Not Today

Well, here we are in 2021, and no one is sad to leave 2020 behind, but let’s not forget it’s the year that gave us a Maccabeats cover of a BTS song, so thank you, Lord, for your bountiful gifts as we all enjoy hearing the wholesome Jewish version of Pentatonix singing a Hanukkah parody of a wholesome Korean version of the Beatles pop hit of the year. For those of you new to BTS this year, welcome; there is so much to love. Jorie raved about them and told me all the backstory of how these wholesome kids want to make good music and be good role models. Also, they have notoriously uplifting lyrics. So my anthem for the start of 2021 is a four year old song from BTS:

Honestly, do yourself a favor and watch the eight minute choreography version of the music video too because, daaaaaaaang, it’s amazing. But let’s focus.

“All the underdogs in the world – a day may come when we lose. But it is not today. Today we fight.”

Sounds like me. Let’s gear up. Later in the song (in the Korean lyrics), it says, “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. Even if you have to crawl, gear up.” Those lines are interspersed in English with, “Today we will survive.” Here’s the thing, I’ve survived a lot, and I’m an underdog, and we’re approaching the seven year line from my accident. I can’t fly; I can’t run; I can barely walk. I’m crawling along, geared up. I’m not losing today. I’m fighting. I’m fighting for all I’m worth because I’ve been given the incredible gift of life in service of an incredible God who writes amazing stories with servants who keep their eyes on him.

There’s another significant line in that song: “Today we’ll never die; the light will pierce through the darkness.” I’m a fan of the light. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5). There was a lot of darkness in 2020, and the light came through. Light melted the chains of oppression and set people free to new growth. I had some incredible growth from darkness into marvellous light this past year. Two stories stand out to me of how the Lord wasn’t satisfied to keep me in my immaturity and complacency.

First, I had an encounter where I was offended and wanted to move on from the situation by writing off the other person as a robot and never interacting with them again. I was told that was not wise and that I should try to clear things up with the other person. I’m also self aware enough that I know I come across as abrasive and rude sometimes, so I was careful to be polite in my message of “you offended me deeply, and I’d like to give you a chance to clear it up.” However, the eventual response I received was the person felt I was trying to manipulate them. Back to the drawing board on the balance between true and kind in my words. Full disclosure: I was ready to write off the situation again and was again called out by close people that this was a learning opportunity for me. In the subsequent months, I’ve grown considerably in my ability to articulate my feelings and needs (though I still have a long way to go), and I’m able to comfortably say that due to my social skills of an agoraphobic lobster, I struggle with interacting with people and need some time to warm up to them. Chris and I have had multiple conversations about how I’m learning to interact with other humans as a human person myself. I’ve stopped saying “I hate people” and started using instead the honest and upfront statement “I find people challenging.” Baby steps – but progress nonetheless.

The second major lesson I had this year was when I found myself in a situation where I’d actually been rude for real and needed to apologize to another person. Because it’s not someone I interact with often, I sent a message – and was ghosted. This one also has layers of learning for me. I needed to apologize, and I did. That was a stretch for me to own up to my mistake and go out of my way to say sorry. The second wave of the lesson is that no one owes me forgiveness, but I can take my sins to the feet of Jesus and receive his love and forgiveness because of his great mercy. Like King David who writes in Psalm 51 “against you and you alone, O Lord, have I sinned” when homeboy straight up also sinned against the guy he murdered and the woman he coerced into bed with him and probably a few other people along the way. So I took that same sin to Jesus when I messed up, and I owned up to what I’d done wrong, and I am clean from the guilt of it. Givorgy and I have had multiple conversations about how I’m learning to speak more kindly in general.

These lessons are important for me to be open about because this month I’m working on a coaching course that I’m taking to help me to become a better mentor and role model and all around Jesus follower. The central element I’m drawn to in the course is that it’s not about me making other people better, but it’s an opportunity for me to model a pursuit of my own emotional and spiritual health. There are certainly struggles along the way in all of our lives, but by the grace of God, we won’t lose today. So here I am getting up from my emotional and spiritual crawl as well as showing incredible progress physically.

Like I said before, I’m just a couple weeks away from marking seven years post paralysis – seven years from the day I was told I’d never walk again. I recently had Brandi take a video of the end of a session with Anja where she followed me around the room using hiking poles. I remember the fear I felt the first time Alex made me take steps in a walking frame, the danger I felt when Andy made me take steps with the current canes I have, and the abject terror when Mike followed behind me wobbling across the gym without arm supports. While I can’t say I felt completely at ease this most recent walking feat, I can absolutely celebrate the confidence I had in my steps around the room knowing they were taken using my hip flexors and my glutes and with an unbelievable improvement in my balance over the past year.

I have no idea what 2021 holds – no guesses because the sky’s the limit. I’m ready to fly.

Bring it on.

Leave a Reply