How I Tell My Story Powers My Life for Good or for…
By: Susan Deborah Schiller
I bonded with that old truck pictured above. We had some adventures together, let me tell you! In some ways, this Dodge cummins taught me how to keep going, even beyond the sabotage of smear campaigns, Stockholm Syndrom, gaslighting and more. Here's one more chapter of my memoir – of a time in my life when I went for broke and began to learn how to live in peace, no matter what…
Loaded down with nearly all my worldly goods, including the rocking chair my mother cuddled me to sleep in as a baby, an old iron bell that she used to call us children home for dinner with, and heaps of boxes, my Dodge pickup was chugging along kind of slowly, with transmission ailments until I hit Bridger, Montana at about 9:30 pm on a Friday night. The road was torn up down to the dirt for several miles and recent rains had chiseled deep ruts and excavated gaping chuck holes almost large enough to consume a small vehicle.
Somewhere along that spine-crunching road my starter dropped out the bottom of my truck. Towns are few and far between in the desert so after pumping my tank full of diesel in Bridger it was a little scary to hear nothing but silence when turning my key in the ignition. I had only turned the key about three times when a man who had just pulled into the pump behind me appeared at my window. To my surprise, he announced he was a mechanic.
I jumped out and allowed him to scoot behind the wheel. Sure enough, it wouldn't start for him either. He hopped out and disappeared behind the trunk of his car, reappearing with a big hunk of metal. A surreal peace blanketed me despite the fact that this stranger was waving a heavy metal object and shouting out that he was going to "shock" my truck's whatever-needing-shocking under the motor.
I watched his body half-disappear under the truck and shortly afterward my ears rang with loud metallic clangs. My hero soon scrambled up off the ground and announced my starter was missing and that he had just left the local bar where the owner of a parts store and he had been socializing. Announcing he would go grab the owner and check to see if a starter was in stock he jumped into his car and rushed off.
In the meantime one old rancher after another appeared at my driver window and each one wanted to have a go at rousing Old Betsy themselves. Realizing they needed to feel they were of use, I gladly turned my keys over even though I knew it was a lost cause. With wide Western smiles the friendly farmers apologized for the inconvenience of being stranded on a Friday night and I could sense they were genuinely sorry they could not help.
While the first mechanic scouted around for a starter, dashing across town three times in his pursuit of the part, another mechanic pulled into the gas station. He was a young father with his wife and children in the car and they were all dressed up Western style, having just come out of the Future Farmer's of America banquet. Seeing my hood popped open, he strolled over to see if he could help.
He climbed up on top of the motor and looked deep into the intricacies of what appeared to me endless thingamajigs and surfaced a couple minutes later with the same diagnosis as the first mechanic. He told me it would be a two-man operation and that they would need to "arc" something or other and it would be a tricky deal. He couldn't guarantee my truck would start and warned me no parts stores would be open until Monday. Glancing up and down the tiny little town I saw no motel in sight but still felt no panic, only a deep peace that all would be well.
Just then the first mechanic returned, empty-handed, to the scene. By then a small crowd of fans encircled my truck, each one offering advice and sympathy. The two mechanics worked congenially together and within 15-minutes Old Betsy gave a roar, her Cummins engine turning powerfully, to everyone's relief.
I pulled money out of my purse to reward my heroes but they crossed their arms, hugging their wide chests, and exclaimed, "We would never take money from a woman stranded on the road!" So I pushed the bills into their hands anyway and told them to give it to their wives and they accepted my thanks with wide grins.
Pulling out of Bridger, Montana I continued on down the skeleton road. It seemed a little darker than usual but inside my heart I was grateful for the light and love a small town had shown a stranger stranded on their disabled road. It was so dark, in fact, that I missed my turn into Wyoming and everything began to suddenly look very strange. Pretty soon flashing lights appeared in my rear view mirror and for the second time in my 50-years of life I was pulled over by a local police officer.
The night was extra dark, it turned out, because one of my headlights was out and there are no lights in that rural desert except stars! The officer didn't even ask me for my license or registration but instead in a fatherly voice he provided directions to get me back on track to my destination.
This new season of life has been about trust… and that blanket of peace has covered me every time I allow God to show me He's got my life in His hands and I am safe. The tests, it turned out, were to continue, though…
I had to make a separate trip to Montana for another load.This time I only made it 40 miles before I realized Old Betsy was too sick to travel. In between Thermopolis and Meteetse, Wyoming there is almost nothing but desert and mountains so I pulled over in a wide spot of the road where my cell phone had a little bit of a signal.
While I was on the phone a police car pulled up beside me and an officer got out. Asking me if I was just stopped to have a phone call, I replied that my truck's transmission was slipping badly. He pointed to Cody one-hour ahead and Thermopolis one-half hour behind me and said I had better find a mechanic right away.
Turning back, Old Betsy and I slowly made our way to the motel I had just recently checked into. It had become the worst day of my life, not because of the truck problems, but because when I called for help, my husband took that moment to announce he wanted a divorce… not the best timing… and my blanket of peace was being stretched! He had already moved to Chicago and I was in the middle of moving to be closer to my daughter, so it shouldn't have been a great shock, but yet there it was… my breathing was ragged and it felt like a grenade had gone off somewhere between my neck and navel, leaving a gaping black hole.
Arriving back in my motel room in a town I barely knew at the time, I had no strength to try and find a mechanic. The news I had just heard over the phone was trying to suck me down into a dark hole and it was about all I could do to unload my suitcases.
Within five minutes someone was knocking at my door. It was the owner of the motel and he wanted to know why I had returned so quickly after telling the staff I would be gone for a few days. I opened my mouth to reply but no words came out. My heart had been broken much worse than my truck. So I pointed and used hand signals and he got the picture.
In less than ten minutes the busy motel owner, named Ron, had brought not only a mechanic at my door, but an expert diesel mechanic. They took my truck and not only repaired the transmission but closely examined the truck to see if anything else might be amiss.
It turns out, someone had over-filled the transmission fluid by almost three quarts, which should have been enough to kill the transmission. There were only a few remaining drops of brake fluid, the master cylinder and booster needed replacing, and someone had mysteriously tied up perfectly good brake cables, removed them, and tied them up to an axle so that they were useless.
In the midst of discovering all these troubles, it became apparent God arranged for each one to be exposed in time before they could hurt me. These strangers noticed that my heart needed as much help as my truck, so they began joking and acting goofy-stupid to get me to laugh. And from that day forward they committed themselves to drag me out of my motel room and make me laugh at least several times a day while all the while each problem on my truck was expertly repaired.
Through this two-month process of leaving everything that had been my comfort zone I learned that God has a gift of peace that passes all understanding that guards our hearts and minds when we trust Him. It's a gift He freely gives to all of us! This blanket of peace continues to cover me, even when the unexpected "suddenlies" arrive and it seems there is no such thing as any comfort zone anywhere! To be continued.
Some people want to know how I can live under a blanket of peace, no matter what. Driving that old broken down Dodge all across country, up and down mountains, and from state to state taught me the value of silent, sustained praise.
Your spirit is built like a Dodge cummins… it's meant to never quit, to keep on going, even during the onslaught of sociopathic abuse. But it needs support, and for me, that was silent, sustained praise. It's a lesson God taught me on the road.
Silent, sustained praise is an inner atmosphere you create intentionally with your mind.
I was pummelled from every direction, and while there were miraculous rescues, I believe the rescues came as a direct result of redirecting my mind from the worries of what I didn't have, or the doubts of what I might never experience to what is currently happening in heaven.
I am learning to write down what I want – what I know God wants me to be, do, and have. And then I read it aloud, as many times a day as it takes to bring my mind to peace. I still have this book next to my desk.
Your mind is creative and your thoughts are powerful. What you speak is what you get. Who you think you are is who you become.
My friend Sharon O'day recently shared this on her Facebook page, and it merits meditation:
"Every time you praise something, every time you appreciate something, every time you feel good about something, you are telling the Universe, "More of this, please. More of this, please." You need never again make another verbal statement of this intent, and if you were allowing your cork to float — all good things would flow to you." ~ Abraham
Are you suffering from depression today? Are you feeling lonely, abandoned, afraid? Those are low vibrations. You can raise those low vibrations with silent, sustained praise. You don't have to be silent, of course, but if you're in front of customers or sitting next to someone in class, you don't want to disturb the peace or appear crazy.
Put your motor (spirit) to work and do what you are created to be and do. And don't forget to give a lift to someone who is low! Sharing your story, having it written and published, is a great way to lift someone else up … and the first person it helps, is you! 🙂
Your activation today is to tell a "Love Wins" kind of story. A story of overcoming adversity. And, of course, I really hope you share your stories at Team Family Online! By the way, my guidelines for sharing a "Love Wins" story – or any other kind of story – at TFO are these:
- Aim for 500-1500 words.
- Send me a one-paragraph, or 100-word or less, biography. You may also include one link to your site, if you have one.
- If you have mature content, R-rated words or images, that is usually okay, although I will preface your story with "trigger warnings" and/or an alert for the reader to expect mature content. I reserve the right not to publish stories if the content does not suit the purpose of TFO. Thanks!
Your book is going to become a "mental motor" for your life. It will remind you of where you've been, but more importantly, it will become a compass reminding you to stay on track to a better future.
With all my love,
Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.
Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.
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