You have always heard people talk about a leap of faith, and all kinds of things conjure up in your head about what that means. Or what it looks like. Here is mine. It was a leap of faith I took 25 years ago last month that changed my life in every single way.
It was a chance look in the mirror that did it. In November 1995, I worked at a credit card company in Dickson. We had just acquired a big account, and to celebrate, we had an office party. Everyone was in a good mood, including myself, because it was a big deal. During the party, I went to the bathroom and as I was washing my hands, I saw something I did not like.
Me. I saw a 27-year-old man who was going on 60. It was me who I did not like looking back. I saw an old man who had just settled. I saw an old man who goes to Chili’s and sits at the bar and remembers those good old days that ended far too early.
I left the bathroom, told my boss I didn’t feel good, and he told me to go home and get better. I got in the car, called my mom and told her I was quitting my job and going back to college to get my degree. She was 100% on board. “But you better have another job set up,” she said. I did, and hearing her confidence in me was all I needed.
Fast forward two months, and I was working the graveyard shift at Overnite trucking company loading trucks. It was good times, and then I would leave and drive to Middle Tennessee State University for my 8 a.m. class. I remember working that night, the day before classes began, and doubt started creeping in. “You’re wasting your time.” “You are 27, you can’t relate to anyone or anything.” “They will all laugh at this geezer trying to get his degree.” All these doubts were created by me and nurtured by me – well, one half of me. The other half was saying, “Pedal to the metal and do not look back.” That is the one to which I listened.
I left work at 6 a.m., because I wanted to get to school early, and I went to start my car and nothing. Zilch. My battery was dead. You have got to be kidding me. I had no cables, and time was not my friend. I found a co-worker who had cables. He came out, and we hooked it all up and nothing. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or both. “Let’s try it again.” Boom. It started right up, thank you Jesus, and away to Murfreesboro I went.
It had snowed a few days before, so there was some ice still around in certain places on the MTSU campus. If you went to school there and parked by Murphy Center and walked to Peck Hall, you went between Murphy and the football stadium. As you know, under the stadium, there was no sunlight, so there was plenty of ice still hanging around, and I think we all know what happens next.
I was in a hurried walk and hit the ice, and although it took about three seconds to fall, I swear in my mind it took two minutes. The best part was there were about 20 people around.
“That looked as if it hurt bad.” It was the only remark I heard or cared to hear. I just laid there and looked up at the sky. In the last two hours, my car – a precious 1984 VW rabbit diesel – tried to die on me, and here I was trying to die on me.
But, something happened as I laid there on that cold January day in 1996. I knew I was going to be OK. Yes, I was on the ice under the football stadium with people walking by and laughing, and I laughed, as well. I thought to myself, “Joe, look where you are compared to where you were just two months ago. You are here. You got this far by wanting to do this, by making it happen, by praying your butt off and by taking a leap of faith.”
I got up off the ice with pride hurting more than anything else and proceeded to my first class. I graduated a year later with a college degree. I took 67 hours that spring, summer, fall and spring of 1997. And I got it done.
It was a leap of faith. Yes, there were roadblocks. There were obstacles. There were plenty of naysayers. There were plenty of people who said you will never do it and why even try. I tuned them all out because of one word, faith – in myself and in a Savior who gave me that faith.
If you are wanting to do something to change your life but are worried by what people think or what might happen if certain things don’t go your way, remember this. If you fall on your face, you are still falling forward.
And I still refuse to sit at the bar at Chili’s.
“Big” Joe Dubin is a sports anchor and reporter for WSMV-TV Channel 4. Dubin grew up in Nashville and is a graduate of McGavock High School.