On the heels of my last post re the boundaries of my comfort zone, I happened to catch the last part of a PBS documentary called Life. Support. Music. about a NYC musician who emerged from a vegetative state after suffering a near fatal brain hemorrhage. The documentary included video clips from the rehabilitation center where they worked to restore his motor skills and brain function, and as much progress as he was making, his future looked grim. So grim, in fact, that doctors recommended he be transferred to a nursing home for continued care.
Well, the family was not having this since any chance of his recovery would be shot while wasting away in a facility with no rehabilitation plan. They opted to bring Jason home and care for him on their own, despite the doctors’ warning of the grueling 24hr care it would require. The family rallied, and worked in shifts of morning, afternoon, and over-night, not only caring for his basic needs like bathing and feeding, but also stimulating his brain function with puzzles and games and such.
After two years or so Jason was walking, talking, playing his guitar, and fully functioning on his own. It was incredible. The primary care doctor said very certainly that the only reason Jason survived and recovered was because of the dedication of his family. If it weren’t for them, he would have surely been confined to a bed in a nursing care facility for the rest of his life.
As I watched this documentary, my pile of clothes still unfolded (maybe I need to stop watching tv while doing laundry!), all I could think of was, What if this happened to someone in my family? What if this happened to Bryan? And through my mind raced everything I would have to give up – all my hobbies, all my free time, all my relational outlets – in order to care for someone at that level.
Quite honestly, as I imagined the mere possibility of this scenario, I felt anger in my heart – anger at the unfairness that everything I ever wanted for myself could be stripped away because of someone else’s needs.
These were very disturbing and convicting thoughts, considering not more than an hour before watching the documentary an ambulance pulled up in front of my neighbor’s house. I stood at my ironing board with a mound of clothes in front of me and the energy waning from my body. Do I stop what I’m doing to check on my neighbor and see if there’s anything I can help with? If I do, then my tasks could be left undone and my plans for the next day may be disrupted.
In that moment I became aware of my deep selfishness because the laundry was just an excuse for me to not get involved.
Natalie hit it dead on in her comment at my previous post about seeking comfort. I know self-comfort my idol, that thing I make more important than anyone else, including Jesus. I see it play out in my issues with rage and anger as much as I see it play out in extending myself to others.
I have a fortress built around my comfort, a wall I realize even I can’t break down with my own will-power. I am both terrified and relieved, though, to see it beginning to crumble under the weight of a God who wants me to be free from my Gollom-like self preservation.