Focus on the People that Matter
Please Athenians, do not be offended when I say that GA Football is not the most important thing in the world. It’s called a Football GAME for a reason. Now, I love GA football. Growing up in Athens (home of UGA) gave me the deep love I have for “the Dawgs”. I dated a guy who went on to be the kicker for GA Football team. This only intensified my love for the red and black. At my wedding, we rented a separate room and a big screen TV so people could check the score of the away game that was happening during our reception. Check out the picture of James to your left, is there any question what team he will be loyal to? Similar to football, we all have things that probably take up too much of our precious time. We waste emotional energy on small things and place our time and resources in things that truly don’t matter, when it’s all said and done. The night of my life-saving brain surgery, do you know who was NOT in the waiting room? The GA football team. Do you know who was there? Over 70 sweet friends and family who cared deeply about me. The people who love you are the ones that matter. Focus on the people that God has placed in your life. Maybe you would not have necessarily chosen all of them, but they are there for a reason and focusing your love, time, and attention on them will be something that you will never regret!
When Life Gives you Really Rotten Lemons, make Really Delicious Lemonade
A brain injury is some really rotten lemons. I believe attitude is a huge part of healing and the difference between people who get well and people who do not (sometimes). The ‘Katherine Lived’ party was some really delicious lemonade. What started as a little gathering of some friends to celebrate my life, turned into an incredible party with valet parking, a wait staff, and 100 donated Sprinkles cupcakes! I have to be honest, Jay is the mastermind behind this philosophy. Have you seen the website? The T-Shirts? The Prayer Cards? They are all excellent. Jay has encouraged me to do everything in a superb way BECAUSE of my brain injury. We have chosen to not seclude ourselves, sitting around and feeling sorry for ourselves but rather, we have tried to embrace this situation and see what God has for us in it. As you know, I love Romans 8:28. It is so comforting to know that even if I cannot make my own lemonade from my rotten lemon situation, God can and will do it too!
Catharsis is Healthy
Just about everyone I know has a blog these days. Young mommies have blogs to show pictures of what they are up to, some have blogs to complain about various issues or support them, some blog to get the word out quickly about what is going on in their world, and some people have blogs to share what’s new when they get really sick (like me). I think deep down we all want the same thing: Catharsis – a way to cope and the feeling that we are not alone. That feeling that someone else can share our burdens. We all want validation that someone else cares about what we are going through. I consider November of last year to be the low point for me. I was not suicidal, but I have never felt so undeniably sad in my entire life. It was awful. What came out of that time was a little devotional book about who I really am vs. who I feel like I am. It is profound. It is based on the very first lesson I shared – the one about my current situation being a microcosm for how we all feel (ie. we don’t feel understood, satisfied, beautiful, etc, but in Christ we are all of those things). It has been healing throughout this ordeal to express my feelings. Catharsis has been a wonderful way to cope. The incredible next layer is that through my personal expressions to all of you, I think it’s allowed some of my readers to find their own catharsis. So cool how that works!
Contentment is not Based on the Situation
I am learning this lesson in a very powerful way. And I mean, I am still learning it. Instead of waiting to be content until I can walk, eat, see, speak, write, drive or live normally, I just need to be content where I am. In late August of this year, James, Jay and I were ‘helping’ to move Grace in to Pepperdine. On a break, we went down to the little downtown area of Malibu. We got ‘James’ a treat from Crumbs cupcakes and then went outside. There was a guy playing acoustic guitar outside and James began pushing his little mini toy car along a bench in front of me. Jay would chase him down when necessary, and I watched closely. After I had finished the entire treat, I sat there in the beautiful Malibu sunshine and got a lump in my throat. Even in a wheelchair with a hand that won’t work and a mouth that won’t let me smile, I felt content, just watching my two babies enjoy the day. I really felt content. Even if life was never going to be how I wanted it to be, that was OK. I’m OK.
Nothing on Earth can Fully Satisfy
After months of being in a hospital bed, I got to hold my baby in my arms. While I loved getting to hold and cuddle with James, it did not transform my life. It did not fully satisfy me. I lost over 30 pounds and I finally wore a size 2 in pants. I looked skinny in my skinny jeans. Many women would love nothing more than to lose weight and fit into a smaller size. It’s not that great. It did NOT satisfy. After being on a feeding tube for over 11 months, I was allowed to eat food again. I ate so much and so many delicious things that I would feel sick. I ate doughnuts, waffles with big hunks of butter, cupcakes galore, and milkshakes to gain weight. Even though enjoying all these treats was amazing, I never felt completely full, and the experience was strangely anti-climactic. I finally took a few steps on my own not too long ago. It was amazing! There was a strong possibility that I would never be able to walk again. Taking those few steps was great, but it did not completely satisfy me. Nothing can… Well, only one thing.
Use the Good Stuff
Patty Roper, Joanna Martin, Brenda See and their daughters threw me a lovely “Paper and Linen” Shower in Montgomery (it was the first of 13 parties before I got married –I’m not kidding). As the hostess gift, they gave me a gorgeous set of monogrammed sheets. I was saving them to use when we had our own home. Had I died last April, I would have NEVER used those sheets. They would have been saved for 4 years for nothing! I think my situation points to the fact that you should use the good stuff and do all those things you have always wanted to do. Who cares if the baby might stain it or something gets broken. It’s definitely better to find enjoyment in special things now then feeling regretful for having those things sit, uselessly in a closet, never being used and enjoyed. We are not promised tomorrow, and we need to live like it is our last today and celebrate the gift of each day.
Suffering is Universal
I consider my greatest fault/character flaw/sin to be my extreme naiveté; however, I am not naïve to the fact that everyone around me is suffering through something right now. I am not the only one going through a lot. While my situation is extreme, we all face difficult trials every day. Clearly, you don’t have to be experiencing a major medical issue to be able to understand suffering. There are hard and sad things in this world that are awful and painful. There are children who are abused; there is homelessness and people who go to bed hungry. There are unmet expectations and broken relationships. People have affairs. Parents divorce. There is disease, and there are freak accidents. Women miscarry, and couples can’t get pregnant. People die. Life is hard, no matter who you are. Because of this, we need to give each other slack (because we often never know what someone else is going through deep inside), spread love over everyone in our lives, and find hope in the Lord’s promise that our suffering is never in vain.
More to come …