For years, my parents and therapists have tried to convince me to use a wheelchair around the house and for longer distances. “That way, you can carry things, you won’t be afraid to fall, and you won’t be worn out and exhausted by the time you get wherever you’re going.” And for years, I’ve fought them, because I feared that if I began using a wheelchair, I would lose my strength. But more than that, in my mind, to use a wheelchair was to relinquish the independence I did have, and I was not about to give that away.
But then, last weekend happened. My family and I went to Gainesville for UF’s homecoming weekend, and there, God showed me two things: in order to navigate that campus, I’ll have to use a wheelchair, and He showed me that He’ll use me and my disability to bring honor and glory to Him.
I spent the morning standing at SEC Nation, taking in the sights and sounds of the pregame show. As much as I loved every second of it, before long, my legs and feet began to ache. It’s a two hour show, and by the time it ended, the pain had become much more intense. However, my family and I had planned to go to the Gator Walk (which was a nice hike from where Nation had set up) and there was no way I was missing that. So I pushed through the pain and walked. The Lord used that trek to show me just how amazing He is.
At one point, a young woman complimented my Florida shirt. Her kind words brightened my day and distracted me from the pain. I thanked her, grateful for the compliment. Not long after we arrived at the Gator Walk, she came up to me again, and asked if I was Robyn. When I said yes, a huge smile crossed her face. She told me she’d heard my story through the Tim Tebow Foundation, and that I was an inspiration. I was touched and blown away. I told her thank you, thinking that those words didn’t come close to expressing how much that meant to me. She had no idea how many times in the last month I’d broken down and cried because I felt so defined and frustrated by my disability and the things I couldn’t do. So many times I’d felt like my CP was a chain around me that I couldn’t break, yet here she was telling me she was inspired by the way I lived through it. She reminded me that our God is so powerful that He’ll use something that I was frustrated by to inspire someone I’d never even met.
We left the Gator Walk and went to lunch, and my father, knowing I was hurting and tired, offered to put me on the back of my walker and push me. Because I’m stubborn, I wouldn’t let him. By the time we got to the restaurant, I was overheated and each sent a searing pain through my feet. As I took a seat and tried to cool off, I realized that maybe my parents and therapists had been on to something when they suggested I use a wheelchair. Was using my walker worth being in pain for the rest of the day? Did I really want to be worn out this way every day?
The answer is no, so this morning, I gave in and got out the wheelchair. I’m not sure how long I spent wheeling around in it and trying to figure out how to maneuver it around the house, but by the time I stopped, I realized they’d been right. Yes, my arms were a little sore from pushing it, but a power assisted device would fix that. And I was able to stand up at my bathroom sink and brush my own hair without being consumed by fear.
But perhaps most importantly, I felt more independent. For so long, “independence” has felt like a daunting mountain that I’ll never be able to reach the top of, and today, in that chair, that mountain suddenly seemed climbable. I no longer felt defined or controlled by my CP, and for that, I’ll never fight my therapists or parents on this issue again. I still have a lot of things to figure out and a long way to go before I’m completely independent, but like 2 Samuel 22:40 says, God’s armed me with the strength to win this battle, and He’ll be with me the whole way.