Today is the day. I went to bed last night with a small knot in my stomach. It is always there the night before this date. I went to bed the day before very sick and woke up…on this day 5 years ago…with a very different life ahead of me. It really blows my mind that it has already been 5 years!
I just happen to be guest blogging on this date about how much I have needed the Lord’s help on this journey called paralysis. Do you want to know the good report? God has helped me! There is so much that has happened over the last 5 years. There is so much that paralysis has taught me about life.
What are some of the these things? Will you give me a little allowance to talk about it on this special date?
1. I have learned what friendship is all about.
Through these last 5 years, I have learned who my truest friends are. I have found that you’re truest friends don’t care if you are in a chair or not. They don’t treat you any different. They make sure that you get to be a part of anything you want to be, even if it makes a little more work for them. They aren’t jealous of you (yes, people do get jealous that you get to sit in a chair all day long) and they don’t baby you. They are loving and kind and get excited over stupid things with you that they know nothing about..like a new wheelchair cushion! Friendships are so precious and paralysis has taught me to appreciate them even more.
2. I have found a new level of compassion that is so needed.
I used to have empathy. Lots of empathy. I am a very tender hearted gal and I really always felt for bad for what people go through. But that is different now. When I meet someone who has gone through something very difficult (the death of a loved one, a health crisis, marriage troubles, etc) my heart just aches with compassion. Literally, it feels so deep inside of me. I get it. I totally get it. I have felt their heartbreak and my heart breaks with them. It has taken away a great deal of my judgmental and haughty spirit. Life is tough. Compassion is desperately needed and paralysis has taught me that.
3. I have discovered that life is a wonderful gift and should not be wasted.
I weary of hearing people complain about their life. Where is my compassion right? 🙂 As I think back 5 years ago, we really did not know if I would still be here in 5 years. There are friends of mine out there who are fighting for their lives! I have such a new appreciation for every single day I am given. I know firsthand how quickly life can change without our permission. I want to live every day with the attitude that it is a wonderful gift! I want to intentionally thank God for giving me this day…and I mean it! Life is too precious to waste time griping about it. I am glad paralysis has taught me this.
4. I have learned giving back is the best therapy.
I kind of accidentally discovered this. I lived in a very rural area when I became paralyzed and so there was really nothing in terms of a support group. I felt very alone and different. Everywhere I went there were walking people! I met another guy and we became friends. He felt just like I did. We both wished for a group of people like us to hang out with to help you remember that you weren’t alone and there were others out there just like you. So…since we could not find a group we decided to start one. My thoughts were not humanitarian. They were more selfish. I wanted to be with those like me!! So, we started advertising by word of mouth…literally by seeing someone in a wheelchair in public and stalking them through the store to talk to them….and our group grew. And so did I. I realized that my therapy was not just in the support, but by reaching out to help others like me, I was helped! It felt wonderful!
It became addicting. I couldn’t find enough ways to want to help. It is amazing that when you look for ways to help, you will find them! We started volunteering with Joni and Friends and their yearly family retreats and my heart grew even more! The more I gave of myself, the more I gained! I no longer did it for me. I did it for others and I benefited even more. I am so honored to be one of their camp speakers this year! I know that only because of my paralysis could I have learned this valuable life lesson. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.
5. I have learned that joy is not in our circumstances.
I love to be happy. I love to laugh and smile. I love to make other people laugh and smile. I know that I used to “feel” happy when everything went my way and when it did not go my way, then I would “feel” unhappy. I am not happy all the time. There are days that I feel extremely bad and it is very hard to feel happy those days. But…I have learned that there is always something to be happy about. When the circumstances of my life are not to my liking, it is harder to think that there is anything to be happy about. But there is! There always is! If I let the circumstance of paralysis (which is kind of cruddy) rule my happiness, then I would be an eternal grouch and pessimist! But who wants to be around someone like that? I don’t…especially if it is me! So, over the last 5 years, I have learned that when I feel the grumps that I make a list of things to be happy about: my kids, my hubby, my pretty home, my van, my hand controls, my cool wheelchair that needs to be cooler, my warm blankets, my friends, and on and on. Pretty soon, I am dwelling on the happy things and suddenly I feel happy!
Today is the date I became paralyzed. We have never chosen to stay home and pout and cry all day. We go out and do something fun together as a family. Today we are actually driving our moving truck to our new home in South Carolina! We are so excited. I am glad we are doing this on this day. It is an emotional day for me because this day brings with it a lot of heartbreaking memories that stir around in my soul and knot my stomach. Looking back, I can see how much I have grown as a person because of this journey. The Bible says that God makes all things beautiful in His time. As time goes on for me, I appreciate the beautiful things God has made for me in my life.
Thank you for sharing this day with me!