This year started out with me praying more intensely for healing. My husband, my family, my friends, even my church came together to pray harder for me. And I felt like I got worse. My daddy had revival at his church a couple of months back and Bro. Ronnie Jones was the preacher. The middle of that week I had the worse day I’ve ever had since my dizziness started. And out of desperation, because I didn’t know how I was going to keep going, I reached out to Bro. Jones and Mrs. Willie. At the time, I wasn’t sure why. Maybe because I knew they were Godly and would at least pray for me. Now, I’m beginning to see that if I hadn’t been feeling so bad, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to do that. And I think God nudged me to do it. And because I did, Mrs. Willie led me to the treatment I am under now. More than that, she helped my heart because my pleas had been her pleas. My questions, her questions. My reactions, her reactions. No one is perfect and I know we should set our sights on Jesus as our ultimate example. But to know that it is human and that God wasn’t going to turn me away because of these thoughts was a balm to my soul. You never know what someone is going through, but when you see their faith remain intact despite their suffering, that somehow strengthens your resolve to keep going. Thank you, Mrs. Willie for your help and prayers. And for the courage to share your story here.
My story – Wow! When Sister Faith asked me to share my story recently I thought, “This is so exciting”, “What a blessing to share”. Then when I sat down to start I got so overwhelmed. I couldn’t think where to start. I am 63 years old. So that is a lot of life to share. Not to mention, I am a detailed, talkative personality already. This could be a book. Soooooo, I am going to try to do a Reader’s Digest condensed version.
I was born and raised for the first 20 years of my life in the North Carolina mountains. My dad was a wonderful dad and a great preacher. I had parents who loved me and 2 brothers, both younger. My dad and I were very outgoing so he and I would go quite often to Revival meetings and get up to sing acapella, in front of total strangers. We were very close as I grew up. My dad had health problems so my mom worked a public job from the time I was 6 just to put food on the table.
Dad pastored very small churches that could hardly provide the gas money just to get there. My dad even started a church in an area where active bootleggers were well-known. He got deputized so he could carry a gun in case these people caused problems as we were coming and going since it was back in the country. We had cottage prayer meetings in some of those homes and saw some come to know the Lord. Life was good. It was in one of those prayer meetings that, at the age of 12, God broke my heart about my lost condition. I bowed in someone’s living room that night and gave Him my heart. He rolled the burden of sin away and I was changed forever.
In the church we were in at the time, trouble arose. Some people in the church, including a few of our close family, rose up against our family and decided to vote us out. It was totally unexpected, so at the end of the service, we were devastated. One of the men who we thought was a godly friend, offered to take dad home. He ended up offering my dad alcohol in his despair. My dad had a drinking problem when he was in the Air Force years earlier but I had never been exposed to alcohol and my dad had preached hard against it. This was the beginning of the most difficult time of my life. Dad became very depressed and was taking anti-depressants and valium. He would end up doing everything he ever preached against.
When I got saved I had a great desire to please and to serve the Lord. I felt He had a plan for my life. Now my whole family was out of church. I was numb and just going through the motions of living. I was probably 14 or so at this point and was going to school and at 15 got a job and worked while going to school just to buy clothes and the things I needed. I am very sorry to say I was hanging around bad influences at school and at work. I was so “lost” and felt I had been “forsaken”. I had lost all respect for my dad.
My dad kept trying to get right with God and to get back into church. He had ruined his testimony and would never be able to be what God wanted for His life. He did visit a church in our town and urged me to go. I agreed to go and the day I went was a great day. I was close to 18 at this point. I was dressed very indecently. God had plans for my life that day I couldn’t see. Thank Him for that! The power of God was so real that in the invitation I ran to the altar, heartbroken and desperate. I know I looked like a sinner that day but God was there waiting with open arms to receive me back into fellowship. It was like getting saved again. My heart was so full of joy and repentance.
I had never heard preaching about dress standards and separation. My dad had some rules about clothing when I was young but since we had been out of church I was wearing worldly dress entirely. I totally surrendered my life to please Him in every way. I didn’t know what He wanted for me but I had no doubt He had special plans. I met my husband at that church in the summer of 1975. He had gotten saved out of a Christian home at the age of 19, earlier in the year at that church. We began to see each other, most of the time in church activities or services. He surrendered to preach in October of that year and we were married in December of that year. We moved immediately to Chattanooga, TN to go to a Bible School to study for my husband to preach. This was 1975.
We began our new life there and served the Lord in Chattanooga, TN, then Charlotte, NC, then back to the mountains of NC to pastor our first church. We went through some difficult times in our first church. At this point we had 3 children, ages 10, 7, and 4. I know I am skipping a lot of years but I want to spend more time on the recent 7 years to give the remainder of “my story”.
We moved to Ooltewah, TN in October, 1987 to pastor the church we are still at after 30 + years. One of my blessings I had taken for granted was my health. I had always had lots of energy, getting out of bed each morning talking and active. Life had been very busy home-schooling, then some years with the children in Christian school. When my children were older I began to clean houses and do some odd jobs. We were super busy with school and church activities.
February 1, 2009
My life had been going along great for many years. My husband and I had been in our church for the 21 years he had been pastoring there. Our children were older- 33, 29 and 25. I was cleaning a couple of houses and was super busy and active. The only health concerns I had ever had were temporary, such as a hysterectomy at age 29. I always woke up with lots of energy and was able to multitask until I went to bed and then slept great. No pain.
On this morning I woke and had trouble getting out of bed. My hip didn’t want to move so I slid out of bed and things worked better in a short time. Next morning same picture. I was cleaning for a chiropractor, so I went to see him although I had never seen one before. He did x-rays and said part of my spine was out of alignment and did a few adjustments. I got better but of course I was ask to continue coming for 10 weeks. By April I noticed a section of my back hurt when it touched a seat behind me or even when my waistband touched it. Some people thought it was like shingles although I had no rash at all. I mentioned it to the chiropractor who then sent me for an MRI. The image showed I had bulging discs. I had no idea and was surprised. I didn’t know that it is part of aging and some people have bulging discs with pain and many people have the same disc problems with absolutely no pain. I was told it was usually a temporary inflammatory issue. This wasn’t the issue for me.
I was then sent to Physical Therapy for 40 visits. It didn’t help the “touch” pain at all. I was discouraged. I had asked lots of people everywhere to pray for me and had been “anointed” with oil by two different “men of God”. I really expected to be healed and be pain free for the rest of my life. I really felt like I was trusting the Lord and that this was a very temporary situation. I wanted to respond like a Christian and be submissive to the Lord’s will even if it meant pain.
From there I went to an Orthopedic specialist, more tests, another specialist, more scans, etc. The second Orthopedic doctor did a CT which showed 10 bulging discs in the thoracic and lumbar sections, Degenerative discs, bone spurs, etc. The doctor said, “no lifting more than 10 lbs., no cleaning bathtubs, no picking up grandchildren, plus more restrictions. I just sat there and bawled. It looked like to me I had a death sentence and was more depressed. I was using ice, heat, tens unit, and several meds like Lyrica, Cymbalta, and on and on. I was desperate for answers. I thought if I ever faced any obstacle I would have great faith and would be joyful in my circumstances. I knew God is good and that He was in control, but I was missing that comforting assurance from the Lord. My mind was in such turmoil.
I kept going to more doctors of all kinds – from an Amish iridologist, acupuncture, pain management, spinal injections, etc. I had nerve conduction studies and compounded meds. Every night I went to bed and I relived the “whole story”. Every time I saw a new doctor or tried natural or prescription meds or had another test, I felt like the Lord was leading me and this would be the answer. The stress caused panic attacks at night. I was so depressed and was taking anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs just to keep my mind from being overwhelmed. I was in so much pain I spent most days laying on the couch unable to even take care of my house and my family. The pain was so intense I couldn’t think of anything. I felt numb. I felt alone and wondered where God was. Of course, I felt so bad to question the Lord because He knows everything and is in control. At this point I ask my PCP for pain meds. All the over-the-counter meds, creams, patches and lots of things people suggested were tried. I had refused to even think about prescription pain meds. I was afraid of them and afraid of addiction. I had heard preachers preach about addiction to drugs and felt like it was wrong to take such meds. At this point I felt like I couldn’t continue with this level of pain. When I took my first Hydrocodone I thought I probably wouldn’t even wake up the next morning. To my shock I never noticed any lessening of the pain. After a few months I was taking 12 pills for pain every day. Eight of those were prescription, 4 were Hydrocodone. I wasn’t pain-free but these meds made the pain bearable most of the time. It meant doing most of my normal activities and spending time with my grandchildren. I never took more than I should even though there were times these pain meds seemed not to work. This went on for years. If I wore a skirt my back would be in flames by bedtime just from the contact with a certain section of my back. Traveling and sitting or standing too long was enough to cause more pain. Even the sheets touching my back would have me in flames at night.
I had given up on trying new ideas. People were always suggesting another doctor or cream I should try but I couldn’t face another disappointment when I didn’t get better. I really didn’t want to talk about the “story” anymore. I felt like I would do my best to serve the Lord as much as I could with the limitations I was dealing with. In September, 2017 some friends of mine were seeing a Cervical Chiropractor who was helping them with their ongoing health problems. At first, I just said “thanks” but “not interested”. I finally decided to go for x-rays and a consultation. The doctor felt like she could help me but it would be at least 90 days before improvement. After 6 weeks of going 3 times per week I had an evaluation of the progress. I told them I was absolutely no better. I didn’t want to be ugly but I didn’t want to say I was better when I wasn’t. I didn’t have much faith that I would ever be. I had wanted to start cutting back on pain meds but couldn’t because the pain was too much.
After Christmas, which was 90 plus days, I woke up one morning with noticeably reduced pain. I was so thankful but hesitant to believe. In February I began to cut back on the Hydrocodone. I had well-meaning friends who were not o.k. with my pain meds and believed I could never get off them without hospitalization in a drug rehab facility. I cut back on them ½ pill every 2 weeks. I was so excited and praising the Lord. By late April or early May I was completely off the Hydrocodone and my pain was definitely better.
I am not always totally pain-free. I still take meds as needed but not addictive meds. God worked a miracle to help my pain and to help me reduce the meds. I have learned not to make a judgment about what others do in their despair. I am sorry to say we all have either done it ourselves or seen others do the same. None of us can know what we would do in a situation until we have been in that situation. This has been a great trial for me although there are lots of good Christians who live in much more pain and worse situations. My heart goes out to those people. I can sympathize because I understand.
I know God makes no mistakes in what He allows for my life. I wish I could say I have been a great example in my trial of pain and despair. Although that is not the case, God is good and He has been there, although I couldn’t feel His presence. In trials, especially in more severe trials, our minds can be so overwhelmed when we are in desperate condition. Even the psalmist, David shared about his heart’s cry and his heart being overwhelmed. In Psalm 61:2 he said “lead me to the rock that is higher than I”.
Psalms 31:24 “ Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.”
Mrs. Wilhelmina Jones is married to Bro. Ronnie Jones, who has been the Pastor of Mineral Park Baptist Church in McDonald, TN for the past 30 years. They have been married almost 43 years and have 3 grown children and 8 grandchildren, all of whom are very active in church ministry.