" I am excited to be somewhere where we are the norm." That is what Nancy said after settling in from the trip. The place is like "handicap Disneyland" with easy access and no awkward glances. "No body is staring at you because everyone has someone like Rachael."
They just got a taste of it tonight but the full course is served up tomorrow when they go to the center. She has already met another family there, a newly married couple that just celebrated their one year anniversary. A few months ago, the young man, age 22, had concrete fall on him an broke his neck.
In a place like Shepherd, every anonymous greeter passing in a hall, every back you face at the coffee shop, every car in the lot that brought them here represents some association with a Traumatic Brain Injury. Though strangers, there is a hidden tether tied to tragedy that connects to each heart, forming a community of commonality whose members have no creed, no handshake or secret code, they simply know.
Awkward glances are left behind with the ambulatory, moving about with the blessing of options and the choice to look away from the harsh realities that limp or wheel by them in public. They so quickly take the thought captive of how very fragile a human life is. Such a thing as mortality and health are worthy to ponder.
13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
Left behind are those glances, in exchange for a compassionate and knowing glance. A glance chiseled from the experience that brought them to the Center.
Most at the Center are familiar with that few days after the incident, not knowing if there loved one was to live or die. They recall the hollow fear and foreboding darkness that strikes when 'reality' sets in as to the extent of the injury. They are familiar with that crux of faith where it is determined if their faith is real or not or if it is just then being defined. They are familiar with the cataclysmic realignment of 'the norm'. All plans change from the point of injury and there will no longer be any real days off for the family. Even when away it is present in mind and heart.
These folks know this. It is their lives, TOO! Nancy, Rachael and Mary will be a part of this special population on Monday.
Think about this... To simply scratch an itch, click a mouse, turn the head, all are miracles. Yet, to the failing of our race, most of these gifts of sight, of movement, of walking, are used for Godless diversions, the result of their ability to choose. The majority of our fair land would rather play a video game with their phalanges than turn a page in the Word of the creator that made the thumbs on their hands.
12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
If you want to be thankful for the voluntary movement of your limbs, for speech, for sight, meet someone who has a broken brain. Hang with the caretakers for a few days to see what is involved with the 3 hour ritual of getting that person that "looks good in spite of their condition" prepared to look good in spite of their condition. Help them clean that person up after the normal bodily function of elimination. Listen to the moans of pain from cramped muscles just to get a shirt over their head and a foot into a pant leg. It is not something the average person will see in their lifetime and praise God for that. Yet, it is the path chosen for some. At the Shepherd Center, they all converge.
There are enough people suffering from TBI to put someone on a 2 month waiting list at Shepherd. In Sarasota alone there are several new cases a week that enter the ICU with a brain injury. What a blessing for Nancy and Rachael to see so many others that really know what it is like. Both Nancy and Rachael are excited for the week ahead. I wish I could be with them, Hanna too. Yet we have our job here.
Last weekend we went to Special Touch Ministries a ministry that reaches out to those suffering from a variety of brain damage issues and their caregivers. They gathered at Nokomis and it was a blast. In that room for a few hours I felt that we were the norm. Like a brother or sister in Christ, you know the people that you have not met yet. That was a precursor, a sample really, of what Nancy and Rachael are getting this week.
In Atlanta, a city filled with the choice of so many things to do with your limbs, your eyes and ears, there is a place where the purveyors of diversion have no marketplace. Where the mundane to the families of the patients would be crisis to someone on the outside. There is a place where people bound to wheelchairs, with limited to no movement and reliant upon total care by another and their family can go and say "We are the norm here" Thank you Jesus for this opportunity.
To the praise of His glory we have seen many things along this path so far. We have see our deepest sorrows removed, our anger dissolved with peace and joy as the backfill. We have found a renewed strength and purpose behind what is viewed as tragedy but like the story of Joseph, all that he went through was for the good.
That is a small test of faith right there. Can you see where this tragedy like Rachael's is for the good? Can you really feel the Glory to God in all of this. Read back over the events that led up to today. Look for the nuggets, they are there. My Lord promises that what the enemy met for evil is for the good to those who believe. Remember, just saying you believe is not enough. Believing that really good people go to heaven is not true. Their is a response that God does require of us to His offer of grace. Even the option to believe is grace, but limited to the grave. Acceptance of His grace is eternal. Jesus Christ can change a heart! Jesus Christ can turn sorrows to joy! Jesus Christ can renew strength and spirit as a way of life and not a temporary uplift like a spiritual cup of coffee. There are so many riches in life from Christ that we spend our lives chasing with better jobs, investments, purchases and plans. The only plan, the first plan is Jesus Christ. He will fill the needs in us that we try to fill ourselves. Then your feet will walk up to the suffering and bless them, then your eyes will have a knowing glance even if you do not go through 'it', then your hands will open that love letter from God, the Bible. Then you will see that our bodies are made to worship in all we do. Put down the game, put down the remote and open the book that contains the very thoughts of God, your creator!
Please pray again that there will be enough response from Rachael to keep her up there for a few weeks. I don't want my wife to be away. I don't like the lack of added life Rachael brings to the house. Yet, we want to see some neat things happen. Pray for the opportunities to share Christ to those whose hearts that God has already prepared to hear.
To His Glory,