Growing up, my family was Mormon. And still, to this day, I find this to be an incredible attribute to my whole. I’m thankful that my mom and dad gave me the foundation to develop an amazing relationship with my Heavenly Father. Through the gospel, I was able to understand the importance of family and build my personal character on the strength of His teachings.
In the L.D.S. church, the Sunday School leaders would often call upon individuals to give talks in church. As a young and eager child of God, I was beyond excited when my calling had come. I was given the assignment to speak about “Faith”… I had 4 weeks to prepare. As a mere 10-year old girl, having just been baptized two years prior, I knew this was a perfect topic for me. My faith in my Heavenly Father was immense and I was eager to bear my testimony to all of the youth at church. That next week, however, beyond my knowledge, my faith would be put to the test.
It was a Thursday evening and I was helping my mom prepare our family’s dinner. She had just unplugged a large electric fryer full of boiling cooking oil. As the cord hung down, without a second thought, I opened the cupboard door beneath to grab a bowl. The door accidentally caught the cord, and the entire pot of scalding oil fell on top of me. I had just severely burned more than half of my body.
Amongst all the screaming, the frantic calls to 911, and the chaos that was filling our home as everyone was trying to piece together what had just happened, I remember calmly sitting on my dad’s lap as we waited for the ambulance. My body in shock, the oil penetrating deeper, and with absolute conviction I told him “don’t worry daddy, everything will be OK”. I knew my Father in Heaven was with me.
After all the assessments were in, it was confirmed that I had burned too much of my body to consider skin grafts. The burns were categorized as deep 3rd degree and had destroyed all of my nerves, tendons, and in some areas, bone. Initially, the shock to my body put me in the fight of my life, and the risk for infection with that many open wounds would require me to fight for a very long time.
But there I was, two weeks into my battle, lying in a hospital bed, enduring indescribable torcher of debridement in baths of iodine one to two times a day, and the most important thing on my mind was my speech at church. In and out of consciousness from the strong dosages of morphine, I asked my parents to help me write my speech because I wanted to tape record it and send it to church that next week so everyone could hear what I had to say. I bore my testimony on that recording…letting everyone know that my Heavenly Father sat next to me during my time of need, and I knew that my faith in Him would get me through this tragedy.
I did get through it. Ultimately I endured daily debris for nearly an entire year. Eventually, my wait for new skin, scar tissue, new tendons, and most nerves to re-grow paid off, and I was able to begin physical therapy to, above all, learn how to walk again, as my feet bore the brunt of the major damage.
Around the end of my High school years, my family stopped attending the L.D.S. church. My curiosity for other religions started growing, and ultimately I decided to become completely inactive in Mormonism. My scars, mostly concentrated on my feet, became an embarrassing part of my body, and I tried to hide them as often as possible. For the next 20 years, although I never dismissed my faith in God, I didn’t dedicate my life to following Him as I should have. Not only had the world scared my body, but it was beginning to scar my soul.
But then it began to happen. The right turn at Albuquerque that put me back on track.
I finally began to see the patterns of blessings that had developed in my life. The people that had purposely been placed around me, in environments that didn’t typically see the light of the Lord. My amazing children that, through their literal request, brought me back to church. And my incredible husband who, in addition to walking beside me in every other aspect of my life, had chosen to accompany me in our new walk in faith. God knew how I needed to receive the news, and he strung beautiful messages together that spoke directly to my heart. This is why God delivered the final message that lead me to re-pronounce my faith, in the way that he did…
I was at church on a Sunday in early 2013, and a guest speaker was delivering the message. During his discussion, he asked everyone to look down at their feet. Immediately I hoped no one would look at my ugly scars. But then he delivered the words that I knew were meant for my ears to hear…
Romans 10:15 How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
There it was! That was my permission to dismiss the scars delivered to me from the world, and instead, see the beauty within me because I’m choosing to follow Him. That was the moment it all came together…the lyrics of my life, written by God, that were bringing me back to sing his praise.
So here I am before you, scarred by the previous paths I’ve traveled. Transformed by the faith that brought me through my darkest days. And convicted with the orders I have been asked to accept. These feet, full of scars and often hidden in shame, are my new definition of strength. I know without a doubt that with these feet, I am to share the good news.