October 18, 2018
Yesterday was difficult. I woke at up an ungodly hour and was overjoyed about the fact that I could move my foot. Pretty sure most of us have never even considered moving a limb or an appendage as something to even notice much less celebrate, but I did at 4:30 in the morning and woke the house up in the process. Later that day I saw my speech therapist, and as always she was encouraging even as she froze my face (I hate that part). Our good friends Dale and Donna stopped by a little later and as always, our time was much more than enjoyable. I wish I could say what followed next encouraged me… My occupational therapist is a no-nonsense, dedicated woman. Her goal is to see me well. I have had very little comeback in my left arm. It is exhausting trying to lift, and the fact that my fingers will not point outward or loosen their grip is frustrating at best. She scolded me a bit about the exercises which I have found to be hard to fit in. She encouraged me to recruit friends to come over for half an hour stints and help me meet my goals. I hate to say it, but I would probably do better with someone other than my wife pushing me. As she walked out the door to her next appointment, I sat there somewhat stunned and discouraged. Judy knew exactly what I was feeling (expected but welcomed after 34 years), and I started to break down. This was not what I expected. One of my worst faults is dealing with change. I hate it when things don’t go my way or the way I have planned. Later I sat and contemplated the events of the day and once again came to the conclusion that I need to change my perspective. Change the way I’m seeing. I need to see differently.
Last Sunday morning we were late for church which has become a common occurrence. Getting out of the house and into the car is a challenge. I hate being late (it falls within the “I hate to change range”), and as I was pushed into the auditorium, I realized that I could not see over the heads of other people. Never once have I thought about the perspective. I saw things I had never considered. Once again, I was seeing differently.
I am a very active person. One pastor I worked for described me a “squirrel on sugar water.” I move at a fast pace. I did not realize how much I was missing. My life revolves around my employment and my church which happily coincide. I didn’t know how much was going on around me, I needed to see beyond my usual parameters. I needed to see differently.
In the hospital, I had a couple of nurses that needed to talk and referred to me as Pastor Perry. In my pre-stroke life, this probably would not have happened. I was stuck in a bed, and they were caring for me rather than me caring for them. Most likely if I were facilitating a ministry, I would’ve been able to give them a few minutes of my time, but instead, I had a quality conversation that at least in one case created life change. I saw differently partly because I was sort of held captive, but the truth was, it was most likely a divine encounter.
We have lived in our house for 28 years. In that time most of our neighbors have stayed the same. We smile, wave when we are leaving, and stop and talk on occasion. During the few days I was home after the initial stroke we had to reach out to our neighbors for help. My first inclination was to ask the neighbors to the left of us because I felt that our neighbor next door would be able to pick me up off the floor. Instead, we had a small convention of neighbors who came in to help pick me up. I was very thankful that I was wearing clothes, but that goes back to an earlier conversation. That moment of crisis opened doors to those physically around us. People have come by and checked on us, brought food, and regularly have helped Judy put the wheelchair in the car. A few days ago, after going for a spin around the neighborhood, I had a chance to check in on one of my neighbors who is going through a difficult period in his life. On many occasions, I have said “come on over, and we can talk,” and nothing much changed. Somehow, my disability has caused our neighbors to see me differently. As of late, this friend and I have had a couple of deep conversations that probably would not have occurred and certainly would have been much shorter if I were able to stand up. My forced incarceration in this chair caused me to see and hear differently.
I went back and looked an earlier post I made that posed the question of whether or not God caused this. I am still confident that he did not. Have I learned through this? Beyond what I can imagine. Staying still and staying home even with my constant needs and demands have caused Judy and me to laugh more and to see things differently. I’m reading and learning from perspectives that I might not have paid attention to during my typical day, but assimilating knowledge that will help me in what I do when I do get back to work.
One of the weird aftermaths of the stroke has been a change in my vision. I’m not talking metaphorically here. I wear contacts for nearsightedness. They have not been in my eyes since August 25, yet I can see license plates across the street. My eyesight has reversed. I no longer see things quite so easily close-up and have reverted to having to wear reading glasses to magnify what I might not see nearby. I have friends that believe our world mirrors the spiritual world. In this case, I think I believe that it be true.
I am seeing differently.