Another day. Another light.
Today's source of light is coming to you from another writer. When thinking about this "Let Your Light Shine" series I knew I wanted to tell Hannah's story.
Without a doubt. Her story of shining a light had to be told.
But when I started to write it nothing seemed good enough. It was difficult for me to articulate an event 2 years ago that changed Hannah's life and the affect on her it had. So I am honored to say that Hannah has agreed to write about and let me publish a snapshot of her story.....for the first time.
Prepare to be inspired.
Hope isn’t a bonfire. It isn’t a pyre of flames, and it isn’t obvious, especially when it’s in the presence of light. Hope is a spark, and we must choose if we let it ignite in our hearts. However, when our lives are shrouded by darkness, that tiny spark can be brighter than the sun. Without the darkness, we cannot see the stars, and that’s the beauty in our hardships.
In the summer of 2010, I went on a mission trip to Honduras with my church. At the time, I was living comfortably. I was in my 15-year-old world, and the bubble that I lived in was small. I thought I knew everything, and I thought I had the world figured out. Little did I know that the mission trip would change me forever.
What I saw on the trip altered my perspective and showed me what the world outside my small life was like. Seeing the terribly devastating poverty was eye-opening, but I was still seeing my world from the inside of my safe, comfortable bubble.
Three days into the trip, my mission team went into the mountainous jungle to experience an incredible opportunity that Honduras has to offer: rappelling. On the way back up the mountain from rappelling down a 100-foot waterfall, the few of us that had gone down were hit by a tropical storm. The conditions that the storm caused made the trek up the mountain treacherous, and part way up, I lost my footing.
The fall caused damage, physically and emotionally. The impact had broken my femur, my hand, my nose, a couple of my teeth, and caused compression fractures in my spine, as well as plenty of deep bone and muscle bruises. I had lacerations on my face that still are scars today, along with others that came from the many follow-up surgeries.
Not only that, but my world had shattered. My safe bubble had burst in one instance, and I was abruptly thrown into a world much bigger than I had ever dreamed possible. I had never been aware of the pain and loneliness the world could hold, and I was suddenly estranged from everything I had once known.
After my 18 day stay in the hospital was finished, I returned home, but I didn’t escape my accident. I was swallowed by doctor visits, dentist visits, sessions with my counselor, physical therapy appointments, and follow-up surgeries. In the midst of my physical and emotional turmoil, I lost the thin illusion of control I had over my life. My grades slipped, I lost most of my friendships, and I fell into the darkest place I had ever been before.
Darkness is the absence of light, but it is as heavy and as much of a burden as any tangible object. When surrounded by darkness, my entire world changed. I became listless and apathetic, struggling to make it through each day. I was alone, and no amount of loved ones or support could help me feel any less lonely.
Yet even in the darkness, there was hope.
It began as a flicker, but in the complete darkness, that flicker was blinding. Certain people were placed into my life at the perfect time, and I have no doubt that was any sort of coincidence. Though I still had to grapple with frequent hospital visits, emotional baggage, and physical pain, the spark ignited and banished the darkness away.
To this day, I am still struggling with many of the effects of my accident, even as time goes by. I have to deal with chronic pain on a daily basis, along with circumstances not many of my peers would understand. However, I know that because of what I had been through, I have been changed for the better.
Today, I can share my story without hesitation, and hopefully, ignite the sparks of hope in others as a couple of individuals did for me. I am stronger in my faith and my values, and I’ve seen a side of the world that has shaped me to feel for those that aren’t often understood. I now can see past the insignificant details of life and appreciate the big picture, along with being able to enjoy life in a way I’ve never been able in the past. Now, I am proud to say that I will have the opportunity to return to Honduras this summer on another mission trip.
Metals must be tempered in order to bring them to the strongest consistency possible. Any metal that has not been tempered will be weak and frail, and will shatter under stress. However, if a piece of metal has been melted down and shaped again, it will hold under every pressure it must undergo. When our world is shattered in pieces around us, we are being tempered, thrown back into the forge so that we can be molded into something beautiful, and that’s what hope is.
Last night, while I sat on my comfy brown couch warmed by the fireplace, I read this beautiful piece of writing. I could feel Hannah's heart through her words. I sobbed. Maybe some of you will cry......maybe you will feel empowered.....maybe you will feel empathy. But I sobbed.
You see.... I know Hannah. I think of Hannah as another daughter. I watched her leave for Honduras so excited. I cried in the middle of the night when the phone call came that said she was hurt badly. I prayed for her as she was being air flighted from Honduras to the Florida hospital. I wished I could have been in that hospital room with her and her mom those long 18 days. I greeted her (along with a HUGE crew of people who love her) at the airport when she was wheeled off the airplane back home. I have observed her as she has gone through agonizing chronic pain and countless surgeries.
But I wasn't sobbing because of the hard stuff. I was crying because she has come out on the other side, done the hard things, been so courageous, conquered fears and..... become a woman. A wise woman. At the young age of 18, Hannah is wise beyond her years.
So.....back to that spark....... Hannah says that she saw a very bright spark in the midst of the darkness.
I saw it too.
It was Hannah.
As she was being molded into a new creation there was a spark that flew from her hardships that heated metal. When Hannah felt like she wasn't visible is when I saw her the clearest.
I am grateful that Hannah was molded into the woman she is today.
I am grateful for her words, perseverance and bravery that inspire me.
I am grateful that God was the one holding the torch and hammer, creating that spark, and shaping her heart anew.
May you be as inspired by Hannah as I am.
May you know that, in the midst of darkness, there will be a spark.
May you be brave, courageous and persevere.