Once I returned back home following my diving accident one of the matters of business most important to me was going back to school. I broke my neck in July of 1986. But, due to a three-month stay in the hospital I didn’t return home until mid-October. This meant that the first semester of my sophomore year in high school career was nearly half over.
Graduating with my class was very important to me. I had grown up in Boise my whole life and had been with most of these kids since kindergarten. I did not want my hospital stay to keep me from finishing what I started with my friends. In order to make that happen, I had to get back to school ASAP.
I was able to convince my doctors to allow me to go back to two periods of class each day. In order to make this happen this meant my good mother would have to get me ready, drive me to school, wait for my first hour of school to end, return me home to take a nap so I would have the strength to do my therapy, drive me to therapy, wait for me to finish that therapy, return me to school for my second hour of class and finally take me home once class was over. There are some people in our lives whom we can never repay–in my life one of those people is my mother.
With transportation worked out and the blessing of the administration given I proceeded to pick the two classes I would attend. I picked choir and a religion class (it is clear that although graduation was important to me, like most teenagers my social needs trumped my educational needs). Each class allowed me to fill a requirement and get closer to graduation–all without having to dissect a frog or use a slide rule.
As I continue to work in therapy my body continued to get stronger. The strength allowed me to pick up even more classes at the semester break. This presented a new problem. My choir and religion class didn’t require a lot of books. However, now my new schedule necessitated all kinds of textbooks.
Since I couldn’t use a locker I had to figure out another option. I located a local shop that made bags (for any former Boisean it was called “Burts Bags”) and asked them to make me a giant backpack that would hang off the back of my wheelchair. They did, and it was enormous. But it did its job and I had a portable locker.
The problem was, I couldn’t get the books out of my backpack. This meant I required help in each of my classes. Being a 15-year-old boy, I figured that if I needed to set by somebody who could help me, it might as well be a girl somebody. I also reasoned that if it had to be a girl somebody, it might as well be a cute “girl somebody.” So, on one specific winter day during my sophomore year I entered one of my classes and true to form sat next to the cutest “girl somebody” I could find. Her name was Nicole.
Nicole and I had been friends for some time and as usual, on this day, she was willing to help me get my books out of my backpack.
In the middle of class my leg began to have a muscle spasm. Now this can look like any number of different things. It can be mild, where my foot will begin to tap on my foot rest as if I’m keeping time to music that only I can hear. It can be fairly violent where my leg shoots out, straight in front of me, and wildly shakes about, (this happened to me one time in the waiting room of a restaurant and I tripped and 85-year-old man–but that’s a different story altogether) or, it can look like anything in between.
On this day in the middle of class my muscle spasm was of the mild variety. As a result of reflex and completely out of my control, my foot began to tap on my foot rest. This is something that happens with some regularity. Without thinking much of it, I continued to try and look as though I was paying attention to the teacher.
Nicole looked down and saw my foot moving on my foot rest. When she did, her eyes got as big as softballs, she jumped out of her seat, threw her arms in the air and screamed, “He’s healed!”
The teacher and the rest of the class looked back to see my leg moving and almost in unison screamed, “He’s healed!” It was at this point when madness erupted. It seemed as though everyone in the class was up on their feet, doing the dance of healing, smiling and laughing and hugging each other. I couldn’t believe it. Someone had been healed! Not realizing that they were talking about me I joined in the festivities myself–jealous of whoever had been healed.
Then, it dawned on me that I was the person they were talking about. Quietly, I pulled Nicole aside and told her that I wasn’t healed and that what she was seeing was nothing more than a spasm or a reflex.
Her face began to turn the deep shade of red. Embarrassed, she told the class that I wasn’t healed. It felt like they all turned around together and looked at me in complete disappointment as if to say, “Thanks a lot. We were singing, dancing and having a good time for nothing.”
I remember thinking, “I’m sorry. Next time, give me a little notice and I’ll try to be healed.”
Even though everyone was disappointed a miracle hadn’t occurred, it wasn’t long until we were all smiling and laughing about what happened. I remember still smiling and laughing as I drove home from school that day. But, when I pulled into my driveway a curious thing happened. I began to think about what might have come to be if I had believed the same way Nicole did.
As one might imagine, the kids in my class hoped, wished and even prayed that I would be healed. From the day my accident happened, my friends believed that I could be healed. On that day, Nicole was tired of just believing and ready to act. At the littlest evidence she was ready to act. When she saw my foot move the strength of her belief caused her to jump up and shout, “He’s healed.” If on that day I believed with the same passion, who’s to say she wouldn’t have been right.
Amazing things happen when we believe. But miracles come to fruition when we then act on those beliefs. I have seen and been a part of things others believe to be impossible because I have acted on my beliefs. Believing gives us strength. When we act on our beliefs we gain power–the power to enable the miraculous to come to pass. It is important that we believe. But, we truly begin to achieve when, like Nicole did that day, we act on our beliefs.
I know that as I continue to act on my belief that I will walk someday, that the day will come when I will stand from my chair, hold it over my head, throw it as far as I can, and run until I drop. With the same surety that I know that, I know that the difficulties and struggles that lay in wait in your lives will fall when you believe and act.
So let’s believe. Let’s believe with our hearts and souls. Let’s believe with every ounce of who we are. But then, let’s do a little more. Acting on our beliefs allows miracles to happen.