For those of you who may not know, my life has CHANGED.
I used to feel invincible. I used to be able to rely on myself. I used to be unaware of my pride. I used to feel as if nothing was impossible for me.
It was nine months ago TODAY that I was in a terrible motorcycle accident that has left me with constant pain, a heavy limp, an irreparable PCL knee ligament, an unstable knee joint, nerve damage, a destroyed, repaired, and now fused hip socket, and severely limited mobility.
Before the accident, I was an avid backpacker, hiker, fourteener explorer, camper, mountain biker, rock climber, snowboarder, and soccer player. I don’t know if a day will come that I will ever be physically able to do these things again.
But I have learned a few things along this undesired and definitely unexpected path. I know that God is still God. My wife still needs her husband. My kids still need their Dad. And teenagers in Denver still need someone to connect them to Jesus. Here are just a few of the other lessons I’ve learned along this challenging and difficult journey:
Faith Is The Ability To Trust God When You Can’t Trust God.
The lyrics to an old gospel song, “when you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart” have been in my head and heart through these trying months. As Philip Yancey writes in his book “Disappointment with God,” the true test of Job was whether or not he would still love God even in the middle of the chaos and pain. Faith is not a casual belief in something you are already convinced of. No! Faith is holding onto something you can’t prove, verify, or even at times… TRUST. This is the furnace in which true, unwavering, unshakable faith is forged.
Everything In This Life Comes to Pass
Luke 2:1 tells us that, “it came to pass.” God desires to see how we handle these trying circumstances as they pass us. They aren’t permanent. They aren’t forever (even though it seems like it!) The truth is everything is in a continual state of change. In reality, the only constant IS CHANGE. Give it enough time, and it WILL pass. I have learned, no matter what it is, to continually fight to remind my soul, “This TOO shall pass.”
Perspective Is Everything
I must admit that I continually agonize over the loss of many of the skills and abilities I used to take for granted before my accident. There are MANY things I may never be able to participate in again. Jogging is painful. Hiking is a hefty challenge. Cleaning the garage is thoroughly EXHAUSTING. I CAN’T get my shoes on by myself. My handicapped parking permit is PERMANENT. Snowboarding is out of the question. Yes, this is ALL true. Nevertheless I also have a family who loves me. I work at a church that backs and supports me. I have a job that I LOVE. Even on my worst days, I STILL HAVE COUNTLESS THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR. It is these positives – the countless blessings – that the apostle Paul was referring to when he instructed the Christians at Philippi, to “think about such things.” I am attempting to do likewise.
In The Darkest Moments Of Life, A Good Friend Is More Valuable than Gold.
In all of his wisdom, King Solomon spoke of the comradeship, kinship, and deep support that come from friendship. “But pity the man who has no one to help him up… A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Thanks to my Mom & Pop, Lori Fox, Scott Nockels, Brian Kinney, James Shackelford, Justus Vaccaro, Jack Gelley, Pastor John Leach and my hero and consummate partner through this life – my amazing wife Holly. Without you, I honestly don’t know if I could have ever made it through those darkest moments of my soul.
The Mind Is A Powerful Friend or Foe.
I would like to say that in the midst of terrible physical struggles, I have steadfastly remained positive and uplifting in my mental outlook of the future. The truth is, there have been many, many, many days that I feel defeated, discouraged, depressed, dark, despondent (ok, enough of the “D” words), beaten down, hopeless, overrun, overwhelmed, and overcome. I want to “throw in the towel,” so to speak and just crawl under a blanket and forget the world. I have experienced times so dark that I could almost feel the cloud of despair surrounding my soul. I have heard the distant whisperings of my heart telling me it was not worth going on, that it would be better for me to end it all and take the easy way out of the pain and trials I have endured. Though these times, I have learned that my mental choices determine whether these moments will last a few minutes, a few days, or more. Whether I think I can, or I think I cannot, I have found that either way I have been right. Though I haven’t always prevailed with right thinking, as any good boxing referee knows, “you ain’t out until you stop getting back up!” I’m STILL choosing to “GET BACK UP.”
I Am Content.
Philippians 4:12,13… “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Yes, there are still many moments in my life that this is more of a “faith statement” than truth of belief, but I continue to strive for this fruit to be alive and active in me. For, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
Don’t Take Stuff For Granted.
I understand that the phraseology of this point may seem vague to some, but I have learned that EVERYTHING is precious. Who knows when you will no longer have your sight, or touch, or your favorite activities, or the enjoyment of that perfect couch, or contentment with those who are closest to you? Be grateful for everything. ENJOY. DELIGHT. EMBRACE. TREASURE. For tomorrow they may be gone.
Despite Our Circumstances, The Calling Does Not Change.
I am of the strong opinion that the event of November 26, 2008, and the following months of recovering did not take God by surprise. Even in the midst of what I consider a truly challenging, compromised level of the life compared to what I used to live, I am still held accountable before God to fulfill His divine and distinct calling and purpose for my life. It was Gandolf in Lord of the Rings who called out the true nature of one who was born for greatness. “Leave behind the ranger. BECOME who you were BORN to BE!” Each of us has a calling upon our lives. It is not by accident or mistake. God does not pass out exceptions for tough times or mulligans for bumpy roads. HIS CALLING REMAINS. SO MUST I.
If you have found this blog entry to be helpful to you, I welcome you to listen to a message I shared months ago as I began this long slow road towards recovery. It is entitled, “Finding Hope In The Brokenness.” You can download it for free at iTunes, search “The Red Experience.” Thank you.