I was 14 when my life changed forever
When I was in the ninth grade, I began having episodes where I collapse and am left with extreme muscle weakness in my arms and legs. Sometimes these episodes only last 30 minutes. At my worst, this temporary paralysis continued for an entire week. During this week, I would get out of the hospital bed and walk a few steps before collapsing. Because of my new illness, I had to give up cheerleading, band, clubs, and I missed half my Junior and Senior years of high school. I didn’t go on my senior trips or get a job and I spent most of my days at home by myself. Doctors eventually told my parents to pull me out of school and not let me out of bed more than 45 minutes at a time. They had no answers, only shots in the dark.
My circumstance seemed impossible.
At the beginning of my freshman year, I was presented with the opportunity to go to Jamaica on a mission trip. I prayed and discerned that the Lord would have me go and then raised all my support. One month before I was to leave on this exciting adventure, I had my first episode. I was absolutely positive that my parents would not let me go. But in faith, they let me leave and I have never been the same. I fell in love with the vibrant people, jerk chicken, and the steady rumble of reggae and insect choirs humming through the nighttime mountain air.
It was on this beautiful little island where I learned that God is my strength. It blew my mind that God could take a little girl who basically becomes randomly paralyzed, place her in a foreign country and use her to tell others that our God is the God of the impossible.
I am now 20 years old and have served in Jamaica 9 times.
That is 9 times after I developed this illness. I never in a million years expected my life to be changed in such a dramatic way when I landed at the airport in Montego Bay for the first time.
You and I may not have the same struggle. Maybe you come from a broken home. Lost someone you loved. Maybe you have been abused or abandoned. It’s possible that you may even feel unlovable because of something that has happened to you. Maybe your heart is broken today. Or maybe you feel absolutely alone. While I cannot relate to all of these, there are some things that I have learned during my illness that I think can apply to whatever situation you are going through today.
3 Things To Remember When You Feel Defeated
Your circumstance does not define you
Right now you might be thinking, “But Cassidy, you do not know what I’ve done.” Or “You don’t know what they did to me.” And you are absolutely right. I don’t know what you are going through, what you may have done or what has been done to you. But I don’t need to. Why? Because I know what HE did. God loves us so much that He allowed Jesus to come, die and rise from the grave so that you may no longer be a slave to sin and fear. When He died, He purchased your redemption. As recipients of His grace, Christ becomes our identity and His sacrifice becomes the very thing by which we are defined.
Because Christ is now our identity, everything that is true of Him becomes true of us. That means we become Holy. Righteous. Redeemed. Worthy. Made new. Co-heirs. When God sees us, He sees His son. Your circumstance is not the thing that defines you. Jesus is. This is such a beautifully freeing thing to grasp!Your circumstance is not the thing that defines you. Jesus is. Click To Tweet
God can still use you
One thing that took me forever was realizing that God could still use me. I went through a period of time where I felt inadequate and inconvenient. I felt like a burden. Deep down, I believed that I was unworthy of love and normal relationships because of my illness. This line of thinking is so far from the truth and I am so thankful that God gave me His perspective.
You see, God used Moses, a murderer, to deliver His people from bondage. God used David, an adulterer, to usher in the Messiah. He used Abraham, a liar, and made Him the father of many nations. God used Ruth, a grieving widow. He used Mary Magdalene, a prostitute and Jonah, who ran away from God’s calling. God used Timothy, who had ulcers and Thomas, who doubted.
These great heroes of the faith all have something in common: they are imperfect people loved by a gracious God.
We see God’s promise from Philippians 1:6 come to life in the lives of these people. Philippians 1:6 (ESV) says, “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”. Their stories didn’t end with their sin or their weaknesses. Their stories ended with how God decided to move in mighty ways.
A verse that I think ties in beautifully with this one is 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) which says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”. We are no longer bound to our sin. He has promised that if you are found in Christ, you are a NEW CREATION. Yes, you will still sin and have trials, but God is within you. And He who began that good work in you has promised to bring it to completion! He is not done with your story. In fact, I would argue that He is only just beginning.
Walk in Victory
Many of us spend a great deal of time walking around in defeat. I know I did. We are defeated by our choices or defeated by our circumstances. Often times, we walk around carrying the heavy weight of guilt or shame. But let me tell you a secret…you do not need to. When Jesus died and rose from the grave, He purchased all that guilt, shame, and defeat and bore it upon His shoulders. He did this so that we might know the power of His resurrection. He did this so we can have relationship with the Father.
We no longer have to walk in the guilt, the shame, the defeat, and the brokenness. We no longer have to walk in the guilt, the shame, the defeat, and the brokennessClick To Tweet
These things do not define us anymore! We can walk in victory because of who our God is! He is able. Jesus is strong. He is powerful and mighty and He loves you enough to not leave you defeated and alone. When you surrender your defeat up to God, I promise that He will replace it with His peace and victory. You may have to surrender it up over and over again, but it’s worth it. He is worth it.
One thing that I love about our God is that He is a creator. He can create stars, individual snowflakes, a new masterpiece in the sky every morning and every evening, and millions and millions of different people. I know that the same God can create a new work in your circumstance today.
Be Encouraged. Your story is not finished yet.
*This post was originally published for The Accidental Nomad Life. Kayla Nelson is a lovely person with a desire to reach other people with the Gospel. To see the original post or to check out her website, click here.*