Exercising Your Faith During Illness
Meena Dhanjal Outlaw
“Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing; or the observance of an obligation from loyalty; or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement; or a belief not based on proof; or it may refer to a particular system of religious belief, such as in which faith is confidence based on some degree of warrant”.[www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary].
Our probability of losing faith and/or our religious belief when a debilitating injury has occurred is high. So, when loss of faith happens we are left with how do we find it again?
As stated above from the dictionary, the meaning of faith is to trust in something or someone. Many people go to church and are a part of a religious group. Yet, I for one lost faith and religion when I had my spinal cord injury sixteen years ago, thus leaving me more lost than ever.
I have learned over the years that when an illness or injury strikes, having something to hold on to is the most important fundamental tools to recovery.
At first for me, it was my children being so young and needing me so much. Then, as they grew older I realized that we as a family needed to learn more about spirituality, and develop an understanding that there is something bigger that surpasses all human existence.
Some people call it Source, God, or Universe. I am not here to speak about that because that is a very personal belief system.
What I want to address is what it takes for us to dig deep within ourselves, and it beckons the question how are we supposed to find ourselves again if we lost our belief system.
Let’s face it; we have all been there regardless of our disposition. I also believe if you haven’t been there yet, most likely, with the way that life throws us curve balls, it will happen and you will be standing, or in my case sitting in a wheelchair, wondering what now?
So, let’s get down to the basics. Any crisis such as illness or injury brings us down the core of rock bottom.
From my own experience, I have learned that holding on to my children is really a crutch.
How did I found this out? By sitting in my new house alone without my children and nanny wondering how I was going to unpack the mounds of boxes to make this house a home all by myself. I picked up a phone to call a friend who was an old neighbor and took her up on her previous offer to accompany her to her church.
As explained in detail in my first book, ‘A Moment in Time’, that decision changed my life forever. With gaining the understanding of what it meant to carry God in my life all through my days and nights, I was now able to rise above all challenges. I also found strength to always do what I believed is right. After all, that is the primary basis for any spiritual belief. For where there is truth there is our source whomever that may be to you according to your religious beliefs.
I say it this way because I was raised in an Indian family as a Hindu and respect the sensitivities in each religious order and then after my injury, I converted to Christianity. I hurt my family immensely because they felt I had abandoned our customs and traditions. On the contrary, I feel it did the complete opposite because I was grasping to believe again so much.
By finding ‘my’ faith, which ultimately is hope, I was able to overcome each obstacle realizing that the strength within is coming from ‘my’ source.
I have seen it a thousand times over the sixteen years I have lived with my paralysis. So many newly injured people are figuring things out from the very beginning, and the one thing they are searching for the most is hope, but hope is faith.
Take it from this mother of three that was able to find my real calling in life as an advocate, award-winning writer, mother, and wife that all these things are possible once your own belief is clear within you.
I had to embrace the idea that what happened to me wasn’t actually the fault of ‘my’ source, but free will. After all, God did not make me climb down the balcony that fateful day of my accident; I chose to do that. Nevertheless, what He did do was make sure that I knew He would never leave me, and I know that to be true.
For, there is no way I could have done half the things I have accomplished to date without Him. Money was an issue, but it came. Strength was an issue, but that came as well. Where I thought I was not loveable, He directed me into the hands of my husband. Where I felt I couldn’t bare another child now that I was disabled, He not only led me to a doctor that safely delivered my baby, but made it possible for my paralyzed body to push the baby out!
Therefore, my challenge to you is to honestly answer one question to yourself: Are you living with faith or a crutch, which can be a person, drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity? If so, I ask that you give yourself the gift of faith, it is just a prayer away.