September 25, 2018
Exactly one month ago I was standing around talking to all these people pictured. It was both a happy and sad reunion of many friends from our high school youth group. We gathered together to say goodbye to one of our own who passed away a week earlier. Most of us hadn’t seen each other in a very long time. Little did I know that less than 10 minutes after this photo was taken that I would lose complete control of my left side. God was very gracious to us and we were able to get to the hospital in record time. I was calm most of that initial experience. It wasn’t until late that night that the gravity of the situation hit me as I laid in a hospital bed and I cried.
The past 30 days or so have been like the memorial we had attended the day this happened. It has been both sad and joyful. For the most part, once I accepted the idea that it was simply going to take a long time and was going to require much of both Judy and me, my attitude has been relatively good. Am I anxious? Absolutely. Am I hopeful? Definitely. Do I have spells of depression? Yes. Do I believe that God has this? No question.
Some people have asked me “What do you think God is trying to teach you by this?” My response has been that I am learning a lot by the experience but I in no way believe that God caused this to happen. We live in a fallen, broken world and our bodies simply break down. There are lessons to be learned and for me, most of them have been spiritual. I try to see what the possibilities are in any situation. The neuropsychologist I have been seeing warned me that I should not be in a counseling situation with people from church. Basically, he was telling me don’t get in a situation where you’re having a listen to people because you’re possibly emotionally unstable. The funny thing is, the people I did spend time listening to were not from our church or from my friend groups, but from people on the hospital staff. I got known around the rehab as Pastor Perry and had numerous conversations that led to Jesus. Honestly, I don’t think I could have avoided any of them and I’m glad it did not.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that I have amazing friends and am reaping the rewards of investing in people. This is something that I tried to avoid when I was in high school and early college until the Lord grabbed hold of me and showed me that I needed to take the risk of loving people even though they may leave (I moved around a lot as a child). I learned that lesson on a trip to Australia back in 1980 when all my fellow teammates were saying goodbye to the people we spent a month with, and I was simply looking forward to going home and was glad that I was not crying and saying goodbye to people I’d never see again. That experience changed my life. It was one of many moments that I’m reflecting on now and seeing how God moved me from one place to another for his purposes.