It was steaming hot! The Kansas sun penetrated the small car I was driving. The air conditioner was barely working and it refused to cool my skin. I felt beads of sweat pooling around my neck and dripping down my back. I took one hand off the steering wheel only long enough for me to wipe the dampness off each hand. I was determined to go forward no matter what. I was on a visiting mission for my church. I was twenty years old and eager to show my commitment to Christ.
Susie and her husband were in their mid-twenties. They had been married for only two weeks when Susie suddenly became paralyzed from the neck down. I sat on a chair next to the hospital bed that was set up in a tiny bedroom for Susie. A breathing tube protruded from her neck and when she spoke the machine regulated her breaths making her voice waver in volume. It was very alarming to me to see this thin, tiny woman completely debilitated. A bed pan sat on the bottom shelf of a night stand that held a single lamp. To the right was a small window with the curtains opened wide to the bright sunshine that flooded into the room. It was Susie’s only glimpse of the outside world except when she left her house in a wheel chair accessible van for doctor appointments.
A colorful bird fluttered by and her eyes lit up as she proudly stated that she named every bird who passed by her bedroom window. I smiled at her while thinking how simple life can become when your very existence is reliant upon others for your care. She had to be dressed, bathed, and fed by her husband and a CNA that visited during the week.
Bill, her husband, hovered in the door way of the room. He was happy to have a visitor in his home. His life had become very isolated because his wife required twenty-four-seven care. It wasn’t hard for me to admire a man who gave up his entire life to be with a woman who would never recover from her paralyzing state. They had been married for three years. Their eyes met as she looked adoringly at her husband and he returned the love right back.
We talked about the small community both of us grew up to know. She continued by telling a story of almost dying the week before when her cat decided to lie on her neck on top of her breathing tube preventing her from crying out for help.
“Bill was asleep in his bedroom.” She continued between forced in and out breaths from the machine.
Miraculously, the cat moved just before she lost consciousness. From now on the door would be closed so the cat could no longer visit unless someone else was present in the room. After visiting for over an hour, I left after praying with her and her husband. Susie was worn out from the visit and she needed to sleep.
We grew up in the same school and attended the same sixty member country Church. Most of the members were farmers. Susie was the middle child in a household of seven children. The more kids you had the more hands you had to run a successful farm. Two of her siblings died when they were babies, because all of them shared a genetic bone disease passed down by their father’s family.
William, Susie’s father faithfully brought his children to church every Sunday. He always had a smile on his face and a love flowed out of him as he hugged and greeted everyone at church. If you didn’t know the story of what happened to his family you would have never known he had any life scattering problems. His faith in God was great. His wife left after the death of their second child. Later she divorced William, leaving the children with him because she couldn’t bear to watch her living children in pain and dying. This disease was the reason Susie was paralyzed. A bone in her back just snapped. A few years later she died.
Whenever my life gets hard I think of Susie. I think of the quiet determination she illustrated to me as she smiled from her hospital bed. She had faith in God and she refused to allow her present circumstances to keep her from Praising Jesus. She had not sinned nor did she do anything to bring on her paralyzed condition. She had been born into a family that had a disease that had no cure.
Many times over the past years I have reflected on Susie’s story. If she had known what her future life would become, it would not have mattered because she would have had no ability to change it. Her life was destined to be short lived, because of the genes she carried in her DNA.
When I wrote the story of my life in my book ‘I Want to Know My Future’, I did not write it with the idea that I would change anything about my past life. I wrote it to explain why I had to be the person I was made to be. I am a gay woman. It is in my DNA. To change who God made me to be would be impossible, just like it was impossible for Susie to change the incurable disease that she inherited from her father.
The journey I faced compared to Susie’s was very different. Her family, friends, and church rallied to her support, because her suffering was brought on by her disease. While my family, friends and church formed a mob in order to fight against me. They punished me for being what God made me to be. Susie and I were on very different journeys in this world. We were both struggling and questioning God about our fates. But even during my worse days of persecution, I would never have traded places with Susie. It didn’t matter what the world did to me as far as I was concerned my suffering could never be compared to hers. So when I recalled Susie’s life it reminded me of how blessed I was to be able to run away from those who hated me.
It is hard to understand why a loving and merciful God would pre-determine such a fate as Susie’s. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do children suffer in this world? Why is there child abuse?
I have read many Spiritual books by wonderful authors who have given astounding answers to these questions. There is one I really like and it is the answer God gave me for the suffering I faced in this world. “You agree to do this.”
“I agreed to be persecuted?” As I pondered these words a verse instantly entered my mind filling me with answers to my questions.
If we are in a world where we are supposed to learn the difference between right and wrong, of course we will be challenged. We must be tested so we can grow in knowledge. James the brother of Jesus takes it a step further when he tells Christians a spiritual fact.
James 1:12, “Happy is the person who remains faithful under trials, because when he succeeds in passing such a test, he will receive as his reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.”
Immediately this verse made me think of Susie. She had made a real impression on me. She was confined to her bed for the rest of her life but she did not blame God. She loved Jesus. She Praised Him. She was a testimony of the love of God. Her faith impressed me, because her suffering did not turn her into a person who felt sorry for herself. Instead she was an example of what God can do when our burdens are given to Him. He turns the sad things that happen to people to shine as bright beacons of hope. Her faith gave me determination in my fight. Her strength gave me the patience to endure the suffering I went through. Her life purpose was an inspiration that I will never forget.
God created us to live purpose filled lives. He created us to show that no matter what Satan tries to do to harm us that we can overcome with God’s saving power.
Philippians 4:13, “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.”
When we are Christians and we suffer we are not defined by our suffering. Instead we are an example of what we can endure when God is on our side. Susie will always be an inspiration that I can do it no matter what.
Linda Dipman author of I WANT TO KNOW MY FUTURE http://outskirtspress.com/iwanttoknowmyfuture presents I WANT TO KNOW MY FUTURE It will put you on the edge of your seat as you read each vivid detail. You will feel terror and experience love like nothing you have ever read before. Find out what happens when God fights for you! http://lovinghandsministry.com Linda Dipman is the author of “I Want to Know My Future” and “The Game of Life It’s Almost Over” She wrote these books after suffering persecution from her family, friends and church for being a homosexual. She was attacked by her church, thrown in jail for running with her children and deprived of justice from the courts. It was a defining moment that helped her to look back at what she believed was true about Christianity and find biblical answers to counter the false teachings of the church against homosexuals. It is her true life story and the answers she discovered from the teachings of the Holy Spirit. She testifies that she survived the terrible persecution because of her deep rooted faith in Jesus Christ. God fought for me!
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and very much recommended read.
Midwest Book Review: I Want To Know My Future
With nothing left, not even family, God may be the only thing left. “I Want to Know My Future” is a Christian memoir from Linda Dipman who ponders her rough journey when she was thrown in jail and forgotten by her church and family. When all seemed lost she relates how God was still there for her and she hopes her story will help other readers remember this important fact. “I Want to Know My Future” is a powerful and very much recommended read.