Tough Cookie

A few months ago I received a message from a reader asking me to write about a subject I’ve had some experience; pain.  I’m deeply touched by messages I receive from readers, and I began seeking the Lord to direct my heart to share what would minister to hearts regarding this subject.

Can you recall your first memories of pain?  My earliest memory was when I was five years old.  After a family dinner, several of us decided to walk down to the bridge.  My Grandma lived across the driveway from us and we had stopped at her pear tree before beginning our stroll.  I must have piddled around, as was very typical for me, because everyone had started off out of the driveway.  I ran to catch up, slid on the gravel and cut a gash in my right knee.  The beautiful sunny afternoon ended with a trip to the emergency room and my very first set of stitches.  I was terrified and experiencing the worst pain in my life.  I knew the scar it left would be permanent, as would be the memories.

As you can imagine, that experience wasn’t enough to prepare me for the tragedy to come on April 27, 1988.  I remember the sting in my eyes from the dust as my brother and I traveled on our motorcycle behind the little red truck that sunny spring day.  I remember the blur in the flame as I lay in that fiery ditch.  I remember my face feeling so hot as I was grabbed underneath the arms and drug out of that blaze.  I remember that terrifying helicopter ride, telling my Mom I wanted to go home, thinking that if I could just go home it would all be okay.  These were my first encounters with a pain that, although I experienced, I still cannot fully comprehend.

I spent many years trying to understand something senseless.  How could I possibly make sense of an accident?  It was an accident.  But how difficult it was to let go of the desire for answers.  The question I kept asking was “why?”  I had to stop thinking about the “what ifs.”  While many different small things could have prevented our accident, nothing was going to change it.  My life was changed forever.

But you know this story.  You know how this story ends; with a little girl who overcame the odds and lived and walked again.  This story ends with a sweet boy who fell in love with a girl for who she was instead of seeing the scars she bore.  This story ends with a marriage and four precious babies.  This story has what I would consider, the perfect ending.

It’s much more pleasant to focus on the end.  It makes me happy.  But surprisingly, so does every detail in between.  And that in between time was filled with pain, with years and years of pain.

There was the physical pain.  The bandages being ripped off.  The scar tissue tearing.  The surgeries.  The procedures.  The tests.  Then there was the emotional pain.  The loss of my brother.  The loss of my carelessness.  The loss of my mobility, my hair, my skin, my body as I’d known it.  How I would have loved to have seen that small scar from the fall on the gravel road.  I searched for it, but there was no trace.  Only burns.  Only smelly ugly mushy burns.

heather_June_1988_up_physical_therapy

The first time out of bed since the accident. Trying to “stand” in June 1988.

heather_June_1988_up_physical_therapy_b

Mom and Dad weren’t able to be here for this moment. Tried my best to smile for their picture.

Words cannot describe the range and depth of pain.  There are years and years I would never want to revisit, but make me happy.  “How?” you may ask.  Because I overcame.

My Aunt Donna gave me a t-shirt when I was in the hospital that said, “Tough Cookies Don’t Crumble.”  She explained the shirt to me, but at seven years old, I didn’t completely understand it.  All I knew was that she thought I was tough, but I didn’t get what that really had to do with cookies.

Well, that right there is what makes me happy when I think about all the pain.  I was a tough cookie, and I didn’t crumble.  Even years later, when I was still asking God, “Why didn’t I die too?” He was carrying me, and I didn’t crumble.  I overcame.

Pain teaches us a lot about ourselves and more about our God.  And I know in the darkest moments, in the hardest years, in the scariest times, my God was there.  I was never alone.

Many people are hesitant to ask me what happened.  They want to know, but they don’t want to hurt me.  Usually it is phrased like this, “So what happened? If you don’t mind me asking.”  And I don’t mind, because I overcame.

The Word tells us in Revelation 12:11 “They triumphed over him
 by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much
 as to shrink from death.”  I recommend reading the verse in its context, but take this to heart, we overcome by the victory Christ provided to us from His sacrifice on the cross and by our testimony, which is why I absolutely love to share with others what happened to me, because although it’s the most physically and emotionally painful story, it’s my testimony and I’m so grateful to be alive to share it.

speaking_2007

Sharing my Testimony— don’t have many pictures of me sharing my testimony; received this from a women’s conference I had the privilege of speaking at back in 2007.

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4 thoughts on “Tough Cookie

  1. Dearest Heather, So many of these details of your long recovery process we never knew. I had not seen the photos either. Your wise words reveal a depth of wisdom that has developed in you, although we never will understand the why’s in this earthly life. You have chosen to put your hand in His…and that makes all the difference. How precious it is to our God when you choose to obey Him, even though we do not & cannot understand! That’s what faith enables us to do, and it becomes our fragrant offering to Him Who loves us without measure. Thanks for sharing so succinctly once again the pain of the past. May your future be bright with good health and well-being always. Love & Prayers.

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