Praying Past the Pain
She relied on faith to recover from a debilitating injury in time to dance at her daughter's wedding.
Images of Kelli standing on Steve’s feet in this very room learning to dance drifted up through my memory, of Steve and me slow dancing together, Kelli squeezing between us. Music and dancing, moving to the beat, always a part of our lives. Now here I was practically immobile.
I thought about the wedding, everyone taking to the dance floor while Steve and I watched from an empty table. “Mom,” Kelli said, “are you listening?”
“Sure,” I said, halfheartedly. “That sounds great.”
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Kelli gave me a look, then lay down beside me, our arms touching. I could feel the warmth of her body, the electric energy of youth pulsing through her. “Remember when I was four and I cracked my head riding my tricycle, what you said to me in the emergency room?” she asked.
I smiled and nodded at the memory, a running joke between us: Wow, you really did this up right. Kelli had said those same words to me after my accident, then kissed me on the forehead and held my hand while I waited to go home from the ER. Back then I believed her.
“You’re going to get better,” Kelli said now. “Trust God, Mom, that’s what you always told me. When we doubt ourselves we’re really just doubting God.”
Striding on the treadmill I had to smile. Steve and I had raised a pretty smart kid. And she was right. Time and again as a counselor I’d encouraged people to trust God first. That’s where all healing began. God wanted us well, not sick.
I closed my eyes and blocked out all the activity around me. I imagined myself on the dance floor at Kelli’s wedding reception. I imagined God holding me up, giving me strength. Imagined being able to do anything as long as I put my trust in God.
Step by patient step I grew stronger, more trusting, more confident. One Sunday in November, at church, I stood up in the pew. I lifted my arms in praise. Lifted them higher than I had lifted them in almost two years, as if trying to touch the hands of the One who’d upheld me throughout this whole ordeal.
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Steve looked at me in wonder. I felt no pain. None.
Still, I was a long way from kicking up my heels. I still couldn’t stand on my own for very long. I didn’t know how I was going to dance. Only that God would be there when it was time.
The big day in December finally arrived. Three minutes before Kelli’s processional I slipped on heels (low ones!) for the first time since the accident. Steve and I escorted her down the aisle, my feet floating on air—or so it seemed. Kelli was all that mattered. And she was radiant.
At the reception I watched as Michael led Kelli onto the dance floor, their bodies moving effortlessly, joining as one. It took everything I had not to burst into tears. A wave of gratitude swept over me. Thank you, Lord, I whispered. Thank you for this beautiful, perfect moment.
Then the music shifted, the beat pulsating through the hotel ballroom. Couples streamed onto the dance floor. Steve took my hand and helped me to my feet.
I laid my head on his shoulder. He held me close, tenderly, and slowly we moved, maybe not to the DJ’s beat but certainly to a rhythm, one we both knew so well, the beating of our hearts.
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