For nearly 50 years, I (Matt) have been a reader of Guideposts Magazine. An unabashed fan of Norman Vincent Peale (who founded Guideposts with his wife, Ruth), Guideposts has inspired me month after month with stories of ordinary people overcoming great challenges and living lives of purpose. For this issue of WealthNotes, we once again turn to Guideposts (the May 2021 issue) and share excerpts from their cover story article on Jocelyn James Edmonds of Phil Cambell, Alabama.
Now in her 50’s, Jocelyn grew up in a single parent household in a small Alabama town. After her own divorce, Jocelyn was diagnosed with cancer and went through several surgeries. A doctor wrote scrips for her postsurgical pain but when those scrips ran out, Jocelyn began buying pills from people at work, then from dealers on the street. The next thing she knew she was shooting OxyContin. Life spiraled downward fast: she lost her electrician job; her car, her friends and even the custody of her children. She was arrested multiple times for possession of controlled substances, possession of stolen property and fraudulent use of credit cards. Local police came to know her well but it was one officer, Terrell Potter, who always treated her with respect. Even through the haze of her addiction, she saw something different in his eyes – a kindness and compassion, even hope – hope she didn’t have herself but desperately wanted.
Finally hitting rock bottom in 2012, Jocelyn found herself detoxing in a county jail where she had been sentenced to serve for six months. It was there, under the care of a person who was part of a jail ministry, that Joeclyn had a profound conversion to Christ and found the strength to get clean for the first time in years. After her sentence was served she moved in with her mother, rebuilt her relationship with her children and started working two jobs. She also found time to visit that same county jail where she shared her own faith with other women battling addiction, encouraging them to pursue faith and wholeness. In time, she began her own not for profit, The Place of Grace Center, a recovery program for women.
It was then that divine providence seemed to move again. She saw on Facebook that Terrell Potter, the same officer that had treated her with such compassion several years earlier, was now battling kidney disease and would need a donor kidney in order to live. The thought came into her mind that she was to be the donor – she disregarded it – after all, she had abused her body with drugs for years – how would she be a good candidate? But the thought persisted almost as if God was telling her to move forward with offering her kidney. Finally, she reached out to the family. This was a small town – they knew Jocelyn and all that she had been through – and were touched by her gracious offer. When she went through the medical procedure to see if she was a match, she was hardly surprised when the doctors told her she was a perfect match – almost as if she was a family member.
The day came when she and Terrell were wheeled into surgery and six hours later, her kidney was Terrell’s. “Your kidney broke national records,” the surgeon reported to her afterward, “the most urine produced in the first hour after being transplanted!”
Jocelyn has remained close to Terrell and his family and for someone who grew up without a father, having him in her life has been a rich blessing. She looks back at all that has transpired in her life and sees the power and purpose of her life so clearly – to be a source of kindness and compassion to others battling addiction – the ways Terrell was to her in her lowest time.
Purpose…the purpose of living with a heart of kindness and compassion – of offering hope to others when they may have no hope themselves. All of us can embrace that purpose…and what a life it affords us when we say YES!
Greatness…it’s in each one of us – live it!
Written by Matt Palmer, Co-founder and Chairman
Source: Guideposts, She Donated a Kidney to the Cop Who Arrested Her.