“God wants you healed.”

“I know God doesn’t want you in that wheelchair.”

“God told me you’re going to walk again.”

It’s a common refrain, variations of which Emily and I have heard countless times from dozens of people over the course of my disability. I’m fully convinced that every person offering to pray or prophesy physical restoration for me these past nine years has done so from the best intentions and deep convictions.

From the stranger at Aldi “praying healing” over me, to the Oral Roberts disciple earnestly laying a prayer cloth on me in the park with the simple explanation of “Acts 19:11-12”, to the loving friends and family determined to get me able-bodied again (with a little of God’s help), there has never been a shortage of people concerned about my recovery.

And before I go any further with this post, let me honestly, earnestly, humbly thank the hundreds of people (many of whom we may never know on this side of eternity) who have and do pray for my physical recovery. Without your appeals to our Father, only He knows if I would even be writing this right now. Your care for us is humbling.

A boomerang goal

The first two years of my injury were the years when my prayers mirrored those of many so-called “faith healers” and prophesiers. My highest goal in life back then was simply to regain what I had lost — like throwing a boomerang.

To my mind in those days, the greatest reward and blessing God could possibly bestow on me was to bring me full-circle right back into my comfort zone — a boomerang blessing landing me in the same spot I’d been for the first twenty-one years of my life.

I was going to get better, I was going to get everything back to the way it was pre-accident, and by golly nobody was going to tell me otherwise!

But when I told my therapists and doctors that I was going to walk out of the hospital in six months, they all gave me a polite nod and smile, and all — with no exceptions — said the same deflating phrase: “That’s a good goal, Lane. Keep up that determination.” Nine years later I can see now that there was nothing better to be said. What do you tell a kid in a fresh wheelchair who says he’s going to get out of it before the year’s up?

Acceptance is risky

It took me years to accept the fact that a traumatic brain injury is much bigger than a short health detour; it’s a full-on life redirection. Matter of fact, it wasn’t until I stumbled across this blog post by Vaneetha Risner in 2016 that I first began to actually acknowledge instead of ignore what was staring me in the face: a lifelong disability.

Acceptance of a hard fact — like a lifelong disability, a terminal illness, a loved one’s death, a broken relationship, or any number of things we wish we could change but can’t — presents the opportunity for one of two opposite paths:
  1. Hopeless fatalism
  2. Determined contentment

Take note of the first words in each of those path options, they make all the difference.

Hopeless or determined

The first, hopeless fatalism, is the path of least resistance. When I first accepted the fact that my “boomerang” would probably never come back, I gave in hard to hopeless fatalism — “If my lot in life is to be in a wheelchair with no way to help myself,” I reasoned, “why bother trying?”

My progress in therapy, my interactions with therapists, caregivers, family and friends all greatly suffered. I began to “cope” with mind-numbing entertainment and constant inward bitterness. Relationships, special events, even the days themselves simply became things I had to endure in order to get back to my favorite pastime of nursing bitter hopelessness. It became remarkably easy to slide into numbness.

The second path, determined contentment, does not come naturally (hence the word “determined”). It’s a daily, an hourly, a moment-by-moment conscious decision. The Apostle Paul spoke directly about contentment in Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Quick side note on a soapbox here. You’re probably familiar with that last sentence, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Contrary to what televised sports players and Hobby Lobby wall hangings would have you believe, this verse does not mean that Jesus will help you do anything you put your mind to. No, the true meaning of this verse in its context is far more beautiful, meaty and meaningful than a spiritual psych-me-up. A cursory look at Paul’s life in the New Testament will show you he was the farthest thing one can be from a motivational speaker or athletic marvel.

Paul himself was first to acknowledge his own weakness and suffering. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-30, he lists just some of the ways he had suffered in his life as a follower of Christ. It’s a long list, and full of things you and I can only pray we’ll never have to endure.

So how could Paul be content, I mean truly content, in the midst of such awful circumstances that would reduce me to a puddle of hopeless fatalism? In Philippians 4:12 (right before my soapbox verse), Paul said “I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”

The secret of contentment (hint: it’s no secret)

Before Paul mentioned learning “the secret” of how to live both with too much and with too little, before he even started talking about circumstances at all, he says this in Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

In an email exchange with a friend going through her own physical suffering a couple of years ago, I asked for her thoughts on the difference between acceptance, contentment and fatalism: a conundrum I’d been trying to wrestle through for years. She said this — “I’ve found there is great contentment in acceptance, but it’s easy to slip into fatalism save one thing–gratitude.”

That aligns perfectly with Paul’s exhortation in verse 6 to reject anxiety by making your requests known to God with thanksgiving. Even before that, Paul sets this whole section up with the words “rejoice in the Lord always [aka in every circumstance, easy or hard]” in verse 4. How and why can we rejoice in the Lord always? Read on, Christian. Verse 5 says “The Lord is near.

That was Paul’s “secret”: Jesus. But as simple as that sounds — and as simple as it is — rejoicing in the Lord, trusting Him and choosing contentment are not natural (or easy at first). It’s a learned lifestyle that begins with a single choice and leads to a thousand daily choices. Paul learned this the hard way, over a lifetime full of unspeakable suffering. Emily and I have been in the throes of learning it for the past nine years, and we hope at the end of our lives to look back and also say, “I have learned,” as Paul did.

Healed, yet craving wholeness

The desire for physical and mental wholeness is something that I believe God planted in all of our hearts for a purpose. Every time you or I get sick, we long to get better. Every time we lose something, we yearn for the days before it was gone. Every scar from past wounds, every illness, every physical imperfection, every forgotten memory, every lost ability, points to our incompleteness.

It wasn’t always so. God designed humanity to live in perfect harmony with His perfect presence. But when we chose fleeting pleasure over lasting treasure, we became incompatible with perfection. Enter insecurity, greed, envy, strife and everything that goes along with trying to attain for ourselves what is impossible to reach on our own. We tried to reach God by becoming our own version of Him, sparked by the lie in the Garden. But human history will show how unsuccessful we’ve been.

For humanity to reacquire the state for which we were designed, God Himself had to become one of us. He took each one of our slaps in His face, each one of our sorrows, each one of our “secret” sins, on His shoulders and died at our hands.

But then. He defeated death and burst forth victorious from the grave, becoming the first of us to receive a glorified — as it was created to be in the beginning —body.

Because God became one of us, we no longer have to try being Him.
And the glorious body in which He was raised is just a foretaste of what’s in store for us who trust in Him when He returns and makes all things new. It took a traumatic brain injury for me to truly start craving the wholeness of the new body He has waiting for me on that glorious day.

But in that craving, in that learning of contentment, in that shaky but growing trust In Him, I am healed.
How about you?


Words can’t adequately describe how thankful we are for our FBC (and physical) family & community that’s loved on, supported, & encouraged us the past 5 weeks as we’ve adjusted to our precious Lael. Her first few weeks were especially challenging as we navigated her feeding needs while having inconsistent caregiver coverage for Lane. But God revealed His strength & perfect provision through all of you and we are moved to tears as we ponder what He’s done! Here’s just one example of the many ways y’all have encouraged us, the men who raked our yard last week.

To those of you that brought or sent us meals/diapers/clothes, helped with our other kiddos, arranged for cleaning, raked leaves, removed snow, lifted us up in prayer, or did anything else I didn’t mention the past 5 weeks and beyond…THANK YOU! It has certainly made the difficulties of this season lighter & given us more time to enjoy these precious fleeting moments with our newborn.

I’ll close with a recent photo of our sweet Lael, with her adoring big sister❤️

With love & gratitude,

Emily, for the whole Lane Bargeron crew