As babies, we learn to move by dragging ourselves across floors, scooting around on our bottoms and knees. When we finally attempt to stand, we take our first baby steps. Hopefully, there are loving family members cheering us on as we move forward in order to explore the world around us.
At the age of 50, I had to start all over. I took my half-century baby steps after my brain surgery on July 23, 2011. I was told the non-cancerous brain tumor was a slow growing, walnut sized growth on my frontal lobe. The doctors guessed that it had been growing for about ten years, which explains my slow spiral into clinical depression, memory loss, behavior changes, and balance issues.
When I was thirty-eight, I decided to find a home and state that suited me. Arizona is a hot, dry, desert that some people love, but for me it was a wasteland.. Aside from beautiful sunsets and saguaro cactus praising the Lord with lifted arms, there was little for me to like about this state.
I moved to my adopted state of Oregon without the promise of a job or knowing a soul. I was acting on faith. I got hired to teach third grade the day school started. The Lord was faithful to provide a home, friends, and yes…. Even a son! I adopted one of my former students. This adoption process was very stressful so I know what labor pains are, just a different kind.
Around this time, the tumor in my brain was starting to grow. I noticed that stress affected me more, my emotions were extreme, and I was overwhelmed with life. Work was no longer a joy. I was depressed and exhausted all the time. I thought it was all due to an early onset of menopause, a family history of depression, the stress of a demanding job, and the life changing decision to adopt an emotionally damaged child of the state as a single parent.
I was raised by middleclass Midwestern parents who are still married after fifty-four years of marriage. If I had a problem, I was taught to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get over it. Move on and learn from the problem. Overcome the obstacle with hard work and the grace of God. For ten years I took steps to make my existence easier in order to make my life work. I was trying to cope with the life I had created for myself.
Step 1, I took a leave from work and put in a desperate cry for help to my parents. My dad flew out immediately and stayed with my son and me for over two weeks. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and given sleeping pills for my insomnia and an anti-depressant. My dad drove my son to wschool, cooked us dinner, and let me sleep. I could barely talk and cried a lot. This patient and loving father was my advocate and not my judge. He was my Heavenly Father with physical arms who listened and held.
Step 2 was my attempt to go back to work. It didn’t work.
Step 3 was to sell the house I loved with the beautiful garden I designed. This was an attempt to simplify my life. The yard was too much upkeep.
Step 4 occurred when I moved into a new house with a much smaller yard.
Step 5 was my last attempt to go back to work. I had to go on disability after my final attempt.
So now I was feeling hopeless. I was depressed and felt guilty for being depressed. After all, I was a Christian with the promise of eternal life. The joy of the Lord was supposed to be my strength but all I saw was weakness and failure.
Over the following year I got worse and worse, but I did not want to worry friends or family.
Step 6 happened when I noticed that I was frequently falling and finding myself unable to get back up without assistance. So I went to the doctor’s office AGAIN. I told my nurse PR actioner about a time I couldn’t slow down in a parking lot so I crashed into a car on purpose to slow myself down. I fell onto the pavement and couldn’t get back up. It took two met to get me back on my feet. Why was her reply to me? “Well, hmmmm…… tell me if it happens again.”
I became antisocial and although I insisted I was fine, my parents knew something was terribly wrong with me. STEP 7 belongs to the decision my parents made on my behalf as by now they had power of attorney. They sold my house and took me to their doctor. This wonderful doctor could tell I had a neurological problem by just watching me walk. He got me into St. Joseph’s hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. I am told it has the best neurological department in the nation. After an MRI, the doctors told my parents I had a brain tumor and needed immediate surgery. By now I was the walking dead. I have no memory of going to the hospital or of being told I had a tumor that required surgery.
Step 8 started in ICU. I was unable to cry for over a year even though I was clinically depressed. The realization of what had just happened to me and that I had a lot of work to do if I wanted to live an independent life hit me full force. The tsunami hit and the tears gushed.
Step 9 was my decision to work on my recovery with all out abandon. I was determined to gain back my independence and not be a burden. Within two weeks I was walking one and a half miles without a walker. My physical healing amazed everyone but it was much quicker than my emotional healing.
Step 10 was kindled by my new hunger for the Word of God. The Lord spoke to me so clearly about specific things, and yet in other areas of my life, mainly my future, I was only allowed to look three feet in front. Blind faith was required. Step 11 was my decision to accept His will to move to a new state. It was confirmed through a prayer and a house sale. Obedience.
Step 11 happened when I decided to settle in a new state, make new friends, find a new church, a new job, and a new life at the age of fifty. My comfortable and predictable life was no more. It was a year of humility and lessons in contentment.
Step 12 is now. I am still waiting on the Lord. He continues to faithfully talk to me and direct by steps. I think I am seeing about six feet in front of my path now but there are many clouded patches where I must reach up and ask my Father to hold my hand.
So these are my personal steps in a life interrupted by divine intervention. I know He didn’t take me home because He still has things for me to learn and do. God threw me back like a little fish that didn’t meet the length requirement. My son still needs me. The path God choose for me has required new baby steps but this time the view is different. Where my steps lead me will be revealed in His time.
PSALM 30:2-5 Lord my God, I called to You for help, and You healed me.You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; You spared me from going down to the pit.Sing the praises of the Lord, You his faithful people; praise His holy name.For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
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