Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Not Strong Enough

Since I broke my neck people have commented on my positive spirit. There are plenty of challenges each day that go unseen. With those come discouragement and disappointment. Sharing those challenges with somebody else makes them more real.

So it is with us. Recently we've faced so many disappointments that are directly related to my disability: bum shower chair, bum old wheelchair, bum new wheelchair, bum bum. Like a flood surge overwhelms a town, these constant frustrations have overwhelmed us.

This weekend I was DONE. It was a bathroom day --the worst part of our routine. My body didn't cooperate and D had to help me. It's so very frustrating for me to sit there as my WIFE coaxes things along. We have a long list of things that have gone so bad lately. This was the last straw.

Dana got me through it and into the bed. Then I lost it. I cried uncontrollably because I felt so helpless.

For several years I was okay with this whole gig. I remember hearing people say, "God doesn't give us more than we can handle." I've heard people talk about his miracles. I've sung hymns and praise songs, prayed, shared, and sobbed. But this weekend I cried out to God because I'm not strong enough.

It's not fair. Ask anybody who has known me any amount of time. I am a good guy. Not that anybody deserves this, but not me. If there were some noble purpose in it I might consider it, but no. I hear the word "miracle" bandied about: our pastor talks about the church receiving a financial miracle (i.e., a million-dollar donation); newspeople talk about a medical miracle (i.e., successful treatment against the odds); sports fans talk about a miracle win (i.e., a lucky break).

It left me asking, "Where's MY miracle?!" People have been praying for me and believing for my miracle for seventeen years. If faith is coming to the end of myself, I'm there. It's not a headache. It's not a tumor. It's not an infection. Short of significant medical breakthrough, there is nothing any man can do to fix it. If God is able to heal my body, or anybody else's, bring it on.

When people comment about us being inspirational we wince. This is our reality: so much of this sucks. Some days are WONDERFUL; others are bareable; a few are downright heart-breaking. Most days we wrestle through the limitations and hardships that come with having or caring for someone with a disability. It affects everything:

  • I'm a job seeker with a disability,
  • we get up two hours early because I have a disability,
  • we cancel our plans because of my disability,
  • we can't go some place because it is inaccessible,
  • we have to get healthcare because of my disability.
Some days, like this weekend, it just comes to the point I cannot take it. I'm not strong enough to bear it all. There is nothing I can do to fix it. The one who supposedly can fix it doesn't. It hurts. It doesn't give in. It is always there. I would that it would all go away. When it doesn't, we suck it up and push through.


Anonymous said...

Praying for you guys right now. I still have hope for healing (for whatever that's worth!!!) should you further pursue a path of rehabilitation. People have done it! If that's not in your plans or not in God's will, I pray for God to reveal to you even a glimpse of why your disability is a part of the big picture. I pray that God would allow you and Dana to see the fruits of your words here on your blog, the encouragement it gives others. You both posted on FB about the amazing story of Gabby Giffords and her husband. You guys ARE a Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly (is that his name?) I'm sorry if it makes you wince..but I can't help who inspires me and challenges me to face my own challenges openly and not in the dark.
I don't think anyone expects you to always have a good attitude about your situation. That would not even be human or realistic. Thank you so much for posting and sharing your true feelings. I'll also be praying for a supernatural joy to flood your home during the rougher moments!! -sheri

Anonymous said...

Praying for you Michael! You are the strongest person I know, and I mean that whole-heartedly. My time spent working for you and being a part of your life was a huge impact on my own life. I might not be a nurse today were it not for you. For that, I thank you and I thank you for sharing your life with us. Just remember, Dana is the grandest and most wonderful gift God could have given you and you are super lucky to have each other. You ARE strong enough TOGETHER!
Love, ~Stacia~

Kelly Stockstill said...

I love you guys. A whole lot.
Just wanted to say that.

Mike Arnold said...

Hang in there Mike. I know Dana from her time in Pittsburgh. Great thoughts today. Have you ever connected with Bender Consulting about the job? If not talk with Joyce. She is great.

Anonymous said...

You are still my baby, I only wish there was something I could do besides keep on praying for you and loving you. Now, my little teacup, I am seeing one set of footprints. I love you but not nearly as much as He does. You are still my precious little nephew, and His precious child.
On kind of another note (I think), after I had cancer surgery I couldn't even walk across the floor without help or at least holding on to something. When I went to Dr. Harrington's I suddenly started crying. I told her "I'm supposed to be taking care of my mother and she's having to take care of me, she's having to cook my meals and do my laundry and everything like that and I am so DAMNED depressed!" I learned that no matter I was still her child and she NEEDED to do these things.

Anonymous said...

I am praying for you. Not for a "miracle" but for peace. Because what I know of you and Dana, you deserve that above all else. I applaud your honesty b/c being paralyzed? well it just has to suck. but it's your journey. right, wrong, fair, unfair, it's your journey to take. That's not fair, don't get me wrong, but the line I hate the most b/c it's too true is, "it is what it is..." to me it's a harsh, unforgiving line that cements anything lousy in my life. So I have to ask....what will I do with what i've been given? Lately? I have no idea what God is doing in my life. I am so lost. My marriage, always strong, is now anything but...and my future seems to be at the whim of the one man i've always trusted but can no longer fully believe in and the woman who seems bent on destroying all i've spent years building. I had a friend tell me if everyone put their problems in a pile in the middle of a field, I'd quickly take all mine back instead of having anyone else's. when I read your blog, I think that's true. then again...I think i'd survive being paralyzed if it meant a lifetime of love..b/c being able to walk and move is nothing if there's not someone to walk with me. Be strong and courageous.

Tamara @31dates said...

Thank you for sharing such frank and honest feelings. Some days when I'm feeling broken I think of you and Dana and wonder how you both always seem constantly "calm and cool" about everything. Thank you for drawing back the curtain, being candid, and reminding us that some days will push even our most honored heroes to their limit.

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl said...

My neighbor had a spinal stroke a couple of months ago and has just come home in a wheelchair recently. I just can't even imagine how hard it is to suddenly adjust to life in a wheelchair, and I keep thinking of you guys when I see my neighbor.

Sometimes, I just hate how broken this world is, and then I'm so glad that I know this isn't IT. I look forward to seeing you enjoy your new, fixed body in heaven. :)

Jamie said...

Those tough moments are the worst. I'm so sorry you both have to go through them. But, isn't it so comforting to know God has given each of us someone amazing and special to walk through the fire with? Love you guys and praying for you. Wish we lived closer to vent to one another :)

Diane Moody said...

Love you, Michael. Praying for you and Dana, always, always, always. It's okay not to be strong 24/7. Reminds us you guys are human, because we kind of have you on this pedestal, to be honest. I love your transparency. Only wish I had the perfect Band-Aid to just fix it all.

Stacy A said...

I don't think God expects you to always be strong and to just sit there and accept the difficulties you've been given in life. I think He totally understands our questions, our frustrations, our meltdowns and our desire to just give up when things are beyond our ability to cope with. I also totally DO NOT buy "God will never give you more than you can handle." I don't remember reading that in the Bible (I could be wrong). I know He says He won't allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle, but my personal experience is that He often gives me other stuff I can't handle ... on my own. So I would amend that saying to "God won't give me anything I can't handle without His grace and His strength."

He does want us to accept where we are in life eventually, but it may take us a long time to get there, and I think He's cool with that. He just wants us to bring our struggles to Him and work through it all with Him. (Sometimes, at least in my experience, that includes yelling at Him -- like David did in the Psalms.)

Praying for you and your wife as you negotiate the curriculum God has designed for y'all.
Stacy A
(A friend of Diane)

S. J. Wells said...

Michael and Dana, I've been following your blog for a while now. I love reading it. So many wonderful comments here, so you probably don't want to hear anymore, but for what it's worth, here are my thoughts. I'm not paralyzed. Have no idea what that is like, but I am blind and have been most of my life. Lost it all when i was 21 just after marrying the man of my dreams. I believe it's ok to ask God why. It's ok to be honest with Him and let Him know how you feel. He already knows, after all. As for coming to the end of your rope, we're supposed to do that. We're supposed to get to a point where we realize and admit out loud, I think, that we can't do it. We need Him, and I mean NEED Him. There's an old hymn that says, "All the fitness He requireth is to feel your need for Him." I think part of the healing is in the sharing, too. The other day, someone commented on my blog and said I inspire them. Not sure how I do that when I'm just pressing on like everyone else, but apparently something I said helped them along. Maybe something I can say can help you along or encourage you. Then, you push through and bless someone else, and so on. To quote another old song, :) "When you're down in the valley, prayer is all I can do, but the Lord sends deliverance and strength to you. And when you're up on the mountain, and see me struggling along, lift my name up to Jesus. Let's help each other make it home. It'll be worth it after all, child. It'll be worth it after all. After all of these trials, we'll hear Jesus call. It'll be worth it after all, child. It'll be worth it after all. After all of this climbing, it'll be worth it after all." God bless.

LaDonna Ritter said...

My precious son and my precious daughter-in-law, how my heart hurts for you. Becky and Lilly Isaacs sing a song that I now officially claim as our song. It is, "Yours and Mine." Here are the words to the chorus."If I could take the hurt all away, I'd gladly walk in your shoes. I'd rather it be happening to me than to you. I'd turn your tears into laughter, your rain to sunshine. But since I can't take it, let's make it yours and mine." My precious children, I love you, I love you, I love you!

Megan Cutter said...

Michael & Dana,
(I emailed Dana, on Wednesday actually). But I wanted to also post a comment here as well. While we are in a little of a different situation, we hear you, and the days that are hard, well they just suck, but the days that are good- they are precious. The days we crash at the same time, well the sun will rise the next day. And somehow we pick up the pieces and like a jig-saw, begin putting them together again.

And believe it or not, through the days we find we are weak and feel life's unbearable wrath, we are also inspirational. For we bring others on our journey- and how raw, tough, joyful that journey is- the two of you have a love that will carry you through. Never forget that. It is with our wife/husband that there for in our most vulnerable times, we are able to weep on their shoulders, and allow others to carry us for a while.

Find the strength and hope to walk the journey within each other.


Mike Ritter said...

Thank you all for your comments. Please read Dana's "Rest of the Story"

Jenny G said...

Hello. My name is Jenny and I myself have a disability due to I broke my neck in 1997. I came across your blog and it is great to see a love story, truth of how FRUSTRATING it can be to have limitations and my favorite thing is you both are believers. The hardest thing is to see at times is beyond the WHY and HOW's of life continuing to move forward with this new life challenge. Your story I hope in the sense of finding true love happens to me too! About that miracle, I am also on the boat of believing for mine. We never know what exactly when or how but I do believe those prayers plus faith are doing something beyond what we can see in the natural. I though can walk not perfect but trying to lol but have only use of one hand. My disability has made me wonder @ times who am I and what can I do cause the dreams I hoped for are now on a different route. Also, Being disabled is a completely different world of how you view things and hope for things! About getting up extra early I know the feeling blast some good worship music or anything you like cause it helps your mind stayed focus on how great it is to be able to do what you can rather when trying to get that sock on wants to make you SCREAM! lol May everyday be a closer day to your miracle with continuous signs of healing. Blessings to you and your wife!

Dana Brown Ritter said...

Hi Jenny G,
Thank you so much for sharing with us in your comment. I totally agree about what you said about the WHYs and HOWs, sometimes they even seem magnified by the disability, don't they? I do want to encourage you that you can find true love, too. True love is rooted on the inside, not the outside! Plus, I always tell people that what happened to Michael could (truly) happen to anyone, at any minute in their lives. But it doesn't change love. Love is down deeper than your spinal cord :) Please stay in touch, and if you ever need anything, even just an understanding ear to vent to, or if you have ANY questions, please email me:

Anonymous said...

i'm not disabled from SCI, but I have CP from prematurity. i've been scanning your blog and i must say that last paragraph sums it up.... thank youu for being so honest

bettyC said...

Sometimes I just wish that God didn't have so much confidence in me