I used to think suffering was how it felt to be one of the last single females on the face of the planet. Don’t freak out – I said felt – I know that wasn’t a fact! I decided to take my singleness into my own hands and use it as empowerment. Who cares if he doesn’t want to marry me – I’m going to look good!
I put every extra effort I had into getting fit. At first it was fun, working out with my roommate with fun DVDs, going to classes at the gym, and even running my first half marathon at the request of a friend. But all of those things soon turned into gods. They all started to control me. I needed to maintain a certain fitness level now. It wasn’t just fun and games – I had to be at the front of the room for kickboxing class, and run my fastest time in every half marathon I entered. Every workout I did I put my full effort into, knowing that if I didn’t then my body would change, and then what would I worship? I loved going into Lululemon and seeing all of the cute exercise clothes, loved the new apps I could download to see my running times compared to others, loved fitness challenges at work where I could show up on top. My hard work and striving paid off – people noticed what they saw. Laura, you look great! Laura, you lost so much weight! Laura, you’re so skinny! Music to my ears, but also, tunes that just added to the beat of my own striving. My inner voice kept telling me you better keep this up – or else!
And so I did. Until I couldn’t. And then I found out what it truly is to suffer. What it truly is to lose what you love.
I had gone on in my crazy exercise ways for 4 years and in 2014 my body said no more. I thought it was a fluke when I woke up with shoulder pain, the result of yoga. You see in Sep 2013, I ran my last half marathon, and then I had IT/hip/? injuries all through my right leg. Yoga was the recommendation from my doctor, which I enjoyed, but noticed some weird shocking feeling in the beginning of 2014 in my neck. When I woke up that cold February morning with that awful pain, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that it was more than just a rotator cuff injury.
Heat, ice, stretches, pain meds, nothing would relieve the pain. I could no longer sleep on my side. I cried getting dressed in the morning because even putting on clothes hurt. Taking a shower and scrubbing was painful. I didn’t know what to do. To make matters worse I couldn’t exercise the way I used to, or barely at all. No more classes at the gym. I could do the elliptical machine but no arms. That was it.
Months passed without improvement. Everyone just told me I’m too young (I was 31) to have this happen. I took a leave of absence from work and tried going to the pool. This was where I hit the darkest wall. I couldn’t swim. I had grown up in the pool, loved the beach, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, and now I couldn’t swim because of this pain.
A Christian friend told me that things would get better, but I really couldn’t believe him. I read Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” I cried and pleaded with God to restore me. But nothing happened.
After an MRI, a spine doctor told me about the disk protrusions in my neck in C3 and C4. He recommended a cortisone shot. I went through with the scary procedure, and came out the same. More and more suffering. I wanted to die. I didn’t think there was a reason for me to live.
In February 2015 I was driving my car at night onto the freeway. The next thing I remember is a police man asking me questions. He was asking,”How did you get here? How did your tire come off?” I answered, confused, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He asked if I knew my name. I answered. I looked around and saw that my car was facing traffic with the passenger side door next to the guard rail. On the freeway. One tire was missing. I told the officer I really wasn’t sure how the tire came off, and then he made sure I wasn’t drunk! Luckily he stopped questioning me and my car was towed home.
To this day I have no idea what happened that night. But God gave me His first sign that He loves me and that He wants me to live. He saved my life that night. I got into a car accident and came out with no injuries. I knew right then that my pain was minor compared to the love God had for me. That God had plans for me, and that I needed to discover them.
If you are in a place where you don’t think God cares, please read this and know it is meant for you:
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”
I’m so thankful that God is in control, that He holds the keys to my life and not me! I’m so thankful He saved me that night and brought me home safely. That he gave me “hope and a future”. And I’m so thankful He’s given me the strength to share my story.