I’ve been here before. On the cusp of getting a divorce. Twice before actually, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned. The last one gutted me so hard that I wouldn’t eat or move without insistent invitation from two friends. I mention Jason and Martha (though not by name) in a blog I did recently. But there was a third person who got me back on my feet. I want to tell you today about the Mormon singer Michael McLean.
This is a man who was quite famous in the Christian music world back when I was a Mormon. Now, if you know anything about me it’s that I’m an atheist now. But I’m an atheist with a very good memory. So let me tell you about a man my theatre friends affectionately called “Daddy McLean”.
He was supposed to be a truly kind person. And his music inspired so many. No, he’s not dead, I’m just not in that world anymore and I shamefully don’t know what he’s up to.
It had been a month since my divorce and I needed a new place to rent. I was living in the tiny house that Ex Number Two and I had rented and it made me relive the failure of marriage daily. I would wake up and remember, not that I previously escaped an abusive marriage, but that I was a failure at marriage twice. The common denominator was me. That was how I saw it. Frankly, the Mormon church sort of encourages that kind of thinking. Probably others do too, but I digress. My friend Jason took me every day to look for an apartment that I could fit all my stuff in and afford without a roommate. I was not ready for a roommate.
The search went on for ages and finally, my bestie Heather suggested I call Daddy McLean. He had a townhouse that was for sale and maybe he would rent it to me for a little while. Though I had met one of his son’s (a genuinely dear person) and as a result had seen the townhouse in question and knew that there was no way in hell I could afford to live there. It was two stories, three bedrooms…you could fit several of my current dive into that place!
Desperate, I used the number and called him up. I am pretty sure I was sobbing on the phone when we talked because I couldn’t keep myself together at that time. I told him my situation and he explained that not only did he just get an offer on the unit that morning for the full asking price no less, rent was double what I could afford. He asked if he could call me back the next day. I said sure. It’s not like I was going anywhere.
Now, I don’t know what you think about Mormons, or Christians, or religious people in general. I know that I and many others give them a pretty bad rap. But let me tell you what happened. The next day Michael freaking McLean called me and said essentially, “I prayed about this situation last night. I felt the spirit of God telling me that I need to help you. I turned down the offer on the townhouse so that I can rent to you…for the price you can afford. I felt strongly that the Lord wanted me to help you now because in a year or so you will be back on your feet.”
That’s something out of a movie, right?! He literally turned down the offer! He took a loss each month that I lived there so that I could have a nice place to recover my emotions and my shock. He had never met me!
He didn’t stop there. He showed up at my mini house and helped me move. He helped box things and load them into the truck. He played my piano for us (myself and other friends who were helping) and he hugged me and let me just cry. Then he helped me unpack at his place. I don’t know if he has any idea the impact he had on my life. But suddenly I wasn’t living in horrible memories of rejection and self-doubt. I was living in a place of love and hope.
When I woke up the next day, in my new digs, I felt so much better than I had in ages. I went downstairs and saw that there was a beautiful mirror on the wall. I called Jeff, Michael’s son, and let him know he had left it there. He dismissed it quickly and told me I could just keep it. That was in 2003 and I have it to this day.
It’s a beautiful reminder to look at yourself and ask, “How can you make the world better today?” You see your soul when you look in this mirror. It reflects Michael’s unbelievable kindness and it reflects hope. It’s sort of a magic mirror.
Today is Memorial Day here in the states. We honor the troops who have stood up and fought so that we could be safe. We can’t all be soldiers. But we can all be Michael McLean. He was right, by the way, in about three months I was doing better and in a year I was totally back on my feet.
One of his songs, You Are Not Alone, is about how God is always with you. But that isn’t what it means to me. Personally, it’s a reminder that there is always someone out there with a good heart and when you can’t find that person maybe you should consider being that person.
Happy Memorial Day! Thanks for listening to my sappy but totally true story. I hope it serves as a reminder that there are good people in the world and that wonderful things can happen to anybody. Here is the song, and just remember that time heals all wounds.