It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m finally getting around to telling my own faith story. Mom’s story of her brother Tim in 1918 is here and Dad’s WWII story is here. I hadn’t meant to wait until the almost final post but in a way it’s appropriate. My personal miracle on November 22, 1959 was something I didn’t share with anyone until long after it happened. I still recall my feelings on Thanksgiving that first year, knowing that I had already celebrated a deeper and more meaningful time in secret only a few days earlier.
Adolescence is a difficult age to navigate for everyone but with a disability it’s even harder. I’d gotten polio when I was six and, at sixteen, being different and using crutches that ruined my dresses and made blouses pull out of skirts and slacks was a big thing. The terrible limp I had when I took a few steps without them was no better. The worst part when I was six was listening to my friends on skates each September. Why children only skated in September in my area was always a mystery to me as well as a heartache.
By the time I’d reached sixteen, the worst part was seeing girlfriends walk past holding a boy’s hand or with arms linked. I knew that never, like skating, would I ever be able to enjoy that simple pleasure. It seemed particularly unfair to me and for two nights I cried myself to sleep asking God why this had happened to me.
On the third night I was still crying and asking the same question, but also asking for proof of God’s existence so that I could get past my doubt and sorrow. I had grown up believing in Christ but for that brief time I had some very large doubts.
I was praying and crying into a pillow to muffle my sobs so that my parents in the next bedroom wouldn’t hear me, when I heard a voice ask, “Why are you crying?” I immediately stopped—and listened. The house was quiet. I looked to see if anyone was in the doorway but no one was there. I knew the voice hadn’t sounded like either of my parents and it certainly didn’t sound like my grandfather who also lived with us.
The voice spoke again and this time I knew it was inside my own head. It was clear and strong–not loud, not rude or commanding, but kind and almost curious. “Why are you crying?” I heard again. “You know God loves you.” And then, “You’ll be all right.”
That was it and I never again asked, “Why me?”. I have asked, “Why them?” about others, but never again for myself. The question the voice asked always seemed strange to me and the final statement rather cryptic. I never walked any better, there was no miracle cure. I never expected one. Despite good and bad things happening in my life, as in the lives of others, I have been all right.
People always ask me whether the voice was male or female and I tell them quite honestly, I don’t know but, it was the kindest voice I’ve ever heard. I knew right then beyond any shadow of a doubt that God did love me.
It’s the greatest blessing anyone can have in this life. I have been given that gift and I will continue to pursue it with love, gratitude and humility until the day I die.
Happy New Year, and if you are an unbeliever, may 2014 be the year you find Christ.