There is no way around it! Taking this pilgrimage required a monumental amount of faith… faith in ourselves, faith in others, and faith in God. Hannah Hartzell asked the question “How did your faith impact your journey, and what has this journey taught you about God?” This is no easy question to answer, and both our responses continue to evolve as our journeys through life continue. Thank you Hannah for the question. We would like to share our differing perspectives of our faith before the journey and after. Today Justin will share his.
Living life with a progressive neuromuscular disease hasn’t been easy. The slow loss of my legs throughout my late teens, twenties, and early thirties presented many challenges and lessons in humility. But using a manual wheelchair to get around meant my upper body was strong. I could still play with my kids, hold my wife’s hand, and help around the house. But when my disease moved above my waist in 2010, the loss of my upper body created a very different playing field for my game of life. The equipment and rules suddenly changed. I had to begin using a motorized wheelchair for mobility, I had to be fed by my wife, and I had to be assisted in the bathroom. None of this was in my plan.
But those first few years instilled a faith in my heart and soul… faith in strangers as they stepped in to help, faith in God as he provided people and resources, faith in friends and family as they helped carry many burdens, and faith in myself as I learned to accept assistance when offered.
When I proposed the idea of the Camino to Patrick in 2012, I had a solid faith, but I had no idea how much it would grow over the next five years, and it continues to do so. Patrick’s response “I’ll Push You” to my crazy idea of a wheelchair journey through Spain was the beginning of a new understanding of the beauty that exists in humanity.
Patrick dove in and did the majority of the work, but over the course of 35 days, more than 100 people from 27 different countries pitched in for a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, and sometimes a few weeks. The conversations we shared were incredible and as various strangers helped propel me forward down the trail, my faith in humanity was restored. A faith I didn’t realize I had lost. So much negativity is perpetuated by our culture and by the media, that our perspective of what the majority of the world is like often becomes tainted. I know mine had. But the truth is we are all amazing creations longing to love and be loved. Every person we met shared that common ground. Love and be loved.
It can be a slippery slope losing ones faith. It starts out subtle, so quiet you don’t hear it coming. I think restoration of my faith in humanity signifies that my wheels were on the edge of the slope. Through my days on the Camino and the days after, I have seen how much good people are capable of doing. I have been blessed by the hands and feet of many individuals, and through their blessing I have experienced provision in profound ways.
The Camino has deepened my faith in humanity. And since I believe God created humanity, it has deepened my faith in God as well.