Ted sat alone on a curb in a cold drizzle, muttering aloud and pondering the miseries of his life. He felt beat up, used up and spit out by what life had brought him to at this point in his life. As he was questioning the failings in his life that he faced everyday, another man came and sat beside him. Although Ted had never met this man, he felt that he inherently knew this stranger and felt immediate comfort in his presence.
"I couldn't help but overhear you." the stranger said. "Would you care to unburden yourself to a fresh set of ears? I have some experience in helping others with their problems."
Ted hesitated but ultimately realized he had nothing to lose. Talking to himself would not solve his problems. Perhaps this stranger had something to offer. "Well, sir, I've had it with these troubles that life continually dumps on me. It's one thing after another and it never stops. I can't take it any more." explained Ted.
"What sort of troubles, friend?" asked the stranger.
"I'm constantly stuck in traffic in my daily travels. My vehicles are constantly broken down. My house needs so much work. I have have enough money. It's always raining so I can't ride my motorcycle. My parents have both recently died. My wife is always sick....."
The stranger interrupted "I understand and I think I know everything you are going to say, Ted. I can help."
"How do you know my name?!" Ted shrieked nervously.
"Because I have followed you throughout every minute of your life. Watching over you. Making sure you had what you needed. Not just in material possessions, but in love, support, lessons of life. I have provided all of that for you."
Ted raised his voice some more and leapt to his feet, "How could you control any of that? You are crazy! Get out of here!"
The stranger remained calm and stayed seated. "Ted, if you look deep inside yourself you will know who I am."
Ted sat down immediately. The words stirred in his mind, shook his soul. "What? Who.." he uttered softly.
"Traffic, your weight gain, your sick wife, money, your job, your parents' death....."
Ted sat stunned as the stranger spoke knowing everything that was going through his mind.
"Do I need to list them all, Ted? I can but you know that I know them."
"So if you are who I think you are; you have intentionally made my life difficult? For sport. Yeah, thanks for all of that" Ted quipped.
"No, Ted, I have done all of that for you, not to you. These things in your life are like bricks. Each brick will build you up and make you strong. These are not like the bricks of a building where you can see them. They are inside you as that is where real strength exists." said the stranger. "You see, I have given you an ill wife because it was time for you to learn compassion for others. You were too self absorbed, getting out of control and I feared you would be lost forever if I didn't do this. Do not worry for her, she is happy and not suffering, particularly due to your efforts. I took your parents because it was time for you to learn to stand on your own feet as you have relied on them far too long. Do not worry as they see you everyday and so they do not miss you."
Ted was now staring fiercely at the man, amazed at what he was hearing.
"The traffic that you complain about; I know it seems difficult. But you drive too fast and will hurt yourself or someone else. I have to slow you down somehow. Who will take care of your wife then, Ted? I know that you are concerned about your weight. You are overweight because I have given you enough food to survive, more than you need actually. Learn to take only what you need, share the rest and you will lose weight. And you have plenty of money to do the things you need to do. The job you hate provides for that. You just need to spend your money wisely. You hate your job because there are many difficult people there. It will get better once you learn to resolve conflicts instead of walking away from them."
"You control all of that?" Ted asked.
"Well, I don't control your vehicles or their reliability. You have chosen those vehicles of your own free will. However, I have given the knowledge and physical ability to repair them yourself. You need to share that knowledge now as I was not able to give that to everyone. I simply do not have the time. Besides teaching is one of the few ways humans will realize they need to work together to survive the world that I have created. Oh, and this drizzle. Learn to wear some sunscreen or you will get skin cancer."
The pair sat silently now as Ted rewound every second of the last few minutes, pondering what this stranger had said. The stranger said nothing because he knew Ted needed this time to reflect.
After seemingly forever, Ted finally broke the silence. "So, so what am I supposed to do with all of this?"
"It is simple, Ted." said the stranger as he laid a warm hand on Ted's back. "When you are weak, I will send you a brick to make you strong." With that the stranger stood, turned and walked away.
Ted remained seated, allowing all of this to sink in. As he did he began to realize that the man really was no stranger and that he was right. Right about everything. He needed to think less about what others could do for him and more about what he could do for others. To learn to put others and their needs before his. Ted suddenly rose and ran to his vehicle so that he could find the man and thank Him. As he pulled out onto the street he suddenly realized that his car had started on the first try and that there was no traffic.
Pulling to the side of the road, Ted realized he did not need to thank the man as He was thanking Ted for finally seeing life as it is intended to be viewed. No, the man did not want or need to hear a thank you. Ted's actions from that day forward would provide that as long as Ted kept looking inward.