I am looking forward to the special sharing service at our church tonight. There will be two worship sets of four songs each, with an open mic opportunity for individuals to stand before the congregation and say what they are thankful for.
In past years, there would be little chance that I would even be there, much less, opening up publicly in front of all those people. Not because it is one of the biggest party nights of the year, because I haven't really partied in years, but because it would be an understatement to say that I don't feel comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people (although I am OK singing in front of crowds, but that story is for another day).
This year, however, I feel compelled to give praise where praise is do and try to pass on the understanding and enlightenment that I have learned from my experiences over the past year to anyone else who will listen. I see it going something like this:
I am thankful that I had a stroke. I know that may sound a little strange as I could be thankful for so many other things like that I have had such a remarkable recovery and, although it was hard, I am here and I can walk and talk and do most anything that I could do before. I could be thankful that I have such an wonderful wife and awesome son or that we are going to have another little miracle in February and we are all happy and healthy for the most part. I could be thankful that I have family and so many, many friends that love and care for us and a decent enough job in these tough economic times that we can have all that we need and most of what we want. I could be thankful, as well, for hundreds of other things as little as the ability to play RockBand and as big as the giant hugs from my best buddy in the whole world.
Don't get me wrong... I am so very thankful for all of these things, no matter how big or small, but if it wasn't for that short time last November that I was sure that I had lost so many of the things that we daily take for granted, I wouldn't be up here thanking God for all that he has given me. To be perfectly honest, I would be sitting out there half-listening to someone else share and partly thinking about why turkey makes you so sleepy or what tight-end to start on my fantasy football team tomorrow or where I am going to find a Wii before Christmas.
I know this because last year I had just as much, if not more, to be thankful for. As far as I knew, I was on top of the world and everything was going great until a minuscule little piece of plaque became lodged in a blood vessel in my brain. I discovered that everything I had learned about control in my life was wrong because, before that moment, I thought that I was in control. From that point on, however, I didn't matter how strong I was, how smart I was, how determined I was or even how lucky I was, I knew that I was in control of nothing.
Nothing I did made a difference of how quickly I was going to be able to do all those things I had been taking for granted for so long-- and I tried just about everything. Although we saw a little bit of progress with the rehabilitation almost every day, there were a few weeks of frustration before, with a broken spirit, I gave up on myself and gave it all to God.
What took me so long? Stubbornness, pride, ignorance... all of the things that I had thought made me tough and gave me good character. I don't know for sure but I suppose I liked myself pretty much before the event and, honestly, didn't know that I was going about a lot of things in the wrong way.
I know that God doesn't give us anything we cannot handle. I know that what doesn't kills us will make us stronger. I know that God loves us, wants the best for us and that we should give all of our problems to Him. I know, even though I do not totally understand how, His grace transcends all worldly things. It just took a massive brain injury for me to truly understand what all of this meant-- God is in control and the more we fight that fact or try to take control from Him, the harder and more painful it is going to be.
I would not wish what I went through an anyone else but I think it was the most sincere learning experience in my whole life and I am truly a better person for it as I have three new Ps-- new perspective, new priorities and new passion. I hope that you too can find your little stroke that helps you see what we should be thankful for.