You can get through anything if your faith is strong enough. God gives us that power. There is a quote that I like to use that says, “ Faith doesn’t always take you out of the problem, Faith takes you through the problem. Faith doesn’t always take away the pain, Faith gives you the ability to handle the pain.
The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil. Then there are personal traumas that people are dealing with, such as the loss of a loved one, health issues, unemployment, divorce or the loss of a job.
Coping with change can be traumatic as it often affects every part of our lives.
How do you deal with loss or change in your life? What coping strategies can you use? Do you ignore them and just push through, or do you use specific techniques?
In this series called “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change” we are interviewing successful people who were able to heal after a difficult life change such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other personal hardships. We are also talking to Wellness experts, Therapists, and Mental Health Professionals who can share lessons from their experience and research.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy Wallace.
Wendy Wallace is a wife, Christian Inspiration blogger and author. She is also a quadruple amputee. You can find her at her blog One Exceptional Life, where she uses her experience with creating a great life after amputations, and educates others to move past the challenges of life by growing their faith, gratitude, kindness and positivity.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I had a typical childhood with Mom and Dad and two younger sisters. I had three main goals as a child. The first was to be successful in showing my pony in horse shows. Next was to be a mom. And lastly, was to have a successful business. I failed miserably at the first with my pony. I was successful as a mom raising three beautiful children. I have run two businesses successfully from home, while raising my kids, and I’m working on my third. Achievement has always been important to me.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is actually a scripture. It’s Proverbs 3:5–6 and it says “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He Shall direct thy paths.” This verse gave me comfort through many situations in my life; raising children, going through breast cancer and finally bouncing back from quadruple amputations. It gave me comfort because it told me I simply needed to trust God with everything that was going on. I didn’t need to know why or how. It reminded me that He was in control, and if I trusted Him, He would guide me.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
The first is my faith. I understand that if the Lord has laid something on my heart to accomplish, He will give me everything that I need to be successful at it. That includes the courage to work through the hard times. Secondly, I have the fight in me to persevere through the ups and downs. And lastly, I always look for the silver lining in every dark cloud. Regardless of how difficult something may seem, I always believe there’s a blessing, or something to be thankful for, in there.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Healing after Loss’. Do you feel comfortable sharing with our readers about your dramatic loss or life change?
Absolutely. My mess has become my message.
What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?
In order to understand the scariest part of the event, it’s important to understand the event first. In 2011 I contracted a flesh-eating bacteria called necrotizing fasciitis. During the three weeks after diagnosis where I was in a medically-induced coma, as the bacteria spread, it became necessary to amputate both hands and both feet in order to save my life. For me, I was unconscious, so I was blessed with getting to sleep through the entire ordeal. However my family lived through the nightmare. But truly, the worst thing that could have happened, would be that the doctors would have been right. They told my family that I had less than a 1% chance of survival.
How did you react in the short term?
When faced with the fairly unexpected surprise of losing my hands and feet, my first reaction was to pray. The Scripture in Proverbs gave me courage and hope. Confusion about how I would continue life as a quad amputee was my main problem. Because I just didn’t know how I would continue to be the Mom and wife my family needed me to be.
After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use?
Building my faith was a priority, because I knew that I needed the Lord for guidance and courage. I got busy working on my prayer life. I also made counting my blessings a priority because in spite of everything negative that was happening, it was important to remember all the good things that were still present in my life. In other words, I kept an optimistic mindset, and focused on the things that I had and what I could do, as opposed to what I lost and what I could no longer do.
Can you share with us how you were eventually able to heal and “let go” of the negative aspects of that event?
As a person of faith, I understand that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. That Scripture comes from Romans 8:28 in the Bible. I understood that this was a lesson that I could grow from. Eventually it became clear that I was to use my experience to reach out and help others.
Aside from letting go, what did you do to create an internal, emotional shift to feel better?
I made the decision to stop feeling sorry for myself and take some chances. When I did that, I realized that I was capable of more than I was giving myself credit for. That realization made all the difference in the world.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?
Every single member of my family has always been instrumental in my healing. They never viewed me as someone who had a disability and was incapable of doing anything. But the turning point came when my daughter decided that she wanted to go tubing down a nearby river and she wanted to take her mother with her. I never understood the logic behind taking a woman with no hands and no feet, putting her in a tube and floating her down the river. But we had the best time and it made me truly realize that I could do anything I set my mind to. It was that experience that made me start my blog so that I could encourage others who had challenges in their lives. I now write about moving past your challenges by growing your faith, gratitude and positivity.
Were you able to eventually reframe the consequences and turn it into a positive situation? Can you explain how you did that?
Absolutely. I have always been a positive person. But through my healing after amputations, it made me search for the blessings in every hardship. It was a great reminder that there’s always a lesson and it’s always possible to learn, grow, and pass on what I’ve discovered and use it to encourage others.
What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? Can you please explain with a story or example?
I know that I’ve said it before, but I have learned that we are always more capable than we think we are. After my tubing experience, I wasn’t quite so afraid to try new things. I have tried pottery, painting, and riding on the back of a motorcycle. My son is studying to be a pilot. He gave me the opportunity to take the yoke, when he took us up in his single engine airplane. I’m not sure that is something I would have tried before losing my limbs.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give others to help them get through a difficult life challenge? What are your “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change? Please share a story or example for each.
- You can get through anything if your faith is strong enough. God gives us that power. There is a quote that I like to use that says, “ Faith doesn’t always take you out of the problem, Faith takes you through the problem. Faith doesn’t always take away the pain, Faith gives you the ability to handle the pain. Faith doesn’t always take you out of the storm, Faith calms you in the midst of the storm.” Anonymous author. In other words, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37.
- Dedicate time everyday to growing spiritually and growing your prayer life. Start with a relationship with Jesus Christ, talk to God everyday, read your Bible, love God first and love others as yourself, serve others, be humble, don’t judge and stay connected to the Lord. These are just a few ways to start growing spiritually.
- Find something to be thankful for in every situation, good or bad. A perfect example of this is the fact that I can use my experience of healing from quadruple amputations to reach a worldwide audience, where I can help them move past their challenges. The mere fact that I’m sharing my story with your audience, gives me the ability to inspire someone new.
- Show kindness to others. We have been the recipients of so many wonderful acts of kindness throughout our lives. When we are going through difficult times, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in our own problems. But if you reach out and do something kind for somebody else, it takes your mind off of your own problems and helps you focus on someone who needs you. As an arm amputee I’m unable to cook a meal for someone who may need it. But I can certainly pick up the phone and make a phone call or visit someone who needs someone to talk to. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but it makes a world of difference to the person that you are showing that kindness to.
- Don’t let negativity take over. You don’t always have to be Sally Sunshine everywhere you go, but an optimistic outlook truly helps you cope better when hard times hit. Optimism creates happiness which Is helpful for better health, better relationships, better resilience and less stress.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
My greatest prayer is that more people would accept the gift of salvation that Jesus Christ offers. To put God first in their lives, and love their neighbors the way Jesus loved us would create a wonderful world.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. :-)
I think that it would be wonderful to spend some time with Priscilla Schirer or Christine Caine. These two women are wonderful examples of women of God. What a blessing it would be to be able to encourage others the way these women have encouraged me.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can follow me on my blog, One Exceptional Life https://OneExceptionalLife.com , Where I share the message of moving past the challenges of life by growing their faith and prayer life, their gratitude, kindness and positivity. They can also find me on my Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/oneexceptionallife
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!