God’s Wisdom

I read a quote from Susan B. Anthony today. “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”  I really hope that I am following what God wants me to do and not only what I want.

It bothers me that I can no longer work as a minister but I still try to serve God as I can.  I used to be able to keep so much information in my head!  I was always running from one meeting to another and trying to be involved in many things.  Neurons in my brain were destroyed when I had my car accident and the neurons I have left, must work harder so being busy like that is no longer possible.

In fact things that most folks don’t even think about are difficult for me. Luncheons, meetings and driving somewhere new involves quite a bit of my brain function.  I have to attend to conversations while filtering out background noise and lights which really is more complicated than I realized. For this reason, I don’t do meetings or luncheons unless I believe they are absolutely necessary.    

Now it is a major thing when I go somewhere new.  This past week, there was a luncheon at a country club I really wanted to attend.  My husband Michael is really good with directions and I often rely on him for these. I know it drives him crazy when I ask him for directions all the time so I’ve tried to depend on my GPS or even ask other people. I also  keep a folder with all my directions in it so I check this as well. 

However sometimes my own worries get in the way of my good sense. That’s what happened this week.  To make it worse, Michael had a stressful week so he didn’t have much patience.  I was frantically trying to find a map (It doesn’t take much for me to get frantic anymore!) and so I asked him.  He became angry at me and then I lost it.  I slammed our front door as I went outside to his car to find it. I slammed the car door after I located it and for good measure, I slammed the door coming in. I can laugh at it now but it really was childish.  I have discovered that I seem to do more childish things now than before sustaining my brain injury.

While overwhelming, I really feel the things I did this week were what God wanted me to do. I know it pushed my limits and I plan to take it easy for a few days.  I pray that God will give me the wisdom to know if my thoughts are true or if I’m really fulfilling my own desires. 

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A year ago, I began serving on a team of people from three different faith communities helping a formerly homeless man named Bill, as he transitioned into housing. The picture on the left was taken at our final dinner of the year. (Two other members were not able to attend.) HOPE to HOME is a new program here in Asheville which is based on a more national model and I served on one of the first two pilot teams here.  The program has grown to the point where there are now ten teams with the hope it will grow even larger.

One of the main reasons folks become homeless is because they lack a support system.  If I lost my disability benefits and my husband died, I would definitely be in trouble.  However, I have family and friends who would help me so I wouldn’t have to live on the street. Many homeless folks do not have this type of support.  Homeward Bound, an agency here in Asheville, works to help people get into permanent housing.  The HOPE to HOME program supports their work by expanding on what they already do.

When I first got involved in the program, I wasn’t sure how much help I’d be.  My spatial orientation issues made taking Bill places difficult for me unless he is able to direct me.  I’m not much of a cook and my dog is pretty exuberant (I’m working on teaching him not to jump all over people when they come over) so inviting him over for dinner wasn’t an option.  I had hoped he would be able to work in the garden  with me at GCPC since he is a gardener but his health difficulties prevented this.  Due to these challenges, I was not able to support him as much as I’d hoped.

Yes, I did help Bill this year and it gave me a human face to put on poverty. During our last dinner, the director of the program led us in a debriefing exercise. We each were asked to select one questions from a hat.  Some of these questions were: What did you learn that you didn’t know before? Has your view on homelessness changed?  What did HOPE to HOME teach you about yourself? What’s the greatest accomplishment of the past year?

I grew from this experience as I think we all did in different ways.  Although every member of the group was not a Christian, the  Christian image of the body of Christ comes to mind.  I didn’t take Bill to many of his appointments and I didn’t help mend his clothes.  Yet I was part of the body.  I offered my caring and sensitive attitude and this was enough.

Prior to my brain injury, perhaps I would have been able to keep track of all Bill’s doctor’s appointments or take him where he needed to go without having to use a GPS. (Well, maybe not.  I’ve never had a good sense of direction) Yet I was part of a team where each person had different gifts.  We all worked together like the body of Christ.  This is something I am still trying to learn.  I can’t do everything.  In fact I may be able to do only a little part now but every part is important in the body of Christ.  Even if it’s just the big toe.   


There was an article in the Feb. 5 issue of the New York Times about using GPS devices.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/is-gps-all-in-our-head.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Is%20GPS%20All%20in%20Our%20Heads?%20Julia%20Frankenstein&st=cse  Julia Frankenstein  is a psychologist and begins the article by suggesting that folks probably ask themselves,  “What did we ever do before GPS?”   She suggests we stop using them for when  we do, we don’t work our brains.  She writes, “The psychologist Eleanor A. Maguire and her colleagues at University College London found that spatial experience actually changes brain structures.  As taxi drivers learned the spatial layout of London,… the areas of the brain integrating spatial memories – increased.”

 On many of my driving excursions, I use a GPS.  Since I have no spatial orientation at all, this helps me.  However, the way I learn new information is through “errorless learning.” ( Jan. 18, 2011) Prior to owning a GPS, I always wrote down directions and used them every time. I used them less and less until I felt confident.  Then I stopped using them completely. .  Every time I drive from the the doggie daycare to the Y, I use my GPS but yesterday I decided not to use it.  I got there just fine but I did have to pay attention to my surroundings instead of listening to a voice telling me where to turn. I was working the neurons in my brain which is what must be done to strengthen them.

This commentary reminded me to, as my husband says ,”be mindful of the tension between using compensatory strategies versus exercising our brains to learn new info.”  This is a tough balance for me especially with spatial orientation issues.  Prior to my TBI, my sense-of-direction was poor and  I was always lost.  However, the feeling is different now.  I become upset and enter into a trance-like state.  I’ve  learned to take a few deep breaths and stop to get myself together but it is a horrible feeling.  I almost always have written directions when I use the GPS.  However , this article reminded me that I need to push myself away from using the GPS.