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How Being in a Wheelchair Has Affected My Relationship with God



I don't really know how to begin this post other than by saying that this is about to get very, very real, and a little bit uncomfortable (at least for me), but it is my biggest prayer that the Lord uses all of my struggles to encourage you in yours. This isn't going to be the prettiest post ever, with all the perfect attitudes and words, but it's real, and maybe, you'll find some encouragement within it.


So let's jump in.


I recently was diagnosed with stress fractures in both of my shins. The doctor's office called my mom while I was on a field trip to tell her that I needed to get weight off of my left leg immediately and start using crutches. At first, after my mom told me, it all felt fake. I truly could not process that I was going to be on crutches again after using them in January as I recovered from my surgery. I couldn't process that my cross country season was over. I couldn't process that all the simple, easy things I used to do were no longer simple and easy (like taking my breakfast from the kitchen counter to the table). It didn't set in until I went to youth group that night and couldn't raise my hands during worship because I was holding the crutches.


I held the tears in until I got home, and then I started questioning God. Why was this happening again? Maybe He wants to teach me a lesson, but why in this way? What is the purpose in all of this, especially when God feels so far?


I started to get mad, honestly. Even after my arms began to get used to the crutches, my heart did not. And I don't know that I've ever really been mad at God before, but y'all, I was mad. I hated the crutches, hated how draining they were, hated that they took my season away, hated that they took my independence away in so many ways, hated that they once again, began to define me. Because once again, every time people looked at me, they saw how injured I was.


A few days later, I had a doctor's appointment to see the MRI and make plans for recovery. I'm told that a wheelchair would be best, because to heal stress fractures, you have to get the weight off of them, and with stress fractures in both my shins, you can only do that by sitting down. I had joked about using a wheelchair before, but now that it was real - let's just say this didn't help my feelings towards God.


Because in my mind, I couldn't understand what I had done to deserve this, or what lesson or blessing could possibly come out of this to make all this inconvenience and struggle and heartache worth it. Everyone kept telling me that God had a plan, but they weren't the ones sitting in a wheelchair.


And man, my heart was bitter.


After my first day in the wheelchair, I went to youth group. An exact week after the diagnosis. I sat in my chair during worship and my hands were just open, because my heart so desperately craved to know the Lord's presence again. I was mad, but I know that I cannot be filled without Him, and I desired His peace and joy in the midst of this situation.


And it dawned on me, friends, that I can either choose to be angry about the wheelchair and having stress fractures in both of my shins, and stay bitter with God because I don't understand, or I can be grateful, because even throughout this whole process and all of my frustration, God has not changed. He's still there, being patient with me, even though I'm having a hard time "feeling" Him right now. He's still good, and He still has a plan, even when I don't understand it. I can choose to allow my feelings to dictate my life, my joy, and my peace (which means that I would never be stable), or I can choose to allow the truth in God's Word to hold me steady (which means that I won't always understand and it won't always makes sense). I can choose to see God as a mean, unfair God who allowed this disappointing, hard thing to happen, or I can choose to see God as a gracious, kind God who promises to carry me and strengthen me through this disappointing, hard thing.


I have this choice to make. It's not easy, because it feels a lot more convenient to allow myself to wallow in my frustration. But I know that's not healthy, and I know that if I want to come out of this on the other side stronger and closer to God, I have to choose the hard way. I have to choose Jesus. I have to choose to keep trusting and believing and surrendering because even when it's not convenient or fun or pretty God is still good. And He is constant, and He reigns supreme in my life.


The thing is, I know that my problems aren't the end of the world. Best case scenario, I'll be out of the wheelchair in three weeks and off the crutches three weeks after that. It's not forever.


The Bible says that there is a season for all things, and that God makes all things beautiful in its time. I can trust that this injury is only for a season, and that God is working something miraculous behind the scenes, even if I can't see it. I can trust that the closed door on my cross country season is an open door to another opportunity, and right now I don't really know what it is, but I have faith that it will be good. I can trust that the God who has proven Himself faithful is not suddenly not faithful because I'm injured, my plans are messed up, and I don't understand it. That's not the way the faithfulness or goodness of God works, friends.


And when I take a step back, and press pause on the anger for a minute, I see that God is still so good and very present in my life. I'm more aware of His presence and the heart work He's doing in me. I'm more aware of the little blessings He sprinkles into my everyday. I make a little more space for the quiet whispers of the Holy Spirit. I'm beginning to be more grateful for the little things, like being able to go to the bathroom (y'all, it's actually a lot more difficult in a wheelchair) or not having to wait for the elevator. That doesn't always make it easier, or fun, but it brings me a little more hope that my situation does have a purpose.


The truth is, we often don't understand what God is doing in our lives. We don't understand why He would allow us to hurt or suffer, or why He'd allow someone we love to hurt or suffer. We can't comprehend the plan of an infinite God with our finite minds. And that's where trust comes in. We can choose to focus on the things we've learned about and come to believe our entire lives, or we can allow our circumstances to shift who we believe God is. We get to make that decision, and it doesn't mean that we're always right, nor do we have the power to actually shift who God is, but we get to decide if we're going to allow Him into our situations or not. We get to decide to trust and then make room for Him to work, or turn our backs on Him and close our fists over the situations, claiming we can do it better or get through it without Him.


I know I can't do it better or get through it without Him, so I'm going to choose to trust.

 

This is a hard season, and I can't quite say that I'm thankful for the wheelchair yet, but I have faith that the Lord will bring something beautiful out of it. I am thankful that He never leaves me in my anger and frustration, but always challenges and invites me to use that to lean into Him and know Him more intimately. I am thankful that the Lord never changes, even as my emotions and circumstances do.


Do you have a story of either something you've already gone through or are currently going through that really challenged you to trust God in a deeper way? What did He teach you through that? Let me know down in the comments below - I love to hear from you!



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