It was a beautiful summer day. I had just dropped my boys off at daycare. As I prepared to drive home, I decided to take a detour and around drive downtown. I loved the old brick buildings. Without any thought I rounded the corner and stopped at an old tall building that I had always wondered about. It looked to be abandoned. The old business sign still perched atop the corner of the building.
Without any hesitation I killed the truck, and hopped out. I peered into the dusty cracked windows. There were two large windows with built in shelves beneath. The shelves were littered with old tools, cactus, and other parched dead plants. The floor was unseen. Appearing to be made purely of dust and dirt. There was an old desk riddled with books that looked as if they hadn’t been touched in years. As if opening one would cause an extreme dust storm. A bike beyond its years propped up against the wall with it’s rusty chains drooping and dangling lazily to its side. And an old exercise machine lay on the floor as if tossed away and forgotten.
I could see spots amidst the dirt on the floor revealing beautiful wood flooring. Looking above were tall ceilings with old tin detail. There was no doubt, in my mind, I had found a diamond in the rough. This place could be something great. It saddened me to see it so unkempt, as if just left to crumple beneath it’s owner’s clear neglect.
A black cat startled me as it suddenly jumped up onto the shelf beneath the window in which I was peering. Startled for a moment, I stumbled back. Realizing what I had just seen, I moved back towards the window to get a closer look. The cat appeared sweet, looking up at me as if begging to be pet. Walking to and fro, inviting me to reach out beyond the cracked window and stroke its black coat. But as I looked up again, I spotted a man standing in the shadow of the dim light staring at me.
I took a step back feeling very embarrassed and ashamed. I had the feeling akin to a peeping tom. Honest to God, I thought the place was vacant. But to my surprise, the man stepped under the light smiling he motioning me to come in.
I turned the handle, as it squeaked asking for care. Stepping inside, musty air filled my lungs. Looking down, I wasn’t sure where to step. The place was full of trinkets and tools. For a moment, I wondered why I was not more hesitant. I knew nothing of this man. He could be a serial killer for all I knew. But I didn’t feel scared or worried in the least. But for precaution sake, I had decided to stay near the door, only gracing the entrance.
The man that I would soon know as Mike was just as unkempt as the poor crumbling building. I could see and sense a sadness in his eyes right away. His clothes were wrinkled as if worn all week. His hair was light and sandy. And just like his beard, long and over grown. His glasses had a layer of dust and grime. He hadn’t bothered washing them. I wondered how he could see at all.
I asked him about the building, saying I loved it. What was he doing with it. He smiled a small humiliated smile. Looking down as if shuffling dirt with his feet he said, ” I’m not doing anything with it. I’m really embarrassed about how it looks. I just got overwhelmed. No one can understand what I’m doing. Hell, Im not even sure what I’m doing.”
Standing in that old building Mike suddenly opened up to me about his life. There I was a random peeping Tom stranger and he was pouring his heart out to me. I was told that he had gone through a hard divorce from which he never fully recovered. He was depressed and let the place go. Essentially he single handedly killed off the family business which had been handed down to him by his father. It was once a thriving metal shop. Brought down to ruins. Not on purpose of course. Just suddenly unable to cope with life. It was clear that he had given up. My heart broke a little for him.
I had never seen a man so broken. He told me of his dreams of getting rid of the building and starting anew with his love in Indianapolis. She too had left, unable to live with the disaster he couldn’t bring himself to clean up. He said he had no idea where to even start. He was overwhelmed and lacked everything he would need to even start. Clarity and motivation.
Over the course of the next year, I would stay in contact with Mike. We talked of my desire for the building. I wanted to rent it out for my business, but he was hell bent on selling. He couldn’t do anything until he could sell off the tools that littered the space. The price he wanted, to me was ungodly. A crazy amount for the time and money I would have to put back in it. Until it was repaired, purchasing the building wasn’t a good financial option.
So, at a stand still I did the only thing I could do. Pray. I prayed that God would open this door for me. I begged and pleaded. Each time I saw Mike or drove by, I would say a prayer for him. I asked God to give him strength. To provide him with everything he needed to move forward. To heal his heart and make him whole again. Give him motivation and clarity. And for a year this was my routine.
As the year went by I starting seeing less and less of Mike. He was a professional hermit. I couldn’t reach him. I couldn’t find him. In April the lease for my current business building was due and I was out of time. It was clear my move wasn’t happening so I signed the new lease.
Meanwhile, I received a call from a girl named Wendy. She asked if she could come meet me at the shop. She was looking for a space to rent out to do hair. And she loved my shop. The funny thing is, I had been on the look out for someone to join me and had not found a good fit. But Wendy meshed with me perfectly. Sweet, honest, responsible, caring individual. She was God sent. Things were looking up.
Just last week I walked past Mikes building. There was a sign on both windows stating he was having a tool liquidation sale. My heart jumped. Perhaps he was finally ready to clean the space out and lease it! The next week I parked out front and scrambled to the back to find Mike. I had to know what was happening.
As I rounded the back of the building, I could hear someone clanking around in a moving trailer near the alley. I just knew it was him. I stood outside and waited. The man that appeared in the doorway was not the same man I had stumbled upon a year ago. This man had eyes full of clarity. He was clean shaven, sporting a new haircut. He looked like a man who had his life together. The man beamed and grinned at me saying, “Hello Rebecca!”
I was astounded by the change I was seeing! I was so happy to see him this way it made me want to cry. He told me that he was finally feeling better. He was motivated and selling off everything. And then the bomb was dropped. The owner of the Albany had just purchased his building.
My heart sank. I could feel my throat tighten as tears threatened to emerge. My dream had just vanished. Sold to the man whose business had been in downtown for as long as I could remember. Of course it made sense that someone with clout and old money would be able to afford to make my dream business building a reality. I was truly heart broken.
I didn’t want Mike to feel bad. He was finally free of what chained him for so many years. I couldn’t show this beaming transformed man my pain. I wouldn’t rain on his parade. I didn’t have the heart to do it. So I grinned back at him, grabbing him in a hug and said, ” Mike, I am so happy for you!”
Driving home, I was crushed. I had such a vision for that place. I could see in my mind just how it would look. I was more than willing to do the hard work to make it shine again. I tried to force myself to believe that there was a reason. A purpose for all of this. But at that moment I couldn’t see it.
It didn’t come to me until the next day. Driving to Dozbog, suddenly everything was clear. I was crying, laughing and smiling. I realized that I had spent a better part of a year praying for Mike. Praying for his release from the dark muck that he wallowed in. I had taken the time once or twice a week to pray for a man I really hadn’t even known. I had only known about his pain. And I couldn’t pray for that building to be mine without praying for Mike too. And my prayer had finally come to realization. I was seeing a brand new man.
The bigger part of this conundrum wasn’t that I needed a new building. If I’m honest, Im fine and blessed where I’m at. In the greater scheme of things, Mike needed someone to pray for him more than I needed a new building. We had a divine appointment that day. I thought I had found my dream building. Perhaps I had. But Mike found someone that cared enough to be a prayer warrior for him. So that he could be free of the sadness that clung to him like a old musty swim suit.
And now, I couldn’t be happier. I continue to be astounded by the way God answered a years worth of prayer. I realize, he is in the business of people. I know he cares about my dreams too. But first things first. He cares about Mike and the state he was in.
The next time you find yourself in an odd situation such as mine, and someone randomly pours their heart out to you, please don’t disregard it. Or them. They are telling you for a reason. You’ve just been entrusted with something huge. You are now a warrior for them. And never give up.
Sometimes things appear to be at a stand still. But if you wait it out long enough, you will see Gods plan transform right before your very eyes. And its worth it. The transformation of Mike was totally worth the years wait of silence!