Everything I am, I owe to this man.

The world lost one of its noble and great ones this last week. I wish I could have seen him one last time before he left us. But isn’t that the way it is? You put things off. You say there will be time. And then there isn’t.

He never got to meet my husband. He never met my kids. He didn’t know just how much I made from his advice. How much I grabbed onto it and ran with it with all my might. I don’t think he ever knew just how much of an impact he made on my life. And that hurts.

Because he is the reason I am who I am. He is the one who gave me permission to be me. To be unashamed. To accept help when everyone else around me was telling me that therapy was for the crazy. That medication meant you were weak. The mental illness just meant that you weren’t strong enough, or faithful enough, or good enough. He changed that mentality with his love and his words to me.

“The Lord inspired men to create medication and therapy to help us. Are you really going to disregard that blessing?”

It was SO different from what I’d heard from EVERYONE else that it threw me for a loop. Wait. It was OK that I was feeling this way? It was OK that I needed help? It was OK that I felt completely lost?

How could that be? Feeling depressed wasn’t good. It wasn’t a positive thing to cling to. What in the world was he talking about?

But the feeling I felt when he said those words. The way it resonated with me. I couldn’t deny that what he was saying was true. And if that was the case, then everything I ever thought I’d known was a lie.

THAT’S what President Donald Pugh did for me. He showed me the lie I was living and led me to the truth of love and forgiveness and help. He led me to the light I didn’t even know existed. The light that I HAD to be in to live the way I wanted. To meet the man I met. To teach my kids the correct way.

The light of the love of Jesus Christ shown through President Pugh in a way I’ve seen it in few others. His calm spirit showed me how to live and love and be. Everything I am today, I owe to the man who sat across a desk from me and, while exuding love, told me that it was okay to go home and get the help I needed. That God didn’t love me any less because of my struggles. That I would be okay someday.

I owe my life, my sanity, and my happiness to the love of that man. And I wish he could have read this post before he died. But I hope that he’s out there somewhere, reading this over my shoulder, seeing how much he meant to me. I hope he sees. I hope he know.

If you want to know more about this man, here’s his obituary.

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