God’s Grace in a Back Brace

God's Grace in a Back Brace

Long before I ever dreamed up the possibility of the letters RN following my name, I was a little girl with another dream. A dream rooted deeply in personal experience and passion driven by frustration. Before I began chasing this dream, I dreamed of becoming a pediatric orthopedist because this girl was on a mission to fight the object that angered me most: my back brace.

I was prescribed a back brace for my kyphosis in the 7th grade. I remember I hated my brace, but not more than my momma hated it for me. I recall being an adolescent, desperate to fit in, which was sometimes hard because my back brace literally stuck out 3-4 inches right between my shoulder blades. Once, in the heat of an argument, my sister called me ugly because of my brace (don’t worry, we’re cool now). And another time, I remember my dad threatening to ground me because I hadn’t worn my brace in a couple hours (He was the compliancy police when it came to that back brace). I remember a kid in my class that used my back brace as a set of drums with his pencils when his assigned seat was behind mine. And I remember my little cousin being born and not being able to snuggle him as a sweet baby because the plaster I was encased in was the very opposite of gentle. I’ll never forget my collection of maternity jeans as a 7th grader because the elastic fit over my brace better. Or the time I woke up in the middle of the night to rip my brace off because I couldn’t sleep comfortably with it on.



But when I look back at my time in a back brace, I don’t remember those challenges as specifically as you would think I would. In fact, I really have to make myself dig deep and get to the hard stuff to reflect on those moments. Instead, I remember grace. Sweet, beautiful, unmerited grace that I didn’t deserve.

At the time, I don’t think I fully understood the impact that brace would have on me. To this day, not a day goes by that it or my scoliosis doesn’t cross my mind. At the time, I don’t think I could have grasped the platform that my brace was going to have on my future. I don’t think I realized that I would one day use it to speak to groups of high schoolers about pursuing careers in medicine and leadership. I never could have predicted that wearing that brace for two years would lead me to lifetime in healthcare.



You see, that’s how God’s grace works sometimes. During the challenge, we don’t always see the way the Lord is working in us. We only see the hard parts, the parts that make us go home and cry and tear off the orthotic devices our dad says we have to wear. While the Lord is working on us, we only see the construction zone that looks more like demolition. And we forget to read the sign that says “Please excuse our mess, construction in progress”.

But friend, even when it’s messy and challenging, and just plain miserable, God’s grace is still in action. He’s cooking up something amazing for us during our time of weakness. I have to believe that those two years in a brace were shaping more than just my spine. Those years spent wrapped in shiny metal and hard plaster would soften my heart for my future patients.

I saw God’s Grace in a back brace. I still see it every day in my life, how He challenged me for two years to mold me into the person I am today. I saw God’s Grace in a back brace with the outpouring of love and support from a classroom full of preteens and my compassionate teachers. I saw God’s Grace in a back brace at every single doctor’s appointment when I met children with diagnoses that had as many words as sentences.

I see God’s Grace in a back brace when I can look back at a difficult time in my life and use it to help others and glorify our Lord. This is exactly what grace is about. In fact, the Lord Jesus teaches about grace in one of my favorite scripture: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 Check out those words in red, y’all.

God’s grace was exemplified during my time in a back brace. Probably the weakest part of my life as an adolescent, but I will boast all the more gladly about that weakness so our Lord can be glorified by it. And that’s God’s Grace in a Back Brace.

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,” 2 Peter 1:2

Love,

When You’re Struggling With God’s Will For Your Life

Encouragement for when you are struggling with The Lord's Plan for your life.

We’ve all been there. In between jobs. Or selecting the right school. Or going through the break up. Or considering marriage. Or choosing the right career. Or dealing with the job that you hate. Or losing everything. The overwhelming heartbreak of feeling lost and not knowing what to do. You feel like your heart is all locked up. How could a God who loves us unconditionally put us in a situation where there is hurt and confusion and an abundance of tears?

I myself have been left thinking, “God, what is your plan for me? What do you want with me because right now I feel like my prayers are just hitting the ceiling and bouncing right back to echo in my heart. Why have you chosen me for this job? Surely someone else could glorify your kingdom better?”

I’ve struggled with Gods will plenty of times. And I bet you have, too. The good news about struggling with what God wants for our life is that we aren’t alone.

In fact, Jesus, perfect Jesus, struggled with the will of His father. And if the perfect person can share that struggle with us, you know flawed humanity is not gonna have it easy.

Remember the story in Matthew 26 of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane just before his trial and crucifixion? I love that story because it gives us perspective into Jesus’ humanity. Jesus tells the disciples about his sadness “My soul is succeeding sorrowful…” (vs. 38) as he enters the garden to speak to his father. I know I personally feel the most lonely when I’m struggling with God’s will for my own life. When I think about Jesus in the garden alone, facing the most fearful experience anyone could ever imagine, my heart breaks in two. Jesus struggled with God’s will as he faced the act that saved our souls. Jesus prayed “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (vs. 39)

I find myself praying in the same way when I’m struggling with the Lord’s will for my life. “God, not my will, but thine be done.”

I also love the story of Lazarus’ death and resurrection found in John 11. To me, this is a story that leaves me wondering more about Jesus as a person and how He shared similar emotions as we do. Scripture tells us that Jesus knew Lazarus was dead even before he spoke with Mary and Martha. In John 11:11-14, Jesus explains to the disciples that Lazarus is dead, and needs to be woken. However, later on in the scripture, when Jesus is led to the grave site of his friend, we are told “Jesus wept.” (vs. 35). There are two reactions from the people that observed Jesus’ tears, these reactions follow in verses 36 and 37. “Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”” (vs. 36) “But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”” (vs. 37)

As a mere mortal, I’m curious as to what it was exactly that made Jesus cry that day, too. And I can’t help but wonder if it’s because he was struggling with Gods will. Jesus knew his friend was dead, and knew that somehow it would glorify the Lord “This sickness will not end in death. No it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it.” (vs. 4)

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus struggled with the fact that his friend died as part of God’s will. Maybe that’s why Jesus wept.

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus questioned himself and the Lords plan when Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (vs. 21) Maybe that’s why Jesus wept.

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus was certain that raising Lazarus from the dead truly was the will of the Lord. Maybe that’s why Jesus wept.

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus stood in front of his friend’s tomb and thought “if only I had turned left instead of right.” Maybe that’s why Jesus wept.

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus stood there among friends that would soon yell “crucify him” and saw Lazarus’ death and resurrection as foreshadowing to God’s will for his own life. And maybe that’s why Jesus wept.

And maybe those are questions we’ll never know the answer to on this side of Heaven. And maybe we’ll never know the reasons were struggling with the plans for our own lives. But friend, know that you aren’t alone in your struggle. Know that even the King of Kings had his moments of fear and sorrow when struggling with Gods will for his life.

How do you cope when you’re struggling with God’s will for your life? How has God shown up and shown off for you?

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6


Love,
Cassie, RN