Frustrations…then a reality check

I communicate much more effectively via writing than I can verbally in these days.  I can think clearly enough. I don’t feel confused.  Yet, when I open my mouth to speak in public (or even one on one) it’s somewhat of a struggle.  The words do not come out like I think they should.   Trauma to the brain area often causes what is called aphasia.  Aphasia is “…an impairment of language that affects speaking, understanding, reading and writing.”  Intelligence supposedly remains intact, but there is often difficulty communicating through writing or speaking.  This must be what I am experiencing to a degree.

Imagine the frustration then, of knowing what you want to say  but not being able to communicate those ideas to others…and the ensuing frustration of being fully aware of this inability.  Like me attempting to administer the Lord’s Supper this morning at my church… even though I practiced several times word for word…from the exact spot in the sanctuary where I would say the words for real .  If you were there you know what I mean.

The experts say things should normally improve dramatically in the first year after a major brain surgery.  The frustrations, then,  for a man like me who has always tended toward impatience anyway, are legion.  But the moment I begin to think this way, is the moment I need to stand back, humble myself in the sight of the Lord (and others obviously as well…however involuntary they may be), and just be thankful that I am alive to struggle through the Lord’s Supper.   I’m planning on preaching again on the first Sunday of June, and then every other week for awhile, sharing the privilege with my trusted colleague Jaysson Gurwell.

This is mainly an update for those of you who might think that  I am doing better than I really am.  If you didn’t know me, and guaged my progress by how well I am communicating you may well think I am making advances equally well in all areas. The main progress is coming through major advances via physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Like Oliver going before the ogre with his famous words “please sir, may I have some more?”  with every eye in the orphanage dining room trained upon him… I cannot relate, for my heavenly Father  gives only good gifts to those who ask.   Father in heaven,  more patience please.

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9 thoughts on “Frustrations…then a reality check”

  1. You are an uncommon man, much like Peter. I am grateful to your example to me and the entire congregation of risking awkward moments and committing yourself to a task. Just know, I am encouraged by you and grateful to be called your friend.

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  2. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor 12:19 ~ Learning to depend on Him at greater lengths and to greater degrees is a treasure more than worth seeking! You have access to His unlimited power through His Spirit! Praying for you and your precious family! God bless ! ~

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  3. Mike,
    Your description reminded me of my mom when she was having her stroke. I was driving her to the hospital and she would speak to as though she knew exactly what she was saying but her words came out garbled. Our brains are beyond intricately made by our Creator, aren’t they?
    We will continue to pray for you and we appreciate your humility in sharing your impatience and frustrations.

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  4. Dear Mike,
    Paul speaks of the sequence ‘Tribulation–Patience — Proven Character — Hope which doesn’t disappoint and through it all God’s love for us is poured out into our hearts. (Romans 5:3-5)

    The Tribulation is easy to see, but I doubt you feel patient as you grow in patience; and I doubt you sense advancement in character but it is no doubt taking place — no doubt; and I am sure that it is difficult at times to feel especially loved by the Lord though I know that you know that you are.

    I am challenged by the thought of you. You have to make great effort across all fronts day after day after day — discipline, discipline and more discipline. And I should be doing the same with fewer obstacles — but I fear that I don’t, I get lazy and lost in the details of the work — the spiritual and physical and relational responsibilities are all there as fresh opportunities that I need to go after like you go off to therapy and work for improvement and growth and advance. I think of it often. Hopefully I am learning from you. I am at least convicted; I hope the Lord enables me to move from conviction to repentance.

    A hurricane has blown through your families life, and like any large hurricane, and make no mistake about it yours has been a large one, the winds behind the main storm continue to blow pretty strong. But God is in those winds — He is using that tribulation to make valuable things like ‘patience, proven character and hope’ but I warn you the process will not feel like patience, character and hope’ rather it will feel like frustration, moral failure and despair;’ this is why Paul writes what he writes. He knows we will feel frustrated, failing and despairing and that is precisely why he tells that what is actually being built into our lives is patience, proven character and hope; the love of God for you and for Karla is still there — it is still flowing.

    Love you both, and will continue praying for you.

    Randy

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  5. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matt 26:26-28

    I weep at these words…for they are fulfilled when you administer the Lord’s Supper. They are fulfilled as you now live out your life through Him! Hallelujah! As followers of Jesus we represent His body, and truly you have experienced brokenness, and not only you, but Karla as well, for you are one flesh.

    Also to us He says to drink, not only drink some, but all of his blood…and He “gave thanks.” He gave thanks….

    Broken and poured out, Mike. And when you are empty, He comes to fill you (and me and all who follow Him) with Himself. This truth leaves me dumb, for words will never be able to express my thankfulness.

    As Randy says, “What is actually being built into our lives is patience, proven character and HOPE.” For the WORD is faithful and true:

    Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:1-5

    We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God and glory in tribulations! To my flesh this makes no sense, and yet I see it worked out every day in you and others, and dare I say even myself.

    I hope you keep up with this blog as you continue your journey. Thank you for being transparent.

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  6. Hi Brother Mike,
    I was touched by your explanation of your struggle in speaking, getting the words out, etc. I have real empathy because I have felt that way much of the time of my entire ministry (over 33 years)! I have always felt I was a better writer than speaker, because in writing, you have the opportunity to think it, write it, read it, rethink it and reword it, then proof it, and possibly rewording it again before you “send it out the door”. In speaking, the words are immediately out there, the “good, bad and ugly”, and you can’t take them back!
    I’m not making light of your struggle, because you alone can sense the difference between the Mike Evans “before” brain surgery, and “after”. But in sharing my struggle (as one who supposedly has a healthy, untouched brain!), I hope you will be encouraged that you are not alone, and that at least you have an excuse for the difficulty you’re having now!
    At any rate, you have made wonderful progress, with giant leaps forward, and obviously have much to be thankful for! When you are up to it, perhaps you can slip over here some Sunday or Wednesday evening this summer and share your testimony with us. If you think that is possible, drop me an email sometime or give me a call. May God continue to bless you with physical progress and spiritual power.

    Prayerfully,
    Don Johnston
    Calvary Baptist Church
    Grinnell, Iowa

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  7. Hi Mike, Just a note of encouragement. I did not have aphasia after radiation and chemotherapy to my right motor cortex, but I had significant weakness in my left hand and some weakness around my left eye and left leg. I recall having difficulty loading dishes out of the dishwasher and typing very slowly with that hand. Now my left hand types as fast as my right and I only notice slight weakness in the left hand and side when I am overly fatigued. The brain has amazing plasticity (neurons next to the ones damage take over or there is regeneration). I pray the same healing for you and I will pray for patience for you too, I know it is hard not to be able to do the things you could before. Praise God for your life and healing thus far! Robyn

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  8. Pastor Mike,
    While reading your email and your frustrations at not being able to relate the words you had in your mind I immediately thought of my dad (Don Ross). He, too, experienced your feelings many times and was impatient, although, for different reasons. I remember on more than one occasion when you were visiting him you would patiently help him find the right words and he was always very appreciative of that. I believe God will help you have patience and also help you communicate what you want to say.
    You are in my nightly prayers. I plan to drive out to Earlham to hear you preach.
    Pat

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  9. Dear Mike (and I mean DEAR!),

    I am praying for God to buttress your patience, my friend. How strange a change, given what a gift your impatience has been for so much of your life. You have accomplished, and continue to accomplish, so much. And yet, for now at least, God is teaching and using you in new and different ways. Not that it’s easy or pleasant for you! I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be!

    I am also thanking God for your God-given intellect. Even while you are highly frustrated, you bring so much more self awareness to this than just about anyone else could. I don’t mistakenly think this makes it easier for you: in fact, I’m sure you can think of all the reasons things should be working better right now. But I do know that you are a gracious receptacle for God’s teaching and care and guidance, and you’ll use even these trying times for God’s service.

    I continue to raise you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for keeping us posted so we can pray for you, and for continuing to share your experiences and thoughts for us to ponder, as well.

    Yours in Christ,
    Tom

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