A little over six years ago, my husband and I sat in a trauma room at the ER for over four hours as approximately ten doctors and nurses worked to fix our seven-year-old daughter’s arm after she suffered a fall.
Upon landing on her arm, she split the two bones in her elbow, cracked her ulna, and suffered a radial dislocation of the elbow. She was fortunate that these were her only injuries. One nurse at the hospital said that her injuries were the type that they learn about in medical school, but never actually see. After he said those words, I didn’t exactly feel comforted, nor did the comment ease my mind. But little did I know that my seven-year-old daughter’s unwavering faith in God would move mountains as she endured this trial!
Our story began the night before as my daughter, Kaitlyn, was roughhousing. She took a hard fall, landing on her side. The wind had been knocked out of her and she could neither cry nor breathe. Kaitlyn was holding her left arm. I knew instantly that something was broken, because when she fell, I heard a loud crack. My husband begged to differ and said her elbow was dislocated. It was in the evening, after hours, so we took her to the nearest Instacare clinic. Shortly after arriving, they called Kaitlyn back and after examining her, the doctor said they needed an x-ray. I’ll never forget the gut-wrenching scream that came from my little girl as the nurse had to place Kaitlyn’s arm into different positions to get different angles in the x-ray. The on-call doctor then reviewed the x-rays and determined that she had a broken arm and possibly a dislocation of the elbow. The damage was so severe that the doctor wouldn’t touch her arm other than to wrap it, and he instead referred her to an orthopedic surgeon. But because it was after hours, we wouldn’t be able to see the doctor until the following day. We were instructed not to allow Kaitlyn to eat or drink anything.
We returned home that night, rearranged schedules, found someone to pick up my older two daughters and watch them after school, and then we sent our daughters to bed. I slept by Kaitlyn in our guest room, only there wasn’t any sleep. I spent the night cradling her in my arms as her pain seemed to grow more intense by the minute. The doctor didn’t give her anything for pain, and the Tylenol and Motrin didn’t seem to dull the pain—not even the tiniest bit. Around 3:00 in the morning, Kaitlyn and I decided to turn to our Father in Heaven in prayer and ask for His help. Humbly we prayed that Kaitlyn’s pain would be lessened, and that she would find comfort and be able to rest. We prayed that she would heal quickly and completely from her injury and that His helping hand would guide the doctor. After we said the prayer, Kaitlyn turned to me with her big, sparkling brown eyes and said, “Mom, I know I’ll be okay because I have faith.” Shortly after our prayer, Kaitlyn was able to relax enough to sleep for a few hours before getting up to go see the orthopedic surgeon.
Upon arriving at the surgeon’s office, the doctor was waiting for us. I was a little nervous for Kaitlyn because the surgeon was an older gentleman on the verge of retirement with a gruff personality, and Kaitlyn doesn’t do well with this personality type. However, he was very nice to Kaitlyn and even asked her what color of cast she wanted. The doctor immediately took us back, examined Kaitlyn, and took more x-rays. After viewing the x-rays, the doctor notified the ER and requested a trauma room. Kaitlyn was then placed in a wheelchair and taken to the emergency room. Everything was happening so fast!
Upon arriving at the hospital, we were greeted by some nurses who were waiting for our arrival. All of the staff was very friendly and helped put Kaitlyn at ease. The nurses spoiled her with new pajamas, a handmade blanket, and a stuffed animal, all of which she got to keep and take home with her. The nurses started an IV on Kaitlyn and made sure she was comfortable with warm blankets. Everything was ready to go, but the doctor was nowhere to be found. Upon talking with the nurses, we discovered that the doctor had gone back to his office to get pink casting because the hospital was completely out. He told one of the nurses that Kaitlyn requested a pink cast and that he was going to be sure that she got her pink cast.
When the doctor finally arrived, he talked to us about how he would be fixing Kaitlyn’s arm. He wanted to avoid surgery at all costs which was why he requested a trauma room, so that he’d have room to work. The doctor felt that by doing surgery, it would cause problems later in life, and instead wanted her arm to heal as naturally as possible. An anesthesiologist was called in to give Kaitlyn Ketamine, to put Kaitlyn in a dreamlike state so that she’d be awake but unaware of what was going on. But once she was given the Ketamine, Kaitlyn fell fast asleep from lack of rest the night before. Kaitlyn’s heart rate and breathing were monitored at all times. If her body showed any signs of distress, the doctor would stop what he was doing immediately and perform surgery instead.
The procedure to fix Kaitlyn’s arm began. Several doctors and nurses helped put her elbow back into place and helped set her arm. They carefully held Kaitlyn’s arm in place as the doctor began to wrap the casting. With each wrap, an x-ray was taken to be sure nothing had slipped out of place. After almost an hour of casting her arm, the final x-ray was taken, only to discover that her elbow had popped out of the socket. The cast was immediately cut off and we began the second attempt. If this attempt didn’t work, the doctor would have to perform surgery. The exact same procedure was followed and finally, after almost another hour and a half later, the final x-ray was taken. Miraculously, her arm stayed completely in place! During the entire process, Kaitlyn’s heart rate and breathing remained completely calm and unscathed. But although her arm was finally in a cast, she wasn’t out of the woods yet.
For the next three weeks, Kaitlyn had to remain at home, only leaving the house to travel to see the doctor twice a week. She had to miss school, church, dance, and all other activities. If her arm was bumped even in the smallest bit, it could cause the bones to shift, resulting in surgery. So twice a week for the next six weeks, we returned back to see the doctor. At each visit, Kaitlyn would undergo more x-rays, and at each appointment, the doctor had a lollipop waiting for her. The doctor quickly became Kaitlyn’s friend and she looked forward to each visit! Finally the day came when she was given the okay to return back to school. At school, Kaitlyn’s classmates had made get well cards and were eager to help her. During her lunch hour, I’d return to the school to help Kaitlyn get her lunch and use the bathroom, as she couldn’t do things by herself.
Finally the day came when the cast was removed, and although Kaitlyn had to continue wearing a sling for another six weeks, she was happy to have her freedom. Six months after her accident, Kaitlyn was given the okay to return back to normal activity. Kaitlyn’s strength through this whole ordeal amazed me! But what amazed me even more was her unshakable faith in God. Not once through this whole process did she question God or why this had to happen to her. Instead, she accepted each new challenge that came her way as she learned to put on her shoes, get dressed, and bathe with one hand while putting her complete trust in God as she relearned each skill in a new way.
Suppose for a moment that we faced our trials head-on with faith like that of a child, trusting and fully relying on God as we face life’s challenges. Where would this faith take us and how do we find faith in God? To have faith in God like that of a child, first we need to recognize that He is always there and that He’ll never leave or abandon us, not even when we do wrong. The feelings of abandonment are because we chose to turn our back on our Father in Heaven, not because He turned His back on us. Second, we need to have a relationship with Him. We need to pray to God on a daily basis, and not just to ask for help, but to give thanks and to share what’s going on in our lives. Our Heavenly Father knows what’s going on in our lives, but He wants to hear it from us. Brother Stephen W. Owen, the Young Men’s General President said:
“We must deliberately take time each day to disconnect from the world and connect with Heaven.”
Third, we need to strive to keep God’s commandments, choose to do good and follow His counsel. And lastly, we need to trust Him.
In 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, we learn of Nephi’s unwavering faith and watch his faith grow as he and his family traveled to the promised land. We learn of the hardships that they faced as they journeyed in the wilderness for many years. Nephi himself had his own trials during this time as his two older brothers lacked faith and refused to follow God’s command as they plotted to kill him. If that wasn’t enough, in chapter 17, Nephi was asked by the Lord to construct a ship. He was mocked and laughed at by his brothers because he didn’t know how to build a ship and they thought he was foolish. Regardless of Nephi’s brothers’ actions, Nephi remained faithful to the Lord, placing his complete trust in Him. Nephi took action and turned to the Lord, asking Him where he should go to find ore so that he could make the tools that he would need to build the ship. Little by little, the Lord instructed Nephi as he constructed and built the ship that carried his family to the promised land. 1 Nephi 17:13 reads:
“And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.”
As Nephi came to trust the Lord and followed His commandments, his faith grew and he was able to overcome great trials. Nephi’s unwavering faith became his light in the wilderness.
For my daughter, her faith was just a drop in the bucket as she learned to trust God. She has gone on to do things that are so much harder than what she faced at the time of her broken arm! A year after Kaitlyn’s fall, she enrolled in karate and competed in many tournaments. At her first tournament, Kaitlyn competed in two events, winning the gold medal in both. At her next tournament, Kaitlyn competed in all four events, winning the gold medal in all four. She went on to make the SWAT team and STORM teams at karate. Kaitlyn’s last time competing with the STORM team, they brought home the first place trophy. And on this exact same day, just three and a half years after her first karate class, Kaitlyn earned and received her black belt. Not only did she receive her basic black belt, she qualified for her first degree black belt as well — at just eleven years old! Kaitlyn is now in eighth grade and competes on the high school’s color guard team.
None of this would have been possible without her accident! We enrolled Kaitlyn in karate to help strengthen her arm, not knowing that her faith in God would grow as she accomplished things that were great and important to her. God gives us trials to test our faith because He knows that we can accomplish great things. Matthew 17:20 reads:
“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
If we have faith just the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains in our trials! God wants us to use our faith, not just in the bad times, but in the good times as well. And as we use our faith in our journey through life, our seed will begin to sprout and our faith will grow.
Marie Yvonne is a motivational and devotional speaker for teens and young adults. In her devotionals, she shares her personal testimony and journey of learning to accept herself as God created her. Her journey can also be found on social media and her personal blog and website, TheConfidenceToShine.com.