A Story of Healing

Anchored by Hope

Rinse, load, wash, unload, repeat.

Dinner plates, forks, and sippy cups sticky with juice are all methodically placed into the dishwasher. It’s a familiar routine for a family: rinse, load, wash, unload, repeat. But for Charity, the most familiar thing about loading the dishwasher has been the pain. The tingling and numbness in her hands meant one thing, “I couldn’t trust my body. I would drop dishes all the time unloading the dishwasher. I had no control or strength. Even if I started doing simple things, I would just start crying because I couldn’t physically do them.”

“I couldn’t trust my body. I would drop dishes all the time unloading the dishwasher. I had no control or strength.”

Beginning in 2011, Charity lived in a cycle of suffering crippled by intense back pain that was originally triggered from breaking her back as a child. In adulthood the recovery from multiple back surgeries and an unidentifiable autoimmune disease as well as the subsequent stress on her body from each—kept her bedridden and battling depression on a near daily basis for five years.

As a mom to two young kids and a wife of ten years to Robby, their new normal was defined by a relentless white noise of pain. On good days, the pain would leave Charity exhausted. On bad days, it would result in a visit to the emergency room or days spent laying down in a dark room to recover.

No one had answers for why Charity was suffering in such extreme pain for so long. Every visit to a new doctor, neurologist, or specialist just raised more questions. It was particularly discouraging when she was referred to someone who would doubt what she was experiencing because of inconclusive tests. Either medication didn’t work or its side effects were so extreme that it kept Charity from being mentally present. She made the choice to manage her pain as best she could through limiting her activity and bed rest.

Charity spent five years trying to manage the pain that had interrupted her normal life.

Five years learning how to ask for help for the seemingly simple tasks that she could do just years prior. But it was the less simple problem of re-learning how to be there for her husband and her two young children without the physical strength to move that left her feeling like the only thing she was good for was being a burden.

“I couldn’t contribute to society or to my family. I was a drain on everybody’s economy. I would wrestle with these thoughts of worthlessness. Just feeling like everybody would be better off if I were dead. I felt like I didn’t know why God was keeping me alive. I felt like I had no value here.”

“I felt like I didn’t know why God was keeping me alive. I felt like I had no value here.”

Additionally, community was hard to come by. Not only was Charity physically exhausted by the effort it took to engage with others, but constantly explaining what had become their daily life was isolating. Robby explained it well, “When you have an illness, people generally expect to see some progression. But to be at that level for so long was exhausting for us and it was exhausting for our people to support us that long.”

The journey seemed to lengthen when complications from a prior surgery led to a second back surgery. What should have been a simple operation became eight weeks of strict bed rest, full-body migraines, and isolation during Charity’s recovery. Kept from being the mom, wife, sister and friend she wanted to be, she found an even stronger need to be anchored by her hope in Jesus.

“It was a very, very dark time. It was also a forging of my faith. Dark thoughts would come and everything would feel hopeless. Then I would just begin to speak out loud what I was grateful for, glorifying and praising God for his goodness in the middle of depression.

“I would be scared of my own actions and thoughts. But then I would be moved from this really fearful place by giving glory to God and inviting Jesus into that moment. Instead, I experienced genuine joy.”

It was during these dark moments that Charity learned how to fight for the hope that she would experience God’s promise of life in its fullest in some way, shape or form. She kept praying that one day she’d experience some form of relief. She thought that might come from moving to a warmer climate, adjusting her diet or in the correct diagnosis. “Hope was all I had at that point. I didn’t have anything else to hold onto.”

Jesus had plans to heal Charity, but he went above and beyond a diagnosis or a new diet to restore her body and soul.

First, God brought people in to support her family.

Whether it was a grandparent who made dinner, a good friend who played with her kids while she rested on a blanket nearby, or families willing to make her own family’s life feel normal, Charity stresses the importance of community. “The people who were there just showed up, interjected into our lives and loved us intrusively. The community has been what got us through and it made the pain less painful.”

Next, God used a seemingly average visit to the spa to do immeasurably more than anything Charity had asked or expected.

To express her gratitude for her mother-in-law during a particularly rough few weeks, Charity decided to treat her to a spa day. She had known her massage therapist for years and that he self-described as “spiritual”, but on this visit she could sense something was different.

Her masseuse shared that he had met Jesus and had committed to following him with his life. He professed that God had made him a healer and asked Charity if he could pray for her back pain. After praying together in the Spirit and a massage therapy session, Jesus miraculously healed Charity.

The thing is, Charity had been prayed for many, many times before. All of these people had great faith and Charity was confident in God’s ability to heal as well. But it was the unlikely character, the one who would be the very last person she expected, that Jesus would ultimately lend his power to heal Charity and tell her story.

“We want to understand how God works,” Charity says. “But instead of clinging to a process, I have to find rest knowing that He is sovereign and His timing is perfect. It’s obvious that He was doing something in my masseuse's heart and maybe that’s why I was finally healed in that moment.”

“Instead of clinging to a process, I have to find rest knowing that He is sovereign and His timing is perfect.”

Despite Charity’s initial excitement, Robby wrestled with doubts about the validity of her healing. “It seemed impossible. I had given up hope for this to ever change. It felt like a waste of energy to hope for her to be healed. It was a sad thing to hope because disappointment was so painful.”

It wasn’t until they took a family road trip to California that her healing was put to the ultimate test. Before Charity’s miraculous spa visit, they normally would have had to make stops every 30 minutes. As they drove past their first scheduled pit stops, Robby began to realize and believe that Charity’s back was actually healed.

Weeks after they returned, Charity would walk downstairs and take out the trash or load the dishwasher before Robby could. Used to being the sole caretaker and provider for the last five years, the completion of everyday tasks were now the monuments God used to build Robby’s faith.

Robby recalls one ordinary moment walking to the park when his family began playing tag. Charity’s son playfully tagged his mom to come play. Charity began chasing her son and he turned back with wide-eyed amazement and yelled, “Mom can run?” in absolute disbelief.

Robby and Charity told their children that Jesus had healed their mom so that she was able to run and play with them. Robby highlights the significance of this moment, “Their childlike faith was really such a contrast to my faith. I had to figure out why it happened, when it happened and why it didn’t happen earlier. But they just believed that Jesus heals people.”

One of Charity and Robby’s greatest joys is sharing this victory with the people who walked with them on the hard days, financially supported them in rough seasons and held onto hope with them when it seemed like they didn’t have the strength to. They recognize that praying and hoping for healing can be difficult for so many who are in the midst of suffering.

Charity shares, “I hope that people know that God is always working. The suffering is where my relationship with Christ deepened. Anytime we turn to God he immediately meets us there. It’s okay not to have the why’s ordered and figured out. As I glorified God in the middle of extreme sorrow and pain there was peace and comfort.”

Rinse, load, wash, unload, repeat.

Dinner plates, forks, and sippy cups sticky with juice are all methodically placed into the dishwasher. It’s a familiar routine for a family: rinse, load, wash, unload, repeat. But for Charity, the most familiar thing about loading the dishwasher has been the pain. The tingling and numbness in her hands meant one thing, “I couldn’t trust my body. I would drop dishes all the time unloading the dishwasher. I had no control or strength. Even if I started doing simple things, I would just start crying because I couldn’t physically do them.”

“I couldn’t trust my body. I would drop dishes all the time unloading the dishwasher. I had no control or strength.”

Beginning in 2011, Charity lived in a cycle of suffering crippled by intense back pain that was originally triggered from breaking her back as a child. In adulthood the recovery from multiple back surgeries and an unidentifiable autoimmune disease as well as the subsequent stress on her body from each—kept her bedridden and battling depression on a near daily basis for five years.

As a mom to two young kids and a wife of ten years to Robby, their new normal was defined by a relentless white noise of pain. On good days, the pain would leave Charity exhausted. On bad days, it would result in a visit to the emergency room or days spent laying down in a dark room to recover.

No one had answers for why Charity was suffering in such extreme pain for so long. Every visit to a new doctor, neurologist, or specialist just raised more questions. It was particularly discouraging when she was referred to someone who would doubt what she was experiencing because of inconclusive tests. Either medication didn’t work or its side effects were so extreme that it kept Charity from being mentally present. She made the choice to manage her pain as best she could through limiting her activity and bed rest.

Charity spent five years trying to manage the pain that had interrupted her normal life.

Five years learning how to ask for help for the seemingly simple tasks that she could do just years prior. But it was the less simple problem of re-learning how to be there for her husband and her two young children without the physical strength to move that left her feeling like the only thing she was good for was being a burden.

“I couldn’t contribute to society or to my family. I was a drain on everybody’s economy. I would wrestle with these thoughts of worthlessness. Just feeling like everybody would be better off if I were dead. I felt like I didn’t know why God was keeping me alive. I felt like I had no value here.”

“I felt like I didn’t know why God was keeping me alive. I felt like I had no value here.”

Additionally, community was hard to come by. Not only was Charity physically exhausted by the effort it took to engage with others, but constantly explaining what had become their daily life was isolating. Robby explained it well, “When you have an illness, people generally expect to see some progression. But to be at that level for so long was exhausting for us and it was exhausting for our people to support us that long.”

The journey seemed to lengthen when complications from a prior surgery led to a second back surgery. What should have been a simple operation became eight weeks of strict bed rest, full-body migraines, and isolation during Charity’s recovery. Kept from being the mom, wife, sister and friend she wanted to be, she found an even stronger need to be anchored by her hope in Jesus.

“It was a very, very dark time. It was also a forging of my faith. Dark thoughts would come and everything would feel hopeless. Then I would just begin to speak out loud what I was grateful for, glorifying and praising God for his goodness in the middle of depression.

“I would be scared of my own actions and thoughts. But then I would be moved from this really fearful place by giving glory to God and inviting Jesus into that moment. Instead, I experienced genuine joy.”

It was during these dark moments that Charity learned how to fight for the hope that she would experience God’s promise of life in its fullest in some way, shape or form. She kept praying that one day she’d experience some form of relief. She thought that might come from moving to a warmer climate, adjusting her diet or in the correct diagnosis. “Hope was all I had at that point. I didn’t have anything else to hold onto.”

Jesus had plans to heal Charity, but he went above and beyond a diagnosis or a new diet to restore her body and soul.

First, God brought people in to support her family.

Whether it was a grandparent who made dinner, a good friend who played with her kids while she rested on a blanket nearby, or families willing to make her own family’s life feel normal, Charity stresses the importance of community. “The people who were there just showed up, interjected into our lives and loved us intrusively. The community has been what got us through and it made the pain less painful.”

Next, God used a seemingly average visit to the spa to do immeasurably more than anything Charity had asked or expected.

To express her gratitude for her mother-in-law during a particularly rough few weeks, Charity decided to treat her to a spa day. She had known her massage therapist for years and that he self-described as “spiritual”, but on this visit she could sense something was different.

Her masseuse shared that he had met Jesus and had committed to following him with his life. He professed that God had made him a healer and asked Charity if he could pray for her back pain. After praying together in the Spirit and a massage therapy session, Jesus miraculously healed Charity.

The thing is, Charity had been prayed for many, many times before. All of these people had great faith and Charity was confident in God’s ability to heal as well. But it was the unlikely character, the one who would be the very last person she expected, that Jesus would ultimately lend his power to heal Charity and tell her story.

“We want to understand how God works,” Charity says. “But instead of clinging to a process, I have to find rest knowing that He is sovereign and His timing is perfect. It’s obvious that He was doing something in my masseuse's heart and maybe that’s why I was finally healed in that moment.”

“Instead of clinging to a process, I have to find rest knowing that He is sovereign and His timing is perfect.”

Despite Charity’s initial excitement, Robby wrestled with doubts about the validity of her healing. “It seemed impossible. I had given up hope for this to ever change. It felt like a waste of energy to hope for her to be healed. It was a sad thing to hope because disappointment was so painful.”

It wasn’t until they took a family road trip to California that her healing was put to the ultimate test. Before Charity’s miraculous spa visit, they normally would have had to make stops every 30 minutes. As they drove past their first scheduled pit stops, Robby began to realize and believe that Charity’s back was actually healed.

Weeks after they returned, Charity would walk downstairs and take out the trash or load the dishwasher before Robby could. Used to being the sole caretaker and provider for the last five years, the completion of everyday tasks were now the monuments God used to build Robby’s faith.

Robby recalls one ordinary moment walking to the park when his family began playing tag. Charity’s son playfully tagged his mom to come play. Charity began chasing her son and he turned back with wide-eyed amazement and yelled, “Mom can run?” in absolute disbelief.

Robby and Charity told their children that Jesus had healed their mom so that she was able to run and play with them. Robby highlights the significance of this moment, “Their childlike faith was really such a contrast to my faith. I had to figure out why it happened, when it happened and why it didn’t happen earlier. But they just believed that Jesus heals people.”

One of Charity and Robby’s greatest joys is sharing this victory with the people who walked with them on the hard days, financially supported them in rough seasons and held onto hope with them when it seemed like they didn’t have the strength to. They recognize that praying and hoping for healing can be difficult for so many who are in the midst of suffering.

Charity shares, “I hope that people know that God is always working. The suffering is where my relationship with Christ deepened. Anytime we turn to God he immediately meets us there. It’s okay not to have the why’s ordered and figured out. As I glorified God in the middle of extreme sorrow and pain there was peace and comfort.”