ROADS NOT TAKEN?
Not too long ago, I was asked by a friend, “If you had the chance to do your life over, would you take that opportunity?” I said, “Oh, gee, let me think…NO!!”
Then, not two days later, another friend asked: did I regret the brain injury that caused me to loose my ability to remain an RN?
There are many events in my life that I might wish away, that I would desire to do over, or, that I would love to do better were I given a choice:
The second grade teacher that rang a 10 inch ding dong school bell to get our attention—as she stood by my desk—and my ear—usually.
My first football injury at age 12 that began a never-ending problem with chronic dislocation of my right knee, which resulted in two surgeries and a colossal 12 inch scar overlaid with a smaller 8 inch scar.
That time I threw up in front of the entire class on a field trip to the County fair.
Having to wear cat’s eye glasses because that’s all that was available.
The time I wanted to hug my brother before church because he looked so cute—but he didn’t want said hug, backed up, and fell down an entire flight of steps. I thought I had killed him. I’d never seen anybody fall that far!
As a sixteen year old, not letting my six year old sister wear my high heels telling her she would break the arch if she did. (She has never forgiven me for this.)
Stealing $10 from my Great Aunt’s pocket book because I thought she had lots of money, didn’t need it and wouldn’t miss it. (Guilt took over and I took myself to my Mother and confessed, later returning the money.)
Not realizing that I should have helped my Mother do chores at home so that I could learn how to be a good homemaker, wife and Mother while she was in the mood to teach me those skills.
Never doing my homework in math because I was convinced I wouldn’t need math later in life and thereby disappointing my math loving Daddy.
Wanting to be an RN more than anything in the world and thinking I was too stupid—because I couldn’t do math.
Waiting until I was married, had a child and WENT to nursing school to find out how smart I reallly was.
I would listen to smart people and try to learn from them when they wanted to mentor me.
I would practice my addition, subtraction, division and multiplication tables until I could do them with split second accuracy.
I would read more non-fiction.
Yes. There are lots of things I regret, might change, could have done better. I think that is true of all of us. Some of them were acutely embarrassing. Some of them not so much. Some of them were ill-advised. Some of them I regret because they showed me a darker or less nice side of myself that I don’t want to reflect on after I repented and grace was given.
But the truly interesting thing is—I would not change anything. Nothing. Not one single event. Not one mistake. Not one stupid or horribly irrational or childish thing I ever did (even if was as an adult).
Regardless of what these things caused me to feel at the time they occurred—however, embarrassed, humbled, regretful, painful, life threatening or stupid the events may have been—they were necessary. They were necessary for me to become the woman that I am today.
As insignificant or life-altering as we perceive events in our lives to be, they are all parts of the whole. I don’t like the fact that I stole $10 from my Great Aunt. I don’t like the fact that I succumbed to that temptation. But I NEVER did it again—nor was I EVER remotely tempted to do such a thing again—EVER. I learned.
I think it is rediculous that I didn’t know that I was smart. But I DID figure it out—with the help of an amazing and supportive husband who taught me math (and so many other things). He said, “It isn’t an aptitude problem…it’s an attitude problem.” (So true of so many things.) And he believed with me that I could be a nurse until I could believe it on my own. I learned.
We make mistakes. We hope that we learn from them. Generally, those are the things we wish we hadn’t done, the ones we wish we could do over. What about the things that just happen—the events we really can’t control—like my brain injury.
I wouldn’t change that either.
My brain doesn’t function the way it used to. I can’t always count on it to be there when I need it. I cannot function as an RN anymore and it’s the only thing I ever wanted to do as a career. One man’s moment of inattention that sent him through an intersection when he should have stopped, ended a life’s dream. But it was one change in a series of thousands—a serious one, to be sure, but just one.
Had I NOT had a brain injury, I would never have:
re-established an intimacy with Jesus that led to a much more intimate and amazing marriage than I dreamed possible.
begun doing daily devotions WITH my husband instead of by myself.
started writing for our church, myself, this blog and other sources.
learned that I was living with the sin of unforgiveness and had virtually made it an idol in my life.
resumed tithing as a couple, having realized that we were only giving lip service to trusting our Lord to take care of us. (The events surrounding my injury, subsequent disability and loss of career woke us up to that dependency and the reality that my previous insistence on control of ‘my’ life prevented Jesus being in control. You can’t serve Jesus and money. And you can’t make your own control of your life an idol either.)
AND I never would have been able to share the story of what Jesus has been and is doing in my life. I would have been too ashamed to have admitted that I had failed him in the first place. I would have remained silent.
Would I go back? Would I change my life? Nope. I belong to Jesus and he has brought me to where I am to make me who he wants me to be. And I’m good with that. In fact, if I had known back then what I know now, I am sure it’s the road I would have taken.