Note: I tried to write this post in a way that wasn’t “overly Christian-y” because I want this blog to appeal to people who aren’t into that type of stuff. Wrote a draft and it all felt wrong. Gonna give credit where it’s due, and describe things as they are.
Three months ago, I was doing a Bible study with Kristina about the concept of “joy.” There’s the secular definition of joy, which is a feeling of great happiness. Then there’s the “Christian definition.” To a Christian, joy is having confidence in God’s plan and seeing beauty in the world. It’s tasting the “living water” and not being thirsty.
During the study, I found myself in tears as I told Kristina what joy felt like to me and realized I was describing a memory rather than something I was actively feeling. For several weeks, I had been struggling to cope with being deaf. I was a recluse and stagnant, wallowing in self-pity and loneliness. With deafness, I can be in a room filled with people and feel completely alone. With deafness, I have to face the idea that I might not be able to pursue my career goals. I was broken. I had closed my ears to the world and to God, causing a spiritual dryness: depression.
I begged God to “fix” me that day. And he broke me more. Just days later, I found myself facing death, getting lost in hallucinations, and being told a lung transplant was my last shot. My spirit was smashed to smithereens again and again and again by torturous struggles in the suffocating confines of my hospital room for 44 days. And it was there that I rediscovered joy. In my brokenness, I went from, “God, I want you,” to, “God, I need you.”
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” I was able to break free of the world of suffering that debilitated my spirit and experience that promised change in perspective. I’m not saying I am constantly happy. I still have the occasional panic attack, and I often get sad and frustrated. But the joy brought about by my strengthened relationship with God has made me:
- Love more.
I am naturally a bitter person that actively seeks out faults in others. I hate admitting that, but it’s true. The biggest sin I struggle with is gossip. Now, though, I seek out the beauty in others. I am able to love more easily and more powerfully. Isn’t it odd how humans intentionally exhaust themselves with negativity when love is so refreshing? I don’t want to do that anymore. Hey, I’m Brad. And I love you.
- Be unafraid of the future.
I know the next several months will be painful, whether I get the lung transplant or not. A series of too-crazy-to-be-coincidence things have happened the past couple months, and they make me confident I am walking the path God wants me to.** I don’t know if the path ends with death or a happy new life. The thought of an early death has been a source of great anxiety since I was a little kid. Now, I feel a great sense of calm. I just want to obey Him.
One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 6.10: “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” Just a couple days ago, Kristina was talking about how I seem more satisfied with life now than I did before this whole health fiasco. She asked if I would rather be healthy and dissatisfied, or be in my current position. I responded that I would rather live one more day with the Holy Spirit and sick, than thousands without it and healthy. I value my spiritual health much, much more than my physical health. I may have lost much, yet I have everything. I am joyful.
Oh, yeah. The meaning of my blog title? Any nerd will tell you that adamantium is the most unbreakable metal in the Marvel Universe. “Unbreakable Joy” is a characteristic I hope to embody from now on.
**I’ll talk about these events in another post!