If you’ve been following my pregnancy series, you know my pregnancy with Caleb was challenging. I was very sick and in a lot of pain, but through the experience, God really taught me a lot. I have always led a healthy, and for the most part, physically pain-free life. This is something I have always taken for granted because I never knew otherwise, until my pregnancy. I understand now how incredibly difficult physical disability can be, and how thankful I should be for the good health God has given me. God’s heart is that we would be joyful in every circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and through my encounter with physical pain, he revealed it’s an area I have plenty of room to grow in.
An additional way the Lord grew me through my condition called pregnancy, was in granting me a deeper love and respect for people who have ongoing physical challenges. It was a theme I meditated on a great deal during my pregnancy, and am currently meditating on again as I re-live my pregnancy via this blog. Specifically, there are two people God has continually brought to mind who I want to tell you about. I love them both dearly, and after my comparatively short encounter with discomfort and pain, I appreciate them even more. I think most of us could probably learn a thing or two from them.
The above photo is of one of my best friends (who also happens to be my lil’ sis), Allison. At age 11, she was diagnosed with spondyloarthropathy, which is a rare form of juvenile arthritis that results in inflammation of the back, hips, knees, ankles, and eyes. It has no cure, and the pain cannot be completely relieved. She takes pain medication daily, has chronic pain in her knees and hips, and has had numerous stints with iritis which causes her to lose vision for a period of time.
This second photo is of another one of my best friends, Ashley Harman, who I recently had the honor of bridesmaid-ing for in her wedding. She was born with Spina bifida, which was caused by a benign tumor that pinched the end of her spinal cord and weakened the muscles to her leg and bladder. Although she has had this condition from birth, it was not diagnosed until she was 15-years-old.
As a result of spina bifida, Ashley has not only experienced a great deal of physical pain/limitation, she has also experienced significant emotional hurt. One of the most heartbreaking aspects of her story is that growing up, she would often urinate herself at school because a symptom of spina bifida is a loss of bladder control. This occurred for many years and resulted in ridicule from peers and fewer friends throughout her childhood. She has had countless surgeries to repair the damage, requires a catheter every time she uses the restroom, gets persistent infections, and experiences chronic pain in her foot. Like Allison, it is something she has dealt with her whole life, and will continue to deal with for the rest of her life (unless God chooses to intervene, which I pray passionately for!!)
I cried as I wrote these last three paragraphs because Ashley and Allison are two of my absolute favorite people. Despite immense physical challenges and obstacles throughout their lives, they are such joyous and loving people. I never hear them complain about their pains, and I oftentimes forget either of them even have any physical problems until a severe symptom pops up, or they periodically ask for prayers of healing. They both have a strength and perseverance that is truly inspirational. I have learned so much from them about being joyous and giving glory to God no matter what “thorns” you’ve been given in life. I know they have already touched many through their lives, and will continue to do so. Thanks A & A for your impact on my life, you guys are my heroes…I know life hasn’t been the easiest for you and yet you still trust God with all your hearts.
P.S. I wouldn’t be a good older sister if I didn’t put a plug in for my sis right now. If you are single, Godly, and good looking (lol!), I think you should consider asking Allison on a date*. She is all the cool things I mentioned above, plus smart, beautiful, kind, and funny! I don’t think you would regret it 😉 Hahahahaha! Sorry Allison, already published this post…can’t go back now!
*Applicants must be male. Some restrictions may apply. Please contact me for details. Offer expires 3/16/2012. Void where prohibited.