Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Learning About Grace After The Fall

The last four years of my life have brought incredible change. Four years ago, I was a single woman, living in Grand Rapids, MI, pursuing my dream job and counting the days to the publication of my first book.

Everything changed on January 21, 2004. In the early afternoon, I decided to drive down the street to the local convenience store to pick up a few snacks. I had just started a new job, and wanted to work late that night to really dig into my new responsibilities. It was a blustery winter day, with a sheer sheet of ice under the fresh blanket of snow.

I don't know exactly what happened, but from what I've been able to piece together, I tripped on something just outside the door to the store. It may have been a sign blown down by the wind, it may have been the slick icy surface. I know I fell. I know I fell hard. I'm not sure if my head hit the curb or the column. I don't know if anyone saw me. I don't know if I lost consciousness, and if I did, for how long. I do know that life's questions are not always answered, and God is not obligated to answer our whys. Sometimes we're left to life with the mysterious unknown, and grace comes from embracing the aftermath of our unanswered questions. One thing I know: though I have very few memories from the year or so following that fall, I know that my life has never been--and never will be again--the same.

My book did release a few months later, but I don't remember much of the promotional activities that followed. I was on and off work for the next three years until my very patient employer helped me acknowledge that the progress I made wasn't enough to do the job I was hired to do. I have been unemployed since May of 2006.

In the years that followed my accident, I was under the care of a neurologist, neuropsychologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist and a special kind of opthalmologist. I've also taken various meds to help my brain function and focus.

Last summer, I hit the emotional rock bottom as I realized I could no longer afford the home I loved, could no longer thrive in the career that thrilled me, and could no longer pursue my passion for writing. In the aftermath of a painful breakup, I wondered if I would ever marry. I made the decision to move to a new city, a new place to heal and grow and embrace my new identity as someone living with a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

I had friends in Canton, Ohio. I felt God nudging me in that direction, so I made plans to first make extended visits, and eventually make my move. I put my house for sale, sold as much as I could, and watched my savings account continue to drain.

I've often joked in the last four years that God literally had to knock my noggin to get my attention. From where I stand today, I can also see that He needed to disengage my head to be able to capture my heart. Without my own abilities to carry me, I was forced to rely on Him, often through accepting the help of others. It was a humbling lesson, but one that enabled me to accept His greatest gift to me in recent years: meeting and marrying my husband, Niels.

Niels and I have been married for two weeks now. While the financial stress of paying for a wedding, honeymoon and two homes--my condo is still for sale--is overwhelming at times, I am beyond blessed that I married a man who can support me on his income, and who encourages my continued healing and hope that I will be able to again pursue my writing career.

I started this blog as a way of chronicling my healing. I hope to go back to some of my journals, to try to makes sense of my senseless thoughts. The words don't come as easily as they did. The rhythm and flow are more stilted and hesitant. The moments of clarity are few and far between, but the distance between the fog and flow are narrowing. I am learning to see the beauty of unfinished work, and God's grace after The Fall.

1 comment:

Carisa said...

Coming from an outside or maybe inside perspective this is so great for me to read. I am of course your younger sister and being so far away from you has I think made it even more difficult to understand the changes you have and are going through. I have a vivid memory of the first time I realized that you were going through something serious.

We were talking on the phone and you were driving in Michigan. Since you have always been considered the "brains" in the family I was very confused when you asked me where you were and where you were going. I don't even know how to get around Minnesota let along trying to help someone in a different state navigate over the phone, and I couldn't figure why on earth my sister would even consider asking me something of that nature. At first I kind of thought it was silly and funny and than I realized that what was going on was real and scary.

You are right, personalities and the person change. I had to get to know you a long time ago and I am getting to know a whole new you know. I really liked you before, and I really love who you are now. Sometimes you still say really silly things but you have a great attitude about it. You might not remember how and when you did it, but you are going to change the world!