“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” — Proverbs 3:5-6
About three years ago, when I went in for a routine physical, my doctor found a heart murmur. She encouraged me to get it checked out just to be safe. Little did I know this would be the first of many appointments. And after about four hours of testing that day, my cardiologist came in with the news: I might need open heart surgery. Hearing that felt like a dream; I couldn’t even think straight.
I went back for further testing, and they told me I actually needed surgery sooner than later. I had what is called a subaortic membrane, which was impacting the amount of blood flow through my heart and not allowing the valve to close completely.
From a young age, my parents read me Bible stories, so I knew who God was. I went to church, but during the couple months leading up to surgery, I was so confused and scared. I kept thinking, “Why would God let this happen to me? Why me? Why now?”
Then one night while I was lying awake, I felt God whisper, “Just wait, your story will be shared.” Not until recently did I understand what He meant. I realize now that I might be able to help others by sharing my faith journey — from fear to relying on Him, and having even stronger faith coming out on the other side. Looking back, I see God’s hand through it all and He is so good!
He put me back together for a purpose. I have been broken; I physically know how it feels. But even in the darkness, one thing I knew for sure was that God was going to put me back together. And He has, piece by piece. It hasn’t been an easy journey, not to mention the “battle scar” I see every morning when I look in the mirror. I’ve been through a lot, but God is so awesome.
One of the Bible verses I have leaned on is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
I now know deep in my heart that God’s had a plan for me from the beginning. He revealed Himself to me through the sport even before my little 6-year-old self knew how to swim. I’m so thankful that being an athlete also led to the doctors finding my heart issue when they did. And not long after my surgery, God gifted me the amazing opportunity to compete at Junior Nationals.
My favorite Bible verse is Luke 1:37 (KJV): “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” This reminds me that I can do anything if I set my mind to it, and God can help me achieve it. One of my biggest goals is to make it to the Olympic trials, and I’ve recently committed to swim for the U.S. Naval Academy.
I believe anything is possible and I am excited for what God has in store for my future.
— Addy Herl
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