(An 8 Minute Read)
“I woke up one morning and, as I usually do, I went downstairs to have my fellowship time with the Lord. All at once I heard a thump upstairs, but I didn’t hear Jodie say anything. So I went upstairs to investigate and found her fallen into the tub. I asked her, “What happened?” she opened her mouth but she couldn’t say anything.
“I put her on the bed and the first thing I did was begin to talk to her about fear – because I knew that she could understand me. I told her, ‘We’re not letting fear come into this situation.’ I asked her if she’d participated with any fear and she nodded her head ‘Yes.’ That’s when I said, ‘You don’t want fear do you?’ and she shook her head, ‘No.’
“I took authority over that fear and cast it out of her. That was the first thing we did – address the spiritual side.
“On the way to the hospital I looked at her and I just assured her, ‘Everything is going to be okay. You’re going to be alright.’ That was significant for her… that was all it took for her.”-Pastor Benny Parish
Jodie had had a stroke, and thus began, for Pastor Benny and his wife, Jodie, a remarkable journey to recovery. Even in this tragic and scary event, God was holding their hands and was leading them towards a greater level of love, peace and freedom than they had experienced in the past.
Because of the damage caused by the stroke, Jodie could not speak. She understood everything that was said to her, but could not get her mouth to form the words that she wanted to say in response. Her right arm and leg were also affected so that she could not use either of them.
After six days in the hospital, Jodie was moved to a rehab facility so that she could receive the therapy she needed to help her on her way to recovery. Benny stayed by her side the whole time. He slept on a cot in her room. He went to all of her therapy sessions with her and learned how to give the therapy so that he could care for her when they went home.
“We found out that one of the things you can do (after a stroke) is sing old songs. You’re not able to speak, but somehow you’re able to sing old songs that you have remembered. So we started singing songs to each other. We would go every day and we’d sing.”
Once she was at a place where she could do some things for herself again, she was released to go home where Benny took on full responsibility to help her recover. They worked on her physical therapy as well as her speech therapy.
“It was fun. It was not a chore. I always try to have a good attitude. I say, ‘We’re doing this together.’” Benny says of their therapy sessions. In fact, he did everything with her. If she had to crawl on the floor, he’d be right down there with her. For a time she had a hard time swallowing so she could only eat pureed food, Benny pureed both of their food and they ate together. They did everything as one.
A lot of this recovery process was focused on Jodie’s physical recovery but Pastor Benny is quick to add that there were emotional, spiritual and physical components that have to be overcome.
Because Jodie had a stroke in the left side or her brain, the right side of her brain which is the emotional center of the brain began to work in overdrive. This caused an influx of emotions, which caused a lot of confusion and frustration for Jodie.
“Her emotions were really at a pitch, and I had to be extremely careful not to put her into fight or flight. I had to be very careful about what I said. I did say some things that were wrong and she reacted. So the best thing I could do, and I keep this up today, is when my wife says something, or I say something to her and she becomes emotional about it, is not to react. I have to remind myself, ‘Okay, now, that’s not normally who Jodie is.’
“I just begin to pray because God can speak to her. But if I’m talking, all she’s doing is hearing me. If I’m reacting to her the wrong way, all that’s going to do is stir her up more. If I can be quiet and pray, rather than react, then God her Father can speak to her and calm her down.” says Benny.
Because of their participation with Be in Health®, Benny and Jodie were familiar with the spiritual roots behind a stroke and began their walkout of those root issues as well.
“What good would it be if you just learned how to talk again and you learned how to walk again, but the spirit behind it was left in place?” Benny asserts. “It leaves you open for another attack by the enemy. We had to go back and look at it and say, ‘Okay, where was it that we gave the enemy access to our life that would cause this to happen in the physical?’”
Benny says this of himself, “One of the big components to a stroke can be that you are too hard on yourself. That is something we really had to look at, because I had always been really hard on myself and I had always wanted to be the very best and for everyone to look up to me. That mindset caused me to end up with drivenness. I put a standard on myself that was impossible for me to obtain. I had let the enemy teach me that the better I did, the more God was going to like me. That was just not true.
“As a husband and as a spiritual head of the home, if the husband thinks that way, guess who he teaches to think that way? Everyone around me, specifically I had taught my wife to think that way. She came to believe that how well she performed would be measured and if she didn’t measure up then she wasn’t a good girl. It was not true at all, but that was the way we thought and that put a lot of pressure and stress on her body.
“So I had to go back and I had to repent and ask God to forgive me for being so driven and for thinking that who I am is how well I do. And then repent for transferring that over to my wife and putting that hardship on her. I had to take responsibility for that. I repented to God and I also asked Jodie for forgiveness. Then she began to look at areas in her own life where she had been hard on herself.”
One situation that was hard on Jodie was seeing other people fill her old positions at the church. She would say, “That’s my position.” To which Benny was able to assure her, “There are no positions in the kingdom of God.”
This helped Jodie identify that old mindset and began her on a journey of realizing her real purpose and identity in the Kingdom of God. Her recovery process became a time for her to crawl up into Father God’s lap and learn His heart for her and His love for her and to see herself the way He sees her.
Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings. Psalm 17:8 KJV
“Jodie realized that, although she worked in the kingdom, her position in the kingdom and who she is, is not what she could accomplish and what she did. It is important to work, but you can’t build your identity on what work you do. That’s the key thing. In our work, God expects us to be a servant to those that we work with, those that He’s put under us and those that He’s put over us– that we would serve each other.” says Benny.
Through this process both Pastor Benny and Jodie received healing in many areas of their lives.
He goes on to say, “God has really changed me through this process. When they asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is, He said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment. And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31 KJV
“If you could just keep those two verses, then you would be able to keep the rest of the law. So the whole gospel is really built upon relationship.
“I have found in my own life that really I had not served my wife at the level that I needed to serve her. It was a big change for me to really commit my time to her, my energy to her, and to really represent God to her. That was important while she was in this state of recovery. I represent God to her and how He would think, speak or act.
“This situation taught me that everything I do and say has to represent God to my wife, so that she is able to recover and have her peace in a time that is very difficult. God is the servant of all of us. God the Father and Jesus His Son are the highest representation of servanthood that there is in the universe. They have set an example for us of what leadership really looks like.”
Jodie reflects, “When I was trying to do this physical stuff, Benny was right down on the floor doing it with me. He didn’t try to stand over me and tell me what to do. He showed me what to do and that made a lot of difference in my recovery.
“I’ll say this: I had God and my husband, I also had my church and friends outside of the church and family that stuck by me. They never had a negative thing to say about my recovery. They always had positive things. That helps a lot when people are more positive. Nobody has ever told me anything negative about myself.”
Benny concludes, “But you know, beside the physical part, I think the thing that the enemy wanted to do was break up our relationship. Our marriage is stronger now than it’s ever been and we love each other more now than we ever did. After going through this and serving each other, we have shown each other a level of patience and love that we had never seen before.
“God deserves all the glory and honor for whatever we did because what we did is just simply obey him. And if it was not for His Word and His faithfulness toward us, we would never have made it to this level.”
As important as the physical testimony can be, the spiritual one is the one we’re taking into eternity. The testimony that is going to count is who we become because of our journey. If you or a loved one is in the process of recovering from a major traumatic event, there are certain things that God can work in your hearts to help you in this process.
A whole new level of vulnerability needs to happen in the person who is recovering. They need to be willing to allow someone else to help them and work with them at sometimes a very uncomfortable and more personal level.
If you are walking with a loved one through this, you must realize that the kingdom of self needs to be removed – this is not about you. You may do the best you can, but you still need to find a place of peace and trust in your heart towards God. Ultimately He is the one who will bring about the healing for you and your loved one in your spirits, souls and bodies.
This is an amazing opportunity for you to learn to participate with God. He is not asking you to do it in your own strength or to figure anything out. That is too large a burden for you to bear.
Ye shall not [need] to fight in this [battle]: set yourselves, stand ye [still], and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD [will be] with you. 2 Chronicles 20:17 KJV
Press into Him, receive inspiration through His Word and by His Holy Spirit. Be still and know that He is God. Seek to know His love deeper so that in turn you can properly represent it to your loved ones. Take one day at a time. Step by step. Don’t let fear project into the future. Cast all your cares on Him and ask for His wisdom.
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our LordJesus Christ. 1Thessalonians 5:23 KJV
The Be in Health® Team
This article is modified from the 2013 Oct-Dec. Be in Health Magazine titled, “Recovering Together”