When Joni Eareckson Tada was a young adult, she suffered a life altering spinal injury that left her as a quadriplegic . The injury forced her into a deep, deep depression that made her want to commit suicide, but thanks to the power of prayer, she learned how to live with her condition and she now spends every day helping others understand how far a little hope can get them. She joined Chad on Flight 750 Wednesday to share her story.
“I swam out to this back bank about 20 yards off shore and without even touching bottom, I hoisted myself up onto it and just took a ridiculously deep dive into what ended up being very, very shallow water…When my body parted that water and when my head hit the bottom, I realized really quickly that this was shallow water. I mean this was only about four and a half feet deep.”
Joni also said that if it weren’t for her sister spotting her floating on the water, she would have undoubtedly died that day.
“I was floating face down holding my breath desperately hoping that my sister Kathy would notice that I had not surfaced from my dive. She had her back turned to me. In fact, she was heading down toward the beach. Well, just as she was ready to leave the water, a crab bit her toe. And that made her quickly turn around to scream ‘Joni, watch out for crabs!’ And when she called for me, she saw my blonde hair floating on the surface of the water…Thankfully, she came quickly swimming toward me and pulled me up just as I began to drown.”
Joni also talked about how the incident forced her to live a completely different lifestyle that she did not know how to live.
“Everything from exercising my arms, my legs, doing my toileting routines, getting dressed, setting me up in a wheelchair, brushing my teeth…Oh my goodness, I plummeted into depression. I just did not want to live this way. I begged God to take my life.”
Joni also talked about how she had tried to commit suicide, but was not able to because she did not possess the bodily function to harm herself bad enough.
“I remember in the hospital I would wrench my head back and forth violently on the pillow at night after visiting hours were over – Desperately hoping to break my neck up at some higher level, so as to put myself out of my misery.”
And Joni said she hit a breaking point where she prayed to God to either let her die or give her the strength to figure out how she was supposed to live as a quadriplegic.
"One night about 2:00am, I could not sleep and I just whispered ‘God if I’m not going to die, then you better show me how to live because I don’t know how to live as a quadriplegic…It was an honest prayer. It wasn’t religious, it wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t long. It was short and to the point, but it was very sincere and from the very get-go, God began answering that prayer in a big way."
Take a listen to this incredible two-part interview and be sure to check out her website to what kinds of great things she is doing to help people deal with their disabilities.