A Story of Courage

Recently, I received a message from Lisa, who I knew from my days as a student at Houghton College. Lisa said she would be more than happy for me to  share her story. As I learned more about her journey after graduation, her story really impacted me.

 

Lisa’s story is special, but I didn’t know how to write about it. I kept putting it off, reading more of her blog, etc. It finally dawned in me, I don’t think I can do her story justice.  Lisa has survived two brain aneurysms and extremely risky surgeries. It is a miracle she is alive today and now finds purpose in inspiring TBI (traumatic brain injury) survivors and others with her story. Given the injuries she sustained, there was a 1/10 of 1% of survival, yet she is here today.  You can read the details in her blog, www.walkingtalkingmiracle.blogspot.com, but for right now please just try to imagine with me.

Just Imagine…

Imagine while driving to work one day, a blood vessel in your brain suddenly bursts causing you to drive off a 60 feet embankment. You awake in a hospital not really knowing who you are. You are paralyzed. You recognize your husband, but can’t recall much of anything else. You slowly and painfully begin the process of healing, a process that begins with accepting that nothing will ever be the same. You have to relearn everything from how to talk to someone, how to check out at a grocery store, how to turn on an oven, and how to cross a road. Everything. The part of your brain responsible for doing things without conscious thinking is now damaged. Everything requires serious thought. It is exhausting. You have to begin rebuilding yourself, and figuring out who you are all over again. In a sense, you get to reborn, to live two lives.  Your recovery is is an uphill battle. You feel like you are constantly failing. You just want things to go back to normal.

Back to reality – Were you able to use your imagination to feel even a small amount of what she must have felt?  As impossible as it may be, we need to try, because the lessons she can teach us are invaluable.

Lisa is an inspiration and testament to the importance of faith, courage, and love. I think it is important for you to read / listen to her in her own words, but since she has been blogging for a while, I will share with you a few worthwhile lessons from my reading to help you get started. If you struggle in any of these areas, I encourage you to keep reading.

 Identity – You are not your brain.

Lisa wrote a moving post where she described a written message she received from her brain.  Her brain wrote to her, “don’t give up on me…I am here to help you.” It dawned on me, we are not our brains. Our brains work for us just like our legs do, but who we are is  totally different. It is beautiful and amazing, a bit of a mystery. Lisa’s experience of having everything stripped away, yet retaining and re-building her identify although foggy and elusive, shows that we are not our brains. We can build and re-build our identity. I love that. Have you thought of where you get your sense of self from? It’s a question with profound implications. Are you who you say you are, who others say you are, your achievements, or who God says you are?

Failure

In one of Lisa’s blog posts her friend told her that “failure does not make you a failure.” To fully know this to be true is one of the most important lessons in life. I hope you find a way to fully know this in your life.

Courage

Growth takes courage. That’s why growing up is so difficult. Lisa had to start again from zero at the age of twenty-five. That takes a lot of courage. I hope we can have faith that we will find the courage when we need it in life. To get a sense of the courage required, read this link where she documents her story at length.

Thankfulness

One of the recurring themes in Lisa’s blog is that of being blessed. She says she is a blessed girl. Life is a blessing.

Love and Commitment

I am talking about Lisa’s husband Nate here, although I am sure Lisa is equally full of love and commitment. So often we get caught up in just the romantic side of love. Her husband Nate has demonstrated real love through all these difficulties.

Lisa and Nate

Problem Solving

You have to be a problem solver to get through life. I really appreciate that Lisa’s talks about helping others overcome and solve problems whether it be memory, organization, or book to read. I find myself often complaining about not being able to focus, when what I should be doing is solving my focus problems.   Lisa is a problem solver who is helping others learn the right tools. Pretty awesome. I don’t really have that many excuses. Either do you.

I hope all of this has inspired you as it has inspired me. In a culture that is obsessed with celebrities, fame, and wealth, we need to lift up those among us who deserve to be emulated. In conclusion, here are a few of Lisa’s favorite quotes.

Quotes

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think……..But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” -Christopher Robin to Pooh

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“Every experience God gives us, every person he puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see.” -Corrie ten Boom

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ― Haruki Murakami

 

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