There is one more event in my life that I want to write about before I continue with the story about the 10 months following my broken engagement. I must take you back to my childhood. From the time I was a preschooler, my parents and my teachers at church were grounding me in the Word of God. I learned how to navigate the Bible with precision. There are hundreds of Bible verses engrained in my brain thanks to the memory verse sticker charts that my Sunday School teachers had in their classrooms. As a young girl I spent every Wednesday night at church learning about different countries in the world and reading about how missionaries were taking the love of Jesus to people who had never heard about His name. Those missions classes taught me the importance of praying for others and for sharing Jesus’s love with those who do not know him.
Though I was grounded in missions and grounded in the Word of God, in college I began to realize that in some ways I had God in a neat little box. . . a box that was defined not by the Bible but by my own experiences as a child and the teaching of the Baptist church. Please understand that I am eternally gratefully to my family and church teachers for all that they poured into me as a child. In part, I am who I am because of their efforts. Let me also make this clear…though I disagree with how the Baptist denomination has handled some issues in the past and I am totally embarrassed by the actions of some who are associated with the denomination….this ponytail princess is who she is because of a group of believers in a small town Baptist church. In a drawer somewhere (hehehehe) this stay at home mommy has a college degree from a Baptist college AND a master’s degree from a Baptist seminary. Even though they are in drawers, I am VERY proud of them. So as you read the rest of my post please keep all of that in mind….
In my senior year in high school, I started having trouble with my writing hand. I just assumed it was related to a softball shoulder injury. It was a strange thing. Many times when I would sit down to write, it was almost as if my hand could not follow my brain’s instructions to write. I distinctly remember one incident where I was sitting in my dad’s recliner trying to finish up my high school trig homework, and I threw the homework and pen across the room because I was so frustrated. Over the next two years, the problem progressively got worse. For a gal who was a straight A student, not being about to write was becoming a huge problem in college. It was becoming very difficult to complete Chemistry homework and to take notes in classes. By mid semester in the fall of my sophomore year in college, I was honestly considering dropping out. This gal who doesn’t cry easily would find herself balled up in her dorm room crying her eyes out because she didn’t see how she could possibly make it through college without being able to write.
Again, my mom’s prayer for friends came into action. After a frustrating night in the science lab I just left everything and went back to my room crying. In a few minutes I got a phone call. Down in the dorm lobby were my roommate Kim and a dear friend Aaron. They had gone to Wal-Mart and bought me a voice recorder. Aaron, who always knew how to make me laugh, had made sure to pick up a squiggly writing electric pen…just what I needed to make my heart smile.
I remember calling my parents and telling them that we have to figure out what is going on or I will not make it through college. Over Thanksgiving break I went to see a neurologist. After scans and tests, the doctor sat us down with the news. Good news and bad news. The good news was that it was not MS. The bad news, it appears to be ‘Writer’s Cramp.’ At first we thought it was a bad joke by a doctor. But he went on to explain that writer’s cramp is a real medical condition, classified as a focal dystonia (google it if you don’t believe me!!!) Basically, at some point there was a malfunction in my brain (what else is new!) and the nerve that signals my hand to write stopped signaling correctly. The treatment…there is nothing that really helps. The suggestion…get a laptop to take to class and write as little as possible. The doctor went on to say that this is a lifelong condition, but that it usually has its onset later in life. He told us that some people try to begin teaching themselves to write with the opposite hand, but that this was really not a solution for me because it usually takes many months if not years to train your brain and hand to write legibly and quickly with the other hand. And, the condition often transfers to the other hand. Since I was in college, learning to write with my left hand was not really an option for me. So a laptop was my best choice.
So off I went back to college toting my Dad’s laptop. You have to understand. This was 1995. Very few people owned laptops and they definitely did not use them in class. I would be the very first person to use a laptop in class at my small private school. I had to go around to a couple of my professors and explain my condition and get permission to take notes on the laptop. I felt like carrying a sign around with me . “I am not showing off! I HAVE to use this.” Even though the laptop was a great help in some classes, it still did not solve my problems in classes where I needed to work math problems and draw diagrams the professors wrote on the board. The frustration continued.
What I’m about to tell you I have only shared with a handful of people. This is where my Baptist upbringing sometimes hinders my faith. I have been taught to be wise and aware of false teaching. I am truly thankful that I can detect a money hungry preacher from a mile away! However, because physical miracles are often associated with false teachers who are just trying to make a buck, I had honestly never believed that God would heal my hand condition. Healing miracles are not something Baptists tend to put on the agenda for Sunday morning services.
That fall I had read about many of the healing miracles that Jesus performed while He walked this earth. I believed them to be true. One night as I was alone studying in the science lab, I began to get frustrated as I tried to do my Chemistry homework (as if Chemistry is not frustrating enough!) I broke into a conversation with God. I really wish I remembered the exact words, but it went something like this….. Holly, “God I believe you healed people while Jesus was here on Earth. God and I believe the stories of missionaries that give testimonies of people being miraculously healed in an instant from diseases. I know You can do that. But for some reason, I have trouble believing that You would heal my hand condition. I want to believe but I am having trouble.” At that point I even got on my knees on the floor of that lab (yuck! I know!). “God I’m not sure how to pray this. But You know my heart. You know how desperately I want to graduate college. I have almost lost hope. Please God heal me…I need to be healed.” I remember opening my eyes and hearing that still small voice of God (no it wasn’t audible, but it was loud and clear in my head.) say, ‘Get up Holly and get back to work.’ So I got up and started working again. Nothing had changed. Writing was still difficult and almost impossible at times. Then the voice came again, “Holly put the pencil in your left hand.” I almost didn’t do it because I had tried several times before to write with my left hand and I found that the doctor’s advice was right…it would take months of practice to learn how to write with my left hand.
I decided to obey that voice and what happened next was nothing short of a miracle. It was as if the pencil was writing on its own. My left hand seemed to be someone else’s hand. It began writing numbers, solving equations, and all very quickly and legibly. This Baptist girl was stunned. In fact I was so stunned that I couldn’t even tell anyone exactly what happened that night. I think I didn’t tell because I didn’t want anyone to brush that incident off as something besides a true physical miracle.
Over the next few weeks people began to notice that I was writing with my left hand and they were impressed. I didn’t feel that I could tell them the truth of how it happened. I think most people believe that it happened because of the sheer determination and hard work of the gal they knew as Holly Higle.
That night in the science lab, a seed was planted in my heart. A desire to experience God in new ways. A yearning to shatter the box that I had put God in for most of my life. Two years later when my wedding was cancelled and my future was unknown, I turned to the God that I experienced that night all alone in the science lab. I needed a God of miracles. The God of the Bible IS a God of miracles and I am no longer too timid to admit that. The God I had loved my entire life was the very SAME God that met me there on that yucky science lab floor to work a miracle. Two years later that same God was about to work an even greater healing in my life…in a way that I had never experienced before.
Oh and I must add…unfortunately, the doctor was right. After a couple of years of writing left handed the cramping did begin in my left hand…but I no longer was needing to do chemistry or math (yay!!!) so my laptop has been my best friend for almost 15 years now! Praise God I live in the digital age!