Beautifully made

February 29, 2020

How confronting debilitating ways of thinking and making some changes in her life brought Sue to a place of acceptance and hope.

I was born with rare deformity — the thigh bone, or femur, on my left leg didn’t form and my parents were told I probably wouldn’t walk. I was determined though, and at 14 months of age I was fitted with my first artificial leg and started to walk. My amazing parents supported me and fought for the best for me. Growing up though, and even now, I’ve had to wrestle with how I was made. To only have one leg, in a world where long-legged women are beautiful, was a huge issue and I wondered if anyone would ever love me and accept me as a beautiful person.

 

I married my husband Bryce in 1989, we were commissioned as Salvation Army officers (ministers) in 1994 and appointed to Adelaide.

 

During my second pregnancy in 1995, I was struggling. I spent almost five months in a wheelchair, and then found it difficult, after our daughter was born, to cope with a new baby, an active toddler, a full-time appointment, and my own health and mobility. I had reactive depression then, and felt quite isolated and unsupported.

 

At the start of 2000 we moved to Brisbane and worked with The Salvation Army’s Recovery Services. I loved it and recovered well. In 2006 we were back in a local corps (church) and I tried to be the perfect minister. By November I hit the wall and ended up in a very dark place called depression. It was a culmination of 40 years with a deformity, dealing with life, motherhood, perfectionism, trying to please people — everything.

 

I took a couple of months out to rest, and for the next two years just did what I could. Bryce was terrific and supported me totally. I began focusing on the ways of thinking and looking at life that were debilitating me. I confronted these problems and worked on making changes.

 

Knowing that I needed help, I began visiting a Catholic nun. She gave me a special amount of love and listening time and allowed me to be angry and hurt and be myself in a safe environment. Through these times I was able to regain a sense of God’s love and goodness in my life. She also showed me Psalm 139, verses 13-16, which have become incredibly significant in my life now: “You are the one who put me together inside my mother’s body, and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvellous! Of this I have no doubt. Nothing about me is hidden from you! I was secretly woven together deep in the earth below, but with your own eyes you saw my body being formed...” (The Bible, Contemporary English Version).

 

Those words have helped me believe that God can make something out of my frailties. I am not a mistake. God made me unique. I am wonderfully made! I have also remained on some medication to manage the depression. That’s my lot and that’s okay. My medication helps me do life — and I like the way I can do life being on them!

 

Setting aside a time to rest, refresh and rejuvenate has also played a vital role in my recovery. As time goes on, I am struggling with losing more mobility, increased pain in walking, and needing to spend up to 95 per cent of my time in a wheelchair. I no longer constantly struggle with what others think of me, but with the limitations of tiredness, pain and the general battles of life. I am now on a journey to learn how to relinquish physical activities and accept the help of others — very tough for a control freak like me. I know the limitations are not important to God though, that he loves me just as I am.

 

I completed a counselling degree in 2009 and have spent the past decade working with ministers, and others, going through tough and painful times. I choose to live a hopeful and positive life and reach out to people as they journey through life.

 

I wonder if you’ve felt defeated and crushed by the circumstances of your world. Maybe you’ve been hurt or neglected or have had problems that seemingly can’t be fixed. God specialises in people who are honest enough to be real about their weaknesses. You are not a mistake! I encourage you to find hope in God.

 

Sue Davies is a Salvation Army support officer (minister) based in Sydney.

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