Upon arriving home from my four month stay in the hospital in early 2010, there were a few organizations that asked permission to share about my journey. I initially thought no problem. However, after several different versions were shared, I realized I was not being perceived as I would’ve liked.
Each time I was left with a similar feeling. Were people just looking for a story? I felt as if I was constantly getting painted as this pitiful paralyzed guy who should make you feel better about your current situation, because at least you can move your limbs. Though there would be a few people who said they were encouraged by hearing my story, my mind would fixate on those who would come up to me afterward and insinuate how bad they felt for me.
Even when I had the floor in an unfiltered speaking engagement at a school or church, there was still a limited amount of time and certain questions I was supposed to answer. My skepticism began to grow toward any form of sharing my story in a public setting and I eventually decided it may be best if I was the only one with jurisdiction over what details of my life were shared.
That is where the blog came into play. I could say exactly what I wanted, however I wanted. No filters. No outside agendas. A computer screen in between myself and any potential negative comments. It was the perfect solution.
So when someone at Channel 9 News Cincinnati caught wind of Flat On My Back and wanted to do a story, you can guess my reaction: Thanks, but no thanks. I was not about to be part of another demeaning “feel good if you’re not paralyzed” story. Plus, how exactly would that news line up look? “A guy was shot. The store got robbed. The Bengals lost. And in other news… a guy with a spinal cord injury started a blog.”
However, something slowly began shifting in my mind with this new opportunity. I had become fixated on not wanting people to feel sorry for me, not wanting to hear negative comments, and a fear of what people would think. I began to realize that, by being so concerned with how some people may respond, I was actually doing a disservice to those who were truly seeing God in a new light through hearing my story. Why did I care so much what the others thought? Why was I so uptight about how my situation “looked” to others?
In “The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness,” Tim Keller makes it clear that this mindset will not be of much benefit to me. As defined by Keller, a “self-forgetful” person does not think any more or less of themselves than they should- they just think of themselves less. I don’t need to worry about what the take-away of others’ is from my situation. I can leave that to God’s hands. The gist of 1 Corinthians 4: 3 – 4 is this: “I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t even care what I think. All that matters is what God thinks.” Being a self-forgetful person sounds mighty freeing.
Rather than hiding, I believe it’s my job to share what God has done in my life in the midst of the trial. In order to do this, I cannot be concerned with what others think. Galatians 1:10 poses the question, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” After pondering the idea of being unconcerned with how a story would be presented, I went ahead and did the interview.
When it airs tonight* at 6 PM on Channel 9 (WCPO Cincinnati), I should be able to sit back and relax. I’m deciding to be unconcerned with the fact that they are editing everything I tried to get across in the interview time down to a 60 second piece and choosing their own introduction. I have no control over how people will leverage my story or how those around me will view me as a result. I once heard it said, “We owe it to the world to share what we learn in the midst of trial.” With that in mind, it further reinforces the need for me to let go of worrying about what people think and trust that God will use my story exactly how He sees fit. Most of the time it may be easier to say than truly believe, but honestly, who cares what people think?
*Blog was posted November 5, link to Channel 9 video can be found below: