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My sister fell on her face yesterday. She was going for a walk with a friend in Beverly Hills, and she simply tripped and went down. Unfortunately, her face took the brunt of the fall.
Fortunately, a passing driver saw the accident and took my sister and her friend to her house, whereupon her housekeeper took her straight to the plastic surgeon’s office.
At about 4 p.m. on Feb 20, I received an email from my sister. It was accompanied by six photographs. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought my sister had applied Halloween makeup to her face and was pulling some kind of gag. Her whole face was bloodied and bruised. Her left eye was completely closed and distorted, with a massive gash. One of her teeth had been knocked loose, but fortunately did not penetrate her lips. Her entire body was a mass of cuts and bruises.
I was about to rush to my car, but then I realized that I hadn’t even read my sister’s email. To my surprise it had a rather comical title. “Whoa – you took a pretty bad fall there!” In the email, my sister explained – in an almost jovial fashion – the circumstances of the accident. She ended the email by saying, “I’m giving you permission to put this up on Facebook, since you’d probably do it anyway. I feel like s–t, which, fortunately, is the only thing I didn’t step in.”
If I didn’t know my sister so well, I’d have found her off-the-wall sense of humor a bit scary. Indeed, if her head had hit the pavement at just a slightly different angle, she could have been killed. I recalled that I had a friend in high school who died simply by bumping his head into the ashtray of a car in which he was a passenger, when the car came to a rather sudden stop. He was dead instantly.
My sister has a built-in coping mechanism, which is to deal with tragedy – even death – with humor. Thus, her lighthearted little letter didn’t really shock me.
It was already getting dark by the time I’d stopped shaking. (I don’t have the coping mechanism my sister does. I react to danger and tragedy with a much more “normal” emotions – fear, trembling, shaking, and sometimes, losing my lunch.)
I need to mention here the fact that though I was born Jewish. I accepted Christianity in 1977 (at a kickboxing match in Las Vegas of all places – but I’ll save that story for another column).
I say this, because the actual subject of this column is the reality of Christ, and all that goes with it. In particular for me – the power of prayer is something that’s never far from my mind. I am a testament to the reality of the power of prayer. When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, I truly believe that had it not been for all of the people who were praying for me, that stupid robot that removed my cancerous prostate wouldn’t have done one damn bit of good. Today I am cancer free, and I continue to thank God each and every day for saving my life.
Thinking over what my sister had said about putting her picture on Facebook, I decided to use the photos she’d sent me (along with her statement in which she’d given me her permission to post them) as a tool to ask people to pray for her. Thus, I posted one of the six pictures she had sent me. It was not a pretty shot.
By about 10 p.m. that evening, I had received dozens of posts from people – most of whom I didn’t know – who had taken the time to pray for my sister. Out of all of the reactions, I only received one post, which castigated me for putting a picture of my sister on Facebook – heaping all sorts of abuse on me for my “insensitive” act.
At 9 a.m. the following morning, I arrived at my sister’s house. I was told by her housekeeper that she was asleep – knocked out by all the pain medication she’d been given.
However, a half-hour later, she had awoken, and I was able to sit with her at her bedside. She looked like hell. But she didn’t look nearly as bad as she had in the photos she’d sent me on the prior day.
We made small-talk, and joked about her brush with death. I told her that I’d posted her picture on Facebook. She kind of half-smiled at me, but said nothing to indicate that she was unhappy with what I’d done.
When I told her about all the people who’d prayed for her, she had no visible reaction. I said, “I told you that prayer works!” Her reply: “Well, apparently it does.”
Everything seemed good, and I thanked God for his mercies.
But my sister’s husband had gotten word that her accident photo had been posted on Facebook. He went through the roof. My sister just looked at me and said, “I think you better take it down.” Other than that – no recriminations – nothing.
I had to drive back over Beverly Glen to get to my house because I couldn’t remove the photo from Facebook from an “outside” computer. However, when I searched the web, the photo was nowhere to be found. I didn’t know who had taken it down, but somebody had gotten to it before I had (which is odd, because nobody but the original “poster” can remove anything from Facebook).
At my sister’s suggestion, I posted an apology on Facebook saying that if the photo had upset anyone, I asked for their forgiveness. I did say in my post that my sister had asked me to put the photo online. That was not the case. Technically, she had never “asked” me to put the photo online. Rather, she had given me her “permission” to post it. Coupled with her rather humorous letter, including a suggestion for a “funny” photo caption (“Failed Walking 101”), I truly felt that I had done nothing wrong.
However, later that day, I received an angry letter from my sister about what I’d done. I was shocked by her tone.
Since I had made the incident public on Facebook, I decided to post my dilemma on my timeline. I publicly admitted to my falsehood in stating that my sister had asked me to post the photo. I again apologized to her and asked her forgiveness, as well as the forgiveness of the people who might have been shocked by the photo.
By that evening, I’d received hundreds of responses to my post. Every single one – with the exception of one person – supported my actions, telling me that I’d done the right thing. In fact, many people congratulated me. The letters I received had me in tears. Again, I thank God for His wisdom in handling the situation. Whereas before I had been wracked with guilt, if I now had to suffer recrimination for posting the photo, I would now be able to stand up to it.
Last evening, my phone rang at 8:30. It was my sister. She didn’t say one thing about the incident. She told me that she’d been to both the doctor and the dentist, and that essentially, she was all right. No concussion. No teeth knocked loose. The doctors said she’d simply have to take the time to heal. Neither of us said anything about the rift we’d had.
In essence, that is the end of this story.
What is so obvious to me is that this “fall” was a spiritual test for everyone involved. Perhaps it would cause my sister to rethink her spiritual beliefs. Perhaps not. It was in God’s hands, not in the hands of any person.
I also realized that Facebook is not the place to air one’s personal dilemmas. Most people don’t realize the power of the Internet, and the fact that whatever you put there is making public the most personal incidents in your life.
In fact, I think that Facebook is essentially a gigantic waste of time. I know that besides using it to publicize my new book and to write my daily blog, I’m going to cease to use it for making small talk with people. Life is too short.
My sister took a bad fall. She may be battered and bruised for a long time. Had her fall taken just a bit of a different direction, she could be dead right now.
God saved my sister, and He did it for a reason. I don’t fully understand the reason, but I know full well that God was in control of the entire incident.
I want to thank God for saving my sister’s life. I want to thank God for bringing us closer together. I want to thank all the people – who didn’t know us from the man in the moon – who prayed for my sister and who later came to my defense after I’d come under spiritual attack. I only hope that in my telling this story it will cause people to consider their own relationship with God – and the personhood of Jesus Christ in their own lives.