2 years ago Mike Dalhauser started a Facebook Group for our community. It’s called 12:31. It is purely for the purpose of neighbor helping neighbor and it has thrived!
Today, his birthday, he penned a post that stopped me in my tracks. I don’t know Mike personally, but I always assumed he mist be well-off to provide, tithe and give so much… but reality is far from my impression. How can someone in such need, give everything?
“Today I find myself thinking again about a 7th grade girl I met last week. And in thinking of her, I find myself again thinking about a post that I’ve been struggling with for some time. It’s a story I’ve been unable/ unsure how to tell, but ultimately, it’s a story of hope.
“I feel like my entire life has been a struggle.
“I’ve struggled to find my way. Always hopping from one thing to another be it interests or work. Content yet never satisfied. Always seeking more without ever knowing what I’m seeking (does that makes sense?). Never really sure what my place was in this world.
“I’ve struggled with severe depression, anxiety, self-image and self-worth since I was young. Never feeling good enough… always just kind of meh. I can’t count how many times I’ve wanted to end my life. To the point that I feel like it is the one constant I have carried with me through my life. Always unsure what my purpose was or if I even had one.
“We’ve struggled financially for more years than I can count. Honestly…I think probably since the day we were married. Very early in our marriage, we suffered through a debilitating back injury that almost cost us our business, our home, and our marriage. And it’s been a struggle to just make ends meet ever since, let alone to try to get ahead.
“How many of you watch The Chosen? Ang and I went to the theater to watch Episodes 1 & 2 of Season 3. There was a scene with Little James in Episode 2 that really spoke to me. So much so, I think I’ve watched it about 30 times since. In The Chosen, Little James is portrayed as having a condition that causes him to walk with a limp (much like the actors own real life struggle with scoliosis). Jesus had just met with his Apostles and told them he was sending them out, two by two, to heal the sick and lame. And Little James, who has suffered from this his entire life, now has the ability to heal others, even though he has not been healed himself; and he asks Jesus why he has not healed him yet. And even though he has been entrusted with this amazing gift, he still struggles with his own demons of self-worth and self-doubt. I’ve attached the video below.
“The truth is, there have been so many days/weeks I’ve felt like Little James. Most recently when we were struggling to find a new place to live. When I started 12:31, I was in a pretty bad place. Probably one of the worst times of my life.
“Personally, my depression was at an all-time high and my self-worth was at an all-time low. There were weeks (not days…weeks) that I couldn’t even get out of bed. My marriage was holding on by thread, I couldn’t keep a schedule or honor my commitments at work, and on top of that, my dad had just passed a few months earlier. I was spiraling downhill at a high rate of speed.
“Financially, it was also one of the worst periods of time we had seen. And that’s saying a lot as I feel like our season of struggle lasted about 13 years. That year we couldn’t afford to have our boys play sports, we couldn’t afford back-to-school clothes or school supplies that year, we couldn’t afford Christmas presents, and we were months behind on our rent and utilities. We were in a bad place.
“I was reading something recently from Jill Briscoe (Founder of Just Between Us Magazine and Ministry) and she said “You are where you are by no instance of chance. Because my friends, it is written. Every hardship, every victory, every shortcoming and every setup are all with purpose. He placed you exactly where you are; at this exact time in history, in this exact location, with these exact beliefs, around these exact people, with that exact urge in your heart for His purpose. Let that comfort you today when all hell is breaking loose, when you don’t feel equipped, when everything seems lost. He did this. Not you, He brought you to this point for His plan not your own. And he has absolutely NO intention of leaving you. There is a point to everything you’re feeling, to every experience, to every growing pain.”
“Sitting at the bottom of the lowest point in my life, alone, and in the midst of my own struggles, I felt the urge to start 12:31. 1 Peter 5:10 says “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
“I remember telling Ang one night, “Don’t be mad but, I feel like I need to start this FB group”. You see, she hated (still does) FB and I thought for sure she would be pissed at the thought of me spending even more time on it. Much to my surprise, she liked the idea! All was good.
“But that first year was anything but good.
“Ang (as I think most wives would) grew increasingly frustrated, angry, and resentful. You see, while we were paying for sports registrations for other kids, we couldn’t afford to have our own play. We had an apartment and garage full of Christmas presents for other families and we were unsure if we would be able to get our own kids anything. We were paying for other people’s rent and utility bills while there were many times that our own power would get shut off. For her, it was a question of how I could so easily provide for other families while failing to provide for my own. For me it was a question of “how could I not?” Even though I couldn’t afford to do those things, or pay for those things for my own family, I had the means, and the ability, to be able to make sure that other families and other kids, didn’t have to experience or go through the same things that we were. And because we were going through it ourselves, and had gone through it for so long, I knew what it was like. I knew what it felt like to see the disappointment on my kids’ faces, on my wife’s face. I knew what it was like to feel like you were failing as a father and as a husband. But I was gifted this incredible opportunity to able to turn my own weaknesses and my own struggles into strengths and victories for others. For me it was a question of “how could I not?”
“A year later, I had a similar conversation with Ang. And I was more nervous this time. In fact, I put off having the conversation with her for weeks. This time I said “I just feel like this is what I am called to do. What would you think if I did this full time”. Much to my surprise, there was no hesitation. “Absolutely” she said.
“Over the course of that year, I saw 12:31 change her heart and her mind. About me, about God, and about our circumstances. And over the course of that year, I saw 12:31 change my heart and my mind about myself, about God, and about our circumstances.
“I heard someone say once that “God doesn’t call the equipped, but He equips the called.” Though our season of struggle was a lot longer than we hoped it would be, I believe now that it gave me the experiences, understanding, compassion, and empathy needed to help others who are going through the same things. “From the ashes, beauty will rise.” -Steven Curtis Chapman
“After hearing about my own story, and all the struggles we have been through, that 7th grade girl raised her hand, in a room full of her peers, and thanked me for sharing my own story because her and her single mom had been through much of the same. How there were many weeks they didn’t know what they would eat, and many times that their power or heat got shut off because they couldn’t pay the bill. I told them that day that regardless of their circumstances, every single one of them in that room has something to offer the world. It just took me 42 years to realize it myself.
“Romans 5: 3-5 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”