I wrote this essay to be included and a friend’s book.
I became a Christian in 1989 when I was 25 years old. I had never read the Bible and had no idea I could have a personal, life-changing relationship with God. Prior to my conversion, I had been an alcoholic for 10 years. I started drinking when I was 15, and by high school, I was drinking in the mornings. I remember I was always desperate for the drink. It’s all I ever thought about and the only thing I craved. My life was miserable. I felt so alone, so lost and so hopeless. I just assumed my life would always be that dismal. I knew something was missing.
So when I became a Christian at 25 years old, my life was finally fulfilling and I had finally found what was missing. I couldn’t believe how the Bible changed me. Just reading it put me in a state of awe and wonder. I had no idea it was so powerful and relevant. I couldn’t believe how much I changed just by reading it and putting it into practice. My dream for an amazing life had finally come true. Even the people around me noticed a radical change in my countenance. I was joyful. I was giving. My eyes were full of light because of my relationship with Christ.
Being a part of the body of Christ, I had friends that cared for me and with whom I could confess sins and be vulnerable about things I was thinking and experiencing. I had never had friendships like these and again, I was completely in awe. I was filled with gratitude.
In 1991, I picked up my life and moved to Washington DC to be part of a church expansion there. I was a little southern girl that had never lived outside of North Carolina, and there I was in the nation’s capital! I was thrilled and an enthusiastic witness for Christ. Those first years there were incredible. I loved the city life and I loved being a part of the body of Christ in Washington DC. Again, I couldn’t believe my life could be so good.
In 1997, the bottom fell out. My mother died in 1993 and I became bitter at God. That year I also had a relationship that ended and left me disillusioned and disappointed. I got really depressed and cynical. I became a legalistic Christian and forgot that everything I did was for the glory of God. I began to try to please leadership by bringing people to church and trying to get them to study the Bible. I was just going through the motions hoping that everyone would be happy with me because of my actions.
As you can imagine, I got very tired. I was spiritually and emotionally bankrupt. One night I decided I would have one glass of wine just to relax my mind. After the second glass I felt this incredible relief inside of me that I had missed for years. That one glass of wine led to a habit of drinking every day for the next 12+ years. I walked away from my church family that loved me so dearly and opted to live in isolated life. I would come home from work every day, close the blinds, and drink until I passed out. When I came to, the whole cycle would start over. I had no friends and no happiness in my life.
In 2010, I began to go to a 12 step support group and was able to get sober for three years. But I still knew something was missing. Although the support group encouraged the members to be spiritual and rely on God, I longed to have the relationship with God I had before; one where I looked to the Bible for the answers – and not to people. I wanted a relationship with God that had depth. I longed for deep friendships like the ones I had in my church fellowship. I longed to be joyful and full of gratitude again. And even though I was sober, I was empty.
Fast forward to August 18, 2013.
I was standing in my kitchen and I suddenly felt dizzy. It had been a nice Sunday afternoon. I remember what I was wearing: a mauve colored peasant blouse and white pants. I remember that the sun was shining through the dining room windows and my cats were curled up on the couch. It had been a good day, because I had spent the day in prayer.
I spent the day in prayer for many reasons. I felt disconnected from God and disconnected from people. I prayed an earnest prayer for God to do whatever he needed to do to help me to reconnect with Him.
So on this beautiful August day in 2013, after such an earnest day of prayer, I had a feeling of incredible resolve. I remember how free I felt. I remember how much lighter I felt. And that’s when I decided to have a bite to eat. I simply went to the refrigerator and a sense of dizziness hit me. The next time I opened my eyes my view of the world, my attitude towards God and people, and the things I treasured most in my life, were forever altered.
For anyone who’s ever fainted, you know something is off because your world begins to shake a bit. Although I’ve never experienced an earthquake, I imagine the quaking I felt in my body would be likened to a tremor. Sometime later I opened my eyes. My cats were lying on my body – probably trying to keep me warm. Nothing below my shoulders moved, no matter how hard I tried. All I could see were ceiling tiles and I felt completely disoriented. Somewhere between the refrigerator and the floor I had fallen backwards, probably hit the stove handle just right to snap the C3 vertebrae in my neck.
My whole body was tingling and I knew I was paralyzed. I remember thinking to myself, okay – this is how it is. I was in and out of consciousness for the next day and a half. When I was awake, I spent time praying and reciting bible passages that I had memorized for challenging life moments; although I never expected a life moment like this one. And please don’t think I’m a spiritual giant. I was terrified, and this was all I knew to do. My coworker came the morning of the second day with the police. The door was broken down and I was found lying on the kitchen floor. Close to death.
Prior to the fall I had just returned from a vacation in Cancun a few months earlier and had kept up my tan via the tanning bed. My hair was streaked with blonde from being in the Mexican sunshine and $200 highlights at the salon. I worked out. I took walks. I had been athletic most of my life and so I was fit and muscular. I had a closet full of clothes, a bunch of new furniture because I had just moved in two a new place. I had a new car, friends in my support group, and a family living nearby.
I seemed to have it all together on the outside, but inside I had been groaning for quite some time. I felt a yearning that could not be satisfied. Unbeknownst to the world, I was at the bottom of a dark pit and didn’t know how to climb out. And I wouldn’t ask for help. Little did I know I was getting ready to take a journey with God that would teach me how to claw out of that well, inch by inch. When I woke up in the ICU, I suddenly had a desperate need for support from friends and family and a relationship with God. Thus I began my journey of physical, spiritual, and emotional healing.
After a long hospitalization, I went to live in a nursing facility. My family members didn’t feel they could provide adequate care so this was the only alternative. After having such a carefree, independent, active lifestyle, I was suddenly completely dependent on the nursing staff to live.
Prior to the accident, I was on only one medication. Now I had to swallow 20 pills throughout the day. The staff was responsible for everything. They took care of my hygiene. They dressed me. They exercised me. They lifted me in something like a human forklift to put me in my wheelchair. For some reason it made me feel humiliated to be lifted in that thing. At the end of the day, I was put in bed.
I was distraught and angry for the first couple of years. Thanks to the support of friends and women who I consider to be spiritual mentors, I came to believe that God had a greater purpose in this than what I could see. I still believe this with all my heart. Yet maneuvering through each individual day and through an odyssey of emotions, can be, at times, hard for me not to think of each day as a negative event. I find myself asking God, can we skip all these days of suffering and just get to the end result?
Losing the things I thought made up my identity—my home, my job, my physical appearance, all of my material possessions, was an adjustment I was not prepared to face; and learning to live life in a facility with 24-hour dependence on others was frustrating, degrading at times, and could be very discouraging. Over time, I have learned to accept these things and to be grateful I’m in good hands.
In the first year I allowed myself to believe that God had deserted me. In fact, I had some devastating things happen during that time and found myself asking God, what good is all of this? I was bitter and filled with rage much of the time. I was angry at God and angry at people. I lashed out at the nursing facility staff, and I lashed out at my family. I was confused, paranoid, and deeply depressed.
Thanks to modern technology and computer software, in the second year I got access to a voice recognition software which allowed me to read the bible, write a blog about my life, and connect with people through social media. I have 350 people that follow my blog. Some of them I’ve never met and yet we have a strong connection because of our love of Christ. And I started to have more meaningful prayers. But my prayers are so different now. They are raw and real and searching for answers. As a result, I feel like I’ve gained some positive perspective on my quadriplegia.
I’ve had days when I just want to give up and wish I could disappear from this earth. But there are other days when I’m filled with gratitude knowing that this injury has allowed me to have a relationship with God and a few friends on a much deeper level. I believe my life has a purpose, if I can just live victoriously one day at a time.
I talked with a dear friend of almost 30 years about healing. She is someone who I consider to be a spiritual mentor. She taught me about healing and how it comes to us in different ways. I realized when I was able-bodied I looked for self-worth through things of this world, and I never felt at peace or complete. Now that I have none of these things I am completely reliant on God for my peace and sense of completeness. This is been my time for healing.
I was redeemed from the empty way of life in 1989. I participated in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When I emerged from the water I was made new and forgiven of my sins. I believe I was redeemed a second time in 2013 when my cervical vertebrae snapped. I finally regained a deep love for God and a deep love for others. Once again, I was set free.