Kip and I have had the privilege to speak to several groups since my book was released. This is such an honour for us yet we are amazed time and time again how much we gain from others.
One of the most common struggles expressed to us is also one of the hardest to cope with and it can silently hamper progress. It is called loneliness and it's so painful for those who experience a sudden, acquired disability. Not only does the disability change their world, it also changes the world around them. Suddenly, they can no longer participate in events that wove into the very fabric of their lives. Suddenly, they are dealing with limitations they never imagined and the world they knew so well shrinks enormously.
I remember those earlier years when my newly acquired brain injury settled in and shrunk my world. In fact, I devoted an entire chapter in my book to the impact loneliness had on me. This is what I wrote:
"God knew I was a social butterfly. He knows I still am. He's moulded that personality into who I am. I pondered over how I was going to overcome these times of loneliness. My heart pleaded with my emotions, begging me to participate in events as they arose. I felt as thought I was caught in the middle of a tug of war, my heart and emotions craving to join the fun, my brain and disability stating bluntly that I could not." (Worthy In His Eyes: Part Three, Chapter 5, p. 80)
I knew I needed to proactively seek ways to overcome loneliness. I'm not going to tell you it was easy...it was a constant, ever-changing, frustrating and often exhausting task which I could not do alone. I am so grateful for God's Word and how He speaks to my heart, when I listen. I went to Him, asking for guidance. Through the ensuing weeks, months and years, I tested many areas tucking away the successful efforts and discarding the unsuccessful.
I continued to search for alternatives, and still do. God is teaching me really neat ways to adapt...but it's crucial for me to listen to His guidance and pay attention to my abilities and challenges. There are things I won't be able to do again but gradual acceptance has greatly reduced that frustration. "Time" is a good friend and weeding out the possible from the impossible does become clearer.
Asking God for help with this enormous challenge will change your life. Turn to Him first and He will help to lighten your pathway, offering hope for the future. He will oversee each step and when something doesn't work out, lift it up to Him...then..... let it go. You will be amazed at what He has waiting for you around the bend.
KEYWORD: LONELINESS (What ideas would help combat feelings of isolation or loneliness? ie: Invitation to a wedding.....Attend the wedding, but if it's too much, forego the reception or go just for a short while (be sure to mention that on the RSVP....folks will be grateful if you do).
"The END of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride."
(Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV)
P.S. For those who know someone with a disability, your encouragement through a note, a phone call or a cup of tea would undoubtedly make their day! If they can't come to you...go to them. I have no doubt that your own day would be enriched as well.
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