Why I’m Thankful for a Herniated Disc and Other Unlikely Blessings

It’s Thanksgiving time, which means floodgates of gratitude open up all over the place. People flood social media with lists of what they are thankful for or post reflections throughout November of their blessing of the day.

I confess – I love it. The spirit of thankfulness seems to flow more freely at this time of year, and that’s a good thing.

This year, I’m turning my attention to those things that served as the most unlikely of blessings. Having gratitude for things that may be perceived as negative is an acquired skill. It took me a long time to learn it, but I am grateful I did.

Three years ago this week, I did something unbelievable. I ran my first (and only) half marathon in Philadelphia. It was an unexpected twist for a former slug with a newfound love of running. Just a few years prior to that race, I’d been a chronically out-of-shape, obese person who wasn’t happy with how I felt or looked. Finally, after decades, I’d had enough.

After changing my mind and changing my habits, I grew to enjoy running. By some miracle, I worked my way from being a couch potato to a half-marathoner. It wasn’t easy, but it was a journey that was long overdue.

Another plot twist awaited me. About six weeks after the high of running a half marathon, I got news that would completely change the trajectory of my physical, spiritual, and professional lives.

A nagging pain I’d assumed was a ligament issue was actually a complicated and serious condition with my back. I had a severely herniated disc, two bulging discs, and two kinds of stenosis in my spine. I was told I couldn’t run anymore. To do so, I’d be putting myself at great risk. The news blindsided me, sending me reeling and questioning everything.

What I didn’t realize in January 2016 is that my awful injury, which sidelined me from doing something I enjoyed, was to become one of the biggest blessings of my life.

I’m thankful for my herniated disc. This sounds foolish, but without it, you wouldn’t be reading this. Blessings sometimes disguise themselves as disasters.

As a result of that injury, I started this blog as a means of coping with the physical and emotional pain I was experiencing.

As a result of starting this blog, my love for writing was reawakened.

Blessings sometimes disguise themselves as disasters.

As a result of my love for writing being reawakened, I became serious about writing.

As a result of becoming serious about writing, I landed several speaking engagements and have been published in several places outside my blog.

As a result of starting to gain traction as a writer and speaker, I attended a writers’ conference and found my tribe of writer friends.

As a result of that conference, I started local and online writers’ groups to encourage and connect with other writers.

As a result of connecting with other writers and rediscovering my passion for writing, I am planning a future that involves writing full-time.

What appeared to be a terrible situation actually positioned me to be used by God and allow an ancient dream from my younger days come back to life. I’m thankful that He resurrects dead things.

Though God is in charge of the timetable, my plan is to eventually leave teaching and transition to life as a freelance writer/author. This may be upon my retirement in ten years. It could also be sooner if He opens the door. I’m trusting the Lord with those details.

His plan for me is always better than my own plan.

Ironically, I am thankful for the devastating injury. At the time it was happening, I was angry and frustrated, and couldn’t see why such a thing would happen to me. None of it made sense.

Romans 8:28 is a verse I have clung to in many seasons of disappointment in my life. It gives hope and reminds me that God is sovereign. His plan for me is always better than my own plan.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28

Friend, I encourage you to look at your present disappointment and difficulty and remember that God’s arm is not too short. The pain and trials of life are real, but they are also temporary. Thank God for that!

Whatever presently appears to be an obstacle or a failure could be the foundation of a breakthrough you never imagined possible. Seek God. Pray and ask Him to show you how to be thankful and patient in the waiting. Ask Him to reveal His plan, in His time.

May your broken things turn into beautiful ones as you trust Him to restore and redeem them.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How I Became a Couch Potato (AGAIN!) Part 1 (This is the first of a three-part series on my injury back when the blog first started. I pray it blesses and encourages you. )

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Hi! I’m Tracy…Christ-follower, wife, mama, writer, blogger, speaker, teacher, dreamer. I love Earl Grey Tea and quiet mornings. Here at Earl Grey and Yellow, the focus is striving to be faithful and appreciate the small things. So glad you stopped by. Please have a look around and subscribe to our newsletter and social media to stay connected.

3 thoughts on “Why I’m Thankful for a Herniated Disc and Other Unlikely Blessings

  1. I think I told you at St. David’s how similar our stories are. I was a very fit and avid Judo
    athlete and enjoyed competing all over the east coast. A freak accident on the training mat
    caused both my achilles tendons to tear out of my heals. Needless to say, I was done with
    Judo forever. After surgery, I had loads of time to reflect on my loss, and I suffered greatly for
    a period of time. Slowly I began to turn to writing. Forced to live a sedentary life so my
    surgeries could heal, I found writing gave me new purpose in life. After five years of healing
    and writing, I’m finally calling myself a writer. God surely makes lemonade out of lemons!

    1. I love this! God is good and though we may see something as an obstacle, He is able to make it a stepping stone! May God continue to use you, my sister! <3

  2. This story is so encouraging!
    I experienced something
    similar when I tore my ACL
    skiing 3 years ago. It took me
    out of sports for a while, but
    during that time I got really
    involved in my church which
    has lead to many other great
    It’s funny how God can use
    something so tragic at the
    time to change our lives in
    ways we couldn’t have even
    imagined and ultimately for
    his glory!

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