Hayley Smith and Harrison Waldron met at Harding University, married in 2014 and graduated the following spring. That summer while attending a wedding in New York, Harrison was involved in an ATV accident. The injuries he received cause immediate death 90% of the time but he survived and was med-flighted to Erie, Pennsylvania. Today, over two years later, he and Hayley are living with her parents. Their days consist of Harrison being helped by Hayley and her mom with speech, swallowing and other therapies.
Their future is uncertain but their faith is rock-solid.
Hayley says, “I look 10 years into the future and wonder where we will be, but there’s no guarantees. There’s no knowing, which can be a really scary place, but I’ve gotten used to it. The bottom line is we’re going to surrender to this new life and this new plan God has laid before us. This is not what we wanted at all, but sometimes God lets us have these opportunities to glorify Him. People always told us that God had special plans for us. I was not thinking that this would be what it was. But we know God’s got us, and He has great plans for us.”
Despite pain, fear and uncertainty, it’s clear that Hayley and Harrison have merged their letter with God’s. They are following in the steps of Jesus as their trust is enabling them to embrace their situation for the glory of God (1 Peter 2:21-23). By taking this stand, they have refused to make alliances with some of the dangerous myths about God that entrap and entangle people.
One myth is that God will give us whatever is in our letter if we r-e-a-l-l-y believe. This is based on thinking that is incredibly immature and naive since it assumes we always know what is best for ourselves. Anyone who has traveled far down life’s road and paid any attention knows better. But there’s more. This thinking is also decidedly cruel in what it says to disciples whose prayers aren’t answered in the way they were hoping. It dumps everything back on them because they didn’t “believe enough.” According to this thinking, Harrison would be healed if he and Hayley just had more faith–anyone care to tell them that?
In trusting God as they have, they have also refused alliance with the myth that if God doesn’t provide us with what we ask for, or even worse, allows us to suffer and endure hardship, then He’s not good—and maybe He’s not even there. Why? Because “God wouldn’t allow this.” The idea that God’s people have been granted immunity from suffering goes against the grain of Scripture but let’s hear from Harrison. He typed this out, “God is good and has done great things for us during this long, difficult journey.” Hayley adds, “I’m so happy to be living (it) for the Lord—even when it hurts. God has done great things in my life, and I know if He loves me and He loves Harrison, which I believe He does tremendously, we’re going to be OK. He’s going to give us meaning in our brokenness. And one day when we’re all completely whole in heaven, it’s going to be amazing. I believe we’re going to see some fruit from this trial, which is what our lives are all about. It’s about getting people to heaven and living this wonderful life for eternity. It’s what I signed up for when I gave my life to Christ . . . We choose joy, and we choose to do the hard stuff.”
Harrison and Hayley are a sign of the kingdom of God—living out the story as it unfolds in their lives. They remind us that power, glory and joy come not from getting what we want, but through merging our letter with God’s.