And the best way I can describe it is there were mornings early on that I would wake up and I would feel like I was sitting on a fence. And on one side was bitterness.
And on one side, and this is not the right way to say it, was betterness. And I had a choice every day. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.
And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So it isn't every day we get to have good friends in the Family Life Today studio.
Isn't it fun? Yeah. I mean, we've got the Valentines back with us. They've known us for 25 years, maybe?
I don't know how many years. That means we're old. That's what that means.
Yeah. I mean, we've been friends. We've watched them raise their kids. I threw passes to their oldest son to get him ready for college football.
Kevin and Melissa. Welcome back. Welcome back. Look at that. We're sitting at the same time.
Thanks. Good to be back. Well, on a previous program, we heard the story of, boy, I remember that night, not like you do, but when you were trying to help a lady change a tire on the side of the road and ended up getting smashed between two cars, a woman hit you going 50 plus miles an hour, never hit her brakes. You should be in a casket right now. You survived, but you lost your left leg. When you guys were only 22 and 23, you'd only been married just over half a year, and you're facing the biggest struggle of your lives.
So you find out as you wake up out of that coma that you've lost your leg. So take us back. I mean, that was over 20 years ago. Take us back to the journey of what that has been like over the last two decades.
There were some moments early on that set us up for the next 20 plus years. I've been asked a ton, you know, how were you not angry? How are you not mad at God?
Like how did you square your doing what God wants you to do with your getting hurt and losing so much? And so I was angry for about two weeks. Two weeks after I woke up, the doctors kept talking about saying, we're going to take you to the jacuzzi room. And I'm like, the jacuzzi room, finally, something's going to feel good because nothing really felt good. So the jacuzzi room, jacuzzi room, maybe tomorrow, jacuzzi room, finally, two weeks in they go, all right, it's the time we're taking the jacuzzi room and I'm thinking what you think of when you think about a jacuzzi, it's going to be nice. It's going to be really relaxing, it's going to feel good. They wheeled me into this room and there are about eight to 10 stainless steel vats filled with water and it is sterile, it is gray, it is dark and they wheel me to the biggest tank in the middle of the room. They put me on this cot, they hoist me up to the ceiling, push me over and drop me into this tank and then they take water jets and focus them on all of my wounds to flush out road debris.
That's the jacuzzi room. So the nurse goes, all right, I'm going to set time for 20 minutes and I'll be back and closes the curtain around me, first time I'd been alone. And I just looked down at my body and it was out of a horror movie. I just remember for the first time going, there's no coming back from this. Like it just felt final.
It's over. I start to get mad at God and I am just going through all the things you would think I am doing what you wanted me to do for my life. I'm following everything you asked me to do. I'm giving up everything that I want to do for what you want me to do and this is what I get.
You know? So all that's going through my mind and the best way I can describe what happened in this tank is I was ready to give God both barrels, everything I had of just how angry I was. And it's like, as I looked up into his face to just blast him, there were tears rolling down his. And it was almost like in that moment, if you just see a scene of Jesus there with me when that car hit me standing right beside, riding in the ambulance with me, being in the operating room and then sitting beside my bed for 10 days and now walking with me every day, I just, I saw that in my mind of just going, you never left me. You went through it all with me and it just, the anger just melted. It just like melted.
It went from a 10 to a one. And in that tank, I just start bawling and I had already been crying, but now it's like, I just am kind of realizing all this. What happened to that tank is I basically crawled up in Jesus's lap and he just held me like a little boy. And all I kept hearing him say over and over was, it's going to be okay. Trust me. It's going to be okay.
Trust me. That went on for 20 minutes. And then the lady came and got me and took me back and they took me to the jacuzzi room every day for about five days. And those are the sweetest memories I have in my life of time with Jesus, because he just helped me and that's exactly what I needed. And the anger has never come back.
Like it literally has not been something that I carry since then. But I feel like Jesus just released me from that anger by me realizing that he was with me in that tank and with me through the whole thing. I'm just curious as you think about that with listeners that are listening that have really gone through some suffering as you guys have gone through, if they're in it right now, what would you say to them? Through every ounce of suffering you've experienced, Jesus has never left your side. He never turned his back on you. He never forgot about you. He never left you in the dust, but he experienced every single moment with you and loves you.
That's what he told me and that's what I experienced. And I'm like, man, that is a gift that he gave me was his presence in that tank, but just that experience of knowing that I wasn't left alone. And I think for people that are suffering, it's interesting on this side of it. In some ways, I'm much more empathetic to suffering and in other ways I'm less empathetic. And what I mean by that is for people that are in the midst of tragedy and don't know if life's going to ever come back. I get that. I live that. Jesus showed up for me in that for, and this just is so weird to say, but for people that are experiencing difficult times that are not a 10, maybe they're a four or a five, but they're making it a 10, I've kind of gone, oh, you don't know suffering.
It's an interesting dynamic of just kind of going, man, I get it. I had a great friend who had MS at the time. I spent four months in a wheelchair. It is so hard being in a wheelchair. You have no idea.
She's got to load up the wheelchair every time, push me everywhere I go. People don't see you. When they do see you, they stare at you.
You feel like you're an outcast. I lived that for four months, and I remember going to my buddy Steve and going, Steve, I called him after the first time I felt like people were staring at me. I could hear little kids would walk by and go, look, mommy, look. I would hear people go, I wonder what happened to him as they're walking by. I called Steve and I'm like, Steve, how did you do it? It was like he had a new friend that understood his world.
It was really kind of a cool connection point because I was able to go to him and go, how do I deal with this? He was able to just feel like, man, somebody understands my world. Melissa, did you feel the same thing, like Jesus is with me or is it a different journey?
It was a little bit different. It was a terrible experience and it was a wonderful experience all at the same time because God was right there with us. He was walking through this with us. We were getting to know each other in a way that we never would have otherwise. We were sharing things. We were talking about things. We were going through stuff together that bonded us in a way that we never would have bonded if not for that.
I know one of the memories I have, I think we did a video at church where you talked about hiding. Maybe I'm saying it wrong, but even wearing a prosthesis that covered up or I'm not sure exactly but talk about that a little bit because I remember you saying there was a moment we decided I don't need to hide this. Yeah, I think for me, I entered into the disability community.
I never even knew an amputee before this happened. As I got back to somewhat normal life, it took me four months, I got a leg and I started learning how to walk. I started feeling less than, like there was a bunch of things I couldn't do anymore.
I couldn't run. I started feeling less of a man. I started finding that people were looking at me a little differently and that just kind of made me really insecure because again, it's all new and I'm less than I was and I'm trying to work through all that stuff and so I started having the prosthetist. I saw this guy walk in one day and you couldn't tell which leg was the missing one.
He was at the prosthetics office and I was like, where'd you get that skin, man? It looked real and so it kind of started me on this journey of going, hey, let's just put a skin on that and let's see how things go and so we started kind of making it match the other leg and while on the one hand, it made a difference because people didn't look at my leg while they were talking to me. It was kind of like, hey, I'm over here, it's just a distraction, they kind of fixed that but there was a point in the journey and I did that for a number of years. There was a point in the journey, which I think you're alluding to, Dave, where I'm like, man, I am trying to cover up something that God has given to me as a gift in some ways because I had gotten to the point where I started looking back.
You always wonder, if I could go back and could get that changed, would I change it? I got to the point where I'm like, no, because God had done so much great work in our life, there was a humility that God brought to that, a closeness that we had, an understanding of the goodness of God that I would have never had, had I not gone through this. I started realizing I'm covering this up and yet this is a gift that God's given me. I just remember getting to this point where I'm like, you know what, this is the leg that God has given me and I don't want to hide it anymore, I don't want to be ashamed of it. I don't know if I was ashamed or embarrassed or felt less than because of it, I'm like, this is the leg that God's given me and so kind of took the cover off.
We all do that. They may not be physical scars or wounds but we have emotional things that we hide and we don't want people to see. We cover it up. And there is something about when God has done a miraculous healing, whether it be physical or emotional or psychological and we see what he's done through it like, oh, I've met God through this experience of allowing him in and then that's what allows us to tell our story.
Absolutely. You know, and I think for 25 years removed from that, I am astounded at what God has done in our life and in our marriage and in our kids' life. My kids have grown up in a home where my little daughter Avery, she's our youngest, I can still remember her, she's like two or three years old, she came into our room in the morning, she went and got my leg and pulled it over to the bed and said, come on, daddy, get up. Like she's got my leg and she's handing it to me like, let's go, you know, and that's just kind of normal life, you know, and I hopefully have shown our kids, it's like, you can experience a catastrophic life experiences and still put your life back together and have a really full life. You know, started playing golf really shortly after, in fact, I started swinging a golf club before I got a prosthetic leg.
Actually I've had, I've played better this side of college golf in my leg, I've played better than I did in college now, you know, just because there's a lot of advancements in prosthetics, but we've just wanted to have as normal of a life as we could and have worked hard to get that. Was the golf dream, was that a crushing blow? I mean, you didn't know if you'd make it, but you had this dream, you're going to go for it, and it was in a moment gone. I would say for a while, yeah, because I knew if God ever released me, I would have tried. And then, you know, Melissa's like, that would have been fun caddying for you.
I'm like, you would have gone too? But there was also a calling that had been placed on my life as well, and I think that really superseded the loss, but it definitely kind of killed the dream. I think in the back of my mind, I was like, okay, God, I'll do this ministry thing, but as soon as that's over, I'm gone.
And that kind of went away after that, you know, that desire went away. But I still in the back of my mind go, I wonder if I could have made it, you know, I wonder if I could have made it. From what Dave says, you're a pretty amazing golfer. I can hold my own.
What do you mean hold your own? I hit my bomb, you know, drive about 210 and then you just bomb yours like 350. I mean, it's just crazy how you can still swing a golf club with one leg. Yeah, I'm surprised as well like that I've been able to put together a golf game that's as good as it is and I still compete in Florida amateur stuff and the national stuff with one-legged and adaptive golf tournaments.
And I think a big piece of that was just, you know, Melissa, throughout all the years when I was putting things back together, just a cheerleader. It took me 10 years before I walked 18 holes, and this is a great story. I went to my first national amputee golf tournament. I had heard that there's this thing out there and the best players in the world come to it. And it was being played at Bethpage, which is where the U.S. Open had been where Tiger had won the U.S. Open. And I'm like, man, let's maybe we should go play in that because I hadn't played in any one-legged person tournaments yet. We decide we're going to go to New York, go to Bethpage. And they have this course called the Bethpage Black Course. It is the U.S. Open course.
It is walking only. You can't ride a cart on it. And so I'm like, I really want to play this course. So I need a caddy. So I'm like, Melissa, what do you think?
And so Melissa's like, I'll caddy for you. But I haven't walked 18 holes in 10 years. I don't know if I can do it. But I'm like, I'm going to do it. Even if I die on the 15th hole, we're going to make it happen. And so we get there early in the morning and we tee off. And my goal was I wanted to break 80 on the course from the U.S. Open tees.
Like it was like, that's just what I wanted to do. The very first hole you tee off and it goes down this huge hill. I tee off and we've got to work our way down this hill. So Melissa's got my golf bag on her back. She's ahead of me on the hill.
I've got my hand on her shoulder and she is backstopping me all the way down because I, if she moves, I just fall down the hill. And so she's carrying both me and the clubs down the hill for that first one. And we go on and we play 18 holes together and we get to 18.
It's super hot. If I par 18, I shoot 79. And it's like, A, what was really cool is I walked and played golf all the time in college and before.
I loved it. I hadn't done it for 10 years. On the back nine, it starts becoming, I think I'm going to make all 18 and we just start enjoying our time together. Like it's almost like going back to, I remember what this felt like. And so we get to 18, I know if I make a par and I get up there, I have an eight foot putt to shoot 79 and I miss it.
I shoot an 80. But we had finished the round and it was, it was just a milestone. There's all these milestones as I think back of things that we didn't know we could do. And then we found out, you know what, we can do that and I can do that.
And we're still hitting milestones like that. We just didn't know we could do, you know, I always look at it as there are things you decide before you try that are not for you. But then once you go and you give it a try, you realize this whole time I have been holding myself back.
And there's just story after story of that for me and for us that we've just kind of worked through and found there's a lot of cool things we can do that we didn't think we could. Wait, wait, this picture of them doing, walking the course. I mean, I can picture you, Kevin, you know, holding on to Melissa's shoulder as she's walking down. Like you'll fall if you don't hold onto her hand, your hand on her shoulder and Melissa, you've got the weight of Kevin on your shoulder, but you're also carrying these golf clubs. That is such a picture of marriage right there.
You're carrying this weight of kids and responsibility and jobs. And sometimes our spouse is weak and they just need to put a little bit more pressure on us. And Dave's done that to me in the past and there are sometimes I don't want to have his hand on my shoulder because I feel weak myself. But it's such a beautiful picture and the picture I see with it is Jesus holding you too, Melissa. You have your hand on him and he's so proud of you guys, you know, as a team. Did that feel good to you, Melissa, to be with Kevin and hit that milestone? Yeah. I mean, I think I hear your picture and it's beautiful, especially because when God gives you a calling or a mission and it's a calling or a mission that you have together, that's what carries you through.
You know, I wasn't thinking about Kevin's weight on my back or the bag. I'm like, we are going to finish this, we are going to do this. And how fun to be able to do it together. And it's the same in ministry. You know, when God calls you to do something and you get to do it together, it's so fun to be a part of that.
There's nothing like that. I remember being so proud of him and so happy to have been a part of it. And so sweet, Kevin, that you would even ask Melissa to do that. Yeah. You know, because you could have asked some other dude or whatever because, you know, those clubs get heavy after 18 holes and walking. But the fact that you asked Melissa, I bet you were super honored that he would ask you as his best friend.
Absolutely. And the beautiful thing is I needed him too, because I wasn't a caddy. I didn't want to mess up anybody else's game out there. So I'm like, what do I have to do?
Where should I stand? What am I doing? You're seeing me in that club.
Yeah, seriously, just give me that one. But it was super fun. And that kind of started me on a journey of playing, you know, in these golf tournaments every year, which just became another part of the story of, I've been able to, you know, it's almost like what I gave up, what I had to give up because of the accident, God gave us back in some ways, you know, of being able to compete against some of the best players in the world. I've traveled around the world playing in golf tournaments as an amputee, which is super fun. Like, you know, and I've traveled around the United States. I'm like, I still kind of get to go out and do some golf stuff, travel and play golf, which I, you know, what a gift, you know, so there's been a lot of fun to be able to do that and to represent the U.S. and other countries playing, you know, and also to just play nationally in tournaments here. I kind of feel like God's like, I still got you.
I'll still give you a little bit every now and then you go out and do your fun, you know, play against and compete. I'm guessing there's a couple listening right now. They've gone through, maybe they're in it, you know, a tragedy, a trauma, could be like yours, it could be worse, could be a little less. Maybe it's not even a spouse, maybe it's one of their kids. What would you say to them to get through it?
What do they need to know? From my perspective, there was a number of days in a row that this happened and then periodically for years. And the best way I can describe it is there were mornings early on that I would wake up and I would feel like I was sitting on a fence and on one side was bitterness and on one side, and this is not the right way to say it, was betterness. And I had a choice every day.
And I would just remember sitting on that fence and there were days I chose to be bitter and they were horrible days and they were days where you only see the bad, you only see the difficult and you complain and you gripe and you're why. And then there's this choice you can make to just be better. And it is such a difficult choice. And what was interesting is I had to make that choice for years to where it became just the choice that was made.
Does that make sense? You know, it was the choice. No, I made that choice. I don't have to go visit and sit on the fence anymore.
It was made. And I feel like for many, many years now, I've been able to live on the better side of the fence and not the bitter. And that's a daily choice. It's every morning you wake up, especially when you're thick of it, you've got to make that choice. And with God's help, he can help you choose better. And I think my advice kind of marries with that.
Tell God, tell him everything. He's not surprised by the things you're telling him. It's not the first time he's heard it.
Not only can he take it, but he can speak into it. He can meet you there like nobody else can. I mean, nobody for a long time even asked about my story. I was walking along with Kevin and trying to help him and be there for him. And nobody really asked me my story for a really long time, but Jesus knew my story. And it was those little conversations that, God, I don't know what to do. I don't like this part.
I miss the Kevin that could run. All that stuff was completely safe with God. It's so beautiful when the things that you read about and the things that you think about God become personal. You're like, not only does he love me, but he loves me. He's shown me. He's met me here. He's been something to me that nobody else can be to me. It becomes very personal.
And there's nothing like leaning on God. And there's nothing like just the things that he tells you when you trust him enough to tell him the things that are real. He meets you there and he loves you, whether it's the right thing to think or not. He's going to show you things and meet you there and it's a beautiful thing.
You're listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Melissa and Kevin Valentine on Family Life Today. Kevin's going to share the importance of looking up and being honest with yourself in just a minute. But first, let's talk truth in this Christmas season. Marriage takes work.
You can ask your pastor, ask a couple that you know, ask your parents, ask anyone. But marriages don't just happen. And at Family Life's Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway, you and your spouse really get the time to intentionally grow with one another. Weekend to Remember gift cards are now 50% off now through November 28th.
And it can sometimes be hard to choose where to go right now. So you can get a gift card to allow you to buy now and then register for your location later because these things are happening all over the country. When you think about Weekend to Remember, you may even have another couple come to mind and these gift cards really do make great gifts too.
All are half off now through November 28th. You can visit familylifetoday.com to find your Weekend to Remember gift card. Okay, here's Kevin on the importance of looking up and being honest with yourself through your trials. The God piece of recovery, when he is your daily go-to and you're honest, I am just, I feel like a loser today. I feel like less than a man today.
He just received those comments and just steps in and gives you exactly what you need. And we learned through that, through this experience to do that. And we still do. I mean, I'm like, God, I feel like a crappy parent right now.
I've got this, I'm going, everything that comes to my mind I'm sharing, whether it's good or bad or I'm like, well, this is wrong, but this is what I think. And God's just shown up for us for 25 years now in just a fresh new way. This changed the game for us in a, believe it or not, in a positive way. If we could go back and change it, would you change it? No.
Me neither. It's like, we're grateful that God chose us to go through this. And when we get to heaven, that's going to be a good day. Are you already feeling overwhelmed during this Christmas season? It's just the day after Thanksgiving and here we are. Well, tis the season to be stressed, right?
Or is it? Well, next week on Family Life Today, Dave and Ann Wilson talk with our very own Bob Lapine about how we can all survive this Christmas season. That's coming up next week. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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