Lean Not On Your Own Understanding
By Christy Steiner
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
There are some experiences in life you pray to God you NEVER have to go through again.
May 6th, 2014. My 4 year old daughter Isabella (Izzy) was playing with her brother when I heard her crying. I entered the room, picked her up, and attempted to console her. She was soothed for a time, but within the hour she presented with concussive-like symptoms: lethargy and vomiting. “Not again!” I thought. Not another “episode.” We monitored her all day and throughout the night, but in the early morning my husband woke me and said it was time to take her to the ER. She was not moving her right side and was minimally responsive. Little did we know this would be her worst “episode” yet.
Izzy was born a healthy baby, without complications. She was more uncoordinated than a typical developing child, but it wasn't until we noticed her cognitive delays that we became concerned. In addition to the developmental delays, the “episodes” started at 18 months. Toddlers fall and bump their heads all the time, but with Izzy it was detrimental. These bumps caused her to vomit, sleep, and become less responsive. This brought about many ER visits, CAT scans of her head (which were always normal), and neurology appointments. Something wasn't right. At the age of three, after genetic testing, the doctors discovered she had a micro-duplication on her 22nd chromosome. As her mother, I was devastated that my child wasn't on the path that I had mentally prepared for her as a “typical” developing child. But God was with me, working on my faith, patience, and trust. He most certainly was with me back in May 2014.
In the ER, there was no progress and the doctors were stumped. Another normal CAT scan. The next step: transport Izzy to Hershey Medical Center. I truly thank God that my husband was not following us to the other hospital. He went home to pack bags for us. Halfway to Hershey, Izzy became less responsive. The EMT went to speak with the driver. I did not hear what she said, but immediately the sirens and lights came on. We were in a race to get there. This brought a wave of emotions and tears as I could not stop crying and praying over her. “Lean not on your own understanding.”
I was alone in the room with Izzy as multiple doctors, including the neurosurgeon, told me they were planning to do an MRI of Izzy's entire body. Brain tumor, nerve plexy, and stroke were words that plagued me as the physicians said them. They just didn't know what was wrong. They were preparing me for the worst possible scenarios. “Lean not on your own understanding.”
The lowest point of this entire nightmare came when they were prepping Izzy for the MRI. I was sitting in a chair feeling utter defeat while my husband was in the other room with Izzy. “She's getting worse. We are losing her. We need to do something,” were words that came out of my husband's mouth as it appeared she was rapidly going downhill. At this point, the neurosurgeon was called in to detect brain activity. This was done with considerable concern as her brain activity appeared to be deteriorating. I completely lost it. I curled up in a ball on that chair and sobbed my heart out. I remember the nurses looking at me in pity and giving me water, but I just didn't care at that point. It may seem odd that I didn't go over to be with her, but I couldn't bring myself to see her slipping away. “Lean not on your own understanding.”
As we numbly followed the nurses to what would be Izzy’s room, my husband sat down on the couch and cried, and my heart sank.
What do you do when it takes four hours to complete an MRI? Pray, pray, pray, and read every scripture in the Bible about faith and healing. As I did this, an intermittent peace settled over me. Yes, there were moments of doubt, but I felt calm. Izzy came back from the MRI and “looked” slightly better but still minimally responsive. The MRI report came back absolutely negative. “Lean not on your own understanding.”
At the time, my husband was a teacher at a Christian school so he needed to go back and forth to his classroom in the evenings to prepare lessons for the substitute teacher. He kept his class informed of Izzy's status by writing notes on the board:
May 8th 12:05 am my husband writes: “Still nothing great. Daughter in ICU Hershey. God's going to heal Izzy tonight through prayer—then I'm going to butcher a cow and have a party at my house. All invited—serious.”
May 8th 7:39 pm: “Not sure much has improved, still a child functioning very little. 1 day fast. Join me—Read Isaiah 58. Today an invalid tomorrow she will rise.”
Powerful words and great faith from my husband. I went home that night, and my husband stayed with Izzy.
The next morning, I awoke early in my own bed and found a text waiting for me from my husband. “She just used the right arm to push buttons on bed, pointing with finger, singing with me, finished parts, tried Itzy Bitzy motions with both hands and fingers. Requesting songs. Says hi to nurse.” RELIEF, JOY, PRAISE flooded my being followed by the thought—she has been HEALED!
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” This is my favorite verse and encouragement in times of trouble as my understanding is not always God's way.
Izzy's healing moved rapidly. Each day, she continued to gain strength and return to her “normal.” Mother's Day was Sunday, and there was no better present than God giving me back my child. Izzy was discharged home the next day, and as we got back into our routine, it was almost as if nothing had happened (from those looking in from the outside). She had no residual effects from the episode. This was my husband's note to his students on May 11th: “You're all awesome. God is good, Izzy walked with me 2x today. Still no answers, except she's healed and coming home! Saturday cookout at my house—steak, music, thanksgiving.”
The Saturday after she returned home, one of our steers was butchered. We had a huge celebration with a feast, bounce house, and music. Family, friends, students, and neighbors joined us in giving honor to God for his faithfulness.
Further genetic testing completed in 2018 showed another genetic mutation called RHOBTB2. Izzy is 1 of 14 children in the world who are known to have this mutation. Izzy will turn 10 this year and although she has had multiple other “episodes” since then, they continue to lessen in severity and none has compared to that week in May 2014. We pray and thank God for his continued healing in her life.
I don't always know God's way, except for what he says in the Bible. I don't know why some are healed and not others. I do believe that no matter what circumstances occur in life, we are called to trust in him. It can be difficult especially when a serious event stops us along the way. We all have a journey to share, and my faith grew in an unexpected way after Izzy was born. I am challenged to persevere, live in obedience to God, and trust that if I acknowledge him in all I do, he will direct my path.
Christy Steiner lives with her husband and 3 children in Lancaster, Pa. She works part-time as a physical therapist and enjoys learning about health and fitness. She and her family love to spend time outdoors and their favorite vacation spot is the family cabin on a lake.