This I Believe

Dennis - Hickory, North Carolina
Entered on February 5, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

This I believe. I am not God. It is obvious to those who know or love me. But it was not obvious to me. I sat through all kinds of church things but no one managed to communicate to me that I am not God. I did not think I was God. But I did act like I was God. Or god.

When I was patrol leader in Scout Troop 4 we held meetings in our basement. My Mother often commented after the meeting that my voice was loud. I did not then know why it mattered that I was so loud since I was the leader. I think Mother was trying to tell me I was not God of that Patrol.

I would like to apologize to my parents for my shouting as a teen. But they cannot listen anymore. I have painful memories of shouting matches with them in a serious attempt to make them happy. I yelled to make up for the yelling.

This god tried for the royal power to make others feel better or at least good. Then one day I stayed out of a shouting match. Mother was clearly worried about money, but mother worried about most everything. I did not take my godly powers into the kitchen to fix things. That was new behavior for me. Later Dad came by my chair and said: “I am going to put a stop to this.” Good! Dad is going to stand up to the pressure. But he laid down to it…on the floor under the exhaust pipe. He would have died as he planned except the business man next door came seeking payment on a loan. I was in class when he tried suicide and when the neighbor saved him. I had nothing to do with life and death that day. But the shouting for authority continued for years.

Our family “moved on” to worrying about my much older brother’s drinking. He lived 2400 miles away but I was a pastor and could surely fix him. At Mother’s behest and my ego, I called him many times to tell him to shape up. He did not. Then a friend joined our church who was also a counselor for alcoholics. I asked his advice week after week and he would suggest Al-Anon. No, I would say, my brother lives 2400 miles away. “Why are you asking every week?” would be the response. Then one very cold Monday the phone rang and my friend said: “I have lunch packed, the car warm and we are going to AlAnon.”

It was no speed dial process but, 25 years later, I really do know that I am not God. I cannot fix anyone else in my life though I slip and try. But when I slip I no longer blame others for not following my divine ways. I remember again that I am not God. I am not in charge of anyone’s life. The serenity is amazing.