Long ago I was a lovely 20 year-old-girl. My long, straight hair framed a lovely face, and I moved easily in the world as a young woman.
One day I woke up and the left side of my face was completely paralyzed. My eye drooped and would not close and I could not control the drooling that came from my decisively down-turned lips.
After the initial shock, I got the diagnosis of Bell’s Palsy and was prescribed a steroid and told to wait it out.
Wait indeed I did. While a “normal” course usually completely resolved in a few months, after several months I was still disfigured.
My grief was profound. Still reeling after the deaths of my parents when I was in my late teens, my loss was not just the loss of youthful beauty. As a flute major on a full scholarship, the joy that music brought to my life was also stripped away. As a result of the causative virus, I experienced a crippling array of auto-immune symptoms, from which I was quite ill.
In my months of hiding, I came across an item I had stolen a few years before – a Gideon Bible. At 19 I had entered into an early, ill-advised marriage (which quickly unwound after my illness). During that honeymoon, I swiped the Bible from a hotel in California and brought it home to sit on my bookshelf unread.
In my generation, Catholics generally didn’t read the Bible. Long-lapsed from the faith of my father, I now looked at the Bible with a fresh desperation.
I immersed myself in the life-giving words of Scripture. In my stolen King James, I read the most amazing things. I read there was a God who loved me and who knew me from my sad mother’s womb. He had plans for my life, and instilled in me a hope I had never known.
Over time, through deeply drinking in His love and acceptance, I also admitted my own sinfulness. In my physical recovery, I had time to examine my choices and attitudes in life to see that I was a miserable creature in need of a Savior. God became real to me, gave me hope and gave me the gifts of forgiveness, acceptance and faith, for which I am eternally grateful.
When I quit hiding from life and The Lord, I was healed and spared from my youthful path of accelerated self-destruction. He had so much more in store! In submitting to His giving and taking away, He sustains me still and gives me a quiet joy, no matter what my circumstances. He is the lifter of my head. Psalm 3:3 “But you, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory and the lifter of mine head.” (KJV)
Had The Lord placed you on the sidelines, through illness or infirmity? Draw near to him, stop hiding in your weakness and accept His gifts.
If we ever speak face-to-face, don’t mind the residual twitch. I’m not talking to you from my face but from my well-worn soul and overflowing heart.