I just had a birthday a few weeks ago. Every year when I blow out the candles on my cake I make a wish; I think of the wish as a prayer or a request to God for the year. This year I wished something I never would have guessed I’d wish on my 22nd birthday. I blew out my candles and then I said a quiet prayer to the Lord:
“God, please heal me this year, but if you don’t and you take me to join you in heaven, please be with my loved ones. Give them the strength to get through it and let them have joy as they continue on with life.”
Many of you have been following my Radical Road articles and may be puzzled at this birthday wish. Let me explain for those who are reading my blog for the first time and for those who have been keeping up with me.
I was in a car accident 14 months ago and have been living in bed with severe pain every day since then. In my car accident I received a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). I have had impaired vision since then and was almost blind for several months. I do not rely on my vision as I type this article but instead I rely on the memory of my fingers with the keyboard. I have had extreme difficulty walking and need help to stand and walk without falling. I have had difficulty breathing and sometimes just stopped breathing (due to the TBI). I have also had shooting pains unlike any pain I’ve ever known throughout my back, arms, and legs as well as sharp pains and terrible migraines.
I had been making slow progress in my healing until about 8 months in when my body just started to collapse (as if the symptoms above weren’t enough ;)). My pain shot up higher than I’ve ever experienced and I was going numb in miscellaneous parts of my body.
About a month ago I saw my neurologist who is a TBI specialist and has been working with me this past year. My mom had her hand around my waste supporting me as I slowly tried to walk into my doctor’s office without falling. I sat down and the room was silent. The serious look on my doctor’s face told me something was wrong. She looked at me and said “Rachel, something else is going on in your body besides the brain injury.” She continued on to tell me that she believed I had a neurological disease on top of the injury and that’s why my body was getting worse.
Oh great… as if a TBI isn’t enough, now I was thought to have an autoimmune neurological disease that I would have to live with the rest of my life ;)! I recalled my doctor telling me that the part of my brain that was damaged would make the pain from the neurological disease much more severe… Oh is that it??? Nope.. by the way your disease is also making your brain injury symptoms worse, she told me.
I can’t help but chuckle as I write about all the complications within my body. I know it’s not a laughing matter, but I’ve learned to take a step back and sometimes just laugh at the irony of it all. Thank God for the grace He has given me through this! If it weren’t for Him I think I would have just died from the pain or gone mentally insane. I’m actually not being sarcastic, I really feel that way. Thank God that His grace IS sufficient enough for us! 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
I came home that night as I soaked it all in. I started picturing the rest of my life in a wheelchair, disabled, or in bed. I started to think about the possibility of dying in the next few years, maybe in the next few months. I imagined what my family would do if I died. As I prayed and worshiped God that evening I asked Him to give me more strength. I then felt His Spirit telling me that my future hadn’t changed, just my perception of it had.
IF I did have something fatal, God had known about it the day I was born and planned my life accordingly. IF I was going to be disabled the rest of my life, God also knew that and had great plans for me and would use my disability and my weakness, to show His strength through my life.
It gave me great peace as I thought about it. I’ve been at peace since then. There were so many thoughts of fear and sorrow trying to take over and I had to choose to say “NO” to them and to trust that God had a good plan regardless of what that plan was.
That night I once again surrendered my life to the Lord and said, “My life is not mine to decide what to do with it. It’s yours, and I trust you. Do with it as YOU please.” I trust Him completely and I know that there was no better place for my life to be than in His hands.
Since then I’ve actually found myself praying “God, if you can use me to glorify you more by being disabled and in pain the rest of my life then I will choose that path. But if you can use me more for your glory by restoring my health, then please heal me and heal me soon.”
Don’t get me wrong, I still have faith that God is going to heal me whether that healing takes place on earth or in heaven. We know there is no weeping or pain in heaven. (Revelation 21:4) Regardless of what our lives look like here on earth we DO have the assurance that we WILL have new, healthy, healed bodies in heaven.
I’m not trying to death-ridden myself. I actually think that I’m going to be fully healed here on earth; I just might wake up tomorrow miraculously healed. The thing is I’m at peace even if I’m never healed here on earth because I know God would still have an amazing plan for my life, and that is an amazing feeling!
I just want all of you to know how GOOD our God is! Please don’t look at me and feel pity but instead I hope you can look at me and think, “Wow, God is so good! He is pouring His grace, peace, and joy on her through this- that is so supernatural.”
This past year has physically been the most difficult year of my life. But that’s just the physical. Spiritually it has been one of the most beautiful years of my life. I have had joy throughout these past 14 months that I know is not normal, it’s from God. I have discovered God’s love even deeper than before. I find myself falling more and more in love with God- I don’t mean in a weird romantic way, but in the fact that I feel like I’m in bliss when I think of Him. Just the thought of Him makes me want to smile, cry, and just revere how amazing He is. I can’t believe the God of the universe has anything to do with me, let alone has been there by my bedside holding my hand and guiding me through this. I am so blessed!
The peace God has given me over the past few weeks is so surreal I can hardly believe it. I’m not naturally a peaceful person. I stress, I set goals, and I carry every burden I can on my shoulders. Lately God is just freeing me of that. He’s teaching me that true peace comes from trusting Him. The more I trust Him the more peace I feel. It’s like I’m floating on a cloud when in my situation I should be depressed, stressed, and freaking out! And I KNOW that is God. Can I get a “Hallelujah” ;)?!
I think that I have 3 possibilities I am facing: I am disabled the rest of my life, I die young, or I am completely healed here on earth and live a life with a healthy body. The crazy thing is that I’m truly okay with ANY of those alternatives. I know that all 3 roads hold joy. I know with any of those roads I will be walking with my Savior. And I know that in any of those roads God will complete my destiny!
I encourage you that wherever you are at and whatever you’re facing, give it to God willingly and trust Him with it. I promise you that if you give it to Him He will do something different than you would do. But I also promise that He will do something better with it than you can do. Give your life once again to God and it will be in safe keeping. The trials will not cease, they will intensify. But when you enter eternity you will see that this life is only the beginning of our destiny.
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.”