[During the first few years of acquired brain injury...]
"An internal focus was necessary in order to understand the disability and how to proactively work with it. Along the way, I grew to be a willing servant toward His [God's] refining. More recent years have sprouted a new focus. A really healthy, outward focus. This is what God was preparing me for during the earlier years. It was very painful, but God brought me through it. Even better, He brought me through it victoriously. I am experiencing tremendous joy as He opens doors and windows and everything else, allowing me to focus on and serve others in His name." [Excerpt from my book Worthy In His Eyes: Part Five: CREATED TO BEAR FRUIT...Chapter Two: Changing Focus] © Kathleen M. Pritchard
[This post is dedicated to E&B K......A couple who is walking a difficult journey--together--trusting in God. It is an honour to walk alongside of you!]
I love being at this section in my book. From here to the final chapter I feel so free and I am once again reminded how far God has brought me, and taught me. The purpose of writing this book was not to complain or seek sympathy for this difficult journey. It was to offer hope and enlighten others by candidly sharing my personal brain injury journey, not just on a physical level but most importantly on a spiritual level. God had nudged me so many times [as had a couple of super close friends/family] to write about my journey---this journey I shared daily with my life-time sweetheart and best friend.
Through deep and constant communion with God--asking Him questions, listening for His answers--I found myself stepping onto a bridge of hope with God's promise of a purpose much, much bigger than the one I had focused on prior to acquiring my brain injury.
Because of my brain injury [the changes, the battles, the kaleidoscope of whirling emotions, and my intense quest for God's Will when I knew mine was not enough] I realized how crucial it was [is] to serve others. Without going through the deep, dark valleys I would never be able to truly understand...and identify...with the pain in another's life...brain injury related or a myriad of other types of heartache, disability or deep emotional pain. I would have tried to understand, but there would be no way I could ever really understand if I hadn't walked in their shoes.
My limitations are still present and always will be, but they don't suffocate me anymore. God has opened so many doors. At first, I walked through them with uncertainty: "Is this what I am supposed to do?"--"What if the surroundings aren't compatible?"--"Am I intruding if someone is hurting but doesn't want to share?" However, the more I stayed close to God and asked Him to use me, the more confident I became. Gradually, I could hardly wait for a door of opportunity to open!
I am still discovering ways to serve others....the possibilities and opportunities are endless!! They need not be extravagant [in fact, they can't be]--just a cup of tea with someone one on one, sending a special note to someone who could use a word of cheer, praying for someone who has confided in you, encouraging others in countless ways....simple things. Yet those simple things force you to focus on someone else. Strive to do this on a regular basis and you will struggle much less with discouragement. And even better? You will touch another life in a way that only you can do.
I cannot complete this without adding that my sweetheart, my best friend, my husband Kip has been instrumental in helping me believe in myself again. He has been my biggest cheerleader and my solid rock when the seas of discouragement, failure and doubt threatened to swallow me up. This disability and the consequent changes affect him directly as well. Yet he has never given up on me....or us. His unconditional love and acceptance water my soul, enabling me to grow. His support, prayers, encouragement, humour and unwavering faith not only help me be "okay" with this disability, but empower me, and us to "be there" for others.
He knows the journey well, he's lived it. He knows what God can and will do. He doesn't see me as "broken" or "less than I used to be." In fact, with God's guidance and grace our marriage has become stronger than we could have ever imagined....perhaps even stronger than it might have been if my acquired brain injury hadn't become part of our life.
Our renewed focus on others leaves no room for self-focus or self-pity. Every morning we get up and anticipate how we can extend God's grace, love and faithfulness. Servant-hood is not a symbol of weakness or lack of self-worth. It is the exact opposite. It is an outward response to the gratitude that swells in our hearts for God's continual blessings each second of each day. Humility in it's purest and unadulterated form, coupled with serving others creates a sense of inner strength and self-confidence in who we are.....just as we are. It enables us to look beyond the reflection in the mirror to the Light of the One Who reassures us that, regardless of impediment or circumstance, we are indeed Worthy in His Eyes.
[A footnote: Kip and I are both very aware that many couples do not survive the chaos and challenges a newly acquired disability or major life-change creates. The statistics are alarming. We both encourage all couples to go for counselling together [both secular, for human understanding and Christ-focused, for spiritual understanding], talk things through at home [right away--don't put it off] and really listen to each other [even when it hurts.] Surrender everything to the Lord--then seek Him, seek His Will and seek to walk the rest of your journey--together--with Christ as your ultimate Life-Guide. Pray daily, lifting your spouse and marriage up to the Lord for protection. Remember, if you are the one with the disability, your loved one needs these things just as much as you do.
Dig deep for the courage to reach out to others using your individual and combined gifts to bring joy to another person's day. Doing so will switch your focus from self [and all the challenges that can swell from dwelling on them] to building up and encouraging others. It's a very freeing way to live and suddenly you realize that life is not only getting better, it's totally awesome----together!]
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4: 10 NIV
Blessings on your journey.
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