e’s 28 years old. He’s good looking, personable, articulate and funny. He has a medical degree and is on his way to acquiring a specialty in dermatology. He’s an author who recently started his own publishing company and yes, he’s unattached. Girls must be lined up, waiting – for his autograph, at least. But according to Josh Mandrell, West Frankfort native and the subject of the previous paragraph, life just is never that simple. Whoever you are, and whatever your destiny, until you find that person that is meant to be your soul mate, life can be very complicated. And, according to Mandrell, the most complicated thing in life is relationships. So using all the wisdom and experience of his 28 years of not finding the perfect companion, he has written and published a book, “Dating, Finding and Keeping The One: Stuff Other Relationship Guides Won’t Tell You,” and the advice he offers in it is fresh, simple, but surprisingly wise. Mandrell is a 1998 graduate of FCHS and attended SIU and then St. Louis University, where he earned his medical degree in 2007. He completed a one-year internship at St. John’s Mercy Hospital in St. Louis and is currently finishing his first year of a three-year residency in dermatology at Loyola University in Chicago. “I was always planning on being a family practice physician,” Mandrell says, “but I did a rotation in dermatology and just fell in love with it.” While at SIU, Mandrell worked as a youth minister at Trinity Methodist Church in West Frankfort and also served for a time as a youth leader in Nashville, IL. He makes no secret of the fact that his Christian belief is a guiding force in his life and played a large role in his decision to write a book. “I knew that people would say, ‘Why are you doing this? Why not just concentrate on medical school and don’t try to take on more right now? But I have seen so many young adults struggling with relationships and I have had so many failed relationships of my own. I’ve read a lot of books on dating and relationships, and I kept thinking, ‘you know, there’s more to it than this.’ They’re not telling us everything.” The “everything” that Mandrell felt was important enough to cover in his guidebook, is advice on things that a young person looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend may not be too eager to hear.
The very first chapter in “The One” focuses on “The Gift of Breaking Up.” “None of us like failure,” he explains. “I think we see ending a relationship as a failure, although every relationship is not meant to last forever. We are so afraid of letting go; because we think that there is no one else out there and if we end a relationship, we are going to be alone forever. Actually in many cases, breaking up is a gift to both of you.” It is a logical progression from having the courage to break up to another very mature and in-depth discussion of “The Gift of Singleness.” “I think that so many of us—even from the time we are in junior high and on through high school and college— are so intent on agonizing about having a date, who are we going to date, that we can’t even enjoy the time that we are single. And that’s sad. We should be able to enjoy this time when we are free to do things that we may not be able to do when we are married with families and more responsibilities.” “I kind of live my life with the urgency of now,” Mandrell continues to explain. “I was thinking about writing this book. I don’t want to be a person at 70 who says, ‘I thought about writing a book when I was 28. I thought about it again in my 30’s and was going to do it when I was in my 50’s. I wish I had done it.’ Tomorrow is not promised to us. If we want to do something for people we need to do it now. God put this impression on my heart. He just said, “Why don’t you write it?” And I had to do it.” Perhaps it was that urgency of now that encouraged Mandrell to take some extraordinary steps to get the book published soon after it was written. When he didn’t find a publisher for his book immediately, he started his own publishing company, “Looking Beyond,” making him owner of a business capable of publishing any future books or other projects that he feels compelled to undertake. The book is now available for sale at Amazon.com, several area bookstores, and for a limited time, Good Living In West Frankfort will have copies for sale at a special $10 price. Although being a published author has been an exciting experience, Mandrell realizes that it is only a diversion from his day job, which consumes most of his time and energy. At the end of the three years of his residency at Loyola, he plans to return to his West Frankfort to provide expert medical care and commitment to
the community he still calls home. “No one in Chicago can understand why I want to come back to Southern Illinois,” he says. “But this is home. I’m still in contact with a lot of people here. I want to be a community leader. I want to make West Frankfort attractive to kids like me who can bring a profession back here and help make West Frankfort a better place. We need to take the initiative. We need to have a vision, but then we need a plan. Sure it’s easy to work 60 or more hours a week and not have anything else to give, but we need to remember that we are a part of the community, and we owe a percentage of our lives to that.” “You know, I’m away from Southern Illinois most of the time, but when I’m on Interstate and I get close to the exit 65, a whole new comfort level comes over me. Its like, “I’m home; this is where I belong.” And whom does he belong here with? That part of the book hasn’t been written yet, and although he isn’t obsessing about it, he does have a little message for his future wife at the beginning of “The One.” “To My Future Wife—This book is dedicated to ‘the one’ whom I will ‘find’ some day. After all I have experienced in relationships, only an omnipotent God can lead you in my direction to change my life forever. I wait for that day patiently, purely and expectantly. You will be worth it. And when we do meet, date and start our lives together, hold me to the principles that are written within these pages.”
Spring • 2009
People, Pride and Placesof West Frankfort, IL