Yesterday marked the end of our three-year tenure at Ascent Apartments and the beginning of our new life as condo owners. Well, not really. We did move out of our apartment, but we won’t move into our condo until November since it’s under construction. Until then, we’re back living with my ever-gracious parents.
We’ve spent roughly 20% of our five-year marriage living with my family. Most Millennials would consider this decidedly weird (if not undesirable). Most parents would expect their married children to solve their problems on their own. But God’s used my accident to modify our preferences about most aspects of life, and I’m grateful for a family who’s willing to bridge the gap between the end of our lease and the closing date on our condo.
Moving back in with my parents isn’t the only thing that’s caused me to reflect on our lives since the accident. Ivan mentioned in his last post that I was struggling with too many TBI symptoms to spend time on the blog. This was all too true. My “normal day” is streamlined for my brain to navigate as optimally as possible: I follow a detailed schedule from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed, generally do the same activities on the same days each week, and work on school assignments long before they’re due. I keep all my things in the same places around the house, and put everything back as soon as I’m finished. As long as nothing changes in any part of my routine, I function like a normal person (usually).
And then we started planning our move.
Ivan did his best to preserve some semblance of my “normal day,” but that became more difficult as time passed. It wasn’t long before my old traumatic brain injury symptoms started to resurface. While I have occasional mild “episodes” when I encounter an unexpected or open-ended situation in daily life, these are so few and far between that we often forget I have any deficits at all. Now that daily life had become a TBI trigger, Ivan and I were faced with the uncomfortable truth about how much of my brain injury I carry with me. Praise God that we’ve found a way to camouflage it most of the time, but it’s still very much there.
But this post isn’t meant to be a rehashing of my old injury. Instead, it’s a testimony to what God made possible through Ivan’s commitment to honor Him. As much as Ivan understands my disabilities, I know that living with someone whose mental age can change on a dime – or who can panic and not even know why – tests the limits of even the most committed spouse. No one can be “emotionally bulletproof” (to borrow Ivan’s analogy) all the time. But I also know that in spite of the relational and logistical odds against him, Ivan got us moved without losing control of his temper. I’m sure that if the roles were reversed, I’d have lost mine regularly. Whenever I asked Ivan why – or how – he was so patient with me, he’d remind me that God has been even more patient with him.
It would be easy to pass this off as a heartwarming anecdote about how remarkable Ivan is, but I’d like to suggest that this kind of patience is available to all of us. Yes, some people are definitely more naturally patient than others. (I would fall more on the “impatient” side.) Some people are also more forgiving and understanding than others. But no one, no matter how nice they are, is naturally patient and forgiving and supportive every single day…while doing a ridiculous amount of manual labor…while the person they’re forgiving and supporting does almost nothing. (Ivan was the packer-in-chief since I only have one good hand). That kind of patience is supernatural.
Watching Ivan succeed at the humanly impossible this past month has challenged me to reexamine my own approach to following God. I often enter a situation with good intentions, but my efforts fall short because I try to accomplish them in my own strength. Rather than making myself the judge of a given situation, I should consider things from God’s point of view and ask for His help to overcome the selfish reactions that are ready to surface at any moment.
Like Ivan told me, God has shown all of us far more patience than we’ll ever be called to show another person. Even better, God understands our human limitations and gives us more than enough grace to share with others – no matter how challenging our circumstances. 2 Cor. 8: 9 has been one of my favorite verses since I was a freshman in college, but it’s become even more vivid this past month: “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”