A “Secret” source of strength
I am young, capable, energetic, full of love of life, and overflowing with joy and gratitude to my parents, family, and to God. Many who look at me today would guess I was a normal strong and healthy girl, but little do they know the strength I now possess is no strength of my own, and how two accidents two years in a row really made me realize the true source of my strength.
A perfect day, doing my favorite thing
It was a gorgeous summer day, the sun was bright, but not too hot, and we had gathered at the home of one of our Church family’s homes for a fellowship. We set up the volleyball net, played around, ate, and had fun. After lunch came the big volleyball game with the adults playing with the young people. I was ready. Volleyball being my favorite sport, and me being a pretty good player removed any qualms about playing as hard as I could, giving everything I had to win the game.
The game began, and I was one tightly coiled spring of energy, bouncing on the balls of my feet and diving down to catch the low balls, I was at my element, doing what I loved most.
All of a sudden…
About three quarters into the last game, I was in the front right position, and a ball came shooting low over the net directly between me and the front middle player. I jumped to block the speeding ball at the same time the middle player did, and in coming down, the other player’s arm landed across my head, jerking it down and back as he came to the ground. For a moment I thought I was okay, it was just a queer “crunch” feeling when it happened, but then I started to feel light-headed. Something in me told me something was not right, and I walked off the field.
What’s going on?
By the next morning I was in excruciating pain from my neck down to my lower back. Between my shoulders burned like fire, and my muscles were in knots. I took ibuprofen, but it didn’t help, and Mom made a doctor’s appointment for me for two days away. I didn’t think I could get through those two days, I lay in bed or on the couch, and the pain would get to a peak where all I thought about was screaming. I loved being strong and capable, why was I on my back in so much pain? How could this happen to me? Not knowing what else to do, I began to pray. There was nothing else I could do, no other way I could cope with the pain. I prayed through each wave of pain over the next two days, the Lord giving me the strength to bear through one shooting pain after the other.
“Very severe whiplash” the doctor said, and prescribed some muscle relaxers and pain reliever. “Take it easy, and don’t lift anything.” Was the order, and I proceeded to try and get better. Having been an outside tomboy all my life, and sitting around not being able to do hardly anything almost drove me insane. Even folding towels made my back ache. I couldn’t do anything! “God what are you doing?” I prayed desperately. “Don’t you love me?”
Waiting… setback… more waiting.
A couple months went by, and things were getting a little better, when I picked up a pan of squash without thinking about it, and as soon as I set it down, wham! There was the pain all over again, and I was in bed again. I got angry with my stupidity and cried hot tears. I was a baby, as much as I willed myself to be strong, it wasn’t happening.
Gradually my anger faded to a dull listlessness. Life wasn’t interesting anymore. I went to the chiropractor and got some relief, then had another set-back. I finally went to God, there was nothing else I could do, nowhere else to turn, so I prayed.
Ahh… strength, just not the kind I was expecting.
At first it seemed the Lord wasn’t hearing my prayers, but then I realized God was listening, I just wasn’t trusting. As I continued to pray through those days, the Lord began to give me an interest in what was going on. I prayed for Him to heal me more than anything, but then I realized I just needed to pray for His strength to accept whatever He wanted in my life.
Seven months after the accident I began physical therapy. It was hard, it hurt, and it was exhausting, but I prayed through it, and God gave me a different kind of strength. Not the physical strength I had once been so proud of, but strength to endure whatever it was I had to do next. It was a strength I knew had nothing to do with me, but came straight from God.
I realized that though physical strength is a good thing, we can make too much of it, and the Lord can take it away to help us realize where true strength comes from.
Strong and well again, oh what joy!
Spring came around again, and I was getting physically stronger and capable, and oh! I was enjoying doing things myself again! I began to do more exercising, telling myself I would get my muscles strong so nothing like that would happen again. Very quickly I forgot the lesson God had taught me, and I began trusting in my strength once more.
We were teaching at a children’s conference, and during recreation time there was a relay race between the teams. One team leader could run with the kids, and my team chose me to run. After all, I was pretty fast. I was last in the relay, and I could see we were ahead. I grabbed the baton the last child threw at me, and ran to the point. Yep, we were going to win. After I set the baton down on the chair I stopped. Then I turned around a realized my mistake. I was supposed to have run back! The next team’s last person had just turned to run back, and I started running. Coming back to where the kids were lined up, I stumbled, and stepped on the back of the next team leader’s heel “crunch” I thought, stumbled a couple steps, and stopped.
Suddenly it felt like I didn’t have a right foot. I started to fall over and grabbed the shoulder of one of the kids on the next team to steady myself. The team leader of that team turned around. “Are you okay?” he asked. Suddenly, pain flooded up my leg. “No!” I said through clenched teeth. He ran and grabbed me a chair, and I sat down and held my ankle. “Lord, please. Lord, please.” I prayed over and over, totally numbed by the pain. One of the ladies on staff came hurrying over, helped me inside and took off my shoe and sock. I stared at my ankle. Surely that was not my foot! There was a soft ball-sized knot bulging on the outside of my ankle and my foot and lower leg was starting to get puffy. “Oh Lord, not another injury!” I cried inwardly.
They propped my foot up with ice, and I sat there for the rest of the classes. Some of the others commented about the fact that I didn’t cry. Cry? I couldn’t! It hurt so badly, all I could do was pray.
The next couple days I went about on crutches in a benumbed state. I couldn’t believe God would let this happen to me again! I prayed for miraculous healing, but it didn’t come. I started bruising badly, not only in my foot, but up my calf. We went to the doctor and got x-rays to be sure there were no breaks. The doctor came in and told us, “There are no breaks. It’s a very abnormal injury. I’ve ever seen anything like this before.”
Several x-rays, an MRI, the doctor, two specialists, and eight months later, I was finally able to get rid of all crutches, boots, and braces, and get started with physical therapy again.
But I found strength!
Those two years were very hard, and I could not have gotten through them without knowing God was there, ready and willing to hear every prayer I prayed. It helped me to realize God was in control of everything that happened to me, and He was growing me in ways I couldn’t see as I prayed through the days of pain, struggles, and difficult rehab. Now I realize prayer is not only to ask God for things and to thank Him, but prayer in itself is a source of strength.