I can so clearly remember learning that my sorority sister and college dorm neighbor, Lindy, had been seriously injured during a ski trip in Wyoming. Those first days and weeks were critical and she was constantly on my mind. Someone organized a 24-hour prayer chain and I signed up to pray during the 4 am slot. I went flat down on my face in the middle of the night begging God to spare my friend. I wasn’t the only one. Countless others were pleading for her life. A Facebook page was set up to track her progress and needs, and today, nearly 6,000 people continue to follow the account Believe in Lindy. You’re nobody if you don’t have the Believe in Lindy tee shirt, people. Wink. Truly, her story is amazing and I just know her fury and her grace will touch someone today. Lindy, welcome to The Thersday Series. We believe in you.
Tell us a bit about your injury.
In January 2013, I was skiing on a family trip in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with my husband Chad and our infant son Beren. Chad and I were finishing on the slopes and I was slightly ahead of him. Toward the end of the run I took a fall down the side of the ski trail and hit a sign. Immediately I knew something was very wrong. It felt like my body was humming like a tuning fork and I was having trouble hearing. Initially, I didn’t try to move, but I soon realized I could not move. At all. Things happened very quickly. Chad found me and did his best to keep me calm until the ski patrol arrived. Suddenly, I was at the bottom of the mountain kissing my son goodbye, leaving him in my mother-in-law’s arms, and being life-flighted to Idaho Falls. It was nothing less than an absolute nightmare. But somehow—and I don’t understand it even now—I felt God’s peace and reassurance.
Later that night, I was informed by my neurosurgeon that I had a cervical spinal cord injury and he was going to fuse my spine, but there was a chance I could die in surgery. And in those late hours, after a horrific day, Chad and I had to make our peace with that. We took steps in faith that we would be together again. That I would survive. And I did.
The next year was very hard. It was extremely difficult relearning how to live and parent in my new body. But with the support of my husband, family, church, and therapists, we problem solved and overcame. I have an incredible bond with Chad and Beren because of my experience. At times I get sad and frustrated, but Chad always reminds me that we are all together and that’s what matters.
Since your injury, many people have called you a warrior and rightly so. What are you fighting for now five years post-accident?
We all have to decide the space we’re going to dwell in. For me, then and now, I just want to put up the best fight I can for those I love. When I began in-patient therapy, I told my doctors I was there to work and if they ever thought I wasn’t trying hard enough, to tell me. I had a little boy and husband to live for.
I just don’t like dwelling in the space of self-pity, or saying “What if this, or that?” It’s a pit. It doesn’t go anywhere and I want something better for my son. I did grieve a lot, and I still grieve what I lost, but grief and pity are different. I honestly just find tremendous joy and hope in God and how much goodness He offers despite my circumstances. It gives me great strength. I owe God so much.
You have a daughter named Fury Grace. I love the complexity of that name. How did you choose it?
After my accident, I couldn’t imagine having another child. I couldn’t hold Beren in those early days, and knowing I couldn’t care for him like I used to was heartbreaking. However, with work and time I learned how to hold him, feed him, and pick him up out of his crib. It wasn’t always easy but I loved every minute of it. So much in fact, Chad and I eventually decided we wanted another baby. Lots of thoughts and prayers went into that decision.
After I became pregnant, we decided not to find out the baby’s gender. We picked out boy and girl names. We really liked the name Fury for two reasons. First, we had seen Mad Max: Fury Road and loved it. Chad wanted to name our daughter Furiosa, like Charlize Theron’s character. We compromised and chose Fury. Second, I really liked Fury because of what the name symbolizes. The injury that threatened to steal our joy—our whole life really—meant that we could get mad at God or we could get mad at the devil. We chose to draw closer to God and get mad at the devil. So, to us, Fury stands in opposition to everything that was taken away. We took a step in faith knowing God was going to bless us, where the devil had tried to destroy our family.
My middle name is Grace and that’s a family name we wanted to use. We thought it was a beautiful complement to such a strong first name. Many might think Fury Grace is a conflicting name, but somehow it works. It definitely fits her. She is an absolute miracle. Carrying her was not easy, but we are so glad she’s part of our family. Seeing Fury and Beren together has been the greatest joy of my life.
What encouragement or resources would you offer someone grieving the loss of their previous self?
What I have learned is that your pain can have purpose. Grieving your old self is a strange thing. It’s never totally goes away. It comforts me to be around lots of people who knew me before my injury. That keeps me grounded. The greatest gift that Chad gave me—and he gave me lots of emotional gifts during that time—was when he told me he still saw me the same. It was really important for me to hear that early into my injury.
I know I’m different than I was. I really miss the independence, the physical strength. I’d always felt powerful in my body having been an athlete growing up, so my paralysis is quite humbling. But, I’ve come to see my weaknesses and pain as tools I can use to minister to others for Christ. We connect most closely to others through our pain and vulnerability.
When I was a teenager reading my Bible, I was very drawn to a particular scripture. It became my favorite and, at the time, I didn’t really know why. Now I do: “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being confirmed unto His death.” Philippians 3:10
It sounds kind of morbid, and I guess it is. But, think of all the suffering Christ endured for us. Second Corinthians 4 talks about how we carry His death within our bodies so that His life may also be revealed in us. There was a purpose in Christ’s pain and ultimately His death. Although something terrible and life changing happened to me, I still have a purpose. I can have tenacity of faith, despite my sufferings because Christ has already fought that fight for me.
Who keeps you company in your journey?
I am surrounded by so much love and support in every direction. My husband is incredible—I could talk about him for a long time—as well as my babies, but I’m going to focus on women since this is a blog that celebrates women. I spend most of my time with four women: my mom, Lana; my mother-in-law, Kellye; my sister-in-law, Kristi; and my children’s nanny, Danielle. They are all sisters in Christ and help uplift and support me in so many ways. We have heartfelt conversations in joy and sadness. I could not make it without those four women in my life.
My two grandmothers have been very encouraging and supportive. My mom’s mother, Carolyn, suffered polio as a young mother and went on to beat breast cancer later in life, so she’s full of wisdom and has an incredible testimony.
There are other wonderful girlfriends I don’t get to see as often, but who have been there when it counted most and have sent love and prayers from afar: Raven, Lori, Leigh, Becca, Porter, Heidi, Alison, Jordan, Suzanne, Leslie, and Susan (aka Pilgrim). I’ve found wonderful friendships within my Lifegroup at church. I’m also close with my therapist, Sandy, who helps me attack my physical disability, and my son’s preschool teacher, Anita.
The first time I met Anita I was doing a tour of the preschool. I sat in her office, a year post-injury, and I just broke down. There I was, this broken mess, bawling my eyes out. Yet somehow, it was okay and she recognized where I was. I felt truly seen. She prayed with me and we cried together. It was so touching to receive that from a stranger. But that’s what God can do, He uses us to bless others and be blessed by others, no matter the circumstance.