Open Doors and Dreams Come True

by Andy Wood on August 22, 2008

in Following Your Passion, LV Cycle, Turning Points, Waiting

John W. Drakeford

John W. Drakeford

Dr. John Drakeford had an open-door policy.  Yes, the counseling icon, who pioneered a Christ-centered approach to psychology and counseling, had a rule that whenever his office door was open, any student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary could walk in.

But that’s not the open door policy to which I refer.

Dr. Drakeford also had this thing about the door to his classroom.  He saw to it that it remained open at all times, propped so by a chair.  Without fail, when a student arrived a bit late to class, he/she would grab that available chair, and the classroom door would swing shut.

Suh, suh!” Dr. Drakeford would say in his beautiful Australian accent.  “Could you choose another seat?  I like to keep the door propped open in case of fire or something.”

I don’t think anybody else in the room believed that propping two swinging doors open would stop any of us from getting the heck outta’ there if the building was burning down.  But who wants to argue with the author of Psychology in Search of the Soul?

One day, right in the middle of one of Drakeford’s fascinating lectures, somebody nabbed the empty chair and took off down the hall.  I believe to this day it was a prank.

“Suh!  Suh!” He took off down the hall chasing the culprit.  I don’t think he ever caught the guy.  But he did find another chair.

There were many other things I remember about my Intro to Counseling class.  Like the time Drakeford was talking about communication, and illustrated it by sharing Churchill’s instructions to his servant for making a sandwich.  Amazing stuff.  I’ve tried to find it since, to no avail.

But the most interesting thing about that class wasn’t John W. Drakeford.  It was one of his groupies – a student who came to Southwestern to get a Master’s degree just to sit at his feet.  She caught my attention on the first day of class.  As students paired up and introduced each other, some guy said that she was a counseling major (an important thing to remember if I ever skipped class and needed good notes), and that she had been raised in Thailand.  I’d never met anyone who had grown up in the Orient. She fascinated me.

When midterm time came around, I had, indeed missed a couple of classes, and needed somebody’s notes to borrow.  Who better to ask than the major?  The fact that she was the best-looking student in the class was only a coincidence.  (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Would you believe that she refused?  But she did say I could have some of her time with the notes.  Hmmm.  The hunter became the hunted.  And less than a year later, she became my wife.

Things changed.  Because of health and other reasons, Robin was not able to finish her master’s in counseling.  Soon she moved with me to Alabama, where we had three kids in less than three years.  Her dreams on the shelf, she devoted herself to raising a family and being a pastor’s wife – along with what Joel once counted as 21 different careers.

Always, however, there lurked the dream.  A dream of helping people on a professional basis.  A dream of building a ministry to wounded pastors and their families.  A dream to establish a counseling center for family healing.

A few years ago, she was able to return to school to pursue her dream.  In fact, we had five people in our family pursuing higher education at the same time.  Tomorrow in Minneapolis, she will walk across a stage and receive her diploma.  After waiting for 25 years, my wife will be a Master.  I couldn’t be prouder.

Dr. John Drakeford went to be with the Lord four years ago this October.  But he’s still in our memories as the man who indirectly brought us together.  Somewhere in the Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, as the Masters and Doctoral students receive their degrees, somebody’s gonna find a door, propped open by a chair.

Hey, some traditions are worth keeping.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mama August 23, 2008 at 10:03 am

I am also proud of Robin. She took life as it came at her and held fast. Glad that she didn’t give up on her dream but took the time to raise her children before completing her masters. A job well done.

Rhett Burns August 25, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Wow, what a great story. Maybe its because I’m a newlywed, but I love reading/hearing men talk about their wives and brag on them a bit. Its encouraging. Its also neat to see someone accomplish a goal, even if years later. Thanks for sharing.

Congratulations to Robin. Sounds like we both married much smarter than us!

Rhett Burnss last blog post..For God alone my soul awaits

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