So as I’m getting settled and use to the hustle and bustle of Chicago life, finally figuring out the public transit system knowingly called the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority), life was good. As good as it was, there were endless hitches, bumps, and frustrating moments. Remember, this was working with the physically disabled population. I’ve never had any experience with people in wheelchairs and physical disabilities. Yes, I’ve heard of many of the physical disabilities like cerebral palsy and spina bifida, but other than that, they were just words in an anatomy textbook, with no meaning, with no personification. In the first two weeks of the internship, my boss didn’t hold back.
Knowing fully well I had no experience, making it clear multiple times before accepting the position, he threw me into the turbulent waters to see if I could swim. Immediately, the first test was on the third day of the internship; our department hosted what we call a Sports Day. This is where the RIC hospital’s occupational and physical therapists would bring their patients over and the sports and fitness staff would introduce them to sporting activities and exercise. At this point in their recovery, some patients were less than a week after being admitted. In one case, a girl I would eventually coach the rest of the summer, had recently been caught in the middle of a gunfight, with rogue bullets severing her spinal cord; the epitome of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
At a young age of 17, she had no idea how to handle such a situation, a life altering accident that has permanently disrupted her life. Getting her to open up, asking about her interests and hobbies was beyond burdensome. She was simply shut down. She was closed off to the world. And something special happened; she found a basketball. To our knowledge, she was a very good high school basketball player and finally, finally we found something to trigger an emotional response, luckily it was the most relieving, helpful tool we had. Once my boss and I found her “hot button” of basketball, we were able to bring her into our junior program for the rest of the summer, success story right?!
Girl, age 17, gun shot victim, life altered, life changed; it is our job to change it for the better; to positively influence where she ends up; to not be another obstacle, but an outlet, an opportunity to get back up. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”-Psalm 34:18. God places people in our lives, to live through, to pour out His glory, His worthy, courageous, uplifting behavior and words of encouragement. We were meant to be scaffolding for other people in need. Holding them up, helping them rebuild themselves in the time of desperation and difficulty.
Is this why I was in Chicago this summer, for that purpose, to be completely vulnerable to the unknown, to peel back the layers of selfishness and narcissism; to truly indulge in altruistic actions towards others in need? Was this a test of my Faith; being alone, sleeping on an air mattress every night, having no family, living uncomfortably, scheduled events on Sundays, away from church, having little money; a complete disunion. Now that I was completely enthralled into the lure and gravity of my position, there wasn’t a moment I felt alone. Yes, detachment from harmony was tough and unfamiliar, but as time went on, I was peaceful, I was comforted. Knowing this was His challenge for me to stay ‘steadfast,’ I didn’t stray away, even though my time was completely consumed. From the typical 10-14 hour days, plus a few hours of online classes at nights, my vision was clear; my purpose was known. In lieu of my jungle of frenzied obligations, Spiritual transpirations began to materialize in my life.
Back story real quick…bear with me. Before I headed off to Chicago, FFe (faithandfitnessembrace) was the initial source of Worship and Community among you and I, among believers to responsively visit and share your comments in an environment where we can serve the Lord through fitness, exercise, and nutrition. Beyond my recollection and awareness, I had no idea what FFe was going to supply me with. I wasn’t expecting such a strong association, not only with my own responsibility to share my story, but also the accountability and pledge to you that as believers, we’re in obligation not only to share the Word with non-believers, but keep each other accountable to help, to advocate, to profess the accordance of the Holy Spirit in one another. Specifically, with one FFe endorser, I was not expecting such a God-centered, powerful friendship to occur. To denounce such friendships as not from God would be unreasonable. The path the friendship has lead us down has been astoundingly eye-opening; giving new insight on His Glory and His Word; a friendship destined to happen in His Name, no other way to put it (you know who you are, I hope).
The projected FFe mission is no longer the principle destination and for the future, it’s in God’s unchanging plans (and I have plenty of hopefully fruitful business ideas/ventures that has come via FFe!). Whether I’ll strike up similar friendships with Christ-lovers or not, I am so grateful and blessed for where He has taken this project and thank you for making it this far in FFe’s short history.
Third Intermission: That’s about time for another break, right? You’re probably thinking, “man, stop getting off track, why don’t you stick with the Chicago story already or at least write one ginormous post.” Yes, you’re right. But I must continue this way. I must show you the amazing path God has taken me down because as much as I expected things to happen, I had no idea what He had in store for me. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make you straight your paths.”-Proverbs 3:5-6. Beverage in hand, right?! Ready to continue then.