Hard work and faith were the cornerstone of life in the small West Virginia community where I grew up. Blue collar jobs in the mining or oil and gas industry provided income that supported our families. We learned early in our lives that hard work would usually bring positive results, success that carried over to the athletic field, wrestling mat and in the classroom.
Church life was very important. We attended church services faithfully every Sunday morning, Sunday evening and prayer meetings on Wednesday night. We were taught that even in tough times faith in God and God’s plan for us would carry us through. My life has always been a balance between these two principles. I worked hard and had much success in sports and academic endeavors through high school, college, medical school and professionally, but encountered times when I had to rely on God’s plan for me.
There have been times in life both personally and professionally that hard work just wasn’t enough. I failed my first major medical school exam and thought this just was not going to work. Our son was born prematurely and had only a 20% chance of survival. Professionally, as an orthopedic oncologist, I cared for patients, who no matter how hard we worked, succumbed to their diseases. When my father and then my wife were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease within five years of each other, we searched high and low for treatment options even though we knew there was no cure.
It is in these most difficult times that my faith, even if I could not understand it, carried me and I was confident that everything would be ok. Professionally, as an orthopedic surgeon, I can objectively see the results of the work I do. Faith is a bit of a mystery to me because it cannot be seen or touched. I cannot explain why it brings me peace in difficult times but I am so thankful for my faith. It has brought me to a very happy place in life.
Since 1993, Derry Presbyterian and its members have been the cornerstone of my faith. My family and I are so thankful for the friendships, support and Christian leadership that Derry has provided us.