Of all the blogs I’ve ever written, this is the most important one. I especially encourage you to listen to this post if you have six minutes and twenty-two seconds.
People continually share their heartaches with me. I think it’s because they know I will pray. I believe they also know even though I would never pretend I could possibly understand the difficult road they travel, they do acknowledge I travel a less than desirable road. I believe this gives me “street credit.” I’m not some Pollyanna Princess living the good life where fairy tales come true. “Happily ever after” isn’t how my life storybook played out. Nor is it how the storybook has played out for some of you. But let me tell you, how my life has played out has been filed with incredible blessings and goodness. It hasn’t always been happy, but it’s always been filled with joy.
For most of us, we are literally walking by faith. And praise God most of us are literally walking! We are saying, “This doesn’t make sense, but I’m still going to keep trusting, I’m still going to keep moving forward, and I’m still going to remind myself that it doesn’t all end like it feels today.”
Almost three years ago after my family’s wreck, following my then-fifteen-year-old daughter’s paraplegia confirmed by multiple medical professionals, I wrote a column for my local newspaper from my hospital bed in West Virginia. My physical pain was immense, but it was nothing compared to my emotional pain, as I tried to wrap my mind around what life would be like for our beautiful, athletic, teenage daughter who we were told would never stand, walk, or run again.
I refused to believe it. I wrote these words in a column for my local newspaper. “They have told Alissa she will probably never walk again. She told the doctors she disagreed with them and that she will walk again! It may be with bionic legs. It may be with an abnormal gait. But rest assured, with her age, her belief in God, her positive attitude and her athleticism, I fully expect to sit in the audience and watch her walk across the stage to receive her high school diploma from CCHS in three years.”
I’m certain the majority of readers pitied me. “Oh, poor Amy J., she wants to change reality so desperately, but she’s only setting herself up for disappointment.” The truth is, I’ve been given many signs of hope over these last thirty-five months. Signs of hope are tricky. Discernment is often times elusive and one certainly can’t spend life clinging to false dreams. But one can certainly spend life clinging to faith and hope.
That is the path I’ve chosen.
And Friday night is the night of which I wrote about all those months ago. My husband, son, and I will sit in the high school gymnasium to watch our honor student graduate from high school. Using long-leg braces and a walker, Alissa will take steps across the stage to receive her diploma.
Her steps will not look like any other young person’s steps in the whole darn graduating class. But she will . . . take . . . steps. A determined paraplegic will walk to receive her diploma.
Maybe you are a person who is going through some deep, dark valleys right now. Please put this picture in your mind and let it motivate, encourage, and strengthen you. Friday night at a high school graduation in rural Indiana, an eighteen year old paraplegic will stand up out of her wheelchair and walk a few feet in braces, with a walker, and do what very few people thought she would ever do.
And to quote again from the article I wrote from a hospital bed just four days after our wreck: “Our family honestly believes that the blessings of what will come from this are not just for us; they are for you too. Complain less, believe more, eliminate grudges, stay strong, realize that life is no guarantee, and love and serve the Lord with everything you’ve got. Because as Alissa said the night of the accident after she found out she was officially considered paralyzed for life, ‘If it glorifies God, it will be all worth it!’“
And Dear Reader, as her mama, I defy you to argue with her about that!
Until next Wednesday, Lord willing. A news station from Fort Wayne is doing a story on our family and plans to be at graduation to film. We will try to keep you posted regarding when that airs as I state the obvious: it’s not everyday one gets to see a paraplegic walk!