By Ashley Armstrong
I’ve always loved a challenge. Running bleachers during off-season was my favorite part of high school athletics. My husband and I led rock climbing and hiking trips early on in our marriage. We even hitch-hiked through the Alps for graduate school credit, sharing Jesus with local outdoor athletes.
I had been personal training for eight years when we found out we were pregnant with our first little athlete. At 17 weeks, the ultrasound tech escorted us into a room where we were told our son (it’s a boy!) had spina bifida. Spina-what? His skull was measuring too large. He could have brain damage. His spine was exposed. He may never walk—much less play soccer.
Our gender reveal didn’t consist of balloon-popping confetti. Instead, we cried ourselves to sleep for weeks. I thought it was my fault, and I was angry. I had done everything right, from eating clean to taking my prenatal vitamins. My massive pride was like a cinder-block wall, offering the illusion of protection from the pain deep inside. Why, Lord?
On our faces in his freshly-painted nursery, we begged God to heal our newborn, Finn. But He didn’t—at least not in the exact or immediate way we wanted. After Finn was born, we faced some dark days and diagnoses, including eight surgeries before his first birthday. But we also witnessed many miracles. I wrestled with God for months and, exhausted, finally settled on: Heal him, Lord. But like those three boys in the fiery furnace, “even if You do not …” I will serve You. My life is Yours.
We knew our attitude toward Finn’s disability would become his own, so we taught him that he can. In our family, we do hard things. After all, our last name is Armstrong. Finn is now 6 years old and has been using a wheelchair since he was around 15 months. He’s competed in adaptive sporting events and, last Christmas, even asked for a soccer ball. His little sister, Paisley, adores him, as do my husband and I. He’s a gift to our whole family—a daily reminder to depend on God and not back down from a challenge.
I’m a better follower of Christ and personal trainer because of Finn. His story can make you better, as well. Whatever you can do with whatever gifts you’ve been given, use them for the glory of God.
1. Do you trust God, even if He doesn’t come through in the way you want?
2. What gifts has He given you?
3. Are you wasting those gifts or using them for His glory?