Outcasts

Do you ever feel like an outcast? An outcast in your family? In your community, or church? For me, I can say……yes. (Not in my blogging community though, y’all are great!)

Sadly, when most people are brain injured it causes a standoffish reaction from their community of people. Their closest friends slowly back away….and the other not so close ones vanish like soap bubbles. I had no idea in 2016 this was the all too common reaction from the majority of well bodied people. I naively thought I would be loved and supported but instead, I was cast aside.

Although this response shocked me then, I’ve come to see past this and seek answers beyond. Jesus has taught me this: He loves and came for all of us outcasts, misfits, losers, and those labeled as abnormal by worldly standards. He didn’t really have much to do with those who had it all together…..instead, he hung out with the out crowd.

My security comes from Him. He is my everything, not people’s reactions to me. He loves me just like I am. Physically broken……yes, but spiritually I am whole, healed!! He sees past my TBI to a woman bought, redeemed, and justified. He is my everything because He is perfect in every way and lives inside of me.

Knowing my security doesn’t come from anyone other than Jesus comforts the sting of being an outcast because this world is not my home. I’m just here on a temporary basis because my real home is in Heaven with Jesus my Lord.

Much love,

Viv 🌷🌺🌻

Forgiveness

O Lord, let my heart be opened

Unafraid to let others in

Let my healing be a beacon

By your grace it can begin

Let the fears of rejection

Fly to places far

Fill my spirit with courage

To be a child bearing a scar

Unashamed of who I am

I’m yours, worthy of love

Seek to be God’s warrior

These pleas go upward and above

Forgiving insensitive indifference

They may not understand or care

Realizing I am worthy

Because your love is always there

Your continual forgiveness

For you intercede for me

Countlesss sins forgiven

Guilty penalty is now free

Lord, grant the grace to extend

Forgiveness that you provide

To others who have hurt yours

Opened heart with arms held wide

Written by Vivian Joy

March 2019

Something Beautiful

When we surrender to God, letting go of the dreams, aspirations and all that’s believed would bring happiness, in a sense it’s like a resigning to oneself. Like a tiny seed being carefully put in the ground, and seemingly forgotten. Covered up by the dirt, and remaining still in the cold, darkness, and dampened soil. Then, taking deep root into the soil, delving into the word of God, allowing the shoots of grace to form life into our souls. We become uncomfortable as we grow, but then after the Spirit waters us, we form a leaf, then a bud, and finally a flower that begins to slowly open, turning it’s face up towards the sun. It’s a living for Him which is the only way we can truly grow and transform into something beautiful. It’s because God plants us into the exact ground He has called us, and it’s only there we can grow.

Much love,

Viv 🌱

Everyone’s Broken

Last spring when things got hard with my TBI journey, I was crying to my best friend saying, “I feel so broken!” Her response to me was, “Everyone’s broken.”

It’s amazing how God can use the honest words of a friend to wake us up.

Yet, it was not the response I was hoping for just then. I yearned for words of comfort, instead I felt like my brain injury was being undermined. Of course she didn’t mean to hurt me, it was my emotional state of brokenness at that time.

Then God did something in my thought process and heart that only He can do. He showed me that even though what she said to me came at a difficult time in my life, those two words are 100% true and I needed to hear them.

The problem with chronic pain, illness, or severe bodily injuries is that they can make a person extremely self absorbed. It’s impossible to not be so fully caught up in the pain and suffering that scream for our attention 24/7. We can’t help but forget that others we love have issues of brokenness in their lives and are just as broken. They may not be broken physically, yet in some way they’re broken emotionally or spiritually. Everyone’s broken.

In Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, she writes on how Jesus was broken first, so that we can be healed by His brokenness. She writes, ‘Could all brokenness meet in the mystery of Christ’s brokenness and givenness and become a miracle of abundance?’ I’ve often dwelled upon these beautiful words. Everyone’s broken, yet Jesus meets us in our pain and since He overcame all brokenness we are made whole by His broken body on the cross.

I’m so blessed to have a wonderful friend and sister in Christ who understands the big picture here. Her words have stayed with me and kept me from throwing myself a huge pity party or turning into “Debbie Downer” on tougher days of dizziness, nausea, pain, fatigue etc. and staying there. I still struggle with negative thinking, but those two words keep reminding me, that even though there’s a big, sad world of suffering, there’s a bigger God who meets us in our suffering and brokenness and gives us hope to keep fighting.

The reality of TBI

“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 πŸ˜‰) 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.

However….

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.

AMEN


Much love,

Viv πŸ€—

Keeping up

TBI has a way of making one feel like you’re driving an old back-firing moped while everyone else is whizzing by in their 2018 Harley Davidson with the shiny chrome banana pipes.

Do you ever feel like keeping up with life is just too much? I do. The feeling of being so extremely overwhelmed by keeping up; homeschooling four kids, being mom, tending the home, trying to heal, and just living life makes me feel like it’s an impossible obstacle. I’m trying so hard, but it’s like running on a hamster wheel, exerting energy but not feeling like I’m getting anywhere.

When I was young, my dad, brother and I would take long walks to places in Philadelphia because we didn’t have a car and sometimes walking was the preferred method to buses or subways. I could never keep up because my dad’s long Marine Corps strides were not easy for my little legs and my brother being 5 years older had longer legs too. They were always having to say “keep up.” I tried, believe me, I tried, but the long journeys we took were so frustrating to my 7, 8, 9 year old legs. I had to walk/ run the whole time because it was the only way to keep up.

I’m glad of it! Being the baby of the family could been very detrimental in coddling or babying me, but my parents never did. They never babied me and let me off easy, just because I was their youngest and a girl. They knew how tough life is and didn’t sugar coat my childhood with pillows of fluff, and candy coated ideals.

When I realised my job as a child of keeping up was twice as hard, I could go easy on myself, not chiding or berating myself because I couldn’t keep but, instead, I could feel like I accomplished something as my efforts to keep up payed off from trying twice as hard.

Today, I’m dealing with this. It feels impossible to keep up. The house stays a wreck, school work presses in, and most days I barely have a chance to brush my hair. But when I see other homeschool moms going here and there teaching Latin, Greek, music to their kids and I can barely do the math and language arts, it hurts. But I realise it’s ok. I have a TBI. Not an excuse but a huge obstacle to overcome while trying to keep up. My kids are all excellent readers, great at math, and learning. Maybe not able to do all the fun stuff and extras like soccer and scout troops as before, but they are four great kids and loved. It’s ok! I need to speak this often. It’s okay, because with TBI things are twice as hard for me but in reality, I can keep up……. just in my own way with God’s help.

Yes, my moped still runs, even if it’s slow and not very pretty but that doesn’t matter because I’m still getting there.

Viv

A Time To Heal

About one year ago, I went to an eye specialist because of the extreme light sensitivity and pressure in my eyes. After examining my eyes and conducting numerous tests he concluded they were healthy but I was in need of special lenses for the glare and light sensitivities. He also told me from his experience with brain injury that it would take a “long time” for my brain to heal. He said this with big eyes to add emphasis to his words.

I could only think at that moment, “I hope he’s wrong!” I didn’t get it. I didn’t want to get it.

Who has time to heal nowadays? I certainly don’t. There’s too much to do with four kids, a home to run, and every day life with all it’s constant demands. Having an impatient nature and a type A personality wasn’t helping matters either. Yet….

The brain heals slowly.

I’ve dedicated hours of researching and reading information about brain injury and the time required for it to heal. Most doctors say 12-24 months but did my brain get that memo? Some may take years upon years to heal like Jennifer Barrick who is still healing 10 years after her horrible car wreck. She has made huge progress but still requires lots of TLC and therapy for her injury. Also, Michelle Munt from the UK who is still healing three years after her accident that required airlifting to the Royal London Hospital in England, with a serious injury most people don’t recover from. She still suffers from many symptoms daily.

No two brain injuries are like. Because of the complexity of the human brain and the fine tuning required for the neurons to heal, some will heal faster than others.

It’s seems to me in our fast paced society that we AREN’T accustomed to allowing our bodies time to heal. We want bandaids and quick shots of this or that.

The beauty of God’s word says there is a season and a TIME for every purpose under the sun….later it says A Time To Heal. God wants us to know that He has created us fearfully and wonderfully in His own image. We are His works of art, and His masterpiece. Our bodies are beautifully designed to heal. Healing is a gift to us. God says in His word, there IS a time to heal. Sadly, we don’t want to take the time to heal because we don’t want healing to take time.

Some brain inuries may take decades to heal or even a lifetime. Some may only heal to a point.

I struggle with thoughts like, “Am I going to heal? Will I be back to my old self again? I will never be the same.”

I have to give it over to God constantly. It’s too hard to try to glimpse into my perceived scenarios of the future. I must take one day at a time. When I give my worries over to the Lord, it gives me a sense of peace. I can envision a cardboard sign with each and every fear I feel written on it, sitting at the foot of the cross where Jesus calls me to cast my burdens.

Trusting in God’s perfect timing is my hope.

Psalm 31:15 says; My times are in thy hand..

That verse is so freeing to me because my healing and the time my body needs to heal aren’t up to me, but to God. There are plenty of things I can do to enhance my healing but really, it’s in His hands. He wants me to work at eating right, rest, get loads of sunshine, take my supplements, keep my appointments, etc. But actually, He is the one blessing those means which my body is using to recover. He wants me to trust Him and rest in His perfect timing for my brain to heal.

Will my family and friends be around after I’m healed? Some will. Some have already drifted away. Yet Jesus will be here because He will stay by my side during the process and be faithful to complete in me the good work He’s already begun. I’m trusting as far as timing goes that my times and healing are all in His magnificent and wonderful hands.