NicoleNews

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Gradualists

Friday was a day of extremes. For Luella and Nicole in Philadelphia it was a very good day. There was a good report from the doctor and a time together at an outdoor restaurant. Saturday was a day for both Nikki and Luella to rest and recuperate. For me, Friday was a very hard day. I was in San Diego to speak at a conference. I not only love what I do, but I also have a deep sense of privilege that I have been called to do it. But Friday morning was different. There has never been a point in my travels when my mind was so completely pulled in two directions. It was a huge battle to focus on the day's schedule of speaking ( although I was excited with the opportunity). I wanted to be home. I wanted to make sure Nicole was transported from the house to the car safely. I wanted to make sure that her ride to the doctor was as comfortable as possible. I wanted to be with her and Luella as they listened to the report from the doctor. I would have loved to be with Nikki to enjoy her rare moment outside. And since I was not able to be with Nicole and Luella, I could not wait for a break in my schedule to call and see how their day was progressing. And of course, I was on pins and needles to hear the doctor's report. It was a schizophrenic day.

At the end of the day, it hit me again how radically our lives have changed. I was struck by how much my daily thoughts are consumed with Nicole's needs. It hit me that other things that would have been in the foregound of my thoughts, plans, and activity, have faded into the background. It impressed me that I have a daily set of habits that I did not have in the days preceding May 19th. I reflected on how much my conversations with Luella are dominated by Nicole's physical needs, her spirit at the moment, legal and medical issues, and things that we need to do to assist her in her recovery. And I was left wondering how long this new normal would be the daily normal in which we live.

I think we all tend to live as gradualists. We all tend to buy into the expectation that our lives will stay essentially the same and only become different through extended processes of change. Our marriages gradually mature. Our children gradually get older. We are gradually given more responsibility in our places of work. Gradually our children leave our homes and gradually establish homes of their own, as we gradually get older. But we have not been gauranteed that life will be a collection of easy-to-predict, gradual changes. In fact, in a broken world, where things don't quite operate as they were intended, there is a real possiblity that we will hit moments of crisis, where life radically changes in an instant. And in some situations of immediate change, life is never the same again.

As gradualists, we all slip into finding rest in the predictability of gradual change. But this is not a safe place to rest. In a moment, change can explode in on us in ways beyond our expection.

Our lives are different than they were before Nicole's accident and there is a way in which these differences have changed us as well. Yet there is one thing that has not changed. We run to God for strength, hope, and wisdom; the same place that we would have run on May 18th. There is a way in which we never were very good gradualists. Although we did enjoy the lethargy of predictable lives, deep down we knew that our hope must not be in our circumstances. Nicole's accident has reminded us again that our security must not come from the regularity of our daily situations and relationships, but from the One who is with us every moment, whether the moment is repetitive and mundane, or a moment of crisis and radical change.

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