In a couple of weeks it will be one year since my brain injury. Much of this year has been spent on healing, reflecting and working through the deep disappointment and painful losses I experienced. More and more though, I feel the time is coming to turn the page of this chapter of my life and look to the future with hope and new dreams.
Of course, what happened can never totally be erased. Almost everyday, I experience struggles that are a constant reminder of what was, and what is. What happened is part of me and has shaped me into who I am today. Yet, I don’t want to spent the next 40 – 50 years of my life stuck at this point always dwelling on what went wrong. By God’s grace, I want to move into whatever plans He has for me and embrace them knowing He will provide the strength, hope and joy I need.
The question is, how do I let go and move into the future when there are so many constant reminders of all I have lost? I sure don’t have it all figured out but I know there a couple of really important things that are helping me move through this stage of my life.
I need to forgive.
What happened to me in the hospital was fundamentally wrong. It should have never happened. The nurse should have listened to my screams for her to stop and the hospital should have done so much more to right their wrongs. That said, if I spend the rest of my life holding on to those “shoulds” I will quickly become bitter and never move forward. It is impossible for me to forget that day, but it isn’t impossible to forgive. It is a choice I can make…a choice I have made…and a choice I need to continue to make as I walk forward in my life.
Years ago my mom shared the verse Luke 6:28 with me and taught me to follow it intently when I am struggling with forgiveness. It says,
Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”
As I have followed my moms advice and prayed for the nurse who overdosed me, the pharmacist who prepared the wrong dose and the bureaucrats who worried more about protecting the hospital than me, my heart has softened. First my rage turned to anger and then, over time, my anger to forgiveness. As forgiveness as blossomed, I have been far more able to differentiate between the actions that were wrong and the people who committed them.
The journey of forgiveness for me has been filled with setbacks and back-slides. I have also found it to be one of the most life-giving journeys I could ever take. Undoubtedly, it is a very humbling process, but it is a good one. I am so thankful for my wise mom who planted the seeds into my heart years ago so when I needed them most, they would take root and grow.
Focusing on God’s goodness and love helps me avoid the hidden quicksand of dispare.
When I have an internal dialogue that says, God has forgotten me, doesn’t hear me, doesn’t see me or flat-out doesn’t care – the brakes are slammed and my life comes to a screeching halt. Almost instantly, my heart grows hard, my tenderness goes away, I become grumpy, angry and bitter. Instead of shining God’s love my through life; my actions become a barrier to it.
When I take the time to focus on God’s goodness and trust in His love, I find strength, courage, hope and peace just as Psalm 73:21-27 exclaims,
Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. 22 I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. 23Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. 26My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. “
Choosing daily to focus on the Lord’s goodness (whether that be through Bible study, time in prayer, admiring a beautiful sunrise, looking back at the markers of His faithfulness in my life and so on) lifts me out of my dispare. When I focus on His goodness and love, faith builds and I can more peacefully wait for His rescue.
When life is disappointing and I feel so sad, I literally picture myself standing at a crossroad. One direction leads to God’s promises, goodness and love. It points to the truth that His grace is sufficient and His love never fails. It is the side of the road where His mighty hand is extended – willing to guide me through even the most difficult and painful circumstances. Pondering the wonderment of these aspects of the Lord breathes life into me when I feel my spirit is crushed.
The other direction, whether I intend it or not, is a literal turning of my back against the promises of the Lord. It screams, His words aren’t true…at least not for me. It convinces me I don’t have strength and everything is hopeless. It is the side of the road that looks safe because it only requires me to trust in me. Yet, just a few figurative steps down that road, I am met with emotional quicksand that sucks me deeper and deeper until I believe I can no longer go on.
When I take the time to picture these two roads it is easier to see what I need to do. When I jump out on my own and don’t focus on the Lord I often get tripped up. That’s why the Lord is so amazing. When I do, He is still willing to rescue me and get me back on track. After his rescue I always find myself wondering though, “Why didn’t just take a moment to pause and dwell on His amazing goodness and love in the first place.” sigh…it is a journey.
I have no idea where the Lord is leading through this journey yet I am peaceful. Through this past year He has shown me how to forgive more deeply and how to believe His word, His love and His amazing goodness. I am humbled the Lord would walk this journey with me hand in hand knowing the messy, messy person that I am. I know without Him this would have crushed me. Because of Him, I have joy and peace in the storm.
As I prepare to close this chapter of my life and walk into the next, it is my prayer that we all find the wonder of His abounding goodness in our lives and discover the secret joys of forgiving! As we do, may His love shine brightly for all to see and may our we allow Him to steady us every step of the way!
Take a moment to watch the video from the above link. It says this so much better than I can!