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If there’s one thing author Paul Sybert knows well, it’s the act of living life in the face of adversity. In The Kindness of Strangers, Sybert shares his life story and shows how he has confronted his fears and troubles and placed his trust in Jesus Christ.
This memoir shares some of the most important moments in his life, as well as the tribulations that have tested him. The Kindness of Strangers recalls some of the most important events of Sybert’s life—being baptized at age twelve, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering, experiencing divorce and the loss of love, struggling with an alcohol addiction, appreciating the gift of a spiritual mother, and surviving a stroke.
But most of all, Sybert shares how God has worked in his life. Through anecdotes and illustrations, he communicates the importance of maintaining a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Kindness of Strangers offers insight into the life of a man who faced his fear and persevered.
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THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERSTreasures of the Heart
By Paul W. Sybert
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Paul W. Sybert
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAt Birth Everyone is a Stranger
I think before we are born we sit down with God and talk about the parents we will have and the life we are signing up for.
At birth we know God but everyone else is a stranger. So everyone I talk about in this book is someone who begins as a stranger and then becomes a treasure in my heart.
I come from a family of teachers: Father, Mother, both sisters, and even I taught at one point in time. I asked my sister Sue to edit this manuscript. She was kind enough to do it and I am grateful she did. I tell this story to illustrate a point. I was hitchhiking back from college one weekend. A car stopped to pick me up, asked me where I was going and I told him Winchester, Virginia. He said, "Me too." I got in the car. He said my name is Charlie Dick; what is your name? I told him Paul Sybert. He asked me if I was Mousey Sybert's boy. I said I don't know who is Mousey Sybert.
I never called my father Mousey. My father reminded me more of a Wyatt Earp than a Mousey.
Then it dawned on me that Charlie Dick was Patsy Kline's husband. We were all from Winchester, Virginia. She had died a year or two before. He began to tell me a lot of stories about Patsy and Johnny Cash and others on the road that she worked with. When he took me home, he gave me a Patsy Cline album and proceeded to show me his pearl handled pistols.
There was a lot of tension in our family of teachers. Sometimes at the dinner table I would say something that was incorrect either in grammar or by using a wrong word like "ain't". Then listen to the conversation that ensued just to cut the tension.
I tell this story about Charlie Dick for a reason. He saw my father as Mousey Sybert. I saw him differently. To me he was someone I should fear; to me he was the Sheriff, Wyatt Earp. There were three children in our family.
Sheriff Mousey Sybert Deputy mother, wait until your father gets home The Hero, my older sister, also the editor The lost child, the author of this book The mascot, the cute one
The sad part is that as we grow up and get older we meet more strangers and treasure them in our hearts. But the older we get we think of God more like a stranger. We have to make an effort to decide where God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and our Angels fit in our lives. When we do they are no longer strangers.
Chapter TwoKindness of a Job You Love
It took a while to find the job I love. I had to experiment, try other jobs, go back to school. After getting my degree in electrical engineering, I did a year of pre-med. This involved biology, organic chemistry, qualitative analysis. After pre med courses I realized I did not want medicine. So I turned to business programming. Bingo, I liked this stuff. Cobol programming, finance, accounting, money and banking, 30 some hours of business courses. This went well with my engineering degree. Companies like it when engineers can do business also.
Before I got my first programming job, I was an electrician and going to school at night taking software courses at night, burning the candle at both ends. I was dead tired. I was driving the electron truck and my partner asked me to stop so he could speak with someone he saw, so I did. While I was stopped, I feel asleep briefly and saw two numbers separated by a comma: 31 and 55. When I awoke I was aware that that these numbers were ages. Though I did not know what they meant, on my next birthday I would be 31. I was very tired and was asking for a sign from God when I would get the job for programming. A few months later on my birthday, I became 31. I no sooner became 31 that I got a my first programming job. I stayed there until I was 55 years of age. This was a wonderful sign to me. I thanked God and cried thankfully for His love.
So then I needed to convince a manager to hire me as a programmer. I then began the task of interviewing. I finally got a job as a programmer analyst. I stayed there for 25 years. These strangers became family after this long.
To work in the same locality is really best; you get paid, live in that town, don't travel - Low cost. Later I got job as a contract programmer analyst. That paid a bit more but the job was costly. I had to travel, stay in another town maybe another state, fly or drive there. Life on the road is expensive. There were a lot more strangers. God made some really good people. They were not all good, but many were. So I focused on the good and meditated and prayed every day. This made it a bit more sane and manageable. I found before a spiritual person goes out into the business world each he or she has to pray.
I want to go back to the job I had for nearly 25 years. I learned a lot here. Also it was rewarding. I got up each day for 25 years looking forward to going to work. When I worked as a engineer I did not like it or look forward to work. It was just the opposite; I hated going to work. So I changed jobs and career directions.
Here in this job I worked with more people. I wrote software that my customers wanted. We called these customers users. They called the shots. We made them happy. We made their jobs easier. We got into every area of the company: engineering, manufacturing, purchasing, logistics, sales, program office. So when we screwed up, our management knew about it and we were call into the Box as my manager called it. When the software we wrote abended at night and failed, we were called to fix the problem we created. We were held accountable. So in a job I liked I was happy. The years went by and I had a job that mattered. Later there were perks. I wrote a lot of poetry and songs for people at work over time. I did it automatically, without being asked. There were times I was asked. I was very honored to be asked. When people retired., many times I would write a song and sing it for their retirement party. I was nervous but I would do it. If I did not know them well, the folks that worked for them would give me scoop behind the scenes and I would write the song. I would get up in front of several hundred strangers/friends and sing my home made tribute to them. I was scared but it did not show. I felt it inside. All those times when I got up in from of the congregation at church prepared me.
The longer I worked there the more rewarding it was. My first book of poetry and song lyric was filled with material I wrote for people I worked with and for.
The person I worked for 25 years was an ex-marine. He was kind to me. The only thing he did not want me to say when he gave me a task, was 'I could not do that'. Everything is do-able. We talked outside of work as well as at work, much give and take and a kindness. I knew I could always talk honestly with him. This kindness lasted for nearly 25 years.
Chapter ThreeBehind the Scenes
What I wanted: I wanted a job in business software. What I needed: I need a job in business software using Cobol. What I happened: I was hired as business applications programming.
What I prayed for: A job in Binghamton, NY. What I received: A job in Binghamton, NY so I could be in the same town as Rev. York, so I could study with her. God helped every time I prayed. It was so often; it became at least daily.
Chapter FourKindness of Being Saved
I was baptized when I was twelve.
At this point in time I am amazed that there are many churches and people that don't believe in the rapture of Jesus Christ.
My passion here is for you to have what I have being saved by Jesus Christ. That is why He came to this Earth life to save us.
The stakes are higher now. This is time when the anti-christ will come. I don't know about you the reader; I don't want to be here when he comes. The Rapture will take us out of planet earth life in the Rapture. I want to go.
There are many important experiences I have written about in this book; most of which involve living a happy free life. This chapter may be the most important one of all. This is about eternal life with Jesus Christ. He is the icing on the cake of life. This is the reason we are here also: to love each other and to love Him.
After I had a stroke in 2005 I needed hope and I worked hard to get it. One of the places I got it was on TV watching Joel and Victoria from Lakewood Church. I watched their services and they gave me hope. I also watch TBN TV and Jack Van Impe. Grant Jeffrey, Hal Lindsey, Franklin Graham and Bill and Gloria Gaither and Dr. Mike Murdock. They talk of the Rapture. The time is getting close, very close. My point is - don't be left out of this beautiful experience; I don't want to be.
I believe every person has a meeting with God and the Angels that will protect you in this life before you are born and you pick your parents and family and the life you will live. I believe I did. I think I requested this time so I could be in involved in the Rapture.
The Rapture is very important and often ignored in some churches. The basic idea is that believers of Jesus Christ will be collected and taken by Him to Heaven before the power on earth is turned over to the antichrist. This is very controversial. It is important not to confuse religious right and left with political right and left. In many cases political right folks are likely to be familiar with the term Rapture. The political left are more likely not to acquainted even mock or jeer at the concept. I caution the reader not to take this ideal lightly whatever their political stance may be. At first it may seem far fetched. Don't be fooled by the duck scenario: if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck; then it is probably a duck. Although this idea seems like a long shot and may seem far-fetched and may seem like a duck from that stand point. This ain't no duck. In my opinion, this is real and it is going to happen and soon I think. My advice is get on board; I want to see you in heaven.
Instead of me trying to explain in detail what I think the Rapture means, I refer you to Tim La Hay's books, the left behind series. He does an excellent job with his books.
There is a kindness of being saved by Jesus Christ our Lord and helped on a daily basis. That is why I want to be with Him forever and why I want to be taken in the Rapture to be with Him. This one of the wonderful kindness of all. He is not a stranger, but if He is, then this is God's great gift to us, His Son. If he was a Stranger to us, then He is the greatest gift of all.
Chapter FiveBehind the Scenes
What I wanted: Have a way to go to church on TV after the stroke. What I needed: To be saved by Jesus Christ. What I happened: I watched Joel and Victoria Osteen and received hope.
What I prayed for: Hope. What I received: Saved.
God helped every time I prayed. It was so often; it became at least daily.
Chapter SixKindness of Loving Yourself
I did not always love myself. In fact I did not like myself at all. I had an inferiority complex growing up. Loving myself did not come easily. By the time I decided to mourn a loss in my life there were many I had not mourned. If you love, you need to grieve. It starts with looking in a mirror and crying or it did with me.
After I had separated with my wife of 14 years. I met a woman that I fell in love with. We had sex, shared our feelings and talked. I began to write differently. That relationship had a half life of a year and a half. When it ended though I was devastated and I cried for 3 months.
That's when I joined a grief group. I needed help. I stayed there as long as I needed to. I grieved everyone I could think of. All of my grief ghosts came alive, so I grieved and grieved. This is a horrible sadness; I don't want to come back here any time soon.
Every time I left the house I look into the mirror there by the front door and cried and wished myself a good day. I began to love myself for the first time: like haircuts and taking myself out to dinner.
This process takes a long time; I have been single as long as I was married. I have loved myself all that, about 15 years. I feel that I am ready for a relationship now. Maybe one won't come but maybe one will. I am ok either way.
There is an unavoidable drawback. Loving yourself is good. Spending time alone is good but it can go too far. To love yourself is good because it makes you a better lover with another person. We are created to be with another person. It is like a training time being alone; training to be with someone. There are two sides of the same coin; alone one side; with someone on the other side.
I want to stress that for me this process took a long time. It involves enjoying alone time. This loving myself is still gong on. The only danger is that this time period can go on forever and you're always alone.
To love myself is a kindness that I never knew before. I began in grief and in tears and grew slowly. This kindness now is always with me. It makes solitude rich with my new friend, myself. This is a kindness that grew slowly with a special stranger, myself, that is sometimes referred to as the great love of all, yourself.
This was the greatest gift I ever gave myself. This and sobriety. Stopping all additive substances gave me the sweet gift of awareness: spiritual awareness. I am glad I lived this long to give myself this gift. I am happy and grateful for all the strangers that made this gift to myself possible.
My Jewish therapist Sharon was hand picked. I would have married her if some rich guy had not gotten there first. Seven years with Sharon was like seven years with the Dali Lama. This is a win-win situation. When she and I said goodbye she told me what she liked about me and I did the same. She said she would miss my sense of humor. We almost did the Circle of Love ceremony that couples in love do, but not quite. You each draw a circle over the person's heart and tell them what you love about them. It is done in the presence of God preferably at the beach. The ocean is almost necessary. Sharon was a gift of kindness and a stranger whose gifts and memory of her gifts I will always cherish. I did have to pay for those gifts. Therapy ain't free but it is worth very penny.
CH7[ Behind the Scenes
What I wanted: I want to stop crying and enjoy my own company. What I needed: I needed to be happy and stop crying and get over the woman that broke up with me. What I happened: I cried for 3 months and got over the girl friend.
What I prayed for: Happiness. What I received: Self love.
God helped every time I prayed. It was so often, it became at least daily. ]CH7
CH8[ Kindness of My Spiritual Mother
I met my spiritual mother in a spiritual consultation call a reading. There is some controversy about spiritual readings but this woman was very spiritual and very Christian and very God like. The first time I met her she a bit scary. She dead not so she is really scary.
Actually she was quite loving. Her coke bottle gold rimed glasses she wore were a bit frightening but she was the most intuitive person I had ever met. She sat with me for over an hour and gave me an in depth look at my self and relatives. To say the least I was intrigued. This was in 1969 in July.
I left the state to go back to school in Virginia and when the time was right I returned to study with her and work with her. I got a job locally to pay the bills. Reverend Mae as she was called taught me to mediate and pray.
She taught me different kind prayer that left me feeling close to God like Jesus was really my savior and the Holy Spirit was really real. Each Sunday she worked me in the service, playing my guitar and singing and praying. I would do the talk or lecture or homily and the healing prayer and giving spiritual messages. Soon I was writing songs and playing them on my guitar.
She had me doing almost everything. Sundays after church I would stay for dinner. After dinner we would do the books as she called it. Doing the books meant counting the money collected in the service. It also meant paying the bills: mortgage, utilities, telephone, water, etc.
When her husband Harry got sick and died she had me elected Treasurer.
No big deal, same job, do the books but now she had some one to blame when something went wrong. I need to say these folks were old. I was 31 by now, she was 82 and Harry was 87. Her nephew Kenneth was in his 70s.
Kenneth 's wife name was Bertha. All these women cooked so that was good. I got over being scared and became well fed.
Kenneth always put the money from the collection Monday after we counted the money Sunday afternoon. One Monday Kenneth said that we were off by 40 cents on the deposit. Rev May said to me you have to be more careful. Keep in mind I counted the bills and she counted the change.
I just said ok. She knew though, I think. She had the I-we-you thing down pat. I heard it at work: I want to talk to you. We have a problem. You have to fix it.
I did every thing she told me to. Almost ever thing she told me to do, I could. It was like she could see inside me. I spent 5 years with her until her death. I was close to her, prayed and meditated and got like her in some ways. I could see inside people too, it helped in my every day life at work.
Excerpted from THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS by Paul W. Sybert Copyright © 2012 by Paul W. Sybert. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsAt Birth Everyone is a Stranger....................3
Kindness of a Job You Love....................5
Behind the Scenes....................9
Kindness of Being Saved....................11
Behind the Scenes....................13
Kindness of Loving Yourself....................15
Behind the Scenes....................17
Kindness of My Spiritual Mother....................19
Behind the Scenes....................23
Kindness of the Best Strangers of All....................25
Behind the Scenes....................31
The Stroke 2005....................33
Behind the Scenes....................39
The Man I was....................41
The New Job....................43
Behind the Scenes....................45
My Thinking Process....................47
Behind the Scenes....................49
My First Day....................51
Behind the Scenes....................53
Loading My Car....................55
Behind the Scenes....................57
The Great Orange Juice Explosion....................59
Behind the Scenes....................61
The Kindness of Neighbors The Flood....................63
Behind the Scenes....................67
The Kindness of Looking for a Wife....................69
Behind the Scenes....................73
The Kindness of God and my Angels....................75
Behind the Scenes....................77
Behind the Scenes....................79
The Man I Became....................81
The future is you, I Still Want a Wife....................85