Starbucks Epiphany

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starbucks-epiphany-photo-by-jane-emilyDefine: You

I’m sitting in Starbucks now, watching a man outside in a wheelchair.  He is paralyzed from the neck down. His wheelchair is motorized and he controls it by blowing into a breathing tube.  He has a computer in front of him and he is typing by holding a long stick (for lack of a better word) in his mouth and typing on his keyboard.  His mother (or caregiver) is there, taking care of him.  Every once in a while, she gets up and helps him to take a sip of his drink.  Such love.  Such dedication.  She is reading a book but also looks around at the people staring at her son.  I see that she’s okay with people looking but if someone looked upon him with anything negative, I can tell that she is the kind of woman who would have something to say to that person…and rightly so.

I wonder how he got that way?  So sad but he has adapted.  His mother has also adapted.  When she had a son, did she imagine it to be this way?  Most parents imagine taking care of their children until they are old enough to take care of themselves.  But this man will never be able to take care of himself.  He will always need her there.  I wonder if that makes her angry in a way or if she loves to take care of him.  She is stern.  I usually would interpret that as someone who is unhappy but maybe she is just strong-willed and it is showing up on her face.  She has been through a lot.  One thing is true: She LOVES her son.

I looked at his face as I walked by.  I can tell he is a handsome man.  I’m sure he probably wanted to be married one day, to love someone, to start a family.  But now his reality is sitting in that chair.  But what else?  Does his chair define him?  He didn’t look sad.  He didn’t look distraught or unhappy in any way.  He looked content.  There is something to be learned from these two…

First of all, stop complaining.  No matter how bad you think you have it, someone somewhere has it worse than you.  Maybe I have it better than this man typing on a keyboard with a stick but at the same time, he can also look out and see that he has it better off than someone else.  It’s perspective.  Maybe I think I am better off than him because I have full use of my body.  But what type of peace and love does he feel in his own life?  What I see as negative, maybe he doesn’t see that way.  Maybe he could look at me and believe he is better off than me?

Second, your life isn’t always going to turn out the way you thought it would.  Does that mean that life is over?  Over because your perfect life plan didn’t turn out the way you thought it would? No.  You adapt.  Sometimes your life is headed the way you direct it and others, it may be pushed a certain way by God, fate or circumstances beyond your control.  But what do you do when things are beyond your control or you are pushed?  Adapt.  We, as human beings have a great ability to adapt…and not only adapt, but SHINE.  So, your life isn’t what you thought it would be…get on with it.  There is reason and purpose for everything.  You aren’t dead yet so keep fighting.  Don’t give up.

Don’t define yourself by anything negative, ever.  It won’t help you.  It will only hurt you in the long run.  For years, I have called myself a sinner.  But recently, I am opening my mind a little more and seeing things in a new light.  I am NOT a sinner.  I sin but sinning does NOT define me.  Therefore, I am a good person, a person full of good and positive.  Yes, I sin, lie, cheat, speak hateful words at times, make bad decisions, etc.  But is that who I am or are those things just byproducts of weak moments in my life?  Am I a liar?  No.  Do I lie?  Yes.  What defines me?  Compassion, empathy, trust, honesty, faith, loyalty, LOVE.

Watching this young man and his mother today, I can’t help but wonder how each of them would define themselves.  I wonder if they both have peace with the way their life is or if it is a constant battle.  I pray for them now that they will see the beauty of what they have and that peace will find them if they have not found it yet.

What defines you?  It’s something to think about.

Related article: http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/73

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6 responses »

  1. Janeemily, I can relate somehow to your story. I have a brother, in his late 30’s, who has cerebral palsy and wheelchair bound. He cannot take care of himself. He too lives with my mother. All of his life, she has struggled and taken care of him. Does she get angry? Yes, sometimes, but she loves him so much that it surpasses any anger. Does she get tired? Absolutely. But her dedication and faith gives her strength. What would define him? I would have to ask him. But I hope that he would define himself as a person. I agree when you say that sin does not define you. We are people with both positive and negative qualities. But we are people, worthy of respect. My brother is a person, just like you and me. He has cerebral palsy. He is not cerebral palsy or disabled. He is a person with disabilities. I work with people with mental illness, and I often try to remind them that they are people first. Thank you for this post. It is very inspiring.

    • You’re welcome and thank you so much for your comment. It’s beautiful to see your point of view also. I’m glad this post could inspire you – it inspired me as too 🙂

  2. Keep it up, Janey! It’s exciting to watch the (spiritual) growth you’ve embodied over the last year since we’ve connected through the blogosphere. As a parent with an amazing seven y.o. girl who happens to have Ds, I’d say your ponderings of both that young man and his mother are not far off the mark at all. They say that a person doesn’t fully realize their capacity to love someone until you have a child of your own. That is an understatement (and why you come to a whole new level of understanding of faith in God “the Father”.). I would add that you have no idea your capacity for empathy, grace, peace and patience until you’ve been blessed with a child who’s a little ‘different’ by the world’s standards.

    As the wise sage, Master Yoda, might say, “Come far, you have!”

    • Yes, I am learning a lot these days. I am really opening up my mind…not that it was closed before but I am opening up even more than I was. This, in turn, has allowed me to open up more to God. Thank you for your comment. Happy Sunday 🙂

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