The Gift of Influence

Welcome to another week!

Fallowfield United Methodist Church volunteers and friends made 402 chicken pies on February 20. We had a great crew and the work went fast. Most of these volunteers never slow down. They’re constantly on the go.

Not me. I have to carefully manage my schedule and commitments and constantly remind myself that doing too much will end up debilitating me. Why? Because I battle bipolar depression.

I watched a fascinating special on H2 this week called, “Sherman’s March.” The program first aired on the History Channel in 2007. I’ve studied the American Civil War since I was eight years old. Learning new things about the war always excites me. But this show excited me because I learned I have something in common with Sherman.

Brigadier General William Tecumseh Sherman had a major mental breakdown in 1861. He’d been assigned to Kentucky in mid-August, where he spiraled into delusional and obsessive thinking. He convinced himself that the small number of Confederate troops in the area was going to crush his much larger force. In December Sherman returned to his Ohio home for three weeks’ leave. Newspaper headlines accused him of insanity. He even considered suicide. Historians and psychologists hypothesize Sherman may have suffered from bipolar illness.

His wife, Ellen, saw how serious his condition was and wrote to President Abraham Lincoln. Her father and Sherman’s brother were both senators, and she used her family’s connections to make sure her fragile husband received another military assignment.

Ellen Sherman’s intervention probably changed the outcome of the Civil War. What if she’d just stood by, watching Sherman’s mental health deteriorate? Maybe Sherman and General Ulysses S. Grant would never have forged a life-altering friendship. Sherman may never have marched his army from Atlanta to Savannah. He may not have accepted General Joe Johnston’s April 18, 1865, surrender of the Confederate States Army in North Carolina.

But Ellen Sherman did intervene. General Sherman did get another assignment, and his mental state improved. He did forge a deep, lasting friendship with Grant, who authorized his march to the sea. His march hastened the end of the Civil War.

Are there people in your life who are hurting? God grants us the gift of influence over certain people. Maybe you could advocate for them and spark a turning point. It’s something to think about.

There will be a Lenten Luncheon at Calvary United Methodist Church in Greenville on Wednesday, March 2. The Reverend Bill Kirker of St. Paul Homes will speak and Lyn Mossman will provide entertainment. The event is hosted by the North Salem United Methodist Women. Expect a nice lunch.

Have a wonderful week. Blessings!