The words “Ben Carson” and “One Nation” were plastered all over the big black bus blocking my path. It was a hot, sunny day and a group of smiling demonstrators were casually waving “Run Ben Run” signs. It looked like everyone was clearing out. I was running late because I had been in a meeting when I remembered that Ben Carson was going to be at our local Books a Million. People were meandering around, slowly finding their way to their cars, calling out hopeful greetings and goodbyes to one another. The air was thick with the hope that Dr. Ben Carson would in fact run for president of the United States.

As I approached the entrance to the store, I began to wonder if I had missed him. Please tell me I didn’t miss my chance to meet Ben Carson – one of my childhood heroes. A man who so boldly stands for God, character, and integrity. A man who has experienced the power of God in his life and has experienced incredible successes – all the while giving God the glory. But I wanted to meet him for more than his ideals. Ben Carson has influenced my life in profound ways from afar.

I grew up in a poor family with divorced parents and a single mom raising four kids. I was abused as a child and floundered in my relationships with other children – feeling older and yet, not as mature. I had experienced so much in life and had no idea of how to handle it. That made me “different.” I remember being the victim of bullies and their taunts at school. The tears running down my face are still fresh in my memory.

But I had a mom who loved me and a family who supported us greatly. When I was 18 years old and already serving in the Army, my Aunt Ginny gave me a book I will never forget. She told me that she wanted me to read it and remember that I could do anything and become anyone – that God had a plan for my story. That book was Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson.

Reading the story of how his mother pushed him to excel, even though she could not read, inspired me. I could relate to it. Learning how his deep faith in God gave him the strength to go from being a failure in school to becoming a world-renowned neurosurgeon planted a seed in me. I suspect that neither he nor I will ever know the impact that his story had on me. God has likely used the words in his book in ways I can’t even begin to comprehend. Very few people have that level of impact on lives.

So as I rushed into the bookstore for a chance to meet one of the most influential people of my youth, my thought was, “please let him still be there!” As the ladies at the counter guided me to the back of the store, I reached him. There was Ben Carson himself. Agh! The line had dwindled down to two. The store manager asked me if I had paid for my book, which I had not. I begged her to trust me, gave her my business card, showed her my press credentials and told her she could hunt me down if necessary. She said she trusted me – seemingly impressed with the credentials. Well, awesome! My first press credential flash and I counted it a success. I felt official.

But then I felt like a giddy school girl who couldn’t get a coherent word, much less a phrase, out of my well-practiced mouth. Ben Carson shook my hand. His hands were those of a surgeon – well preserved. His eyes were kind and his smile warm. I handed him a copy of Shattered Magazine and, honestly, he looked suspicious of my intentions. I don’t blame him, I get it. I would think the same thing if I were in his position. As he politely put it underneath the podium where he stood, I whispered, “it’s about your story for His glory.” I hoped he heard me, but Ben Carson was in high demand that day. He moved kindly on to the next young man behind me – thoughtfully listening to the boy’s story and writing him a meaningful little note.

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To myself, I thought about how awesome it was that this man cared more about a young teenager than he did about someone with press credentials. Even though we’re supposed to be about “getting the story” in the media, my heart was greatly touched by this. He lived up to his character. He wasn’t about furthering himself or getting more attention for his message. He was more concerned with what matters most. Dr. Ben Carson was there to connect with hearts and to encourage others to really do what is best for their families, for their communities, and for our nation.

I have to say, I expected nothing less.

Dr. Ben Carson embodies what Shattered Magazine is all about – that no matter what your story is, God has a plan for you. Your story matters and the Lord will use it to do incredible things in this world – ultimately for His glory.

[Top Image via REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst]