One moment I was a mother of four, juggling everything while my husband was deployed. I was tired but capable. The next moment I was on the floor unable to move my legs.
I had attempted a super-human leap across the room to catch my two-year-old daughter from falling. There was a burst of incredible pain, and I ended up lying in the middle of my living room, trying to drag myself to her, unable to reach a phone in the empty house. That was the beginning of several months of hospital visits, appointments with every kind of specialist, and so many tests. While my right leg recovered, my left leg was paralyzed. I lost the ability to walk and had to learn to navigate life and motherhood from a wheelchair.
The doctors came to the conclusion that a specific complication from my initial injury had been overlooked and caused nerve and muscle damage. However, all the scary conditions were also discussed and screened for. It’s startling how facing the possibility of diseases that could steal everything from you or take your life puts the loss of a functioning limb into perspective. And now that I am learning a new normal, I think about the mothers, daughters, and grandmothers that I have seen during my weeks in hospitals and doctors’ offices — brave women who are battling far worse things than I am. Not one of them deserves what they are facing more than I do, and the colorful head scarfs, bedazzled wheelchairs, and sweet smiles are a testament to the grace they are embodying.
All the smart professionals in white coats tell me they cannot just fix what has happened to my body. They tell me they are hopeful I will regain movement and function, but they do not know if it will be a full recovery. What they are certain of is that I have a long road ahead of me. So in the meantime I learn how to get through a door without getting my wheels stuck. I swallow my pride and accept help from strangers when I can’t reach the top shelves at Trader Joes, and I simply say thank you when friends and family cook, clean, care for my toddler, and drive my sons to activities. I breathe deeply and remind myself that my worth is not dependent on how well I can walk or if I can do all the things for my family.
I must say that I do not understand this upending. Why when my husband is on the other side of the world am I forced to embark on this journey? Why must all the suffering that I have seen as I go from appointment to appointment and attend physical therapy in a neuro rehabilitation program exist? Yes, I know the theological answers, but they are not enough as I watch the way a human body can disintegrate. Why the strokes and cancer, the car wrecks and suffering? Why God? There is no reply.
I tell Him that I am angry more for others’ suffering than my own, and then comes the reply. God says simply, “I understand, and I love you.”
These words fix nothing in the actuality of this broken world, our messy pain, my leg that dangles unaware that I need it to move. But these words are everything, and they are enough.
These words remind me that redemption is coming, and it is here.
These words don’t mean I fully understand struggle and suffering. They don’t mean that I know what will happen in the waiting, or why one lives through trauma, pain, and loss while others are spared. But these words tell me there is beauty to find in it all.
Beauty can be everywhere, amidst even the hardest things. There are treasures hidden in the most unlikely of places.
Beauty right now is my community gathering around in support. Beauty is learning just how precious life is and how fragile our bodies are. Beauty is finding out that I have raised teenage boys who aren’t embarrassed to play bumper cars in Target with their mom’s wheelchair and a shopping cart. Beauty is my mother stepping in to care for my two-year-old daughter who now walks much better than I can. Beauty is a long phone call where my husband and I talk through all the fearful things and connect over silly jokes and hopeful plans. Beauty is remembering that while we buy groceries, wipe runny noses, and plan college funds, redemption is our true and only hope
The reality of beauty is that no matter how I feel or what I can do, there is One who says, “I love you.” And those words are enough whether I am walking, sitting, or rolling.
Beauty can be everywhere, amidst even the hardest things. - Sharon McKeeman: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Beth Williams says
So sorry you have to go through life in a wheelchair. Thank you for allowing others to help you. Some of us out there were made to be assistants. We get our joy form cooking, cleaning & doing for others. If I lived close to you there would be a meal or two each month. Life here on Earth is hard & can be unfair. We will never completely understand struggles & trials. Why does God allow some to suffer while others do not? I have asked that question lately. My 90 yr. FIL had stage III bladder cancer surgery this year & lived. He is doing ok. Explain then why my elderly neighbor’s last living son died of spinal cancer. Now she only has her young granddaughter & grandson-in-law to care for her & she has dementia. His ways & thoughts are higher than ours. We will never know these answers this side of Heaven. This we know-He is a loving God who is with us during our trials & tribulations.
“This we know, He is a loving God who is with us” – So true Beth and that is what I hold onto. Thank you for your kind and wise words. Sending you love!
Lynne Molyneaux says
Praying for complete healing and total restoration for you Sharon.
Thank you so much Lynne! xoxo
Becky Miller says
Thank you for these words. I am a cancer survivor looking at a reoccurrence — tests proceeding. Prayers for you as you move forward and many thanks for these words to read on this particular morning.
I’m so sorry to hear this Becky, but your faith and courage inspire me. I’m grateful that God could use my words and connect us at just the right time. I will be praying for you, and my heart is with you
Becky Keife says
Sharon, my heart is weighed down with grief yet also buoyed with hope by your story. Isn’t that the story we all live? Juggling the undeniable pain and undeniable beauty of this world, this one precious life we get to live. Thank you for inviting us into your journey. I’m so sorry for your suffering. I’m so grateful for your faith. Thank you for your family’s service. Such a gift to host your words at (in)courage today.
Thank you so much for your kind and caring words Becky! The way you described our journey is beautiful and true. I’m grateful for this opportunity to share my story with others, and I have received so much encouragement in doing so. God brings good even in the hardest moments, and He wastes nothing. These past six months have been a challenge I never thought I would face, but I’m incredibly thankful to be reunited with my husband now. It was quite a transition, but we are blessed to have each other, and I will share more words and photos of the homecoming soon xoxo
Thank you for sharing your life and hope, Sharon.
Thank you Jill!
Sharon, I’m so proud of you for sharing your hard and beautiful story once again. I’m praying for you in this new season, my friend. Thank you for inviting us into the vulnerable so we can remember a God who loves us through all things!
Dorina, thank you friend! You have been such an encouragement and inspiration to me to keep sharing my story even when it’s a hard journey. You model this yourself, and I know you have helped so many women. Thank you for your prayers, they mean the world to me!
Vicki Nurre says
Sharon, words can’t describe what I experience when I read your posts. This young woman that so many years ago I babysat for, has become a tower of strength and a blessing in ways none of us expected. And the Lord bless you, too.
Awww Vicki thank you! Your sweet words are a treasure to me, and it’s wonderful to hear a familiar voice and think back on all the memories 🙂
Christine Spacht says
Sharon you have opened my eyes with your words. We often question what is really happening to me. Five years ago I was diagnosed with colon cancer. What an incredibly scary experience that was. I prayed and asked God how do I go forward. After surgery I started chemo. My boss where I worked suggested I take medical leave. I said no thanks. I was able to wear my chemo in a pack to work. I didn’t realize at the time how God would use that. Most customers at the bank never realized what it was. Others were very loving and encouraging thru those seven months. What I learned later was many co-workers would be helped by my working thru chemo it. Many saw stubbornness, what I saw was God giving me strength. He helped me not to be overwhelmed with self pity. I thank Him for His grace to keep trying. I thank you for your courage to be an encourager. I now see that is how He has continued to use my journey the last five years. I have been told now I am cancer free. I intend to continue helping others struggling with cancer. I love reading your honest words. They fill my heart with hope for your journey to healing. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Blessings to you and your family.
Wow Christine, I am left speechless by your story. You are a true inspiration, and it is amazing how God has worked in and through you. Congrats, I am so happy to hear that you are cancer free! I know you are going to continue to inspire and encourage others, and I am deeply grateful that you shared with me and are praying for me xoxo