October 18, 2016
My wife asks me not to dwell on that day, to move on, but that day was an extreme defining moment in my life. On that day, I had the first serious injury to my body and following that injury, the most serious surgery I have had to this point.
Surgery and recovery were hard for me because in a split second I went from a very active, healthy man to an invalid. Post-surgery was difficult because my doctor put restrictions on my life, restrictions I did not like. I had to walk with a walker for three months, not putting weight on my right foot. A wheel chair was my rapid means of conveyance and driving was eliminated totally. I spent all my days in bed or in a chair.
I hated this, but one good thing came out of it: I had time to think.
For the first time in my life, I had so much taken away, things that I took for granted could no longer be done. I had seen others who were struggling with injury or disability and I did not even pay attention to them. I guess I felt sorry for them but beyond that, they made little impression on me. I was healthy and had no problems so why would I dwell on their infirmities?
October 18, 2016 gave me a whole new point of view about life.
While I spent my days in bed and in the chair, I wondered about the next chapter of my life. What would I do if the surgeon was right? I would “recover.” My wife really expected great things of me. She believed I would totally recover and be my old self. However, privately the more I lived those days as an invalid, the more I realized I did not want to return to my old self.
I wanted to be something else. Of course I wanted to walk again, drive again, participate in the normal patterns of life.
But I also prayed for a new vision.
My surgeon could repair my body but he could not give me a vision for the rest of my life.
Before my accident, I was living life at a breakneck pace. I was totally absorbed in my concerns. I was active in my church, but I knew I was too active. When I had my accident, I was very tired from doing too much; some people would describe me as “burned out.” I had talked to my pastor about cutting back on my activity. Little did I know that the prayers for doing less would result in me doing almost nothing for three months.
Today I never see a person who is struggling with mobility or immobilized without a deep appreciation for their condition. When I see someone who has been damaged by accident or disease, I don’t tell anyone, but I cry inside for them. I even offer assistance when I sense they really would like it [I know that many want to fight to do what they can do; they don’t want aid]. What amazes me now is the number of people who are hampered by accident or disease. I never saw them before but it now seems they are everywhere.
Maybe I have that new vision and it is born out of gratefulness for what I have, appreciation for my ability to move, and humility. Pastor Labberton cites Micah 6:8 “To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” I feel those things now as I realize God has transformed me through my experience with immobility.
In The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor a lot of attention is given to people who have little in life materially, but to be honest, maybe the people who have lost so much of their mobility need attention too. Pastor Labberton shares his personal story about losing his sight due to a bike accident. This accident gave him time to reflect. He writes about wanting to live a life with more truth, love and justice; he writes “Worship must involve practices of daily life that help us rehearse again and again the open, loving, sacrificial heart of our God who sees and hears the needy” .
Psalms 139:14 states that God sees us as “fearfully and wonderfully made,” no matter what we have or don’t have.
Maybe that also applies to what we can do or cannot do. God never gives up on us.
If God never gives up on us, why should we ever give up on others?