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Radiance

As a kid, I felt so flawed. I was really skinny and short. I looked so much younger than the other kids. One day I wore shorts to school and I got teased really badly about my skinny legs and knobby knees. I was so ashamed, and unless I was at gymnastics practice, I didn’t wear shorts in public for a long time. Even in high school and college, I felt like my legs were ugly and I didn’t want to show them.

I felt so imperfect most of my life and as an adult it continued. When I made mistakes at work and someone had to correct me I would feel so ashamed. I would say to myself, “You are so stupid! You should’ve known better!” If my boss went into her office and shut the door, I would automatically assume that I had done something gravely wrong and was going to get fired. What an awful, discouraging way to live.

I have to say that even as a Christian it took a long time for me to let go of my shame. I spent many years trying to be perfect for God and for people. At first I got tired, and then I got very legalistic and bitter. It was the Word of God that kept me from suffocating in my self-hatred.

Psalm 31: In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.

Psalm 25:  In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.

These verses promised me that if I hoped in God, I would not be put to shame. I also knew that when I made mistakes I wasn’t being treacherous without excuse – they were just mistakes! I would read this verse often when I was in the midst of anxiety attacks. Yes – I was so convinced that I was more flawed than any other human that it caused anxiety attacks. Thankfully I overcame many of these terrible feelings about myself, but it was well into adulthood.

Being in this wheelchair has created some new insecurities. Fortunately they do not create anxiety attacks, but they still cause me some feelings of shame in public. The first year of my injury I wasn’t positioned in my wheelchair properly and it caused my neck to lean to the left too much. I hate the way it presents because it almost looks painful. In the wintertime I can wear scarves to hide the bend, but in the summertime it’s there for all to see.

Also, my wheelchair is bigger than a manual chair, and has a lot of technology attached to it, so there’s a lot of wires and extra parts. People stare at me quite often.  I remember when I was able-bodied I used to look at handicapped people with pity and think to myself, “I’m glad that’s not me.” I’m sure that many people look at me that way now.

1 Samuel 16: 7 “…for the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Even though I can still feel insecure about my crooked neck and broken body, I pray to think as God thinks and work on keeping my heart in good condition, regardless of what my exterior looks like.

With the wheelchair, I find that when people stare at me, I give them a big smile and say hello to them. It usually opens the door for me to share something about my journey and my faith. Earlier this week when I was at an appointment at Duke, I was able to share my faith with a few people and I felt so exhilarated. Isaiah 52:7 says …how beautiful are the feet of those who bring  good news… It’s always a privilege to share about the God who rescued me.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Mephibosheth. After the death of King David’s closest friend, Jonathan, the king wanted to find someone in his friend’s family to show the kindness of God.

2 Samuel 9:  The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.” “Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.” So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “At your service,” he replied. “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

Even though this young man was lame in both feet, he still ate with royalty. Because of his father, he was restored everything that had belonged to his family. When we live as true disciples of Christ, this is also God’s love story to us. Regardless of our imperfections, the things we feel so ashamed of, our past sins, God still welcomes us to his table. Just like Mephibosheth, who was connected to the King through Jonathan, we are connected to the Supreme King through his son and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

We do not have to bow our heads in shame any longer. We can look to God with radiance.

Psalm 34:  I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

Amen.

About Terri Nida

In August 2013, I fainted in my kitchen and woke up paralyzed from the shoulders down. I am still trying to make sense of all this, but one thing I know is that God is with me and he loves me.

12 responses »

  1. God bless you Terri! Your faith is inspiring and encouraging!

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  2. Terri, I love the word radiance. It describes how God looks upon us and it also describes how we look to others when His radiance shines through us.

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  3. Beautifully said my friend. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. All the best my friend.

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  4. I’m always inspired by your faith and your blog. Your words encourage me and when I have those feelings of being imperfect, I will go back to the scriptures you shared.

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  5. Terri, thanks so much for sharing in such a relatable way. It seems that no matter our circumstance it always goes back to the condition of our heart. Love you!

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  6. Hi Terri, I subscribed to your blog back in February and I just wanted to say how much your posts help to lift up my spirits. I’m 25, and I also have a complete C4 injury after being hit by a drunk driver. This post about venturing out with family and friends just really connected with me. My two year anniversary is coming up on the 31st and I’ve just been struggling a lot this year for many reasons. I followed your blog and another one this year because of how important faith is to you both. To be honest I was never really a religious person before the accident, but posts like yours have helped me to find faith in my life now, and to let God guide me. For that I can’t thank you enough, and I will continue to look forward to your future posts!

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  7. You are beautiful and inspiring. ❤️

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  8. Dearest Terri, you are so brave. It takes so much courage to be vulnerable to us all! When we are honest we expose ourselves to hurt and criticism. But instead we connect with the very same hurts that others have. Like you, I was always the smallest kid in school and not good at sports etc. but you found your gift in gymnastics and excelled in so many other ways. But like you said the only thing that really matters is how God feels about us. And the Bible speaks over and over that He loves us. He thinks we’re beautiful. We’re precious in His sight.
    Recently, when I would have negative thoughts about myself I would stop and ask myself l” betsy, would you ever say that to someone else? And more importantly can you hear God saying that to you?! “ NEVER !
    Thank you once again for sharing your heart and encouraging us all. You are my hero. One day we will eat at that banquet table together!

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  9. Kimberly Eastman Zirkle

    I think you are beautiful inside in out and I am so glad you are able to believe it now!

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  10. I struggle a lot with self-hatred and low self esteem/depression so this was a very timely word God sent through you Terri. Thank you for your honesty. A lot of Christians I encounter don’t speak so openly about their weaknesses but by having the courage to do so, you help so many and redirect them back to God who can use even our weaknesses and brokenness for good. I definitely need reminders of that when I feel beat down by life and circumstances especially aroubd the holidays.

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  11. You are indeed a daughter of the King, Terri. Thanks, as always, for including us in your journey.

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  12. Wonderful and uplifting post Terri. Thanks be to God that because of His great love towards us, we too have a seat at the King’s table. While on this earth we may all look different and have our own set of challenges, the one thing we all share as Christians is a new heart. And at the end of it all, isn’t the condition of our heart all that really matters to our Savior? The new home that Jesus is preparing for us isn’t segregated by walls, barriers, or wheelchair ramps. Full access belongs to us all!

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