Journal entry by Vicki Bunke
We have all experienced being underestimated in this life. In today’s broken world, there are hundreds or even thousands of reasons why this might have happened. Maybe it was because of your age. Your gender. Your race or your religion. How you look or where you went to school. Maybe it was because of your background or accent or dialect. Maybe it was because you still believe that a hug and a bit of hope can change us all.
I was thinking about the idea of being underestimated last night while running on the treadmill and listening to MercyMe’s new song called “Say I Won’t.” This song was inspired by the band’s longtime friend Gary Miracle, who worked with the band for many years on the road. Gary lost both arms and legs in January of 2020 after falling into septic shock. His story and the inspired song is one of strength and profound faith (see attached video – trust me, you will not regret watching it).
Listening to this song reminded me of occasions over the past handful of years where I witnessed or experienced moments of being underestimated.
I recall the evening of October 20, 2014 when we sat in the post-surgical room and listened to Dr. Fabregas describe to us how Grace’s rotationplasty surgery went and asking him: “How do most of your patients respond after waking up from this surgery?”
He replied: “Most patients don’t want to look at their leg and often they are depressed.”
After he left the room, my mom and I looked at each other and said, “Well, he doesn’t know Grace.”
Sure enough and true to form, when we greeted Grace for the first time in the hallway on our way to the ICU, she proclaimed, “I saw my leg and it’s awesome!”
The underestimation continued into the next day. Fearing that Grace would not be strong enough to eat, her surgical team decided to put in an NJ feeding tube. Early the next morning and to the surprise of her ICU nurse, Grace asked for pancakes. While trying to eat them, she said, “It would be a lot easier to eat these if you would take out this tube.” Which the nurse promptly did.
This type of event and exchanges continued throughout Grace’s illness, treatment, recovery and rehabilitation, relapse, and death. I recall hearing things like:
She won’t be strong enough.
She won’t be able to do that.
That’s too much for Grace.
Caroline isn’t old enough to hear that. Or do that.
Their marriage won’t make it.
They will lose faith.
Nobody has ever done that before.
It won’t work.
That’s not the way we normally do things.
You can’t keep this up.
You need a break.
She needs a break.
They will lose faith.
Those closest to me know this but I have never shared this more broadly – sadly and unfortunately, we did not have a good experience with Hospice. In fact, it was a very difficult and painful experience and we met and walked away from 3 different Hospice providers. Why? Because they were the most profound and talented underestimators I have ever encountered in my life.
It has taken me a long time to figure out what the breakdown was in our relationship.
But, I finally figured it out while running on the treadmill this weekend listening to MercyMe’s song.
They were right. We were not capable of doing all of the hard things that we said to them that we could do.
They simply failed to understand something vital that our family knew and understood.
We were never acting alone. There was always another One in the fire.
They underestimated us because we were playing out of very different playbooks. They were were operating out of their Hospice provider handbooks, and we were operating out of the Book of Philippians.
As MercyMe’s inspirational song reminded me this week on the treadmill, whether we are in a season of blessing or a season of trial, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. He gives us the strength to walk faithfully no matter what we face.
He allows us to proclaim the following when confronted with life’s underestimators:
Say I Won’t… and then we get to fill in the blank and prove them wrong. Over and over and over again.
I guess knowing and believing in this promise, underestimation can be our greatest weapon. Period. Amen. Let this be our New Year’s Resolution for 2021.
Say I Won’t…[fill in the blank]
Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy New Year, and much love to all of you.
I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
So keep on saying I won’t
And I’ll keep proving you wrong
I’m gonna run
No I’m gonna fly
I’m gonna know what it means to live
And not just be alive
This world’s gonna hear
Cause I’m gonna shout
And I will be dancing when circumstances drown the music out
Say I won’t