When I think back to August 2013, when I fainted in my kitchen and woke up paralyzed, I remember a flurry of emotions. In the beginning, of course, there was the initial shock and disbelief about the devastation that had occurred in my life. While I was in the ICU at UNC, I didn’t want any visitors and only allowed close family members to visit me. I remember feeling almost ashamed over what it happened to me, as if it was my fault. Also, I kept telling anyone who would listen that I had not been drinking when I passed out. Being an alcoholic for so many years, it was important for me to let people know that I had not relapsed after three strong years of sobriety.
The next feelings I remember were shame and anger. Having different people see me naked, clean me up when my bowels had moved, bathe me each morning, brush my teeth and hair, to name a few, just felt humiliating. Like most people, when I was able-bodied I spent many years focused on the outside—wearing the right clothes and jewelry, putting on makeup every day, using the best smelling body wash and lotion—and here I was unable to do any of that. I remember when I was at Shepherd Center during my rehab phase, seeing a young woman in the hall dressed nice, makeup on, with her hair looking lovely, and I burned with anger. There I sat crumpled in a wheelchair, unable to move, and feeling as if I looked so ugly. I felt worthless.
It took a couple of years for me to start growing close to God again, but I persevered. I began reading the word on a regular basis, and as expected, it changed me.
Psalm 1: 1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (ESV)
Matthew 5: 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
How quickly I had forgotten that reading the word and praying changes the way I think and act, and builds my faith. In Psalm 1 above, I am reminded that the Word of God nourishes me and keeps me hydrated. I prosper when I walk with God. And as Matthew 5 teaches me, I have to hunger and thirst for the right things, or I am unfulfilled, discontent and joyless.
When I think back about all the emotions I’ve experienced over the last five years, and all the trials I’ve endured, I know it was all part of a plan to teach me, to mold me, and to keep me faithful until this life is over. I’m not going to lie—at the time I was experiencing the trials, it was terrible; but when I look back at the hard times now, I am emboldened by knowing that I made it through. That God pulled me through.
1 Peter 1: 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Although I couldn’t see it at the beginning, so much good has come from my injury. Writing this blog has changed the course of and outlook on my life. Where I felt completely worthless in the early days of my injury, I now feel confident and equipped to encourage others.
Hard times are meant to strengthen our faith. I also understand that my beauty comes from within, and not from clothes or jewelry or good smelling lotions! God has taught me to trust in his plan and not look at my circumstances, or compare my situation to others, as a measuring stick of my value. All the hard times were meant for my good, and are useful for sharing with others. His plan for me is perfect.
Psalm 18: 30 As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.