Throughout our lives, when presented with challenges or placed in tough circumstances, we are repeatedly given opportunities to make a decision. Many of these decisions aren't easy ones. And many times, what we decide can have a huge impact on how the way our lives play out. After sustaining my traumatic brain injury, I was at the crossroads of one of these difficult, life-altering decisions.
It was a decision my doctors told me I would have to make, and at the time, it didn't seem like that big of one. I had to choose whether to survive or thrive. I always thought they, essentially, meant the same thing. I never realized the dramatic difference between the two until I pulled out a dictionary and looked up their definitions. (Okay, if I am being completely honest, I went to dictionary.com!)
To survive means to remain in existence. To thrive means to grow and progress despite or because of circumstances. Following my severe TBI, I was fortunate to have the ability to make my own decisions. Once I grasped the stark contrast between the two, I knew the one I chose would have enormous implications on my life. I picked the latter and this turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made!
I often ask myself "What does it mean to thrive in my current situation?" To be honest, I am not exactly sure what this all entails but I am committed to figuring it out. So far, I have figured out that part of thriving includes focusing on what I still have and what I have been given. I think it also includes being the best husband, father, and friend I can be. And it includes using my new strengths and new passions to share Jesus with others.
Choosing to thrive, and not simply survive, is a decision I must make daily. This is where I see similarities with thriving and my new outlook on following Jesus. I now understand that following Jesus is a daily decision. I must choose every day whether to live for Him or myself.
Neither deciding to thrive or following Jesus can be something I choose one day and forget the next. Both require a steadfast and daily commitment to making the right choice. And the closer I can get to making the right ones everyday, the closer I will be to true happiness and fulfillment.
I am not going to pretend I have all the answers on how to thrive with a brain injury. But I know it is possible. And I know that for me it is only possible when Jesus, and not me, is at the center of my life.