‘I may be sittin’ down but I ain’t in a ‘chair’ (electric!)’Where's the Faith? Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
This week’s article is written by Rev. Houston Burnside Jr. He writes a powerful message of life before and after an “operation gone bad” that left him in a wheelchair. Let his story encourage you – no matter what you may be facing in your life.
“Throughout our lives we confront circumstances that seem to keep us from being in the fullness of who we are. Over and over again, challenges and issues arise that preclude our full participation in the life that we’ve been given. Time and time again, we are left to ponder the “what ifs”, all too often finding comfort in those things which ultimately just eat away at our self-worth and drag us down to a place where we ought not to be. Today, I want to take you on a brief journey into my life and help you understand that you are so much more than your circumstances.
Life was great! I had served three years-two months in the Air Force and had been transferred to the reserves, after being given an early “education” discharge from active duty. I returned home to San Diego and enrolled in San Diego State University for my freshman year. The following summer, I returned to Shreveport, La. to attend LSU (Louisiana State University) Shreveport for my sophomore year, returning to San Diego the following summer to work and enter into my junior year at San Diego State.
November was cold and rainy. Scurrying from one class to another in that cold, wet environment, I developed a cold and a cough which developed into walking-pneumonia. By the time I went into the school health clinic, I had developed a collapsing lung. Heading up to the VA Medical Center in La Jolla, the doctors told me that I was going to need an operation in order to correct the recurrent “spontaneous pneumothorax” … a condition I developed while serving in the Air Force, that was now viewed as potentially life-threatening. My brother was scheduled to get married just after Thanksgiving and the doctors agreed that it would be OK for us to delay the procedure: A date was set, Dec. 8, 1977.
Checking into the hospital the night before, I sat with doctors, nurses, anesthetists and administrators, signing paper after paper, in preparation for the next day’s activities. The operation was to be a simple forty-five minute procedure, with moderate recovery time … a successful surgery that they had routinely done many times.
My parents knew that something had gone terribly wrong, when code began to be called over the hospital PA system. It took months to finally understand what had occurred: Anesthesia is a tricky thing and there had been a miscalculation that resulted in nerve damage and nerve death (in some regions of my body). Only able to move my eyes at first, eventually after nine months of rehabilitation, I was released and began to relive my life … this time as a quadriplegic.
It’s been thirty-five years since my life changed. I’ve gone through ups and downs, in coming to terms with what it means to truly live in the moment, with whatever circumstance we are given.
Life’s meaning, for me, comes from the faith that I hold in the people whom I love and the friends that I make along this wonderful journey. I find great solace in a vibrant sunset … in the newness of spring … in the midnight sounds of a world awake even as we sleep. I am so very grateful for our community and for the work that we’ve done together in building a strong foundation for future generations. And every day, I thank God for yet another opportunity to be in the moment … to live with no regrets … to forgive myself and others.
Choose life! You are so much more than your circumstances! Let you spirit soar and you will do things that you may have never thought possible!”
Rev. Dan Koeshall is the Senior Pastor at The Metropolitan Community Church (The Met) in San Diego, California, themetchurch.org
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