“Becoming a disabled person wasn’t in the plan, but God used it to give me the desire of my heart, a writing career.”
I had a defined plan for my life. After putting my writing hopes on the back burner, I decided I would go to college, then settle into my career as a registered nurse. If the right guy came along, we would marry, and together, we would welcome our four children. We’d build our happy home in the small town I grew up in, all the while working on our individual careers. Once the kids were out on their own, we’d retire to the mountains where we’d get involved with our small-town community.
Becoming a disabled person wasn’t in the plan, but God used it to give me the desire of my heart, a writing career.
Of course, it didn’t happen overnight. For the first few years after the doctors declared me disabled, I was not just a little angry. I was fighting mad. Angry at the body that had betrayed me. Angry at the friends who suddenly talked to me differently. But most of all, I was angry at God for allowing someone to beat me up and leave my back permanently damaged. After all, I was doing what I thought was His will. I was saving people’s lives. So why did He allow this to happen to me?
The answer wasn’t easy to hear, but when I did, I recognized the truth in it. Why not? God never promised us our lives would be easy. In fact, the first chapter of James tells us we should rejoice in our trials and tribulations no matter how hard it is. When that truth settled into my soul, I let go of my anger, but I still had questions. If I wasn’t supposed to be a nurse, what was God’s purpose in my life? Surely, He didn’t want me sitting on the sidelines. What was I going to do now?
It wasn’t too long after this that my friend, Jodie gave me a prayer journal and suggested writing out my thoughts. By this time, I hadn’t written in almost two decades so for those first few weeks, I could barely manage half a page. It didn’t take long to come back to me, and soon I ‘prayed’ ten to twelve pages each day.
My writing didn’t stop there. I began to write about the people in my community—the elderly gentleman who sat on the bench outside of Walmart, handing out tracks to anyone who’d take them. Or the retired soldier sharing his testimony over a book about Pearl Harbor. My husband thought they were good enough for publication so I submitted to different publishers like Guideposts and Chicken Soup for the Soul, certain my scribblings would be rejected. But they weren’t, and I thrilled at seeing my name in print.
For the first time since the attack, I felt I was on the right path.
Door began to open, and soon, I was hard at work on my first novel. It hasn’t been easy—for the last fifteen years, I haven’t been able to sit for any length of time due to a fire-like pain in my lower back and hips. Most days, I’ve stood at my kitchen counter where I’ve written twenty-two books along with hundreds of devotionals and blog posts. In the days before my spinal fusion, I wrote my second book flat on my back. There have been times when the pain was too much that I begged God to take me home, but He didn’t, choosing instead to draw me closer to Him and growing my faith as He had with the Apostle Paul and his ‘thorn of the flesh.’
Earlier this year, God gave me a miracle. A change in my medication silenced the pain I’d had and for the first time in my adult life, I was pain-free. It’s been ten months now, and I can’t stop praising the Lord for this wonderful gift. God continues to use my weakness to strengthen my faith and gave me the deepest hope of my heart—to write for Him.
After her friend’s death in childbirth, Grace Sullivan converts her family home into a haven for immigrant families preparing for the birth of a child. But when the city threatens to close her down, her only hope is to ask for help from an unlikely source—her former friend, Patrick O’Leary.
Multi-published author Patty Smith Hall lives near the North Georgia Mountains with her husband, Danny, her two daughters, her son-in-law and her grandboy. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden.