The Day I Realized I Might Not Be a Duck


My life had fallen into the deepest, darkest night of the soul I had ever known. I was spiraling down, down, deeper and deeper.

In 1996, my book, Weeping May Endure For a Night had just been published. People were calling me for advice I didn’t know how to give. They thought I could help them. I wanted to help them.

So Alvin Landis and I went to a seminar called Helping People in Need. It was three days of training for pastors and counselors.

The pressure and darkness in me was so great, I left in the middle of one of the sessions. I drove to a pay phone, called my wife and said, “You don’t know how bad it is.”

I hung up and drove up and down the streets of Plain City, Ohio, thinking about whether to find a pawn shop, buy a gun, and kill myself.

I decided not to. But I was at the raw, jagged edge of eternity. Somehow, I got through the day. The next morning I woke up, knelt by the bedside, and prayed, “God, I can’t do this. I can’t measure up. I can’t be a Christian. This is the last prayer I’m ever praying unless you clearly show me something…”

During the session, Fred Yoder told the story of a little bird who tried so hard to fit in with the other ducks, but he never could. They always pecked at him. He wanted to run away.

Then something happened. One day as he was swimming in a pond, he looked down and couldn’t believe the beautiful bird he saw. He realized he was looking at his reflection. He wasn’t a duck after all. He was a swan.

That touched something deep in me. All those years I’d been trying to be a duck. But maybe I’m not a duck. Maybe I’m a swan or an eagle. I’d be happy being a turkey, if only I could discover who I really am.

That gave me hope to live another day.