Because You Know I’m All About that Brace

As many of you know, in May of 2015 I had spinal surgery to correct 3 discs that were dangerously pressing into my spinal cord. This surgery was on an emergency basis, and the doctors basically told me that it’s a miracle that I’m walking at all.

After my surgery, I was in a neck brace for 4 long, hot summer months. As annoying as the brace has was- it’s hot, itchy, not to mention not very fashionable- I daily reminded myself that the brace is a symbol of a miracle. The very fact that I was temporarily wearing a brace and not permanently in a wheelchair shows the goodness of God and the miracle that was performed the day of my surgery. The brace was cumbersome at times, but was a symbol of my freedom. Because of that, I quickly became very used to the fact that I wear the brace 24/7 (yes, even to sleep!). Sometimes people would ask me, “What happened?” And I, so used to the brace, will respond with, “What do you mean?” It’s kind of became a part of me, and I won’t ever look back on this time with negative feelings.

In the same way, the brace helped my neck strengthen itself. It kept my neck strong during a very debilitating process, and the structure of the brace protected my neck. It helped me grow. I am thankful for the brace. I am thankful for my miracle.

At about 12 weeks, I entered a brand new stage in my brace-wearing life. At 12 weeks, I was expected to sleep without the brace. This was all part of transitioning out of it and eventually never wearing it at all. For awhile I was very excited about this. For one, people would be able to see my awesome scar, and I could then begin to get back to normal. But as the day came closer for me to transition into becoming brace free, I became suuuuper panicked. The very thing that I was so sick of had become my comfort blanket. People would ask me about my excitement to get out of the brace, and of course, I couldn’t wait, but there’s another part of me that was terrified. This brace- my miracle- has protected me, strengthened me, and helped me grow…and now I have to take it off and relearn how to do things without it.

In the Bible, we read about the Israelites who were just delivered from Egypt, chillin on the bank of the Red Sea, ready to up and leave Egypt forever. God showed up and performed a huge miracle for them- he parted the sea, allowing them to move forward into his promises and separate themselves forever from the past. I think we all look at that story and think of how excited they must have been; Dang bro, they got to walk through a sea. Also, how confused were those fish? Something else I sometimes think about… Anyways, we look at that story and think of the thrill and raw emotion of being rescued that must have been felt. I look at that story differently.

God performed a miracle for them- a HUGE miracle. But I think having gone through my own miracle, I can’t help but think how many of the Israelites must have been scared out of their minds? The next step for them required risk- great risk. But to grow and move into God’s promise, this was a must. It would’ve been easy for them to camp out in the shores of the Red Sea, forever in wonder of what God had done for them. But that wasn’t what he wanted. He didn’t want them to stay in the miracle. He wanted them to grow in the miracle. If they had stayed in the miracle, they would have died. Things wouldn’t have worked how they were supposed to. They would have lost function and movement. They needed to move, to stretch out the muscles of faith that hadn’t been used in ages. Scary.

Taking off my brace was downright frightening. The first night I slept without it, I didn’t actually sleep. I just silently freaked out for like 8 hours.  But if I decide to stay in the brace and never take it off, the very thing that delivered me from imminent pain and suffering would be the very thing that would cause it. To stay in my brace too long could mean permanent disfiguration. It would mean me going backwards instead of forwards. It would mean that my neck would never grow, never heal, and never be strengthened enough to stand on its own.

If the Israelites would have stayed on the shore, admiring God’s miracle, they would have been killed. It’s that simple. But how many times in our lives do we base every single decision on a miracle that God has performed? Instead of moving forward, growing, and taking hold of what he has for us, we hold onto what he HAD for us.

God has so much more, but so many times we’re so full of the old stuff that we don’t have time for the new stuff.

Eventually, I was able to drive again. Hopefully in awhile, I’m going to be able to play volleyball again. I’m going to be able to run again. Okay, let’s be honest…I don’t run. But if I want to run again, I can. Not too far from now, my neck will be stronger than ever, and I’ll be pain-free. I’ll be able to live a full and healthy life. Yes, not too far from now, all of those things will be possible…IF I take my brace off. With my brace on, I can’t do any of them.

Miracles are moments of seeing God’s handiwork, and they are divine. But they are moments. We aren’t called to live in moments. We aren’t supposed to put our hope in moments. When we put our hope in God, he gives us thousands of moments.

I pick thousands.

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