This sounds crazy doesn't it? Well it's true.
Caveat… if I could stay the person that I am now (emotionally, spiritually, relationally, honesty-wise, integrity-wise) and have full use of my body, I would move heaven and earth and spend every last dime to do it. But my fear is, if I was back to the old guy when it comes to my body, I may go back to the old guy when it comes everything else. And I would never want to do that.
Before I was in a wheelchair, I would look at people in wheelchairs (especially people in power chairs) and I would think to myself, "weird… they look so unnatural. Are they on life support? Do they have tubes hooked into their body? I bet they smell weird. I bet they hate their life. I sure would. I bet they're miserable. I bet they're on the verge of crying right now."
I think this is one of the reasons that a paralyzed person has such a hard time adjusting. They take on all the things that they thought about disabled people before they became disabled themselves. In my case, I was taking on a lot of presuppositions. Mind accident was in January of 2007.
But then came a monumental day. January 29, 2009, I went to a Chris Tomlin concert with a buddy at the VanAndel arena here in Grand Rapids. As we we were leaving, I was weaving my way through the packed lobby. People would look at me, and hop out of the way. Kids would stare. Adults would avoid eye contact. But past all of that, I realized that I would rather beme than be in any of the other people there.
What a revelation. It was a breath of fresh air. Even after everything I had been through, I still wanted to be me. It felt pretty badass. That goes for anyone reading this. I would rather be me than be you. This meant that I didn't have to feel like half of a person… A second class citizen… A little shriveled up guy in the corner.
So… with that day began the beginning of a new perspective, I have learned lots of reasons why I'm glad I'm in a wheelchair. Reason number one…
I am much more of a present person in a wheelchair.
My personality lends itself to dreaming. to always thinking about what's next... to always thinking about the next big challenge. There is certainly nothing wrong with this. Throughout history, great people have done great things because of great dreams. But very often those great people weren't very good spouses, friends, and parents. Very often, those great people didn't appreciate or enjoy the simple pleasures in life, the things right in front of their faces.
Since I have been in a wheelchair, I have been forced to be much more present person. I go to the office at Crossroads Bible Church work one or two days a week, but the rest of the week I work from home. This has the effect of making me know what's going on at home more. I know the kids friends better. I know what is malfunctioning with the house sooner. I enjoy the simple pleasures of our home more... the artwork in my office. the view from our back deck. The fact that coffee on the front patio in the morning, phone calls in the afternoon on the side patio, and wine and cheese in the evening on the back deck with friends is a great way to spend a day.
I know Michigan trees a lot better. I know the difference between a red maple and a silver maple.
I love gardening. Although my first shot at a container garden on the back deck was a disaster this year (because of powder mildew), I'm going to give it another shot next year. I know the difference between how tomato plants pollinate and squash plants pollinate. I've spent more than a half hour at a time watching insects fly around my plants and wondering why there are no honey bees (this is an actual real crisis if you didn't know) I know that at 11:00a.m. In June there is always a hot sun on the container garden. At 11:00 AM in late September the sun doesn't make it above the tall trees in my backyard to put any sun on the container garden at all. (this is an astronomy issue) which leads me to…
I have viewed Saturn from our telescope here at home in the middle of a blisteringly cold January night because that was the best time of the year you could view it..
Basically… I have had to slow down... and have in turn learned to love the world around me so much more. I think this honors God.
But even more honoring to God is the way that I have gotten to engage my family better.
I am much more tuned in to my youngest sons struggle against Pride in struggle against dishonesty. The reason why is I have learned to do less and observe more. Shelly and I have now put a sheet on the headboard of his bed that says "Ephram: Man of Character" it has five little icons that represent talks with God, Loves Jesus, helps others, uses good manners, and respects other people and their things things. He goes to sleep underneath this little sign every night. He can quote these to you at the drop of a hat. Although this doesn't guarantee who he will become, It makes the expectation pretty clear...