Thursday, September 15, 2011

To be happy...

I was talking to some friends today and somehow the subject of my New Year's "Resolution" came up.  I realized that this is September already, and already half way through the month!  It will soon be another New Year coming around with another resolution to make or break.  But what really got my attention was that, so far, this year I have done my very best to keep my resolution I made back at the end of 2010.  

My resolution then was: "To be as happy, healthy, and strong as I can be physically, mentally, and spiritually whether I am with someone special or alone."

Somehow, with getting older and having health issues like I have had the past few years, I just wasn't into making the same old type of resolutions people make such as to lose weight or to change jobs, or move, or whatever specific, easily breakable resolution they might make.  The year 2010 had been a year of exhaustive changes, some good and some not so good, and I just wanted to see 2011 be the best it could possibly be but without all the pressure we usually put on ourselves.

In May, 2010, I had my first knee replacement.  A few months later I also decided, without giving it much thought or prayer, to join online dating sites and give myself a chance to maybe find someone who might see me for the real person on the inside and not have an issue with the "house" I live in that is this body.  What I got was a Nigerian romance scammer instead.  It was a total shock to even realize that this kind of thing was going on over the internet.  It was even more of a shock that so-called human beings without consciences could actually do such horrible things to other human beings.  But every cloud, they say, has a silver lining.  I say that the bad things in our lives often are stepping stones to better things if we have faith enough to trust and wait on God.

As a result of meeting this scammer, I did some research and found some websites dedicated to reporting the scammers, and educating the public on how to be safe online and protect themselves from online dating scams.  One such site included a chat room which is something I was very much interested in.  They also have a very active email group, but I wanted more real time conversation with other people who knew what this romance scam stuff was all about.  I am not one who really likes dealing with email in the first place and I felt more comfortable talking to a group of people who had been through this and knew how to help me deal with the emotions involved.  In that process I found some of the best friends I have ever had in my entire life.  Like I said, sometimes the bad things are stepping stones to better things.
After ten months in the chat room, in mid-July, the owner of the email group and chat room decided to pull the plug on the chat room for whatever reasons.  This left those of us who really loved being together as a sort of online family out in the cold.  We felt like passengers on a sinking ship with no land in sight.  At that point, we banned together and came up with a lifeboat solution, temporary as it was at the time.  We got together on Yahoo Messenger in a conference chat while we decided what we could do.  A plan formed and within an hour we had a temporary new chat room where we could at least stop and breathe awhile before deciding what to do next.  I cannot describe the way we all felt that night.  It was as though we had been scammed by the one who had rescued us in the first place.  We felt lost.  We felt betrayed.  Mostly we felt hurt and scared about what would happen to our family.
Three weeks later we had a permanent home.  Thanks to the generosity of one of our members, we had both a domain (6 in fact that all point to the main URL) and a chat software just like we had in the previous location.  Thanks to another member we had graphics that included beautiful background and logo.  Coding was in place.  Now it has been two months since we began this new journey and we have grown to include other ventures as well as the chat room.  We have brought back together 30 of our regular chatters and we are officially open for business to help anyone who comes along who has been or is being scammed by a romance scammer.  We are there to help friends and family members who are trying to get loved ones to break free from the scammer's hold on them.  We are there to do what we were doing before we lost our first home.  We feel maybe this was what God had planned all along.  (For anyone who may be in need of this help, please feel free to visit Scams Of The Heart .)
For me, what did all this mean?  This chat room, the first one and the one we have now, have been a lifeline to me in many ways.  For me it was first a place to heal from the emotional upheaval of the scam.  Secondly it became a place where I made some really wonderful friends.  But it also became something I have wanted all of my adult life.  It became a mission for me.  As a Christian I always wanted to have some kind of way to serve God and did my best in the little ways I could while I was raising a family.  Now that I am disabled and limited in what I am able to do, knowing I found somewhere to serve online is amazing to me.  The night the first chat room was closed down I felt like I had lost everything I was working for in life.  I felt like I had lost my chance to do something with a real purpose where I could make a difference in someone's life.  Getting that chance back again gave more meaning to my life than I could imagine.  
Today when my friends and I discussed whatever it was that lead up to talking about this resolution I had made, got me thinking deeply of how far I had come this year since I made the resolution.  You can read my other blogs for more details of things that have happened this year already.  But I can safely say that I have actually lived out this resolution to the best of my abilities and I have been as happy, healthy, and strong as I could possibly be physically, mentally, and spiritually so far this year.  I've made wonderful friends.  No that special person and I have not found each other, yet.  Maybe it's not in God's plans for me, but I am still very hopeful.  This year, even with the few low points, has been a tremendous year for me.  And there are still three more months left before another resolution will need to be made. 

Who knows?  Maybe I will just extend this year's resolution for another year!

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