There are moments that come along that are so pivotal, that it changes a thought pattern or view on life forever. I have had a few of those moments and tonight joined that few and proud.
To explain this to you all, I actually have to go back two weeks…
It was the first day of the semester and my friend Jessica and I hadn’t seen each other since my birthday, which was a few days after Thanksgiving. So, we decided dinner and a good chat was needed. We hopped in the truck and drove to the next town over to get sushi. Yes, you heard me right, we have to drive 35 minutes to get sushi but oh, is it worth it. We gossiped like normal girls, floating from what we got for Christmas to boys and, being both horse people, we talked a LOT about our horses or lack there of, in my case. There came a turning moment when we some how, and I couldn’t tell you how, started talking about church and how she had returned to the lord…
Side note: I am a Christian. There will be some talk about God in this post. Try not to get offended and take whatever you can get from this post because what I am about to tell you is inspirational, if you are a person of faith or not.
…This conversation lasted through the rest of dinner, the check, the ride home and 20 minutes of sitting in her driveway. I was so excited to have another person to openly talk about our faith. It was releasing. Most people shy away from any talk about God or going to church. Here in Texas, it isn’t so bad but being that I have a very limited amount of friends here and that my dad and his family are not church going people, I have never had anyone to share this with. I decided to try out the church she was attending and we both finally were in town for the weekend.
Yesterday we went to church and I really enjoyed the pastor. His sermon was direct, to the point and easy to understand. Jess invited me to go to the college bible study at the church tonight…with a little added plus that they served dinner. Um. Heck yes I was in. This Sister doesn’t have anything but oranges in her house until Wednesday (also known as pay day!)
So after a few minutes of idle chatter and laughter we all had hot dogs and hamburgers, followed by peach cobbler (…be jealous.) Then we had a guest speaker.
One of the gentlemen of the church, got up on the little stage and introduced the guest speaker “his friend, Rodney.” We all kept looking and waiting for this guy to walk up the aisle and then he finally came into view.
This man, Rodney was a young man of 26 or 27, dressed in a long sleeve, button up shirt, jeans, boots and black hat. He made his way up slowly and had a little tremor that ran from one shoulder and down his leg when he walked, taking his steps carefully.
Photo c/o Facebook
Rodney made it to the stage and sat down. When he started talking I could immediately tell that he had suffered some sort of major injury. His speech came out a little slower than a normal person but clear. He introduced himself as Rodney Hammerstrom from a little town 30 miles south of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In high school he had a full ride scholarship for rodeo and rode colts (young horses) to pay for the high school rodeos.
When Rodney was a senior he went out to ride one of his young horses on a cool October night. When he was gone a little too long, Rodney’s dad and brother finally went looking for him. After looking out in the pasture where Rodney had been riding with no avail they turned to leave but his father looked back one more time and saw Rodney’s horse on the ground. He went over there and found Rodney laying face down, under the horse. The horse had, for some reason, flipped over on top of a bob-wired fence and landed on Rodney.
Rodney was flown to the hospital in Sioux Falls where he spent the next 45 days in an induced comma. Rodney had suffered a TBI, also known as traumatic brain injury. The doctors told his father that there best hope for him was that he would be able to sit in a wheel chair.
When people first come out of a comma, they are very susceptible to depression. During this time, Mr. Hammerstrom had not gone home at all. He had been there for every day of those 6 weeks. After going down to get something, on a lower level of the hospital, a nurse met him and said that it wasn’t looking good. She said that Rodney was showing signs that he was slipping into depression. Mr. Hammerstrom went into his son’s room to talk to him. Rodney was expressing that he was going to be stuck in this wheel chair for, forever and what was life worth living for then? Rodney’s father simply asked if he discussed this with the lord. Rodney lowered his head and sat there for 15 minutes. After that time had passed, he lifted his head and said something like “I guess we should be getting to physical therapy.” From that day, He was never negative about his situation again.
Rodney ended his talk with asking us what hurts us on a day to day basis. Of course, no one spoke. How could we? When someone has endured that much, our problems seem miniscule. No one gave answers so Rodney gave examples. Rodney said that something that hurts him the most is that people look down on him because they see that he has a tremor. He went on to explain that it did not matter what people think of him or what the doctors and therapist expected of him because he “walked it out” with the lord. The only expectations, the only opinion, that mattered were his and the Lord’s. He added that if you sometimes just take a walk with the Lord, he’ll give you the strength to keep going, to keep trying. One verse that Rodney shared, that helped him through his struggles was:
“My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” Corinthians 12:9
Because in your times of weakness, when you turn to the Lord, his power is ten fold. Another verse that Rodney shared, that really gave him the strength to try harder at reaching his goal of walking, even when it hurt, was :
“I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:20
May 2004, Rodney walked across the stage at his high school graduation to a standing ovation. Just 7 months before that moment he was in a comma with the doctor’s best expectations of a life in a wheel chair. Rodney, with God as his backing, had better expectations.
Rodney Hammerstrom show’s us that you should never give up. No matter what it is. Where there is hope, a little faith, and a whole of determination, you can overcome anything.