I met Bekki a little over a year ago when she began volunteering at the CRC offices where I work. Bekki, age 31, is a member of Fuller Avenue CRC in Grand Rapids, MI. Bekki’s life has been full of significant health and personal challenges, the kind that could leave a person tired or frustrated with life. But that’s not the case at all with Bekki. In fact, Bekki is quite possibly one of the most relentlessly happy and curious people I’ve ever met. I recently got the chance to ask Bekki a few questions about the source of her joy. In return, she shared her story in a very open and honest way, leaving a message to all of us who have ever wanted to throw ourselves a pity party. . .
You’ve mentioned that your life has been a bit unconventional. What was your childhood like?
I was adopted from India when I was 3 months old by a single mom named Judy. When I arrived in Michigan I weighed only 4lbs and wasn’t expected to live long enough to see my first birthday. My newly aquired older sister liked to dress me up in clothes meant for her toy dog. Health complications led me to start using a wheelchair when I was five but I was very determined and could still sometimes use my walker all the way until I was 11.
My mom Judy had such a strong faith. She had to go through so many hoops to adopt me as a single mom. Nearly every adoption agency was opposed to single parent adoptions at this time but Judy knew this is what God was calling her to do and she would not give up. Eventually she found an agency to accept her. Who follows God’s will this much? It amazes me.
Wow, what an incredible faith your mom displayed! What lasting impact did this have on you?
A few years ago my mom was diagnosed with liver and lung cancer. She lived only three weeks after receiving the diagnosis. When she died, it shocked everyone. My older sister lives in Texas with her family but she came back for a while after mom died. Like my mom, my sister has an incredible faith and we were able to support each other. Together we decided to go forward with the love of the Lord and live for Him each day.
My family showed me that there’s still a faith that can move mountains.
How did you respond to such a big loss?
Ever since my mom passed away I try and see the joy in everything. Life is never going to be perfect this side of heaven but I don’t take anything for granted.
There are times when you want to ask, “Why me, God?” But you can either decide to lay down and have a pity party or you can pick yourself up and give thanks. It’s hard but you can find joy in anything.
What unique challenges have you faced from using a chair?
One thing I wish people understood is that I don’t have a cognitive impairment. Sometimes I’ll go to a restaurant and be given a kid’s menu, which can be a little annoying. The everyday physical dependence is something that I have to keep giving up to God again and again. Sometimes I wish I could do things like putting on my own socks but I know God has me in His hands.
Do you ever struggle with comparison?
The thing is, I could literally have nothing. Every single thing I have is a gift from God. There are people right here in Kent County that don’t have food or a bed. Why do we think we deserve everything when we deserve nothing? It should have been you or me on the cross.
How does keeping your focus on the cross change your day-to-day life?
Jesus gave up everything on the cross so why shouldn’t I gave it back to him? No matter what challenge you are going through, you can use it to share God’s love. I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart.
As we get older, why do we let the simple truths we learned in Sunday School leave our head? As the song goes, I’ve got the joy-joy-joy down in my heart (yeah!)
Yes! I haven’t thought of that song in years but it’s such a good one. Are there other songs that encourage you?
“I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe is one of my favorite songs. When I hear that song, I imagine a chair-free world. I imagine a world where you can go places without having to be checked in by security. I have a lot of friends already in heaven and they don’t have to imagine anymore.
You have this incredible focus on things that are eternal. How would you encourage people who are facing really difficult circumstances? How can we cope with challenges that are ongoing and more than just a bad day?
Jeremiah 29:11, though used often, is one of my favorite verses. My mom’s brother [my Uncle Dick, who has taken over the majority of my care] used this verse in his wedding. There might be horrible circumstances in your life now but God is doing some redemptive work that we don't know about yet. It’s not always fun waiting but we have to underline the word plan or purpose. God ALWAYS has a purpose. Because of this, our suffering is not in vain and has a purpose.
What does it mean to “suffer with purpose”?
My former pastor once said that some Christians are so grumpy you’d think they were baptized in lemon juice. I love that! We all have bad days but if we are constantly grumpy, than we are not truly living as Children of the King.
As Christians, people are always going to be scrutinizing us. For this reason, we need to keep giving glory to God’s name, even when things are hard. Being joyful and sharing God’s love is a way to live out our baptism and faith everyday.
If some Christians are baptized in lemon juice, I’d dare say that Bekki may have been baptized in sunshine. Thanks for challenging and encouraging us!