This is my second post on two different sermons I heard last week on Matthew 14:22-23 (see “Water Walk on August 8). Mark Ramsey, the Pastor at Grace Covenant Presbyterian, preached this one and like Ken’s, I found ways it applied to me as a TBI survivor. Mark said,”But while he was praying, the wind came up and waves began to batter the disciple’s boat. Whatever you believe about the rest of this story, surely you can believe this part: the wind was against them.”
As a TBI survivor, the wind is against me. It’s against me when I get lost all the time. (spatial orientation) It’s against me when I have difficulty organizing my thoughts. It’s against me when I get overstimulated from the various sounds around me. It’s against all of us but we find ways to push against this wind.
I think of an experience that happened at an brain injury support group in Atlanta of which I was a part. The group consisted of survivors and their supporters. On one evening we were talking about a difficult situation occurring in the Georgia Brian Injury Association. Some of us had strong feelings and it got pretty tense. Suddenly, Brian shouted “Stop.” Now Brian uses a wheel chair and has great difficulty speaking but everyone quieted down to hear what he had to say. With great difficulty he continued. “We’re all on the same side!” After he spoke, no one said a word because everyone knew he was right.
If we are going to push against the wind, we need each other. That’s why being around other brain injury survivors is important. We can understand what the other is going through. We started a support group here in Asheville called “Brainstormers” because we needed a place where we could share our struggles together and give each other support. There is another support group here but it has a different focus. Unfortunately, we havn’t been able to keep it going but I don’t want to give up on it yet. I’m going to try and find someone who can work with me to push against the wind.
Mark also said, “In this story it was not the storm that sank Peter. It was fear and his inability to believe in the sustaining presence and power of God in the midst of the storm” Fear encapsulates a lot of things with worry and distress among them. I worried when I went to the rally downtown on Wednesday. I worried about parking so I took the bus. I used to take public transportation in Atlanta when I couldn’t drive. I always wrote my bus numbers and stop times on a little piece of paper because I couldn’t remember them. I saved each piece of paper so I could use it again when I needed to take the same trip over which was often.
On Wednesday, I used an umbrella to shield me from the hot sun as I waited for the bus. I shared it with another woman and was remind again how hard it is not to have a car in Asheville. In the process of paying my fare and putting down my umbrella, I lost the little piece of paper which told me how to get to the rally. When I got to the bus station, all I could remember was I needed to get to Pritchard Park. When I arrived there, I discovered it was at Pack square. At least I had the “P” right! So I got directions to Pack Square and arrived only a little late.
All the stimulation of taking the bus, trying to focus on the speakers and standing in the hot sun overloaded me cognitively and I needed to “rest by brain.” So the next morning, I swam hard laps. I usually take a high intensity water aerobics class but I didn’t need to focus on an instructor or try to listen to her with all the noise from a children’s class on the other side of the pool. Swimming laps and praying later, allowed me to “rest my brain” so that I could continue pushing against the wind.
Mark also said, “Faith is not the absence of fear (or worry and distress) but courage to walk through the fear and take the hand that is offered. To be courageous is not to be fearless; it is to be able to act in spite of fear.” We need others in order to push against the wind.
With all your challenges, how do you push against the wind? Do you have support networks? I would like for this blog to be a place where brain injury survivors can share their struggles. If you have a comment, see the directions on commenting above right. Due to technical difficulties, I am unable to respond here but I read every one. Hopefully, I’ll fix this soon. Feel free to comment directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org