"Miracles are never wrought without prayer, felt need, and faith...they are the natural result of the Messiah's presence among men."
Bible Dictionary

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Miracles (3 of 3)

A while back, I decided it was important to find an internship in my career field this summer. This was really an easy choice because I'm out of relevant undergrad courses before I start my Master's program in September, I didn't want to watch Netflix all summer, and internships look great on resumes. Unfortunately, a good statistical position is hard to find. Over the course of my search, I probably filled out 50-60 online applications and did at least 10 phone interviews. (Aside: Why is there no quick application website/program? It's the same information every time! Those applications took me forever to fill out...seems like I shouldn't have had to waste that much time.) Eventually, I did find a great position that I'll be starting at in May (!), but that's another story. This is the story of an interview that yielded no results and was really pretty standard and unimportant, except for one small miracle that made it remarkable.

To fully understand the story, you have to know about my constant struggle with muscle spasms. I wrote an entire post about spasticity awhile ago, but I'll brief the subject here. Because of the nature of spinal cord injuries, it's really common for muscles to uncontrollably contract and shake, in unexpected and unpleasant ways. Unfortunately, my muscle spasticity has gotten worse recently, and while there are ways to manage it, total prevention is impossible. For me, this means throughout the day I'll have to stop what I'm doing and try to stretch and loosen up to prevent my muscles from freaking out too badly. If I don't, I run the risk of having my legs and core tighten up and throw me off balance in my chair, potentially into a position I can't sit back up straight from. When that happens, there's really nothing to do except call for help from someone nearby to give me a push back up. It's just another frustrating reality of my injury that, for four years next Tuesday, I've had to learn to manage.

The interview in question was a phone interview, set up through BYU's disability center. It must have been part of a program that tries to place students with disabilities into the workplace (pretty disappointed with the programs of this nature that I've become a part of. None of them have turned up much for me). Anyway, as a result the interview was to happen on campus, in a private conference room upstairs in the Wilk. I showed up at my scheduled time and got set up, no big deal. There was a student there assisting, but once the call started he'd be waiting outside the door to let me out when I gave the secret all-clear signal (knock). (I'm loving the parentheses this time around). He let me know he'd check back in 45 minutes and then rang the number and stepped out.

After only a couple minutes of introductory small talk, disaster struck. My body only gave me a couple seconds of warning before unleashing a devastating spastic attack.

Disclaimer : this happens to me really, really rarely. Don't be too concerned. Also, I am writing in hyperbole for maximum dramatic effect. 

Unable to fight it, I grit my teeth to avoid making any strange noises over the phone and prayed I'd be able to ride this one out and remain upright. Alas, it wasn't to be, and I ended up completely leaning over the side of my chair, without the core strength to correct myself. Now, the call was still going on, and the woman I was interviewing with, oblivious to the situation, continued to ask me questions. Although I was strained I continued to give responses while I considered my options.

There weren't many. Almost every time I'm thrown off balance, it's towards my right side, and this time was no exception. I'd automatically started searching with my left hand and arm for some kind of grip or leverage to correct myself, but I wasn't finding it, and I knew there wasn't much hope of that working unless I got something right away. I quickly sifted through my remaining options. Try to knock on the door? Too far away, and I couldn't reach my driving controls in this position. Tell the lady I'd need to end the call and wait for rescue in silence? Humiliating. Call out for help, and try to salvage the interview afterwards? Even more humiliating. Continue the interview, despite the fact that I'd undoubtedly do poorly? Undesirable, but this would have won my game of pick-your-poison if not for a sudden and unexpected deliverance. Just as I'd accepted the imminent but unavoidable difficultly the next 40 minutes would bring, my body had another moment of unexpected feedback. This time, my muscles contracted in the opposite of their usual pattern, and I flipped back up into midline in my chair. Crisis suddenly averted, I offered a quick prayer of thanks and continued the interview. 

I haven't forgotten this experience, and I hope I never do. To me, this was a manifestation as clear as day that my Father in heaven is watching over me and loves me. Now, like my story in the snow, there are alternative explanations for how I was able to get back up. My body is pretty crazy and messed up, perhaps this time it spasmed the right way? Or maybe all the effort I was putting in triggered a spasm response? Possible. Maybe even probable. But I believe a lot of times miracles aren't miraculous in the traditional sense, they can just be chance working out in our favor. And doesn't the God that created us have the power to tip the scales? Also, I mentioned that nothing ever came of this interview. I would have been fine if I had to play out the rest of the time slumped over. Uncomfortable and embarrassed, but fine. However, the point is that this was a miracle. Although life continues to be a roller coaster with an unclear destination for me, I take this experience to be my Father helping me have just a little less uncomfortable embarrassment in my life. Helping me keep on going, day by day, just a little farther. And that gives me faith that although bumpy and full of hardships, there will be plenty of joyous times in my roller coaster ride through life to throw up my hands and smile for the camera.

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