by Dr. Jeff Huxford
I would like to share ten things I have learned after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). But before I tell you what they are, I should first tell you something else. I don’t deserve credit for any of it!
You see, for all of my life, I used my mind to learn new things. My mind served me quite well during my many years of education which ultimately resulted in a successful career as a family physician. Then without warning, TBI roared into my life and took away away much of my “brain power,” the power I had counted on for so long.
But my learning was far from over. And for this, I am grateful because there was still so much I needed to be taught. This was only possible because God changed my heart, giving me the ability to learn what I am about to share with you.
- If I allow Him to, God can make me strong in my weakness. – I spent the majority of my life trying to do things by my own power. My brain injury took away much of the power I had depended on for so long. But it was replaced by something much greater, a changed heart powered by the Holy Spirit, which has given me more strength than I could ever muster on my own
- Life is short. – My life changed in an instant, but it could just have easily ended the morning of May 3, 2012. I am learning to treat everyday like it’s my last.
- Actions speak louder than words. – This one is pretty self explanatory, but I need make sure what I am doing matches what I am saying. If it doesn’t, then I lose my credibility and my chance of having a positive influence is greatly diminished.
- I have learned the power Jesus can have in my life and have come to realize I must share it with others. – I truly believe that Jesus is my source of strength and purpose in this life, and not just my free ticket out of hell. Out of love, not out of an effort to earn God’s favor, I should want to live for Him and share with everyone what I believe and why I believe it.
- Treat others like people, not as projects, and engage with people that are different. – As a follower of Jesus, I am called to treat all people with love, kindness, and respect. I am called to display the love of Jesus to everyone in all that I say and do, and leave the heart change up to God. And I am learning it is important to engage and befriend those who look, act, and think differently than me.
- I learned to stop asking the question “why me” and instead started asking “why not me.” – God used my wife, Jacqui, to teach me this valuable lesson. She developed this mindset early on in my recovery, while I was still laying in the hospital in a near comatose state. People would tell her they didn’t understand why something this bad happened to us. They said it just didn’t make any sense. She would just respond with, “Why not us?” She understood God was in control and knew that He could somehow use what we were going through for good. “Why me” is a question I still wrestle with at times, but I am learning to be confident in the God I serve and that the plans He has for me far exceed any I may have.
- God gave me a story and I need to use it to help others. – I used to complain that I didn’t have a story to tell, or at least not the kind that would have an impact on others. Looking back, this was faulty thinking, because we all have a story to tell. But after May 3, 2102, I could no longer use that as an excuse. God gave me a story and and I feel I need to tell it, not with the intentions of bringing attention to myself, but to point to the author of my story and to help others.
- I am not supposed to do life on my own. – My brain injury was humbling. I could no longer do certain things on my own power. I started using a lot of new tools and tricks (i.e. AppleWatch, schedules, reminders) to help me function in my daily life. I also learned to accept the help of others. But most importantly, I learned to accept God’s help, the loving God who had been there all along just waiting for me to give up on doing it myself and simply ask Him.
- Don’t judge where someone is at because you don’t know where they started. – I have learned to pass less judgement on how someone is choosing to live their life. This is something that I am still learning and don’t always do. But it is something that is important to remember if I want to understand, relate to, and help others.
- It is important to regularly check my list of priorities and make changes when needed. – After my brain injury, this was something that I had to do almost immediately, because I could no longer do all the things that I used to do. I had to figure out what I could still do, decide what was important, and focus on these. This involved saying “no” to a lot of good things so I could say “yes” to the more important.
Without a TBI, I may have never stopped relying on my own “brain power,” never understood the power of a changed heart, and never learned these invaluable lessons. I am sure you have heard it said that “God works in mysterious ways.” Growing up, I know I had heard it a countless number of times. It wasn’t until my brain injury that I learned the truth behind this statement and the true wonder of how God works.
Jeff Huxford M.D. lives with his wife (Jacqui) and his children (Jayse, Jenna) in Franklin, TN. He had previously lived with his family in northwest Indiana where he had been a doctor for ten years. In January of 2016, Dr. Huxford had to stop practicing medicine due to complications from a traumatic brain injury. Jeff has moved on to become a blogger (jeffhuxford.com), writer (currently working on his first book, Finding Normal), and speaker who is passionate about sharing how he was able to find and keep the kind of perspective that is needed in overcoming adversity or any life-changing event. He wants to share his story so other people will know about the God who saved his life and changed his heart.
Feel free to contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org