This next story you'll read was submitted by Charity Bradford. She doesn't want to be part of the judging, but she wanted to share her own inspiring story.
The Little Blessings in Life
All too often we find ourselves coasting through life. Things are good, and we slip into automatic pilot mode. We forget to notice the little blessings in our lives. If we’re lucky, we get a wake-up call we can survive and grow from. My wake-up call came twelve years ago this June.
Facing your own mortality can shake you to the core. Luckily, I had the love and support of many people to help me rebuild myself. But it didn’t happen overnight. Are you wondering what happened and how I pulled myself out of “the depths of despair” as Anne Shirley from Green Gables would say?
Twelve years ago I was pregnant with my third child—my first son. We were all excited, but two weeks before my due date I started feeling “off”. The symptoms were similar to labor so off to the hospital we went, even though something in the back of my mind kept telling me this wasn’t labor. The midwife broke my water, and after the longest labor ever, I finally had my baby boy. But I never felt “better.” Three days after going home, I found myself back in the ER.
The next two weeks are a blur with only snatches of memory. I remember being inside the MRI listening to a voice telling me to relax and take deep breaths, but I couldn’t breathe. I remember lights moving over my head as I was wheeled into emergency surgery. Crying because my husband wasn’t there. He made it at the last moment to give me a blessing and pray with me. Then there was nothing for a week.
My milk dried up. I lost 40 pounds in two weeks, most of it muscle. When I finally went home, I was too weak to hold my baby or play with my two daughters. My only ambition in life had been to be a wife and mother, believing that every woman who serves and protects her family is doing the work of God. However, my brush with death left me helpless in bed. During the day my husband worked to support us while my sweet mother-in-law took care of my children and home. At night I cried myself to sleep while my husband sat up with our colicky baby. I was useless, and in spite of the blessings around me I felt utterly alone.
Our bodies are true works of art—created by a divine Father in Heaven who loves us dearly. My body healed in three months, but it would take longer for me to allow Him to heal me inside.
How did that healing happen? First I had to let go of the “why me?” attitude. I had to concentrate on the positive aspects of the experience. I had a healthy baby boy. My mother-in-law gave up a month of summer vacation with her children to help me. Members of my church—that I had only known for three weeks—brought meals almost every day for a month. I was alive.
Eventually, I could think about the funny things that happened to me in the hospital. My sister-in-law told me about one of her visits where all I could talk about was the best chocolate chip cookies I had ever eaten—I don’t remember this by the way. We laugh about it now, but at the time, Jenny said she wanted to cry because she knew I hadn’t had anything to eat for a week. I also hadn’t had any water, but a sweet nurse gave me some gum to soothe my parched mouth. It was Everest gum. I do remember that, and I remember it stuck to my teeth like tar. That’s when I learned you need spit to chew gum. Perhaps the funniest thing was a random thought I had during my drug induced state. I was really concerned whether or not I’d be allowed to ride roller coasters when I got out of the hospital.
I had to let those little things take the edge off the hurt. Once I did that, I could take the next step. After wallowing in depression for almost three years, another of God’s miracles pushed me into letting go of the one lie I’d held the closest. For some reason, my self-worth had been tied to the ability to have children. I don’t know why, but it was. After my experience I was told I’d never have any more of my own. Instead of rejoicing in the three I had, I felt like I had failed my husband. He never once did anything to confirm my inner turmoil. In fact, as an adopted son, he was excited about adopting children if we felt the need to have more. But then I got pregnant! I cried tears of joy and gratitude to God for that blessing. The choice to have children or not had been returned to me.
Heavenly Father used this gift to open my eyes once and for all. I had a choice. I could continue to hold on to the past or I could let go and live my life once more. My children needed me. This new baby would need me. My sweet husband had held my hand patiently for years, waiting for me to find myself again. It was time to reinvent myself and be happy. With the help of loved ones, lots of prayer, and most importantly, the love of God, that’s exactly what I did.
By allowing Him to heal me, my relationship with my husband, children and others around me are better than ever. I feel the joy of the little blessings in my life and am now strong enough to help others the way I was helped all those years ago.
Written By: Charity Bradford