Guest Post by Jenny Lorton – I pray that this story encourages you to stand up to whatever situations or circumstances might be holding you back. Jenny previously wrote “Life Through God’s Design” and is now sharing her battle with Polio. Personally, I’m humbled and thankful to share this with you all. Jenny is a great example of letting God’s light shine even through our most difficult trials and obstacles. Thank you for sharing this incredible story, Jenny… God bless you!
Polio takes its toll on a body. It can kill, or it can maim. Or it can seem barely visible in some people. In my case, I was a rambling two-year old who quickly turned into a toddler who couldn’t walk, who had to be fitted with long-leg braces from the waist down to the toes, given two arm crutches, and who had to be taught to walk all over again.
Polio was also challenging for my parents. First, it was a challenge just to get me correctly diagnosed. I was taken to the doctor more than once and told that I just had a cold. And I was sent home. This happened several times until the day my Mother told the doctor that I couldn’t walk. The doctor’s staff told my Mother to bring me in the back door. (Since they didn’t know what I had, they didn’t want to risk exposure to other patients.) And then we were off to the local Children’s Hospital, again going in through the back door. At that time, the diagnosis of polio was confirmed. Epidemics can make people act in ways we would not expect them to act.
Nothing could stop me, though. I wanted to be like everyone else. I pushed myself. My brother was two years older and I didn’t want him to have the upper hand. So I learned to read early and had read all of his school books by the time I started school. I kept reading his books for years. Skipped the 3rd grade, too!
Games with friends were never a challenge for me. I always invented a way to join in, like playing hop scotch on two crutches and only one leg (holding the other with the brace off the ground). And I played baseball by hitting the ball with my crutch instead of a bat. Someone had to run the bases for me, though. One feat I could never master was running. But I will one day. You’ll see. God promises!
My grandmother, a committed Christian lady, prayed, and prayed some more, for my healing. She even took me to “faith healers” who held tent revivals at various locations around the South. They would ask for anyone who needed to be healed to come up on the stage. My grandmother would put me up there. The “preacher” would then pray over me, tell me to take my braces off, and walk across the stage. No matter how hard the evangelist prayed, I still couldn’t walk without the assistance of my braces and crutches. And I grew up thinking that I just didn’t have enough faith.
Being brought up in a very strict church community, I was used to hearing all about “fire and brimstone”, but very little about God’s love. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to go to heaven, until I went to a church camp one summer. That’s where I first heard about God’s all-encompassing love for me and his gift of eternal life.
I asked Christ to be my Savior. However, going right back into a home where my parents were living the secular life, and not having a Christian role model close to my age, I quickly slipped into worldly activities. In the back of my mind I never thought I would find anyone who could love me just as I was, so slipping was easy. I still didn’t grasp the unconditional love of God.
Polio is a virus that never lets go. It is controlled (with a vaccine), but not eradicated. Surgeries became a way of life for me. The older I get, the more the surgeries are required. But, looking back, one of my earlier polio experiences still influences me today. I often tell this story to other people hoping it will encourage them like it did me. There is always someone who is a lot worse off than I am.
When I was about seven years old, I was in the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, SC, for another surgery. A little girl was brought in for treatment. This was before the Shriners started their Burn Centers. This baby’s flesh was burnt so badly that you couldn’t tell if she was a white baby or a baby of a different race. Her hands were burnt off and her feet were burnt off, leaving only stubs. But this baby had strength of steel. She kept living.
It just had to be a God thing. I thought at that time that, if she had the courage to keep living with the conditions she was facing, then I had no reason to complain about the lot I was dealt in life. Her determination to live changed my outlook on life drastically. Especially when I found out that her parents did not want to claim her. I cannot validate all the information I just wrote, but this is what I remember from my childhood mind. And it stuck. God was with her, and He would always be with me, even if I wasn’t with Him.
God is with each one of us, no matter our circumstances. I learned to compensate for things I couldn’t do by inventing new ways of doing them. When I had surgeries that required me to be off of my long-leg brace, I learned that I could do laundry by taking a small load in a bag and putting it in a washer, then dryer, a little at a time. I lowered an ironing board so that I could iron from a chair. Many, many little things were/are possible. My life has little room for “NO!”.
I am getting older now. More surgeries are certainly in my future. God continually shows me that He has me in the palm of His hand. He knew me from birth. He knows me now. He knows my future.
One of my favorite verses is what God tells me I can look forward to when I get to heaven. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:3-5. Hallelujah!!!
Note from Mara: Instead of saying “you can’t“, look to God and pray for the strength to say “you can“. It is through Christ and God’s faithful promise that you can do all things THROUGH Him! Do not be defeated by limitations. Stand up to your obstacles and let God’s light shine! I pray this for you.
Jenny is a retired civilian finance manager from the Air Force where she worked for 24 years. She resides in Warner Robins, Georgia with her husband and 3 dogs. In her spare time, Jenny is an artist and avid crafter. She enjoys helping and sharing the bible the others. A life-long dream has always been to write.
*Original artwork image by Mara Rose 2013.