Michelle Obama said something striking as I watched her speech at the Democratic National Convention the other night. She said, “Barack was never interested in how much money he could make, but in how many lives he could change.” It gave me goose bumps and spoke right to my heart. I admire him for that. She spoke of how he’s the same man now he was when he was poor. When he had a hole in his car picking her up for dates, or when his best shoes were too tight. I thought it was charming. I admired the way she saw the difference in him. I think we all do whether or not we agree with all of his ideals.
Her mentioning our president interested in changing lives resonated with me, because that is what I want to do. I’m here for a certain period. We all are. I want to do something good with it. In life, we never find success without taking chances. I feel I have a purpose here. To help others who’ve had tragedies like me. So I pray for God to lead me, and he does. And for him to guide me, and he does.
Father Dressman asks me to “see this as a gift, if I can offer it for the needs of others” in a prayer he designed for me. “I ask you Lord, to heal my brokenness. I have a body that doesn’t always work right. I know it is your gift to me. So many others have so much less,” he writes.
This sentence is like an oxymoron. How can I see disability as a gift? What is a gift about it? The all too often pain in my right leg? Or the weakness in my trunk? It’s not the occasional questions of “what happened to me.” But the second part is the catch. “If I can offer it for the needs of others.” If good can come out of this, than indeed it is a gift. And a lot of good has. I’m praying for more. I have a desire in my heart. It consumes me. If only people can see how God helped me, brought me through and kept me happy than maybe they can be inspired to get through their injuries too. And as I’m helping them, I’m helping me. And that feels great!
4 thoughts on “A lesson and a prayer”
Thank you very much for reaching out into cyber space and sharing so many inspirational posts that no doubt have helped many with their struggles with SCI/paralysis .
I am fast approaching the 2 year anniversary of my 6th spine surgery. Much like your tragic auto related accident as a teen, my day of reckoning came from complications stemming from the removal of a previously undiscovered tumor intwined within my spinal cord at level T-4. The tumor was successfully removed but I was left paralyzed from the chest down.While some function has returned I remain primarily bed/wheelchair bound 2 years later.
Much like yourself I have acquired a burning desire to leverage my disability to help others in a way that most pleases the Lord. After going through the various stages of anger,disbelief,depression,isolation,denial etc. I happened upon a book entitled “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. In her best selling book I read how adversity,hardships, and serious life challenges are sent to us from God so that we may serve him and fulfill our role in his divine plan for us and for the benefit of others.
Reenergized and enthralled I began reading 14 other books relating to SCI/Paralysis and the spiritulal meaning of it.all While studying, over time I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and contentment overtake me.I had attended the Catholic Church for over 30 years yet it struck me that I really never had that real meaningful personal relationship with Jesus I thought I had and as a result I was a frequent filler of the emptiness within me through a sinful pursuit of Madison Ave.created non existent fantasies. In my mad dash to nowhere I made many moral errors that hurt many people in my family and others close to me.
Today, I have truly lost the desires for the material things and earthly desires that led me along the path through my all too sinful life. What a relief! Having lost many of the things that defined me in my life pre paralysis I listen much more to others vs dominating a conversation, each night my wife and I read from a childrens version of “Jesus Calling” and then hold a discussion session with our 10 year old twin daughters… My days begin with reading about my new life not because I am obligated to do so but because I crave it and I feel better if I do…Would any of the foregoing play such a central role in my life absent my Heavenly call for a life of pain and suffering through disability? No Way!
In my reading I came across a Quad who leads a world wide Christian ministry specifically to serve the spiritual and other needs of the disabled. This remarkable woman is Joni Eareckson Tada and her ministry is “Friends of Joni”. What really endeared me to her mission is her “Wheels for the World” outreach that employs a nationwide network of collection and distribution points where donated wheel chairs are staged for delivery to correctional facilities so that mechanically inclined inmates can repair,restore, and custom fit the chairs for world wide delivery to the most needy among us. Try and keep a dry eye when hearing Ms Tada tell of how she finds many disabled in Ghana and the challenges those folks endure daily with smiles on their faces. Do we have it bad? Yep! But for me this sure goes a long way of putting our respective plights in proper perspective.
In closing you asked (as did I) “How can this condition be a gift??? The answer lies in how we handle our set backs in this life. The bible states in many places that incredible things await those who believe and serve God as he intends in eternity in Heaven. Our damaged bodies will give way to perfection and there will be no more pain or awkward feelings of embarrasment, or UTI’s etc.etc. It’s there if we do what we are called to do and really act on the feelings he has given us.
You in? I am!
Many blessings, and please if you are so inclined feel free to contact me about where we both are at in our spiritual journey and if there is a way we can act in a way that is in keeping with Gods plans..
Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story in a very beautiful, moving and thoughtful comment. Like you, I know I would never be able to get through my hardship without a personal relationship with Jesus. I’m inspired by your faith. I’m very happy if I’ve inspired you in any way. I just think it’s so beautiful you and your wife read from a children’s version of “Jesus Calling,” and hold a discussion session with your 10 year old twin daughters each night. What a great way to end each day! You mentioned you have read 14 books on SCI/spirituality. I would be interested to know which books they are and learn more about them. Maybe you could email me some titles. I would be so grateful. I’ve heard of Joni Eareckson Tada. Her work is amazing. May God bless her and her ministry! I will keep you in my prayers and pray that you gain a little more strength each day. I pray for your recovery. I’m so glad we can be friends!
You’re welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed it!
My brother suggested I might like this website. He was entirely right. This post actually made my day. Thanks!