I recently saw the movie Me Before You. I think I laughed and cried harder than anyone else in that theater. To most it is just an adorable love story with a tragic ending. But it hit me deeply because this is my story…well my parent’s story that has shaped and molded me.
My dad grew up in Norman, Oklahoma- the middle of three children. His father died when he was eight and his mother raised him and his two sisters alone. He attended the University of Oklahoma and shortly thereafter moved to Washington D.C. to take a job at a bank on Capital Hill. He was a typical guys guy. Loved to play golf, ski, and renovate homes.
He met my mother while in D.C. at church. I love hearing how different their perspectives are of that first meeting. They dated off and on until my father felt called into international missions and my mother moved to the DFW area to go to seminary. My dad committed to go to Nigeria with the International Missions Board for a year to serve as the missions treasurer. He quit his job at the bank and left everything behind to do what he felt God was calling him to do.
His time serving was cut drastically short when he and two other missionaries were hit head on by a drunk driver on the way to a missions conference a few hours away from where they were living. My father was ejected from the backseat of the car and all others involved in the accident were killed. He woke up in a small Nigerian hospital on a stretcher to hear a nurse mention something about “the guy with the broken neck.”
I don’t know how he survived or how he ended up in that little hospital, but I know God had a generous and beautiful plan. After several months he finally was able to come back the U.S. in stable condition and ended up at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas for rehab. Interesting that God had placed my mom in Fort Worth as she was attending seminary.
Their love story is unique and beautiful. Full of more achingly hard moments and conversations than I can imagine, though many incredible ones too. My mom walked through all of this time of healing and therapy with my dad. She stuck by his side. When I would ask her about their love story as a little girl, she would tell me how fun my dad was and that she couldn’t imagine spending her life without the most fun man she knew.
Therapy was hard but facing a life without walking, running, and being who he was…that was even harder. But my dad had true courage. He had a hope bigger than his circumstances. He could have chosen the easy way out and decided that life that hard wasn’t a life worth living, but he didn’t. Thank God he didn’t, because I wouldn’t be here. My dad chose to live and to love God. He chose to love the same God who led him to Africa and then seemingly turned His back on him. Reminds me of when Job from the Bible said “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”
My parents were married a few years after the accident. Three years later they had me and then my sister shortly after. Life has not been easy for them, but full of more blessing than they could have dreamed. Three years ago they welcomed their first grandchild and now they have two! They adore being Nana and Yoyo to Eleanor and Josiah.
When you meet my dad, you can’t help but notice his smile. It’s a deeply joyful smile and it cuts to the quick, because it’s on the face of a man who probably shouldn’t be smiling. He’s in a wheelchair. He can’t walk. But he smiles. It’s incredible and it’s inspiring and I want my children and their children to know the story of this man who lost everything and chose to live life to the fullest and love anyway. I want them to know the story of a woman who has laid down her life every day for more years than I can count. My mom knows Jesus so deeply because of it and her commitment to my father is unmatched by any relationship I have every seen.
So I’ve decided this legacy must live on. If only for my family that is wonderful, but I think it can encourage so many others. I’m going to have a documentary made so that this story can be shared. I want people to see that there is hope in the enduring. God doesn’t waste our hurts. Press on and stay tuned for the documentary! If you would like to donate to the making of this documentary of Bob Sorrels’s life, you can donate at https://www.crowdrise.com/sharing-bobs-story/fundraiser/kristamacias.