Chapter 1 from my book, Not Without God: Hope In the Storm

Zina Hermez

Chapter 1

Rain Will Come

Life as I knew it had changed. I was embarking upon a new life, and I knew things would never be the same. I found what I was searching for. Some say God works in mysterious ways. I can attest to it and discovered him through a bad vehicular accident. Through compassion from doctors, nurses, and others who were fighting for my life, I witnessed the love of Christ! I became so grateful that he saved my life.In my first book, Not Without God: A Story of Survival, I explained what happened. While trying to cross the street on my way to school on a dark rainy morning, I was hit by a car.

The bus that came to pick me up had already passed. Whenever I missed it, I would walk down to my best friend’s house. His bus came a little later, buying me more time. The pain from the windshield that cut into my abdomen was excruciating. “God, please help!” I cried. Then I was in and out of consciousness, mumbling and not making sense. 

“I’m Mary Kay,” said the nurse on the Survival Life Flight; she pleaded for me to hold on for my life and told me they were taking me to the University of Michigan Hospital. “They will take excellent care of you there, Zina!”

When I finally woke up and was alert enough, I realized the setting was unfamiliar. I had never been hospitalized. Where am I? I thought. I had devastating injuries; my tibias and fibulas shattered. I sustained a spinal cord injury at the mid-thoracic level, and my spine shifted and broke. I needed rods and screws to hold together my broken leg bones. I had internal bleeding and needed to have a blood transfusion. I had a cervical fracture and wore a neck brace. A doctor told me I have a mild head injury, not from evidence of it on any report, but she said I must’ve sustained one from the fact that my body flew like that. 

How will I go back to school? I pondered. I was active before this. I used to pick friends up and take them out! I was on the student council and a representative on my high school’s Multi-racial Multi-cultural diversity council. A large assembly was to be held in our gym. Teachers, students, and family members were all going to attend. The administrators were always proud of me because of my wise comments during our preparation meetings. But I could no longer attend school right after the accident. However, I heard that the people in the gym stood up in honor of me and applauded at the assembly. They recognized my contributions to the council. 

I was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital (Michigan Medicine) for a month. I was on a ventilator for a few weeks and could not eat solid food. I was on a feeding tube. The only way to communicate was by writing, and I would do so on the back of cutout paper from the hospital. After I was discharged from the PICU, I was transferred to 6 east. It was upstairs at the time. It’s where the Pediatric Medicine and Rehabilitation Unit (PMRU) was, and I stayed there for a little while. I was in the hospital for just over three months. I used to write letters addressed to God at night with a flashlight in one hand and a pencil and pad in the other. Here is a poem I wrote at the time:

Life can change,

 take it from me.

A young, healthy girl,

 I never thought like this I would be.

Life was fun and carefree,

 I went from school day to social gathering.

How did this happen to me?

 There are doctors and nurses in my face.

As I awoke in a flash of five seconds,

 a new life I hate.

I feel that I’m strong,

 and hang in there.

But somethings I’ve lost,

 I wouldn’t spare.

I’ll try very hard to get everything back,

 the young life I want to live,

 I didn’t want to lose that.

I appreciate everything from family to the sun.

 I have a new life and state of mind.

I left just before my birthday, and my nurses came into the room to see me with big smiles, ‘Aren’t you happy to be going home soon?’ they’d say. They planned for me to leave before my birthday to ease my pain and make my situation better. I would reluctantly smile back, but what they didn’t know is that I was terrified inside. I didn’t want to go back into the ‘real world.’ I was handicapped, and I knew life would be difficult. I knew it would be hard for my family to take care of me.

I didn’t know what was to become of me or if I would even have friends. I didn’t know if I would have the career I always wanted. My friends left just like I predicted. Fortunately, I have the career I dreamt of. I don’t know that I necessarily dreamt of it. I just had a feeling I would write and that my name would one day appear in bookstores. 

But the accident was only the beginning of my sorrow. Rejection and loss were to follow. I’ve woken up out of my sleep screaming from pain and cried out to Jesus numerous times just to be able to rest. I’ve repeated individual Psalms and searched the bible to find the right answers. Depression has knocked on my door many times. I’ve called out to God in every dark hour. 

My friends went about their own lives. I returned to school my senior year and had to use a wheelchair. They went off to spring break. As I’ve gotten older, it hasn’t helped the distance. I still talk about God a lot. I have a personal relationship with him, and I think that has a lot to do with why so many others have left. I don’t think people are used to that. At first, I thought people left because of my injuries. I didn’t think they wanted me to be a burden on them. Now that I’m older, I realize they have left because of who I am. My spiritual differences have set me apart.

Not Without God: Hope In the Storm describes how I’ve learned how to cope. It’s a teaching book and a narrative because I offer questions at the end of various chapters to help you write and reflect upon a time when God was there for you, for example. The questions are there to help you reflect and learn about yourself. You will need a journal. I would like for this book to be a self-help guide, but answering the questions is optional.

***

Suffering is not something we can avoid. It’s something we have to go through sometimes. Miracles don’t happen overnight. There is a light, but it doesn’t have to be at the end of the tunnel. We can be coworkers with God, but we have to do our part. By calling on the name of the Lord, we are invited in on a journey of healing, restoration, and hope. We can’t just sit there and sulk. It’s OK to get down once in a while, but we can’t stay there. We have to be resilient.

Grief can be an interesting thing. You may be grieving and not even know it. Life can take you through rough places, and sometimes it takes a while to adjust to the fact that life will never be the same. After my accident, I didn’t know what to expect. I battled a lot with self-acceptance. I didn’t know if I would be able to adjust to my new circumstances.

I was in a state of denial. I thought my life would go back to how it was before the accident, ‘normal.’ I thought I would walk again. I thought I would not have to deal with all the pain. My pain has decreased, but my physical challenge has not gone away. 

I have overcome some grave challenges. When some doctors predicted I wouldn’t, learning how to walk again has been a huge miracle. I learned how to drive again by nineteen years old. By twenty, I was back to work. At twenty-one, I received an Associate in Liberal Arts Degree from the local community college and then received my Bachelor of Arts in English from Oakland University. I was an English major and a History minor. 

Life began to bloom through a different lens. I prayed, eventually hoped, planned, and had good experiences again. So, I would like to suggest that you never believe you’ve hit a dead end. Life has a myriad of opportunities that await us. It’s full of new beginnings!

Through this, I have experienced God’s love on a deeper level and gained a more intimate relationship. I have always called out to him, not only in my darkest hours. I like to praise him. Praise is like a weapon. When you thank God for all you’ve got, it not only heals you but gives you strength. God has brought me through so much. I can’t help but be grateful. 

He is a fortress. It should not have to take a tragedy for you to know that. God is there all the time. He will be the only one we can depend on when everyone else has left. I lost a lot after my accident; not only did I have to learn how to adjust, heal, and walk, I also had to learn how to make new friends. God led me through it. New friendships happened. 

* * *

When I finally got out of the hospital and settled at home, I pondered upon how I would go back to school. I was active before this.I knew that life would not be easy. I wondered what it would be like since I could no longer just get up and walk freely. Everything took effort. I had to learn how to do wheelchair transfers, eventually walk up steps, and even exercise muscles that would not move. I had to become a problem solver.

I hoped I would one day walk the way I did before, and indeed, I am, but not the way I used to. I am not walking hands-free. I use forearm crutches (the kind with the rings around the arms) or a walker. Taking steps without holding onto anything is taxing. Many of my issues attribute to some weakness from my level of injury. I am considered a T-10/T-11 and that means the break happened in my mid to upper back. Having an injury that high can make it difficult to ambulate without assistive devices. 

After my accident, I held onto what I knew though. God would bring me through because he promised. I am very grateful that I can walk. After I got out of the PICU at the University Hospital, where I was for a little over a month, I went upstairs to PMRU, and that was just after they finally took me off the feeding tube and started me on a clear liquid diet. I didn’t know what the next day would bring. I could not predict anything. But I knew that with God by my side, overcoming would become second nature! It did.

I’m someone who wants to maintain a relationship with the Lord. Whenever a connection failed, I knew Jesus would be there. Every time someone rejected me, I became closer to him. I want you to remember that in your trials. His love is sufficient. Don’t try to alter what someone doesn’t like about you or what you have no control over. If someone doesn’t accept you for who you are, it is their problem. Count on him. He is the only one that can bring you through. Your loved ones can help you, too. But first and foremost, depend upon the Lord. 

Immediately after the crash, I could only mumble and fade in and out, not making much sense, but I remember how strongly I felt the Lord’s presence. On the helicopter ride, I kept thinking, hold on, Zina, hold on. There was this peaceful feeling I can’t explain. It was peace from God. The bible teaches that God will provide us with peace that surpasses all understanding. Amid the chaos, pain, and uncertainty, I felt the peace—leading and guiding. 

A Prophesying Pastor

I finally got the courage to return to school my senior year. It took the help of a generous teacher and principal, Mr. Rande Horn, to help me graduate on time with the rest of my class. At commencements, I received a standing ovation. I used a walker on the platform. Everyone applauded. My assistant principal got teary-eyed when he handed me my diploma! My dad cried. My mom was proud. Many cheered and clapped.

They knew this day was a stepping-stone that would continue to point to my future success! I had lost a lot, and losing my best friends affected me badly. I didn’t understand why they didn’t want to hang out anymore. I would listen to a Christian radio program that came on every night except for on the weekends, and there was a pastor I liked. People called in for live prayer. Listening helped me get my mind off myself. The best way to take the focus off yourself is to start praying for someone else! 

One night I was awoken out of my sleep by an angel or celestial spirit. The pastor’s program was on and often ran a little late, so I would usually fall asleep while listening. I had been particularly frustrated that day. I got my answers through this pastor’s prophesying.

When I looked to see who woke me, there was no one there. I thought it might be one of my sisters, who I lived with at the time, but they were both sound asleep. I knew a divine being had awoken me. So, the pastor was prophesying as he would often do. And he said: “Someone is listening. You have a problem with your back. There is some sort of problem…of…I’m not sure what happened or how, but something is wrong with your back is all I keep feeling. God wants you to know—he’s going to build a bridge for you. God is just going to build a bridge! He is going to take you above and beyond what anyone could ever think would happen for you!” he kept saying. 

God wanted me to hear this. I knew that message was for me. Right away, I called the broadcast before he finished. Surprisingly, I got through the telephone line and told him my situation. I explained I was upset I could not walk. In my young mind, I thought ‘walking’ again would bring my friends back. He explained the message was for me and reiterated that God was just going to build a bridge, again, and take me above and beyond what anyone could ever think or imagine for me. He confirmed the message. His exact words were, “The Lord is just going to build a bridge. He will take you above and beyond what anyone ever thought could happen for you!” 

***

As an adult, I no longer believe that I will walk without a walker or forearm crutches. The Laws of Physics won’t allow for it. I had too many injuries. I haven’t given up on trying, though, because I know that God is one of miracles, and you just never know what can happen. Recently I have found out that the wonderful Elon Musk has invented a “brain chip” through his fairly new company, Neuralink, it will address people’s issues that are similar to mine. But either way, I have made so much progress throughout the years, I am happy with how far I have come even if I never walk the way I did before the accident. First and foremost, I’m blessed to have a direct connection with the Lord.

There are different ways you can heal. Healing is more than external. Recovery does not have to only be on the outside. I have recovered on the inside. The most significant transformation that can happen is when you’ve changed on the inside, and then it reflects on the outside too. Many people get surprised at others, like me, who may accept and even rejoice in the Lord in what seems to be ‘dire’ circumstances. 

But what people don’t understand is that healing comes to its peak after you realize you healed from within. Being healed is not a one-time thing or event. The Bible reads, ‘I am the Lord who continuously heals you.’ A walk with God is a lifetime experience. And it isn’t always easy. There may be hardship, rejection, or even abandonment. But God never promised us an easy life. He did promise we would get through it.

I know that there will be no pain, sadness, or rejection in heaven. The bible teaches, “For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1Thessalonians 4:14).

About Zina

Zina Hermez has authored the Best-selling book, Not Without God: A Story of Survival. She’s been featured in numerous articles, guest posts, podcasts, websites, newsletters, and magazines. She’s been featured on ESPN’s ‘Solutions from the Huddle’ broadcast and on Grace and Truth Radio World. Zina’s written hundreds of articles and has taught thousands of students. Additionally she’s appeared in Christianity Today, the Suite T blog, and Southern Writers magazine among other places. She writes on faith, science, and overcoming adversity. She is also a major foodie and loves to help others. You can connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, or Twitter.

Author: Zina Hermez

I'm a teacher, writer, and speaker. I got into publishing when I joined a Christian writers' group online where I met a few select authors who mentored me. My life changed. Through classes, webinars, and friendly emails, I've been encouraged to write. I started my blog to cope with my spinal injury in hopes of helping people.

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