Differently

Every now and then I get bummed. Sometimes, I think about simply staying home all day, reading books or checking Facebook and Twitter. There’s enough information flying around that I know I could fill my time just fine.

When I first moved to Asheville, that’s just what I did. I had pushed myself too hard in Atlanta and I didn’t want to do the same thing here. However, I got bored. Like other people of faith, I am called to work for justice and peace in whatever way I’m able. These are important words for me to remember- “in whatever way I’m able. My brain injury has given me many limitations but this doesn’t give me a reason to avoid working to bring God’s reign in the world.

One caveat here though. Every person’s brain injury is different and comparing what I’m able to do with another brain injury survivor, is not possible. I know survivors who are unable to speak or unable to use their arms and legs. They have a call as well but it is different from mine.

Try harder or walk awayThe saying on the left does not exactly work for brain injury folks. If I simply walked away from something when it didn’t work, I would be walking away from things often. The statement needs to read “…choose whether to walk away or TRY SMARTER.” If doing something differently – perhaps even a couple of different ways – doesn’t work then walking away is an option.

For years I sat in the congregation at Grace Presbyterian Church and thought about singing in the choir.   Since I can no longer play violin, music has always been painful for me. Even though I sing, I wanted it to be with a group where the director knows how to rehearse which isn’t always the true in churches. At GCPC, this isn’t the case.

Finally three years ago, I decided to sing in the choir and it really touched on the musical parts of me that have been dormant. I love singing in the choir! However, I had to do things differently in order to participate. This meant not processing in with them because to do so meant standing in the narthex which is very noisy. I began staying in a room below the sanctuary and doing my “resting brain” thing until it was time to enter. Along with a couple other adjustments, this worked so instead of quitting, I worked “smarter.”

Of course I must always determine whether my adjustment affects the projects at hand in a negative way. In most situations, this isn’t the case. Usually it just involves me being different than others and I can live with that. However, I do try and make it clear that if someone has a problem with this, they should speak to me about it and not talk behind my back. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered folks like to talk behind people’s backs!  I’ve learned that’s their problem and not mine, although this is easier to write than to believe!

In order to participate in things, I also must determine if my adjustments are harder on me than necessary. I visited a man on death row for years in Atlanta and it was very hard for me. I’m glad I did this but in my current situation, I would not make the same choice.

If you have a brain injury, how do you work smarter and not harder? Even if you don’t have one, I’d be interested in your comments.

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