Friday, April 19, 2013

Meeting Chris Niles

It is so nice to back behind the computer!  While I missed writing, I am so glad my husband wrote the last 2 posts- I enjoy reading what he had to say, and I know you all enjoyed it as well!  I am back from my trip to my parents house and will be leaving in a few minutes to pick up my boys from the airport.  It was a very nice break, but I am more than ready to have my family under one roof!  

I did enjoy my trip to my parent's once I got there.  Just in case you haven't heard, I am willing to re-tell this story despite how stupid it makes me look!  I am notoriously bad with directions- I am confident I would not be able to navigate out of a paper bag if it came down to that (thanks Bill).  But in the wonderful age of the GPS, it doesn't matter if you know where to go, because the handy little computer just tells you.  I live 4 hours from my parents, so when I put in their address on the GPS I already knew what time it would tell me I would be surprise there.  So off I let me just say that the weather was horrible...very literally the worst conditions I have ever driven in.  I counted more than 10 cars off the road, 2 ambulances at 2 different scenes, and nobody on the thruway was doing more than 40mph.  But after a couple of hours, the weather let up.  When I was about a half hour from my parents’ house, the GPS told me to take 495 problem.  But wait- 495 only runs east or west on long island.  And why haven't I gone over any bridges?  It was then- after 4 hours of driving- that I realized something was terribly wrong.  Turns out I was in Massachusetts- and still 4 hours away from my parents house!  I was a hot mess of tears and it took me a solid 20 minutes to calm down long enough to figure out what the heck I was going to do!  At that point, the easiest thing to do was to go straight to my sister's house in CT.  We were going to go to her house that night anyway to see her in a play, so it wasn’t a real big game changer.  So after 8 hours of driving, I arrived at my sister's house, which is only 3 hours away from my original starting point.  Nice.

Yes, I realize I am a loser, but oh well...we went to her play, went out to eat after and then back to my parent's house to officially begin my "vacation".  As per doctors orders, I basically did nothing.  My parents bought me snacks and candy and set me up like a queen on the couch.  It was so nice to just sit and not have to get up!  But something happened the night before I left for my trip, which gave me some much needed encouragement.

I was up at 2am the night before I left, which is not really a new thing for me.  Sometimes the pain keeps me from falling asleep at night.  I took some medication but was waiting for it to kick in.  While I was laying there, I was playing Ruzzle on my phone.  It's a word game, kind of like Boggle.  You can challenge people you know or you can play random people from all around the world.  When you find someone who you are evenly matched with, you tend to keep playing with that person a lot because it makes it more fun.  So I was playing one such person when I noticed that he was up and playing at the same time as me.  Curious, I asked him what time zone he was in...and from there we started small talk, which resulted in me "meeting" Chris Niles.  I needed to meet him...and I am going to see to it that you meet him to.

I have been tired lately.  Tired of being in pain every moment of every day.  Tired of losing the ability to perform basic functions.  Tired of the doctors appointments and medications.  Tired of watching my world change and slip out of my control.  I have just been so physically and mentally tired.  A sick body is nothing- but a sick spirit can be fatal.  I started this blog to document my spiritual journey, but when my illness degenerated this blog turned in to so much more.  I deal with a myriad of feelings and emotions- this is not the path I foresaw for my life, but it did not take God by surprise.  I need to say that- sometimes I need to say it over and over and over.  Maybe this blog gets redundant to you, but to me it's a necessity of the soul.  

Courage and perseverance have always been important to me. That's why I need you to meet Chris Niles.  On Chris's profile picture there is a picture of him in what appeared to be a wrestling match.  When I asked him if he wrestles, he told me that he used to do Ju Jitzu but that two years ago he had an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down.


Just like that.

Of course there is more too it.  In fact, he has quite a story which I will link you to at the end of this post.  I was supposed to meet Chris...whether it was to pray for him, for him to encourage me, or for me to share his story on this blog- I don't really know.  I just know that Chris reminded me of why I have a blog named "Let's Roll."  He reminded me that it doesn't matter whether or not you win the fight- what matters is that you FIGHT.  

I cannot express just how much I needed to meet him.  He is so normal...he was an active guy with a wife and two sons and now he is in a wheelchair.  There are things he may never get to do with his kids that he always thought he would.  His dreams and ideas the rest of his life were changed in an instant- but it did not change who he is inside.  He is witty, funny, and from what I can tell a bit sarcastic.  He has mentally adjusted to his new life, and that is where I am struggling.  Instead of accepting reality and moving forward on a new path, I find myself unable to adjust.  I am in denial about what I am no longer physically able to do, and that is keeping me from moving on.  I am standing here banging my head on the wall over and over and over, trying to find a way around my reality.  Unless you have faced something like this you cannot truly understand just how hard this fight really is.  But Chris understands...and has fought through it.

I have no idea what comes next.  You are catching me on a very raw day- and one thing I promised from the start was that I would never put on a mask for you.  And maybe that means I am still here.  You know, I was excited all week to write this blog today.  A spark was lit inside me when I watched Chris’ story, and I couldn’t wait to share it with you.  But as I was typing, some other stuff has come out as well. I think before I can dig in and start moving forward I first needed to acknowledge where I am coming from. Chris may never do some things with his kids, but there are far more important things he will get to do with them.  Not many kids get to see their fathers live out strength and integrity day after day.  Not many kids see their fathers work, sweat, and bleed out of sheer love and devotion to them.  Not many kids have Superman as their dad.  When life hits you hard you really only have two choices- you can fall down or you can stay down.  

Listen friends, things happen.  Sometimes people let you down. Sometimes you get stuck in a rut.  Sometimes you get sick.  Sometimes trees fall down right on top of you and paralyze you.  

So what do you do?  That part is entirely up to you.  But I will say this- Chris is popping wheelies in his wheelchair.  He is working his butt off day after day after day in therapy to try and regain the use of his body.  He even occasionally beats me in Ruzzle.  He inspires anyone who meets him- not with his words, but with his life.  It doesn't matter if he ever walks again- he is already running.  

"The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?" Proverbs 18:14

This is what is comes down to.  I spend a lot of time and energy beating my head against the wall, trying to find some way around my reality.  But it is not the condition of my body that determines what kind of life I will have- it is the condition of my spirit.  I am not going to be able to be sustained on catchy phrases, positive thinking, or even sheer will- and neither will you.  A house will only stand on a firm foundation, and in the same way, a man can only truly stand on the Rock.  
It always comes down to Jesus, doesn't it?  I write post after post, but the day it stops coming down to Him is the day this blog is done.  I need to stop trying to figure out how this is all going to work and start praying and reading the Bible.  I need to stop trying to take my future out of His hands, and start learning how to rest in the fact that He saw my life before the foundations of the Earth were laid and He still has a plan for me and my life.  

So what about you?  Are you banging your head against the wall?  Please know that He loves you.  He truly loves you and while it sounds corny, He does have a plan and a purpose for your life.  You were not created in vain nor is there anything you can do to separate yourself from the love of God.  He is always only a whisper away if you would but call on Him.  You passion and your purpose is not measured by human standards- they are measured by God's, and He looks at things much different than man does.  He looks at the heart.

Listen, this thing is far from over.  I’m only just starting, and you better believe I intend on finishing.  Life may knock you down, but for the man who spends his life on his knees, it's not a far fall.  Just gotta keep getting up.

Let's roll, Chris.

*Here is the site where you can watch Chris' full story:
You can also find him on facebook, and if you google Chris Niles New Castle, PA you will see many articles and updates on Chris and his family.  Thank you Chris and Jennifer for letting me talk about you today...and even more so, thank you for never giving up.  We are all praying for you and cheering you on.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post Ashley! Thank you for sharing :)