Ep. 83 | Part 2: An Evolution of Faith w/ Kimberly Arnold




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Kim grew up in a very religious household. Her faith was relatively straightforward until she was thrown a major curveball—her daughter was born with a rare bone disorder.

In this episode, Kim shares the anger towards and betrayal from God that she felt whilst she pled for a miracle for her daughter. Everything shifted for her when her daughter was involved in a critical accident, and she chose to place her daughter in His hands, regardless of the outcome.

This episode is divided into two parts. This is part 2.

Episode Transcript

Madeline Cheney  0:00 

Hello, Madeline here, you are listening to part two of Kim Arnold's special topic episode, all about the evolution of her faith in God as influenced by her experiences with her daughter. The last several minutes of part one will be the beginning of this episode just to jog your memory. Enjoy.


Kimberly Arnold  0:23 

After eight weeks of not having any healing on her neck. We went in for another X-ray and she had nearly complete healing in her neck. So we had gone from our last follow-up X-ray and there being nothing there after having multiple X-rays prior to that showing no healing, no healing, no healing, and talking to all these doctors, to the following X-ray just showing almost complete healing. Our neurosurgeon looked at me and he was like, "I don't know what to tell you. It's almost completely healed. I guess I was wrong. That was definitely a day-and-night type of change." But he said, "Give us another couple weeks of healing time and I think we can leave the color behind." I remember walking out of that doctor visit and walking over to my mom's car, and we just like, were crying hysterically. We were just so emotional that that had happened. I think why that was a turning point wasn't because she had been healed, it was because we had been in such a vulnerable place. We'd been praying for so long, and struggling with my faith and struggling with all of this. It was like this tiny glimmer of, "Hey, I'm still here." I think, because I had just gotten to the point where I was so broken down by the constant fracture and fracture and fracture, and then for her to fall, and to almost lose her in the hospital that night, and then to see no healing. My doctors tell us that she's going to have to wear this collar for three years, and all this other stuff. Then also her head, which, we're still dealing with that, her skull fracture. This is the crazy part, her skull fracture actually had a very rare complication, which only happens in 1% of pediatric skull fractures. The surgery to fix it, our doctor said, has never been done on a child with OI. Especially not as young as Julianne. So he was like, "I don't even know if I can fix it or what would happen if I tried."  All of these hits that we just kept taking, and then to get to this place where this tiny, tiny little glimmer of, "I'm still here." I think it was huge for me but it showed me that I can't wait for a miracle. If I had left my faith up to God showing me a miracle, then he would have healed Julianne the day she broke her arm. This never would have happened. But it's not about that. My faith has to be, I guess, I don't know what I'm trying to say. It's not reliant on what is God going to do for us? What is God going to give us? When is he going to heal us? When is he going to make our lives perfect? Especially in terms of Julianne, I don't want Julianne to see God that way. To where, one day, she could fall, or she could be in an accident, or something else could happen where her life is at risk, or something major happens where she's in pain and there's a lot that can happen. I don't want her to look up to the heavens and wonder why God hates her. Instead, I want her to be able to feel those feelings, absolutely. But also understand that God has left, even if you can't feel him in the moment, I guess is what I'm trying to say.


Madeline Cheney  5:07 

Yeah, that's such a tender story, and so relatable. I think it's interesting that it's seems easier to look at Julianne and be like, "Oh, no, God still loves you." And, you more than anyone knows how tough everything is for her and everything she's been through at such a young age. And to be like, "No, I know that he still loves you. Even though this is really hard." I think it's just easier to look at our children or other people that we love and to see that, and to know that, that when hard things are happening, it's not because he doesn't love them. But then I think it's just harder when it comes to us. It's harder to feel that love when you expect it to be fixed. Or, you know, you feel like he caused it, things like that. It's a really interesting insight. We can look at our children and other people be like, "Oh, of course, he still loves them." And, you know, it's the same for us, it's just harder to see that.


Kimberly Arnold  6:09 

Yeah, absolutely. It was so hard for me to grapple with my faith during all of this. I slowly started to understand, especially with almost losing her, I started to see that, when everything else is stripped away, there was no one else for me to scream to. There's no one else for me to rely on, nothing else for me to reach out to. And I think one thing that really changed the way I was viewing my faith during that time and what has really molded my faith until now is, again, going back to how Jesus came to the world with the intention that he could be made man, to feel things that we felt and to feel human feelings and be here, and he even cried to the father, crying, "Let this cup pass from me." Imagine how scared he must have been knowing his death was right around the corner, and the amount of fear and vulnerability that he must have felt in that moment, knowing that this needed to happen, that it was going to happen, and the pain that he was about to endure, and all the pain that he did endure, and yet still going through it. I think that's one thing that we get wrong a lot of the time. As Christians, we talk about hard times and faith as being like, "Oh, just put it in God's lap. Leave it at God's feet, leave it at the feet of the altar," if you've heard that in church. We talk about it like it's this thing that we can just drop off our shoulders when it's not, it's not. If it were that easy then Jesus himself would have done it but he didn't, he was scared and he was vulnerable. I think that was showing us that we can be that too, like having that faith doesn't mean that we're not going to be angry with him sometimes, it doesn't mean that we're not going to be scared, it doesn't mean that we're not going to be human. At the end of the day, being able to understand that who God is doesn't change. He wants to be there for those feelings, he wants you to let out those feelings, he wants to be there, and maybe his will isn't exactly what you would want it to be, or what you're expecting. But that doesn't change who he is and how much he loves you. And that's hard, again, that's easy to say but hard to do and hard to know in those moments. I think I've come to a place where my faith doesn't just rely on, "Is Julianne okay today?" "Is she going to be okay tomorrow?" "Am I going to be okay tomorrow?" "Is Brian going to be okay tomorrow?" because we never know. And it doesn't rely on healing or miracles or how we're feeling. I allow that space to where my faith is something that I can allow myself to be angry and be frustrated and let out those emotions, knowing that God is there to take it in and, I don't even know what the word is, like, take in our prayers, do you know what I mean? Like take those in and try and understand. And again, I think that's something that I want Julianne to understand, is that you will be angry sometimes, and you'll be frustrated, and you will probably question God at least a time or two because we all do. But that doesn't change how much he loves you. So you can question it all you want, that's not going to change the way he loves you. He may show that to you in the way that you've asked for it and he may show it to you in a completely different way. But trusting that that is still going to be true at the end of the day is the hard part but that's what you have to do, I guess.


Madeline Cheney  10:48 

Yeah, I really love that. I think it makes our relationship with him so much more resilient. So it's not hinging on everything going well because obviously things don't always go well. In fact, no one's life is perfect. If you look close enough, you'll see that. I love that you give that license, like, "Yes, I'll be angry and you'll be angry with him." He's the unchanging one and we don't have to be because we're human. That really makes it into this really awesome relationship, where it's not just this, "Hey, I need this. Why aren't you doing this." Instead, we're in this together. I also love that you brought up the example of Christ when he does submit to the will, where he doesn't want to, he's probably afraid and anticipating this incredible pain and death, but that he was submissive to it anyway even though he knew it'd be hard. It's like, "If he's asked to go through hard things, and then why not me?" He's perfect, he didn't deserve that. Like, I deserve something more than he does. So to be like, "Okay, maybe I can try to follow that example." And that's one thing that I've tried to focus on, both with the whole Kimball thing and with other hard things in my life, is trying to emulate that submissiveness, and it's hard and I'm not always like that. But the times where I'm like, "Yes, I trust that I'll be okay eventually and that everything will work out how it's supposed to, eventually. Even if it's not how I envision or want it to be, it will be okay. I'll go through what I need to go through." Just more of like, head down and push through. Sometimes I'll be angry and I won't be perfect at it, but just aiming for that, I think, can be helpful, instead of resisting and pushing back so much.


Kimberly Arnold  12:52 

Yeah. When we went through that situation with Julianne, I had so many thoughts. Did God do this so we would see that she had a fracture that we didn't know about? That was the conclusion that our surgeons had come to after eight weeks of seeing absolutely no healing, which, if you know anything about bones, that's really weird. It's just weird. So it was like, did you do this on purpose for this reason or did you do this to just remind us that you're here? Is this just one of those things that you allowed to happen and it brought me to awaken my faith? Whatever it may be, we never know exactly why he does what he does or why he allows what he does. It's hard to just, like you said, sometimes we just got to keep our head down and keep pushing through and hope that it's going to be okay. At the end of the day, I just feel like with Julianne, I want her to be able to see that not only is the bad stuff not a marker for how God feels about you and loves you, but the good stuff that happens. Oh, I guess the good stuff is, right? And I want her to know that, like, the good stuff is. And the bad stuff sometimes can be too, it can show God's love. I think, through everything that I've gone through and through everything that Julianne will go through in her life, I think it'll be incredible for her to maintain her faith throughout. I think it's a beautiful story for us to see our kids go through hard times and for us to go through hard times, and still be able to say that we give the glory to God because there are a lot of people who will see our situation and look at it as though God is not with us, God has left us, and they'll see us as evidence that God doesn't exist. So to have examples of people who, maybe our lives don't look exactly like everyone else's does, but be able to stand up and say I'm still going to love God and still going to give him the glory at the end of the day, regardless of the hard chips that we go through. I think that is beautiful and, regardless of whether that's exactly his intent on why it's happening, we'll never know. But to be able to do that, I think is amazing.


Madeline Cheney  15:53 

Yeah, I totally agree. And I also think, ideally, we want God to heal him, or heal her, make it better, fix it. But, you know, obviously that hasn't happened for most of us. But I also think of like, "But what about the healing of me? And you?" And even inside of them, the resiliency that they have developed, our resilience, the ability that we have found to still have a good life, and to still enjoy life. I'm not pretending that like, "Oh, life is great now because he healed me, and now I'm always happy." No, we had to cancel our interview yesterday because I was feeling like crap. And so I think, emotionally, it's realizing that he is there inside of us, and that he can heal us. We won't be made perfect and our lives won't be perfect, but he can give us the strength to bear what we are given. Even if it feels like we're incredibly weak and we're not actually handling it, we are. We are getting through it, even if it hurts so bad. That really helped me too, to kind of have that shift of like, "Oh, he's healing me." Which one's more miraculous? To have that healing from within, of bones and necks and you know, all the rest?


Kimberly Arnold  17:30 

Yeah, absolutely. It's hard because you're watching your kids go through it but you're feeling it as well. One thing that I always think about is, these feelings that I'm feeling right now, these questions that I have about God and his love and his greatness and everything, these are questions that Julianne will have one day. She will develop into these feelings and these thoughts, and she'll have to decide for herself. It's just, it's hard because, like right now as a mom and when all this was happening, it was like God was asking me to not only let my guard down and let faith in, but it almost felt like he was asking me to let go of Julianne, like, let go of my own child and trust that he will be with her, trust that she's in his hands. It was almost like he was calling my bluff from that first night when she was born. And that's really how I felt. All the time, I think about the day that Julianne might be a mom, if she did marry someone who doesn't have OI, she has a 50% chance of having a child who does have OI, and will that child have more complications than she did? Will God be asking her the same thing one day? And that's so, so tough. Being able to find that healing, myself, now I know that I'll at least be able to offer some type of perspective in her life. I think me finding that healing makes me a better mom. It makes me stronger for her to be able to endure all that, the surgeries and everything else that we're going through, to be able to have a perspective of positivity. Like I said, letting myself feel the feelings, but at the same time, coming back to where our faith lies and what we believe, regardless of the tough times that we may have to go through. And looking at the beautiful things that God has given us and the beautiful things that he's allowed us to have, there is not a day in my life where I would not be thankful for Julianne exactly as she is, having been given to me by God. If you believe in the Bible, you believe that God knits a child in your womb and creates them very specifically, with intention. That's one thing that I want her to understand as well, that she was made on purpose, with intention, exactly as she is. Every cell in her body, every strain of her DNA, made very specifically, with purpose, with love, and we want her to know that. So for me to be able to come to that conclusion now, knowing that this stuff didn't happen because God is mad at me, stuff didn't happen because I was sinful or because God doesn't love me or because God loves someone else more than me and my child, to be able to understand God blessed me with this child. He made her specifically with purpose for me and for my family. And he made me when I was a baby, for my parents, and he made me as a parent to Julianne, and blessed me with that role in my life. Just to find that now, I think is going to help her so much the older she gets because, you know, your children will look to you for advice, they'll look to you for, "Where do I go from here?" And I know that in the moments when I was struggling with everything going on with Julianne, I talked to my mom about it and I talked to my dad. I know that even they struggled with it. Anyway, what I'm saying is, I think I want to be able to know that now so that Julianne can know it the older she gets as well.


Madeline Cheney  22:02 

Yeah, I love that so much. I think that probably adds a really beautiful amount of purpose behind your faith-building and faith-strengthening. To understand that this is also for her, this is for me but it's also for her. To see that in the future, envisioning yourself talking about and working through it together and, like you mentioned before, when you see someone who's had really hard things happen to them and they haven't had the miraculous healing that they probably wanted, for them to be like, they still love God, they're still faithful, that has so much depth to it. It is so beautiful, it's so real, and I think she'll see that in you too. She'll see that and be like, "Wow, like this was really hard for mom." And she stuck with her faith, she allowed herself to question it. She allowed herself to be angry, and she has rough days, but she's still there with him. I think it will be a really powerful example.


Kimberly Arnold  23:11 

And like you said, I try to be very careful with when I do tell that story about what happened with Julianne's neck because I don't want it to come across as, "We had this miracle! I realize God loves us!" because that's not what it was. I was thankful that shift happened where we suddenly saw healing in her neck. Yes, I'm so grateful. But what really was a turning point throughout that whole situation was that, in that moment in that night, when we were worried if she was even going to make it out of that hospital, it was the vulnerability that I felt. Feeling the weight of God and understanding that there was nothing in my power. None of it was in my power, I had to let her be in God's hands. There was nowhere else for me to put her, there's nowhere else for me to go. Being able to, in that moment, I forced myself to say, "God, you are good. God, you are God, regardless of what happens tonight." As crazy as it sounds, I had to force myself to be okay with, not letting her go as in it's okay if she dies because obviously I would not have been okay, it would have broken every piece of me but I'm letting go of the situation and her in that moment, and understanding, "God there's nowhere else for me to put her as I've got to put her in your hands and I pray, I pray that the outcome is that she survives and that we're okay and that she can move on from this." The faith, the brokenness, and the vulnerability that I had to have in that moment, to be able to communicate those words to God and to feel those words in my heart, that's what changed my faith. This isn't about a miracle. If you take her for my arms right now and I have to leave this hospital without her, I will be absolutely broken but I understand that, if I put her in your hands, that's the only place to put her so your will will be done. And just pray that this not be it. It goes back to that vulnerability, to have that moment, just tearing me up inside but being able to feel like, "God, we're in your hands." I've prayed this prayer before because I did the night that she was born, and things didn't go our way. Knowing knowing full well that things may not go our way this time, either, but at the end of the day, I will force myself to praise you, I will force myself to say that you are God because that's what I have to believe. That's what I believe. That's where I rest my faith on. That was the turning point for me, not the miracle, not the healing. Just breaking down completely and realizing that God is the only one who really has the control over my life, over her life, over what happens from here. If I believe that he's good, then I have to believe that there is good in it, even if the result isn't what I'm hoping for.


Madeline Cheney  26:53 

Yeah, it goes back to that submission. You were being so submissive in saying, "But if not, if this is not, I'll also accept." Not even wanting to really even go into what that might feel like, knowing it's going to be horrendous and nightmarish, but be like, "Heal her. But if not, like, I'm still here." And I love that you said that was your turning point because that's a very vulnerable place to be, and a place full of decision on your part. It was completely up to you, you were the one who turned yourself over to him, turned her over to him. I think you proved to yourself, your faithfulness to him. You're like, "Yeah, I am faithful to God, this is real, this is my relationship." I think that is something that could be with you your whole life. That faithfulness and loyalty in the midst of really, really hard stuff. I mean, this is really hard stuff, right? We can sit here and talk about it, but to really be in that situation, it's unbelievable.


Kimberly Arnold  28:02 

Yeah. And we go to church, we hear people talk about going through hard times and they say to leave it at the altar, put it in God's hands, pray about it. We say all these things to people, but when you're in the moment, when you're in that position, and like I said, I felt like I was being asked to give up my child and let go of her in order for her to be in his hands. So to be in that moment of fear and pain. It's not easy to just say, "It's all for you, God. I'm just gonna leave it at your feet and walk away." I'm not going to stress about it when our kids are sick, when we're taking them to therapies and doctor's visits and we get bad news from doctors, or their situations change or whatever. It's easy for other people to just tell us to pray about it and it'll be fine but it's not. It's really not, and that's not the case. That's why I always say, allow yourself to feel the feelings because God doesn't want you to be perfect, he knows that you're not. He wants you to be vulnerable and feel what you need to feel. I think in that vulnerability is where he really is glorified because in those moments in the hospital, and like I said, in these tiny moments where we're afraid and confused, and it's not just about praying and leaving it at his feet, that vulnerability that we bring to him, that fear, all of it, and still being able to push ourselves to say, "You know what, but if not." That, I think, is the core of us glorifying him.


Madeline Cheney  30:11 

Yes, I love all of that so much. Well, thank you so much, Kim. I feel like we could do several episodes on this. It's kind of hard to wrap it up.


Kimberly Arnold  30:21 

They're deep questions for sure.


Madeline Cheney  30:26 

And there's so many facets but I appreciate your vulnerability so much in sharing this really, really tender experience. I've felt very strengthened by hearing your story and your thoughts on this and I am sure that there are many that are also going to be affected by hearing this. So thank you so much for coming on and sharing.


Kimberly Arnold  30:46 

Of course. Thank you so much for having me.


Madeline Cheney  30:53 

If this episode brought up any confusing emotions about your own belief systems, religious or otherwise, and you think you could use the help of a professional to guide you through that, I invite you to check out our sponsor, BetterHelp. They are an online service that offers licensed therapists via tele-therapy. You can meet with them via phone calls, video calls, texting, or with a chat function on the website. It is a more accessible form of therapy, especially for those of us unable to get to traditional in-person therapy. Check out the link to get a discount on your first month of services, and every subscription supports this podcast, which I so appreciate. Check that out if you are interested. Join us next week as I chat with Carrie M. Holt about her experiences with cyclical grief and how that is brought up by anniversary dates of past trauma and struggle with her son, medically. Her son is a teenager and I so appreciate her perspective since I am much earlier in the journey. Don't miss it. See you then.


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