Charley’s World Episode One

Charley grew up in a coal camp in southern West Virginia. His father was a coal miner and his mother was a homemaker. Charley did well in school and had set his mind on going to college to become an educator. His real dream was to coach track athletes, and he figured that being a certified teacher was his best pathway to the career he really wanted.

Charley had excelled at running long distances and had won several state championships in those events. Unfortunately, his state university had no men’s track team so there were no athletic scholarships available to him. He did receive some academic scholarships, but these only paid for some of his college expenses.

When Charley finished his first year in college, he realized that he could not afford another year until he saved more money. He returned home and got a job at a surface mine. The pay was good and his plans to return to college seemed to be on target.

Charley fell in love and decided to give up on his dream and stay home with his wife who had a good paying job as a nursing aid. Soon Betsy came into their lives and Charley, Anne, and Betsy were living the American dream, although not the one that Charley had originally imagined.

With both Charley and Anne’s salaries, they were able to afford a small home in need of substantial rehabilitation. The home and detached garage were on a small plot of ground where Anne planted a vegetable garden. Things were going well until a drunk driver crashed into Anne and Betsy on a curvy road, sending them to their deaths.

Charley was despondent. While he continued to work, there was no joy in his life. When he received a substantial insurance settlement, he quit his job.  He no longer read and for him this was something he had always done. Charley was one of those people who devoured books of every genre. For him to just sit and do nothing was a sign of impending mental health concerns.

His family had encouraged him to seek counseling, but Charley refused. He was in denial. Thankfully he didn’t turn to alcohol or drugs for treatment. He continued to spiral downward until one day a timid knock on his door changed his life.

* * *

“When you allow circumstances beyond your control to determine your attitude and actions, you risk plunging into a downward spiral of hasty decisions and faulty judgments, to overreacting, giving up too soon, and missing those opportunities that always – always – appear just when you think life will never get better.” – Nick Vujicic (evangelist and motivational speaker)