The presbytery meeting vote came out the way I had hoped with a vote of 143-99. I made a short statement which turned out to be a 1 1/2 minute sermon. We voted on this same issue two years ago and I spoke then. I was stressed and vowed I would not speak this year because of this. However, when I attended a meeting of those working for it’s passage, I discovered no one planned to express my thoughts. So I decided to go through the stress again.
Unlike many brain injury survivors, I am able to do most of the things I did before. I have to do things differently and this does frustrate me. For example, I get overstimulated very easily now. Too much light, sound and things I never thought about before, can overwhelm me. I don’t go to malls now except to run into one store that I know how to get to. Spatial orientation (sense of direction) is a huge issue for me and I can’t count how many malls I tried going to when I lived in Atlanta but I got lost and/or overstimulated in every one.
At this point, it’s important for me to say that everyone with a brain injury is different. Some folks must use a wheel chair, others cannot speak and still others have vision difficulties. Some folks can handle a lot of noise and others don’t get lost very often. I remember going to a party for brain injury survivors in Atlanta and others could handle the music. It drove me crazy and I had to keep leaving the room to get out of the noise. It’s best to treat everyone who has a brain injury as the individual people we are. Don’t assume we are all the same because we are very different. This is important to remember for anyone with a disability. For example, all folks with visual impairments are not alike.
I’ve always liked to preach. Even now, I enjoy it. When I was an associate pastor in the church, I didn’t preach often and it took me forever to write a sermon. Sometimes, I would practice and practice so I could say everything just right. Even though a sermon is not a performance, my performance background helped me immensely. So of course, I practiced my sermon relentlessly. Other preachers told me that with experience it gets easier and one gets into a “groove.” I decided to seek another call where I could preach more and have a chance to get into this “groove.” I had applied to several other churches and even had a couple of interviews right before my accident. My husband had to field several phone calls from churches interested in me while I was still in the hospital.
So I will never know what it is like to get into a “groove.” I’ll never know if I was capable of preaching on a regular basis. This is a loss and my little presbytery speech put this to the forefront again. In spite of the stress of my speech, I’m glad I did it. I struggle with what this all means. I think I will speak for certain things, knowing that I’ll have to put everything in place in order to do it. For example, I didn’t attend the full presbytery meeting because I knew I would be overstimulated. Since driving on the highway is still a challenge, I arranged for someone to take me there. I’ve always had trouble asking for help but now in order to function, I must do this.
I’m interested in any thoughts you might have. If you are a brain injury survivor, what things are different about you now? Do you grieve your losses? Do you have difficulty asking for help? Even if you’re not a survivor, feel free to comment.