I know it sounds crazy. It sounds unbelievable. It sounds like I'm doing intellectual gymnastics to somehow make peace with the fact that I'm in a wheelchair. When I was inpatient at Mary Free Bed doing rehab, I heard an interview with a professional athlete who had become paralyzed. He was saying that if he could go back to being the guy he was before his accident, he would not do it. I thought this was baloney. I thought that he had to be lying to himself to make himself feel better, and to impress other people with how far he had come.
But now, seven years later, I am the guy in the video. I can't imagine being the person inside that I was anymore. There are multiple reasons why, including my first blog post on this topic. But the bottom line is, if going back to being in a fully functioning body (I would do almost anything for) meant that I had to be the inward person that I was before, I wouldn't do it. And here's big reason number two...
Living in such a visibly broken body keeps me humble. Let me tell you a quick story.
In 2007 I broke my neck. Shortly thereafter, I started having affair. I've told elements of the story in the "Our Story" part of this website. But one element I've never shared is this. Watching the toll it took on my kids. Luckily they were young enough to not have many direct memories of Shelley I being separated, And we have begun to tell them elements of the story. But watching what I had done to our marriage was devastatingly humbling.
Even though I was living in a hotel across town from our house, I still had to find way to see the kids. This usually came in the form of this… my buddy drove to Grand Rapids from Kalamazoo. He pick me up at the hotel and drove me to the house. He went and got the kids who came out to the car in the middle of December and went crazy hugging me, then began asking me when I was moving home. We would drive by Wendy's, drive to the hotel, change into bathing suits in my room, and then go swimming.
This was not a luxurious pool. It was not a luxurious hotel. It was a 1960s, Beirut upkeep, run down, stains in the hallways, cracked concrete around the pool... hotel.
We would swim for a couple hours, then my buddy and I would take them back home (because I couldn't drive).
We would drive back to the hotel in stunned silence, reflecting on the fact that I was not living with my family that God had so graciously given me. The thought would hit me, "look at this sad shadow of a father that I was to my kids. It was all my fault.
And now, with the amount of time I've had to reflect on what has happened and why, I realize it was pride more than anything else that took me to that dark place. I thought that I deserved something that I didn't. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my cracked up, frazzled, emotionally bankrupt brain, I must've thought I was different. I must've thought that because of my extreme circumstances, I didn't have to play by the same rules everyone else had to.
I am a prideful person. I don't think I knew what that meant until I was 32 or 33. Here's how it breaks down. Being prideful is not the same as being arrogant. It's not the same as being cocky. I am a people person, and I've never wanted anyone to walk away from an interaction with me and feel less about themselves. On the contrary, I want people to walk away from me feeling better about themselves and what they are capable of. But that doesn't mean that inside I didn't have an unhealthy view of myself, my accomplishments, and my abilities I think that He uses the extreme circumstances that my handicap brings about to keep me sensitive to how broken we are, and how much we rely on God for every breath that we take.
Some people need constant reminders that we are redeemed. We are forgiven. We are whole. We are God's chosen. Whether it's good or whether it's bad… this is not me. Got has built into me a healthy self image that I know he has lifted me up and set me in a high place of esteem. But I need constant reminders of my depravity and my brokenness and my utter pointlessness without him.
Which brings us to today. I am going in for a procedure that is going to fix the pump that pumps a tiny amount of baclofen into my spinal column. It is actually A wonderful thing. When you're paralyzed, your muscles tend to tighten up. This means you have to take an oral drug called baclofen to keep them limber. Baclofen is tough on your liver. You get the pump, and use a tiny amount and it bypasses your liver.
For whatever reason, my pump is malfunctioning. So I am going in today to get it fixed.
My pride is a check today
I know I'm loved. I know God has chosen me as his child… but any day you were going under general anesthesia, when someone is going to cut into your abdomen and put a stainless steel hockey puck in there you feel rather mortal. (anyhow… when Ava died Shelly and I both bought burial plots. I know the place on the earth where they are going to bury my body someday. How mortal is that?)
Please be praying for Shelly and for me. Logistics are kicking our butts right now. I have another procedure on Monday and I have another health condition that is swirling around in the offing. Not sure what to make of it. More later. Love you all. Under the knife… Here I come!