Thursday, February 25, 2016

take up your cross

Many years ago, I had a terrible accident that forever changed me physically.
While I'm not inclined to share the whole story here, I would like to share a lesson that God taught me and my husband during the course of my long recovery...

You see, as a result of my accident, my right arm was broken clean in half - about two inches above my elbow. My surgeon (who also held a degree in engineering) needed to reconstruct the arm quickly because I needed the arm for stability. There were other issues that would require me to put immediate weight on the arm as I faced a long recovery ahead with other areas of my body. So, he made the judgement call to "rebuild" my arm by incorporating many plates and screws and securing the bone fragments artificially, as if it never had been broken. It was pretty amazing actually.

When I awoke from the surgery, it was as if the break in my arm had never occured... well, except for a few key things. First, I had a new scar. A BIG scar. One that would run the whole length of my upper arm. Second (and more serious)... though successful in restoring the stability of my arm, the surgery caused the nerves in my right hand to stop working completely. I had no motor skills in my fingers and my hand fell over limp from my wrist through my fingers. It was terrible and scary! For no matter how hard I tried... no matter how intense I focused... I could not lift my hand. I could not move my fingers.

As a right-handed person who has played piano my whole life, it was VERY difficult to accept my new fate. I couldn't sign my own name. I couldn't button my shirt. I couldn't do so many things I had always taken for granted. Although the doctor made the right decision in how to handle this part of my injury, this new problem made me feel helpless.... a liability. My orthopedic surgeons and occupational therapists began preparing me for the worst news as many did not think the nerves would ever reignite. They fitted me with all sorts of custom-made, Frankenstein-like devices that would strap around my limp hand and put tension in varying places of my fingers with hopes that I could somehow work the muscles back into submission. It was horrible.  It was difficult.  It was devastating.

Anyway, during the course of my recovery, my doctors decided to transfer me to a hospital that had a specialized program to better help me. Because my recovering from the accident also required me to address other serious physical matters (one being I had to relearn how to walk), I spent many months in therapy... learning how to get back in and out of cars, how to get up and down stairs, etc. Needless to say, my husband and I got to know all my doctors, nurses, and physical and occupational therapists very, VERY well.

While there, one of my hand therapists had a young aid in training named Nichole. Nichole was about 19 years old and very compassionate. She would spend hours with me - working on "bringing back" my hand muscles. The most interesting thing about Nichole was that she was bold... fearless in sharing her faith. She showed no timidity or lack of nervousness to anyone while explaining her testimony and day-to-day relationship with the Lord.  I remember when she first started talking to Chuck and I... how blown away we both were in meeting this little girl who was half the age of many Christian leaders... but more savvy in scripture, more comfortable in Christ, more upfront in sharing her redemption than most adults we knew. It was refreshing... and admittedly, a little convicting.

At that time, I was what I would call an average, lukewarm Christian. I went to church every Sunday. I shared my beliefs with others if it ever came up - but never by my own initiation. I prayed every now and then. I opened my Bible once and a while. I knew who God was... but I wasn't relating to Him like I could be. I wasn't extremely close with Him and seeking Him out daily. I wasn't deeply engaged in His Word. Yes, I believed Jesus was my Savior, and I tried to follow the little bit of teaching I exposed myself to from church and the occasional Bible study... but I wasn't loving Him with my whole heart. So, being exposed to someone like Nichole... someone who daily stood up and proclaimed her faith... someone who loved her God and told others about His mercies and grace... wow! That hit me right between the eyes!!! That made me wonder what more God could have in store for me if I got close to Him. This little 19 year old gave me and my husband something BIG to consider. Would we seek to become closer to God - or not? And if not, why?  Would we remain in our stagnant, comfort zone - or actually "take up our cross" and follow Him?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." (Matthew 16:24-25)

The ongoing challenges from my accident have offered me and my family many, MANY lessons that I can't even begin to share with y'all in one blog post... or even 1000 blog posts! But the most important lesson I learned personally was about daily restoring my relationship with the Savior. Truthfully, I believe He used a horrible, difficult, and devastating situation for me physically to fix me spiritually. I believe he used a little 19 year old girl studying to be a physical therapist as a means to motivate two married 30+ year old adults how to LIVE and FOLLOW the Lord Jesus Christ each and every day.

I have never fully recovered from my accident.  But thankfully, after many, many months of therapy, my hand and wrist have come back enough that I now have function in my fingers and can move the hand similarly to before. It's not perfect though.  I do suffer from a constant, irritating tingle and ache in my thumb and first two fingers.  But I like to use this annoyance as my reminder. A reminder to never take ANYTHING for granted. A reminder to remember God is more important than anything I am physically or have materially.

Whenever I sign my name, I praise His Name.
Whenever I button my shirt, I praise His Name.
Whenever I put on make-up, brush my teeth, zip a zipper, turn a door knob, pet my dog, hold my husband's hand.... I praise His Name.
Whenever I type this blog... I praise His Name!
Whenever I think of Nichole... I praise His Holy Holy Holy Name!

Lord, let me live so boldly that I am unashamed to share WHO YOU ARE with everyone I meet.
May I be a blessing to others and share my own life as a testimony to YOUR GREATNESS!
May every situation, both good and bad, that you have mapped out for my life be a celebration that leads me (and all I encounter) to seek your GLORIOUS NAME!
Most importantly, may I continue to seek and find you every single day for restoration and renewal.
Thank you for bringing me closer to You by breaking me.
Nothing could have blessed me more!!!

Praise be the Name of Jesus Christ!!!
He heals! He restores! He renews! He saves!
He is my King!!!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

5 comments:

  1. WOW....just WOW. Thank you for incredible inspiration and TRUTH.

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  2. "Wow" is right. I am finding it hard to even desire Him at this point in my life. Please keep me in prayer that i may find the desire to follow Him unabashedly and teach my children and husband as He would have me do. I have fallen by the wayside and can't get back on track. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  3. ALELUYA!!!!!! Thank you for sharing you testimony. For me is an example of what the Bible says in Romans 8:28 and Psalm 23.

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  4. Thank you for this Victoria. As someone who has MS and is gradually losing mobility and the ability to use my right hand, I agree that God uses these "weaknesses" to come close to us and share His strength with us.

    I have been able to retire early from my job and spend time helping through our church to work with children and organising ALPHA courses and other study groups. In the story of Job, God knew that whatever Satan did, Job loved the Lord and would still trust in Him, so I often (despite feeling sorry for myself) remind myself that God has honoured me in a similar way. The closer I get to Jesus the more wonderful things happen, and while the healings may not be physical, they're still real and give me (and others) the confidence to continue. God's many blessings on you.

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  5. Such Faith!
    Thank you Victoria for sharing with me,(your)testimony. It's truly valuable in my eyes and it certainly does help take the struggles we all face every day off ones shoulder a bit when you see someone conquer in Christ as you have done here. May our Great God admonish Numbers 6:24-26 on you and Chuck. I so agree with you and many others, that the closer we can be in carrying our "own cross" the closer we can be to Jesus in all His magnifigance!
    Lora

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