Like most everyone else, I'd always depended on my brain to learn. But on May 3rd, 2012, my brain was damaged beyond repair. So I figured, for the most part, my days of learning were behind me. I couldn't have been more wrong. They were far from over.
But the way I started learning was way different than how I'd learned in the past. It didn't involve staying up all night memorizing pages of notes and random facts so I could get a good grade on the next day's test. It didn't depend solely on my "brain power." It was dependent and made possible only because God had changed my heart. This is something for which I'll be forever grateful because there was still so much I needed to learn! (and much I needed to unlearn as well)
1. God can make us "strong in our weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9).
I'd spent the majority of my life trying to do things on my own power, in particular my brain power. When much of this was taken from me, it was replaced by something much greater. In it's place I received a changed heart which has given me more strength than I'd ever been able to gain on my own
2. Life is short.
It really is a simple message but I'd never realized how true it was until I almost lost mine. Since then, I've been trying to treat everyday like it could be my last.
3. Actions speak louder than words.
I'm learning I need to make sure what I'm doing matches what I am saying, because if it doesn't, I lose a lot of credibility. And when this happens, my chances of having any sort of impact on those who are listening to me are greatly diminished.
4. Jesus came to give us life, both here on this Earth and life everlasting
I always focused more on Jesus coming to give us eternal life but I've learned he also came to give us life, here on Earth, RIGHT NOW!
5. Treat people like "people," not as projects,
As Christians, we are called to treat others with love, kindness, and respect, to display the love of Jesus in everything we say AND do. Or to put it another way, we are here to serve people, not save them.
6. I learned to stop asking the question “why me” and began asking, instead, “why not me.”
God used my wife, Jacqui, to teach me this valuable lesson. When I was still laying in the hospital and my future prognosis didn't look promising, people would tell her they didn't understand why this had happened to us. That it didn't make any sense. And she would respond by saying "Why not us?" She understood God was in control of the situation and knew He could somehow use what we were going through, and whatever happened as a result, for his purpose, and ultimately for good. Her faith in the midst of uncertainty was instrumental in my learning to be confident in God's plans, even when I have no idea what he's up to.
7. God gives us ALL a story to tell and our stories are one of the instruments He wants to use for his purposes.
I used to complain that I didn’t have a story to tell, or at least the kind that could impact others. I now realize my thinking was wrong, because we all have one and he wants us to tell ours.
8. We were not created to do life on our own.
As a result of my brain injury, I could no longer do many things in the same way I had prior, so I started using a lot of new tools to help me function in my daily, everyday, routine life. But I also learned how to accept help from others. And most importantly, I learned to accept God’s help, a lovingly patient God who had been there all along just waiting for me to give up on trying to do it all myself.
9. Don’t judge where someone's at because you don’t know where they started.
As I'm learning this, I'm becoming less judgmental over how someone is living their life. I have a long way to go on this one, but I know how important it is if I want to relate to and help the many different people who are all at different places in their lives.
10. It is important to regularly check our list of priorities, making changes to the order if necessary.
This was something I had to do almost immediately following my brain injury because I could no longer do all the things I'd done previously. I had to figure out what I could still do, decide which ones were most important, and place my focus on these. This process involved saying "no" to a lot of "good" things because it was only then I could say "yes" to some of the "great."