Joni Eareckson Tada

A Day in the Life

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Honesty is always the best policy, but especially when you're surrounded by a crowd of women in a restroom during a break at a Christian women's conference.

One woman, putting on lipstick, said, "Oh, Joni, you always look so together, so happy in your wheelchair. I wish that I had your joy!" Several women around her nodded. "How do you do it?" she asked as she capped her lipstick.

I glanced at the nicely dressed women around me. I knew that the break would soon be over. How could I answer, her question in about 60 seconds? How could I sum up in a sound bite what has taken me three decades of quadriplegia to learn?

"I don't do it," I said. That raised their eyebrows.

"In fact, may I tell you honestly how I woke up this morning?" Several women leaned against the counter to listen.

"This is an average day," I breathed deeply.

"After my husband, Ken, leaves for work at 6:00 a.m., I'm alone until I hear the front door open at 7:00 a.m. That's when a friend arrives to get me up. "While I listen to her make coffee, I pray, 'Oh, lord, my friend will soon give me a bath, get me dressed, sit me up in my chair, brush my hair and teeth, and send me out the door. I don't have the strength to face this routine one more time. I have no resources. I don't have a smile to take into the day. But You do. May I have Yours? God, I need you desperately.'"

Looking at their expressions, I could tell that underneath the makeup and the jewelry, they too were carrying burdens.

They were weary. Their hearts were bruised and numb.

And they were curious to know more: "So what happens when your friend comes through the bedroom door?" One of them asked.

"I turn my head toward her and give her a smile sent straight from heaven. It's not mine. It's God's.

And so," I said, gesturing to my paralyzed legs, "whatever joy you see today was hard won this morning."

The women in the restroom were silent.

"And it's the only way to live. It's the Christian way to live."

The break was over, it was time to move on.

That evening many of them went home with weary bodies, swollen ankles, and sore feet to face broken garbage disposals, indifferent husbands, and rebellious children. I hope that the women also went home knowing that they can go desperately and urgently to God for grace. I have learned that the weaker we are, the more we need to lean on God; and the more we lean on God, the stronger we discover Him to be.

God has used my quadriplegia to teach me, and others through me, that in our weakness, He is strong.

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