Sharing another story for Limb Loss Awareness Month! This month we are highlighting different attendees of our Beautifully Flawed & Forge Retreats and sharing their stories for anyone who might be going through something similar, or anyone who needs a little bit of inspiration and hope! Today we want you to meet 2021 Beautifully Flawed Retreat Attendee Jesse St John!
In July of 2008, Jesse, only 6-years-old at the time, was involved in a farming accident when her dad was mowing hay. She had fallen off of the tractor and the back wheel pulled her body into a bush hog (similar to a lawn mower). Her right foot was severed, her lower right leg was mangled, half of the heel on her left foot was missing, and two fingers on her left hand were gone. The blade also sliced into her skull and if it had gone in an inch more, she would have died instantly. Her right leg was damaged to the point that doctors were forced to amputate her right leg above the knee. With those injuries, it is truly a miracle for Jesse to be alive!
For the longest time, Jesse couldn’t get over what had happened to her. She went to countless therapy sessions, placed on multiple different types of antidepressants, and was even hospitalized for trying to take her own life. Jesse was officially diagnosed with PTSD when she was in high school. But it was a talk with God that turned it around for her:
“One day on a random afternoon I had a conversation with Jesus and I placed all of my heartache in His hands. I still have low moments, but they’re nowhere near where they used to be. I truly have Jesus to thank for pulling me out of the darkest point in my life.”
-Jesse St. John
Since then, Jesse has not let her amputation hold her back. She loves serving the Lord, being involved in her community, enjoying quality time with her friends, and trying different types of coffee. After the loss of her leg, she is most proud of her involvement in a variety of sports. Jesse absolutely loves working in teams, staying active, and being able to create meaningful friendships with others. Her most recent sports accomplishment is being able to play on the National Development Training Program for USA sitting volleyball. She also currently competes in club competition cheerleading at Appalachian State University.
Jesse’s biggest challenge as an amputee has been accepting the way her body looks, and still finds herself comparing her body to others sometimes: “It can be so easy to compare myself to other girls who have never lost a limb. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say losing my leg was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because it wasn’t. If I could go back in time and change what happened to me, I would in a heartbeat. And that thought will always be in the back of my mind for the rest of my life.
But the beauty in being able to overcome this challenge was allowing myself proper time to heal. It wasn’t an easy journey or quick “I’m feeling better” moment. It took a span of fifteen years with multiple therapy sessions, an almost successful suicide attempt at age fifteen, and a deep relationship with the Lord to help me understand He has a purpose for my life.”
Now 21 years old and in college, Jesse is excited to start applying to graduate school this year. Jesse’s mindset has majorly shifted from a place of darkness, to knowing the Lord has blessed her tremendously and that He kept her alive to be a part of his purpose: “I feel His calling to pursue medicine and I am so passionate about making His name known in all that I do!”
When it comes to inspiration, Jesse turns to two quotes. The first is Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Similar to Bethany Hamilton’s story and many others we share on our platforms, knowing that God has a bigger plan for all of us and that He is using our story for something greater than ourselves brings great comfort.
Jesse’s other favorite saying is, “Grow what you’ve been through.” For those facing a similar trauma, she wants them to know that giving forgiveness, kindness, and grace can be hard, but the Lord also shows us those things on a daily basis even when we don’t deserve it. Jesse advises, “Don’t rush your healing process. Take the time to cry. Just realize that this life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. So pace yourself because you’re worth more than you know. You are loved!”
Jesse’s final advice to others is, “Know that the journey you experience as a member of the limb loss community is not linear. It’s okay to experience moments where you are comfortable in your body and other times where you don’t even want to make an effort to wear your prosthetic. It can be so easy to let grief consume your every thought, but life truly does get better as time passes. Every emotion you have ever felt about your limb loss will always be there, but learning how to adapt and persevere will determine how fast you overcome your trauma. So take your time because you have the rest of your life to figure it out!”
It is truly beautiful to be a witness to Jesse’s journey and growth. We hope that you are just as encouraged and inspired by Jesse’s resilience, faith, and positive outlook as we are!