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The Rocky Path of Perfection

I was recently enrolled in my last class before graduating with a bachelor’s degree. It was an accelerated class that crammed an entire semester of work into an 8 week timeframe. I was typically spending 30 to 40 hours a week reading class materials, writing papers, participating in forums, and taking tests. It was a huge challenge but I loved it (plus, I had a tutor!). Then in the seventh week of class, it happened.

I aspirated on a little bit of water and had to be rushed to the hospital emergency department (ED). Aspirations are common with me because I have something called esophageal dismobility. Most people with this condition might aspirate often but then are able to cough up whatever went down “the wrong pipe.” Not me, unfortunately.

When my C3/C4/C5 cervical spine was completely severed (see “My Story” for the entire journey), all my muscles atrophied – basically melted away – within a week. That included the muscles around my diaphragm that allow me the strength to cough, clear my throat, blow my nose, and spit up – I know, gross. Since I can’t cough, when I aspirate the food is just stuck and it can block me from breathing. I’ve had aspiration pneumonia at least 4 or more times since becoming a quadriplegic 7 years ago.

When I woke up in the ED, the first thing I said to my sister-in-law was, “what about my class!” Everything was going right on schedule and I knew I was going to finish right on time with the perfect grade, and now THIS??!!

James 4:  13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Once again, the upheaval in my life was causing me feelings of angst and despair. Was the professor going to flunk me? If not, would I be able to finish all my assignments before the deadline that was only a week away? Would I end up with a B or C in the class? Believe me when I say any grade in the class less than an A caused me feelings of anger because I’m such a perfectionist.

Psalm 13: How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

I arrived at the hospital on a Tuesday morning because I aspirated, but I also tested positive for influenza A. By Thursday I was told I was symptom-free and could return to my facility. Unfortunately, my facility would not allow me to come back until 7 days had passed. I was well from the ailments that brought me to the ED, and yet had to spend 5 extra days lying in a hospital bed when I was not sick. You can imagine all the hopeless thoughts I wrestled with during those long 5 days.

Thankfully, after some fervent prayer and discipling from other spiritual women who mentor me, I came to the realization that all rocky roads in my life are to make me more Christlike; to make me more holy. This includes times of sickness while lying in an ICU bed, challenging classes when I’m sure I’m going to fail, difficult relationships with caregivers or friends, and prolonged hospital stays when I’m not even sick.  God uses everything in my life to draw me closer to him and strengthen my trust in him.

Romans 8:  31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 

God is for me in my life despite any forces that I feel are against me! I have to trust him – knowing everything that happens during my journey on this earth is for my good (Romans 8:28). He already gave up his son for me and will graciously continue to give me all things, I need only build my spiritual muscles so I can persevere in this broken body to the end of my life. Only God, who created me, knows what is best for me. I was able to say with confidence, “God I don’t know exactly why this is happening, but thank you for whatever you are teaching me.”

Romans 8:  37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ our Lord.

I finally felt at peace and trusted there was a purpose for my extended stay despite the disruption to my carefully laid plans. I was able to share with a couple of the doctors and several of the nurses about what I had learned in my walk with God during the week. Some of them listened intently with open hearts, and others got uncomfortable and quickly scooted out of the room. Either way, I was grateful for the opportunity to bring good news to those who needed to hear it.

Psalm 28: The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

I’m happy to say I received a 97.63% average in the class and am a new graduate of North Carolina Wesleyan College.

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.

41 responses »

  1. Con-GRAD-u-Lations!
    What terrific and living ministry you have!
    Drawing open hearts near to God and scoffers scooting away.
    God’s richest blessings to you, Terri !!

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  2. Congratulations Terri! That is awesome! God is great, and I might add so are you!

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  3. Congratulations Terri
    Trusting God really is an all or nothing deal. It means so much to get to the point where we say (Like you) :God is for me”. That truth gets tested so much, especially with all you have gone through. Thanks for this post.

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  4. Congratulations Terri! Is God faithful or what? So proud that you kept pressing towards your goal of becoming a college graduate. What a tremendous witness you are of God’s love and care. I’m excited to learn of your next conquest, and I believe God has a wonderful plan for you.

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  5. Wow and wow! What spiritual mountains you climb through Christ’s strength…and what victory you gain in His faithfulness! Congratulations dear graduate sister! 🎉
    We pray for you all the time, this is answer to prayer.
    Press on sister Terri!

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  6. Terri,
    You are a remarkable person. Congratulations on graduating, doubtless with honors. And thanks for your very powerful reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed. We only have the moment at hand — to make the most of and to be grateful for.
    Janie

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  7. You are an amazing woman! With all life has thrown at you, you were still able to complete your degree. I am so proud of you and so happy to call you my friend! ❤️

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  8. Oh, Terry, how my heart rejoices with you, even though we cannot share these blessings one-on-one. This is the second blessing today. You and Bill have posted today of the presence and power of our Lord with you. I have been praying for your completion of your degree, to know the Lord’s continued will for you and to encourage you in your “walk” with the Lord. How blessed were those who received your witness of Him in the hospital. We pray He will water the seeds you sowed while there. We are praying with much love and blessings for the days ahead. as you are filled with His grace and wrapped in His glory. I hope we can talk soon.

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  9. Congratulations on your accomplishment in the class, and even more, being able to minister to people in the midst of your unexpected detour. It looks as though God had His reasons. (He always does. 😉 ) What a blessing you are.

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  10. Wow this is amazing Terri. Congratulations! You are an inspiration.

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  11. Congratulations Terri! That is no small accomplishment and that average! As I read through your post I could almost feel the anxiety you must have been feeling with regard to the pending exams. But, with God as your helper, not only did you prevail but you prevailed by honouring God in your life, which again, considering the circumstances, is no small accomplishment. Well done Terri, looking forward to your next challenge. God’s grace, peace and blessings to you and yours.

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  12. Terri, thank you for sharing your story. I am so proud of you for persevering through a very frustrating situation. Your post has helped me see how petty my frustrations can appear to me. I need to constantly remember that God is good and good all the time! Bless you..

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  13. This is so powerful Terri! I am reminded of Gideon who had a seemingly impossible battle ahead of him. The Bible includes his ups, and downs with moments of faith and fear. God narrowed the field of possibilities with the requirements of the number who would fight, and how they were selected.
    Through your openness about your struggle with your health, as the reader, it is great to glean your determination and reliance on God! When the odds were seemingly impossible, at the time when it was so crucial, God gives you the strength to get past your physical illness, your frustrations, and ultimately brought about an over comer victory through Him! Praises to God, and thank you for your modern day allegiance to Him! What a story!

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  14. Congratulations my friend. Time to visit and celebrate. Love you..

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  15. Congratulations on your graduation, Terri. Well done. Though you are a student and I had been a college professor, I find that I learn more from your blog than anyone else’s.

    One great lesson from this post is your quote: “I need only build my spiritual muscles.” This applies to every Christian regardless of physical circumstances!

    Keep forging on, Terri. You are serving the Lord and reaching people in a wonderful way.

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  16. Dear Terri, what an inspiring word from God you gave us! I’ve worked with many Veterans and am reminded that God calls us all to be servicemen/servicewomen for Him too and you are the best soldier for Christ that I know. He has given you such a remarkable intellect and witness and perseverance for Him in so many ways and you continue to touch so many. Congratulations on your graduation as God continues to advance your purpose and calling in Him 🙂

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  17. Huge congratulations Terri, I’m so very proud of you! As you know your faith in God has really helped inspire me with my own journey when things seem so impossible and challenging at times. God has given us strength when we need it most, and your posts are proof of that. As always, take care, and I’m keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!

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  18. You are a ROCK STAR! I will never be able to fully express to you the joy your life brings to me! I love you and I am very proud of you!

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  19. Congratulations, Terri!!! You are amazing! I’m so glad to hear you overcame the aspiration so quickly, with God’s help, of course. I think I’ve also had aspiration pneumonia four times. No fun!
    Mary was so excited after she read your post last night, “Terri graduated from college!” I wasn’t on my computer and she wanted to read me your post, but I told her I’d rather read it myself.
    Keep clinging tightly to Romans 8:28. That one verse has carried us through some very dark times. You’re in our prayers.

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  20. Congratulations on your graduation. You have overcome obstacles along the way. Most people would have no understanding of how incredible it is what you have done with God’s help. 🙂

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  21. Pingback: Mystery Blogger Award – His eye is on the sparrow

  22. Teresa Johnson Troup

    Congratulations! Garman and I are proud of you. Andre’ would be so proud of you!!!

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  23. Terri, Congratulations, Terri! What an accomplishment! You continue to inspire and humble me! I think of John 15:7- “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.“. You certainly persevered and remained faithful, even though you hit some bumps, but it is amazing what God can do!! So happy for you! Carol McDougle

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  24. More congratulations from this corner, Terri! Graduating from college–with high grades, no less–is a superb accomplishment for anyone. But for you? It’s truly stellar. No doubt your perseverance, faith, and courage are an inspiration to countless people. You are amazing!!

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  25. Helen Bradford

    Congratulations Terri! You are truly an inspiration to us all. God bless you.

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