Growing up, my family didn’t attend church often, but I learned about God. I knew he created the world in six days and gave us Ten Commandments to live by. I knew he had a son named Jesus who died on a cross, then was resurrected three days later. I knew all these facts about God. But, I never stopped to think about him and what his presence should mean in my life. I knew what God did. But, I did not know who God was. Instead of devoting my thoughts to God, thoughts of the world consumed me. 

As an overweight child, I always felt the need to fit in with the ‘cool’ kids. I tried everything I could think of to get them to notice me, to like me, and to be friends with me. Every day I went to great effort to dress ‘right’ and make my hair look ‘perfect’ hoping they would think I was cool too and not ridicule me. I tried to act and talk like they did. I shudder when thinking about what I did and said. But, nothing worked. I still felt like an outsider.

Then one day fitting in did not matter anymore.

A few weeks after my fifteenth birthday, my life changed in a matter of seconds. While swimming at a local park with my cousins, I had a diving accident that left me paralyzed from the neck down. The worry of becoming one of the ‘in’ crowd ceased. My worry became the need to adjust to life as a quadriplegic. 

I thought more about God. I was grateful to him for saving my life on the day of the accident. I knew he had made it possible for the men who played a key part in saving me to be in the park that day. The men were rural electric workers who had been working in the area for several days. Each day they had eaten their lunch outside the cafe where they purchased it. But, on the day of my accident, God compelled them to take their meal to the park. Because of their emergency training, they could keep me breathing until the ambulance arrived. I knew God had used those men and others present that day to save my life.

I knew he had helped me that day and continued helping me. He was providing me with the help and strength I needed to survive the changes in my life. Most importantly, he graced me with a wonderful, supportive family.

Unfortunately, I was still only thinking about what God does. I did not see who he is. I kept God in my head, thinking of him as a great far away being who was nice enough to meet my needs and take care of me. 

Then, several years later, my thoughts about God transformed.  I learned who God is and what he should mean to me.

For months my sisters had been asking me to attend church with them. But when they asked, I made excuses. Every time I turned them down I felt bad, but something kept holding me back.  Then one Sunday, I finally went with them. The church service that day pricked my heart and left me longing for more, so I attended again and again.

After attending the church for several weeks, the members found out I didn’t have a personal Bible, so they gifted me with one. I felt honored by their thoughtfulness and took my gift home and put it away. I didn’t think about the Bible until several days later when I needed something to read. Reading was my main pass time and I couldn’t find anything I hadn’t already read. My mother brought it to my attention that there was one book in the house I hadn’t read: the Bible.

She was right; I had never read the Bible. I knew some Bible stories, like David and Goliath or Jonah in the Whale, but I had never read God’s word. I decided it was time I read about God for myself. 

In the pages of the Bible, I discovered who God is. I discovered God was not a faraway being. I learned he was a God who wants an intimate relationship with me. I learned about more things God had done, but I also learned why he did them. I learned that he is a loving and giving God who knows me intimately and desires for me to know him. He loves me so much that he sent his only son to die on the cross for me. He did this so I could be free from my sins and able to spend eternity with him.

Finally, I had discovered who God was and what he should mean to me. I repented for my sins, accepted God into my heart, was baptized, and joined the church. My life changed again.

Life has not been easy, but it has been blessed.

I cannot say my life has been free of trouble, strife, and pain since giving my life to God. It has not made the physical and emotional struggles of being a quadriplegic go away. I have had to deal with the pain of losing both of my parents within a short time of each other and recently the death of my oldest sister. And, I continually struggle financially to stay at home and live independently.

But, as I look back and see how God has brought me through each struggle, I feel blessed. It has not always been easy to see those blessings during the storms, but I know God was there.