“Mom,” my oldest daughter said, “I’ve noticed something. When people who’ve never met you spend time with you they like you, but old friends or family who are aware of your brain injury don’t treat you the same. They look at you differently now.”
This sad reality hit me months ago.
I thought I was being oversensitive or maybe just dreaming it up but then when my rather perceptive 14-year-old noticed, well, it made me realize I wasn’t and in fact it’s the reality and sad truth of TBI.
People with brain injuries experience a wide range of emotional distresses (mental health) along with physical limitations. Depression, anxiety, apathy, aggression, PTSD and others. These issues can be extremely difficult to understand by even our closest friends or family and easily judged as weakness and they can be hard for us to understand as well. Instead of being judged we want to be loved on and looked at as miracles from tragedies. It may take someone’s time and effort to engage in conversation, listen and to see past the label “brain injured” to the true person sitting right there desperately needing, love, support and a friend. It will take a special person. Our fast paced society doesn’t leave much left over in the realm of perceived importance to the broken, busted, or bruised.
I know I’m different now. I’m not nearly as talkative (some may call that an improvement 😉) and I rarely leave the house. Maybe I did fall into the crazy cat lady persona but I actually think that’s a compliment. I avoid loud noises and struggle with social anxiety. My old peppy self is in there somewhere but she’s too fatigued to show up most days.
I’ve struggled to work through this; The jibes, the looks, the cold shoulders, the indifference, the lack of compassion and the overwhelming LACK of support from people who I trusted for years.
God revealed something to me in His word. Up until this point though, I admit I was a broken mess and shattered inside. He showed me from Isaiah 53: 3-4
Isaiah 53:3-4 (KJV)
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Our Jesus felt the sting of the rejection of man long before I ever did. He was rejected!! Rejected of men yet what did Jesus do?
He gave His life for them. Loved them so deeply that He cared more for their souls and died for them.
He responded in a godly manner as God and man.
That has become my answer. It was God revealing to me through that scripture saying, in order to heal these emotional wounds, you must pray for them and pray for help to let go and forgive. I can pray for God to wrap His loving arms around me and heal my wounded places. The bible says to pray for those who persecute you or treat you poorly. (Matt. 5:44) It’s hard to be angry at someone after committing to pray for them. The emotions melt away and instead are replaced by hope and peace. (Philippians 4: 6-7)
Here’s the deal. I can choose to be bitter or I can choose to pray, love and forgive others with the help of God.
The idea that I must respond by trying to make people understand through persisting to explain is wearing me out and wasting energy. I can just let go.
Bitterness is a road I don’t want to travel.
Here’s the truth about bitterness;
Bitterness is like a poison eating away at our souls until we are consumed by grips of anger that have fermented until pungent.
(I wrote the above quote on bitterness months ago while feeling rather…..well, bitter. The article I wrote on this subject I never published because my daughter and I agreed it was too depressing.)
Jesus suffered first, in every way we do but he responded in goodness, holiness, and godliness. To share in the sufferings of Jesus is the reality of this Christian life. We will face grave trials but our comfort is knowing Jesus suffered first and will walk with us through our sufferings. He never said being a Christian would mean a life of ease and escape from trials. He actually says the opposite.
Although we can not choose some of the circumstances we are faced with, we can choose our responses to those circumstances.
We can choose to be bitter OR we can choose to be a blessing.
I thank you dear Jesus for giving me your truth through your word and helping me by Your grace, work through this sad reality of TBI. Your faithfulness in rescuing my heart from a seriously shattered place is proof of your unending LOVE.