I do not know which transformation is more impossible for me to grasp—my miraculous healing in 2013, or my miraculous survival when the pain was initiated in 2007. I do not have the capacity to understand either. If I could, I do not know that I would be capable of functioning. In the years following the crash, I have memories of stretching out my left hand and poking it with my right—awestruck and confused by the reality of my existence—trying to grasp it, literally.
This past Sunday evening, I had to take a step back before awe could strike me. A few hours of my afternoon had been spent playing volleyball, and I never once hesitated to dive for a ball out of a fear of debilitating pain to follow. Seriously, HOW IS IT POSSIBLE that my body can do what it does—and how do I not notice?!
I was speaking with a woman after I gave a talk last Saturday, and she expressed that it is impossible to explain chronic pain to someone who has not experienced it. Here I am now, finding it impossible to describe what it is like to be without chronic pain that was once present, and it has now been gone for almost as long as it was there (5 years vs. 6 years). It is weird. It is incredible. It is indescribable. It is a miracle!
I pray that you find yourself awestruck by the miracles in your life—your life itself is a miracle! I hope it does not take an experience of nearly dying in order for you and those around you to realize this. The gift of life is so beautiful. We are broken in many ways, and that makes living our lives hard and confusing, and at times even seem not worth it—but how incredible it is when we persevere through those times—how strengthened we become through sufferings. It is easy to focus on what makes our lives difficult. What makes your life great?! What motivates you to keep going? Take a moment to reflect on your blessings, and give thanks to the One who has blessed you. Do not take these gifts for granted, but embrace them, because “later” might be too late.
There is so much I took for granted before the crash, things I even hated about myself but wept over once they were lost. Perhaps ironically, one thing I had not taken for granted was my back. I loved my back—it was decidedly my favorite body part after a particular dance practice the summer before eighth grade. Some of the girls on the team, who were much thinner than I, were complaining about their back fat. It was the strangest thing to me, and I remember going home and telling my mom that I liked my back. It was strong and flexible—and the only part of my body I did not consider to be fat.
A few years later, my muscles ripped away from my spine, my bones fractured, and my discs collapsed. I felt betrayed. My back was no longer strong nor flexible—for a period of time I could not even roll over onto my side. As my movement continued to be limited, I quickly discovered the reality of back fat. I hated my back. I hated my body. I hated that I gained nearly fifty pounds through a lifestyle that was not my choice.
The healing took away the pain in my back, but it did not undo the previous six years. I could not just pick up where I had left off. I was incredibly out of shape and out of practice, I had residual fears that working out would trigger another setback, physical activity was no longer built into my busy schedule, and I (honestly) did not know what to wear. I was embarrassed and ashamed.
The journey has been filled with discouraging realizations about my weaknesses, but God has been with me every step of the way, and it has been Beautiful. I am still much larger than I was before the crash, but I love my body far more than I ever could then. It is asymmetrical and covered in scars from tubes and stretch marks, but it never gave up on me. I never again want to take for granted this incredible gift I have received. It has been a privilege to learn to love the body I have—back fat and all. As the five-year anniversary of my healing approaches (May 25), I praise God for His Mercy, and I thank Him for His Love.
“Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’”
Luke 5: 26