“O God, our help in ages past, / Our hope for years to come, / Our shelter from the stormy blast, / And our eternal home!”

It’s been a year.

I started off the year with amnesia. (One of the medications I was given before my hand surgery had the side effect of forward amnesia for ~24 hours. I remember being in the recovery room, then about 15 minutes when I was at home. The next day, I didn’t remember anything else that had happened. Funny way to start out the year.)

Then my next challenge was eating soup with my non-dominant hand. I had to become somewhat ambidextrous quickly.

Like 2017, I spent the first few months of 2018 in rehab, trying to gain back the functioning of one of my joints. However, this recovery was infinitely less difficult than the previous year. Things starting looking up as I finished out my undergrad experience.

Then I got sick. And a few months later, I realized that the issue was here to stay. Thank you, POTS. At the end of 2018, I still feel inadequate in managing these new symptoms of my autonomic nervous system. (It’s hard to control the functions that your body is supposed to perform naturally.)

2019 will not be without its challenges. I’ve seen my shoulder surgeon again to discuss operating on my other shoulder. TBD whether or not this occurs in 2019. And I’m sure I’ll develop new symptoms, as I have each year for the past few years.

But I am truly looking forward to this new year. Here’s why.

As I begin my second semester in my Master of Social Work program, I’ll begin an internship that will continue at this site until I graduate. I can’t wait to start working with the Alabama Head Injury Foundation!

This organization provides services to traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients and acquired brain injury (ABI) patients throughout the state. From AHIF’s website:

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  TBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the
head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the
brain. A rapid acceleration or deceleration of the head, which can force the
brain to move back and forth inside the skull, can also cause TBI. The stress from these rapid movements pull apart nerve fibers and cause damage to the brain tissue.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).  ABI is an injury to the brain that has
occurred after birth and is not hereditary, congenital or degenerative. ABI
takes place at the cellular level within the brain; most symptoms of ABIs are
very similar to those of TBIs.

The people I’ll have the privilege of working with have experienced injuries that have altered not only their daily routines but also the courses of their lives. They have most likely experienced grief over the loss of particular abilities and the normalcy of their lives before obtaining injuries. They likely become frustrated each time they desire to perform a task that their bodies prohibit them from performing. They are likely seeking hope in situations that probably feel hopeless.

In addition to getting to know these inspiring men, women, and children, I am excited to work with these patients because of my ability to empathize with parts of their situations. As I learn how to support these individuals, I believe that God will be redeeming my own story.

In my first semester in this grad program, the LORD taught me, through my professors and mentors, that I don’t have to share my own story in order for the LORD to redeem it. Part of the redemption of my story is the absorption of my own story into God’s overarching story of redemption of His people; elements of my own story (i.e. being spiritually disabled, grace enabled) can point to the ultimate hope we have for ultimate redemption, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I can imagine no greater privilege than for my story to be used in this way.

I recently listened to the English translation of an Advent sermon Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached on Luke 21. In verses 27 and 28, Jesus proclaims, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Bonhoeffer describes the waiting believers experience until Jesus’ return:

Think of a hospital where a patient lies, suffering from an incurable disease, in agony with indescribable pain, dying slowly and slowly longing for the peace of death to end this plague. And now one day, the doctor comes to the patient and says with confidence, “Today you will be released. Your terminal illness will be healed. Lift up your head, and be delivered from your pain.”

Even if my redemption doesn’t come with complete physical healing in this lifetime, my redemption is coming with Christ, as He enters our realm once more to set an end to death and mourning and crying and pain.

In this coming season, I can’t wait to watch God work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).


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