was hounded with the dizzy spells off and on for years. Finally, surgery promised instant relief. In 1991, specialists at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota determined Lee’s left middle ear was diseased.
“They went in right after the first of the year, drilled a hole in my skull behind my left ear, searched out a major nerve and snipped it in two. When I regained consciousness a couple days later, I had a terrific headache.”
That’s an understatement! Lee has lived with the pounding headache every minute of his life.
“If you had my headache today, you wouldn’t be at work. It’s a constant thing. I’ve had the very same headache since January 1991. It never goes away. I can take the edge off using medications. But, it doesn’t go away.”
How does Lee deal with the migraine intensity pain every day?
“It’s really been difficult over the years affecting me physically emotionally and spiritually. I’ve had to give up so much that was important to me. I lost my career in the military because of the pain. After awhile, knowing I’ll always have the pain, I just learned to accept it and move on.”
But, Lee admits he’s been consumed with both anger and depression.
“The anger was all about the career I no longer had in the service. I started out in the Navy but retired out of the United States Air Force. I had almost 20 years with the military and enjoyed it very much. The depression was to the extent where I had seriously considered suicide. So much so, I had the place and the means to do it. It was just a matter of when to take my life. I had gone so far as to have spotted a location where I knew it would take paramedics time to get out there. I wanted it to be far enough away so I would be dead when they arrived.”
The obsessive thoughts of suicide came to a sudden end when Lee attended the funeral of a family friend who died of breast cancer.
“She knew for several years, there was nothing doctors could do for her. Her husband and 2 children knew she wouldn’t survive. During the funeral service, my wife and I sat a couple rolls back from the family. I watched them have a melt down. They knew this was coming, but the impact upon them was so great, they were emotionally frozen. At that moment, it was as if God threw a light switch on. Taking my life was over! God was telling me during the funeral, ‘you can’t do this to your family.’ I’ve never had any experience like that in my life. It was so crystal clear in just a few moments. I haven’t thought about suicide since the funeral service. These days, I talk about it to people who are struggling with depression and have considered suicide. But, as far as doing it to myself, those days are way gone.”
While in the throes of depression, Lee discovered his true purpose in life.
“I didn’t see it coming. You could say I’m a slow learner. I kept asking, what is it I’m supposed to be doing?’ There has to be a reason I’m going through all this turmoil. And, then I had the answer. I was at a service in my church and the minister, Pastor Kevin Kloster, was talking about 2nd Corinthians and it just clicked. The apostle Paul had asked God to remove the thorn in his side. God’s response was ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’ We can become strong---despite our weaknesses---through God. We can look for new ways to serve while dealing with the weaknesses we may suffer from. The weakness of my own health is now my strength when it comes to my ministry of caring for others. I know that is it only through God’s grace that I have reached this point.”
Lee is not a complainer. Despite the intensive migraine pain he has lived with since 1991, Lee wakes up every morning empowered with enthusiasm and a positive outlook.
“In this calling, there’s a greater reason for me to get out of bed in the morning. You have to have a reason to get out of bed. Otherwise, you just lay there. I’ve been blessed with this opportunity and purpose in my life.”
Lee’s purpose is centered in his faith.
“God is just constantly working through me and giving me the strength and drive to get past my physical problems.”