From Fear to Faith
In spite of everything that has taken place in my 31 years of living I can never say I have not lived a life full of love and happiness. You see I was born with a condition called Spina
Bifida Myelomeningocele, Let’s see John Mellencamp and that funny guy from movies like Stuck on You and Shallow Hall, Rene Kirby, both have Spina Bifida. Anyway, I have survived and very well if I do say so myself. However, let me tell you my story. It goes a little something like this…
I would definitely say my birth was little scary for my 22 year old mother. I mean she had already had two other children and that went well and then there was me. I mean really try to imagine the doctors showing you a child with feet twisted in the opposite direction and a large hole in her spine! I would not have wanted to be her, let me tell you. So, immediately that meant two operations, the first to close up that hole and the second to insert a shunt that would keep fluid from causing swelling my brain. Whew! That’s crazy already right?! Because this was 1984 and technology was a little, um, should I say ancient the doctor’s were already preparing my mother for my death! I mean come on this was massive. She was told if I did survive that I would never walk, due to paralysis from the waist down and would have to be tube fed.
Nevertheless God had an amazing plan for my life. Of course I lived because that’s the story of my life, surviving against all odds! Growing up was interested. I would say that I missed out on many things most kids get to experience like first words and first steps because I was having approximately five surgeries per year over the course of 5 years. I began to start learning to walk at the age of 5, but didn’t really get the hang of it until I was 12.
I can laugh now when I think about it but imagine going to school but really not learning to walk until 12 years old! Talk about some insecurity issues! Surprisingly though, I had more problems with the teachers than I did with the students. As many of you that raise children with special needs may know, getting some teachers to think outside the box can sometimes be impossible. Here’s the thing, I had severe physical disabilities but my mind was intact. I could process things just like any normal child but my learning was stunted because so many people believed I could not learn as fast.
Therefore, I was placed in special education classes. Now, remember when I told you about my 22 year old mother. Well, at this time she was around 32 and she did not play games. She fought the system tooth and nail but due to fear on the part of the educators, I remained in special education classes. As a young girl I was friendly but school can change you.
Around my fourth grade year I began to experience dizziness. I could not see and I felt faint all the time. We were in the middle of statewide testing and I was not able to concentrate due to the constant dizziness. As days passed, I noticed I was running into walls and closed doors and losing my appetite. This really began to worry my parents.
I was rushed to the emergency room to find out it was just a sinus infection. So I was given a prescription and sent home. However, my mother noticed something still was not right. She decided to take me to my neurosurgeon and we discovered not only did I not have sinus infection but my shunt (which had been inserted at birth) had disconnected from my brain and was no longer functioning properly.
I could have died at any moment! Hey, did you notice Him? There was God again, stepping in to save my life!Several weeks and a new shunt later I was ready to get back into the swing of things. What one must understand about any surgery is that something is altered in your body every time you are opened. So I had just had a brain surgery, which means my brain was exposed for several hours and I firmly believe that something about that exposure changed me. My laughter and friendliness seemed to have faded just a bit. When I returned to school I noticed that I was more comfortable being to myself instead of with friends. It was so strange because I really believed I could not control it. I just became a loner. Now, I won’t say it was instantly but it was quick enough for people to notice that I was becoming “the weird girl”.
Middle school and high school were significantly more difficult due to the extreme change in my personality. I constantly battled with thoughts of self-hatred and loneliness but because I had gone so long without making friends I forgot how to begin. I just gave up on initiating conversation and just allowed people to come to me. I did establish a small circle but even then I did not feel comfortable. I constantly thought they were my friends just because I had a disability. Let me tell you, it’s hard to have a true relationship with anybody when you are not confident in yourself. Nevertheless, with the determination of my mother and helpful teachers I graduated from high school with a regular education diploma, in 2003. Because this was a major feat in my small community I was offered a full scholarship to attend college. In April of 2004 I graduated from college with a Phlebotomist certification and began working in a Nursing home. I worked a few jobs and during that time but still struggled making friends. I was afraid of what lie ahead as an adult.
In late 2004 my parents moved to Georgia, so naturally I went with them. Let me explain; because I was “cared for” in every way for my entire life I could not imagine doing things independently. Like most young adults who are itching to get out of the house I had small urges but never enough to take matters into my own hands and muster up the courage to make it happen. So, I traveled with my parents, when they moved, I moved. In the midst of all of this life changing and moving I held several jobs but none of them seemed to fit my calling. I mean seriously, what did I want to do? A question I had been asked by my family for a while.
So, after residing in Atlanta, Georgia for some time we moved a little further south to a city called Cordele, Georgia. My father (who is a minister) began pastoring a church there. I must admit something about being back in a small town, similar to the one in which I was raised, sparked a new life in me. I viewed this as a second chance, an opportunity to conquer my fear of conversation and find out my purpose. At the church I met many young people who seemed more lost than I was. I mean imagine that! There were people in the world worse off than me and God wanted me to help them. So I began to share my testimony through Sunday School and Youth Service and in small gatherings. People were really amazed that I was still standing. I became amazed that I was still standing. Suddenly there was purpose! Suddenly there was transformation! Suddenly I could see God again! Just when I thought He no longer had any interest in me He showed up in the young girl who lost her mother to a terminal illness and needed to hear some encouraging words. He showed up in the young couple who did not know their own potential. He showed up in the lady who had adopted a young girl who also had Spina Bifida and just needed to see a success story. He showed up! As a matter of fact, He was always there; I just got back on track. And I must tell you. It felt so good to be back on track.
I began to understand; people were watching me and I had to be an example of endurance. That’s when I decided to put as much focus in ministry as I possibly could. I was becoming the woman God had called me to be. Today, I still minister to the youth and others by not allowing anything to get in my way. The disability is still there but so is the Miracle Worker. I had my last surgery in August of 2016 (not spina bifida related, I will share that story soon) but I am still surviving and coming out stronger! I am learning to trust God and say yes to whatever He puts in my path. In November of 2015 I began volunteering for a non-profit near me for Families and children. April of this year I became a paid contracted employee of the company. I am still there… God didn’t stop there. I moved out of my parents house into my own apartment in June of this year, at the age of 32. I am trying to get my voice heard in the social medial sector by telling about God’s healing power via Facebook and also starting a little via Youtube. My goal is to introduce people to Jesus just by my life. I will end this story as I began; in spite of everything that has taken place in my 33 years of living I can never say I have not lived a life full of love and happiness.